Hero squad? Check.
Silly powers? Check.
Theme song? Hmm…
“Meteoranger, hero sentai!” …No, that’s not it.
“Shooting star, shooting star, kagayake!” …Also not it.
“The unstoppable, wonderful, wonderful, 101!” There we go.
The Wonderful 101, released September 2013, is a game for the Wii U by Platinum Games.
“But Platinum Games makes good games! This is a Wii U game!” You may be saying… but you’d be surprised.
Keeping pattern with last time, we’ll briefly go over the story, and then the good and bad (luckily, we have no censorship debacle this time).
…TWENTY YEARS AGO, there was a nice big battle between Earth and an alien race called the GEATHJERK. Earth won, thanks to its Gaia Defense Army; GEATHJERK was forced to retreat back into space, having lost what was dubbed Earth Defense War II.
Unfortunately, they’re back. Isn’t that just peachy. As they did last time, the GDA will deploy its greatest weapon: the Wonderful 100 (no, not 101). They are 100 anonymous heroes, in 100 cities, all around the world. And you, Will Wedgewood of Blossom City (which is in the east-coast US, not Japan), happen to be one of them. And they’re attacking your hometown: more specifically, the exact school bus (or, chain of 14 school buses) you’re currently transporting 20 of your pupils on!
Well, that’s real nice. You get them to safety, but then monsters appear: Dough-Goos, they’re called. And you can’t really beat them on your own. So, appreciably, help appears. That help is 20 more Wonderful Ones, here to save the day.
Now thus far, these Wonderful Ones don’t seem that… well, wonderful. There’s nothing they’ve yet been shown to actually do. But it is their main superpower that is the main draw of the game, and it’s introduced… hang on, why is a car flying at us? It’s gonna kill us oh no oh god what are we gonna do aaaaaaaaaaa–!
“UNITE HAND!” [Draw a circle with the R Stick, then press A!]
That hardly seems useful now, but sure, why not. Circle, circle, circle… there we go. And… great. We’re a hand now. No, we haven’t summoned one; we ARE one. Let’s punch this thing! And so we do (great job). But now there’s an enormous pipe. And it’s flying at us, and we can’t punch it, what are we to do?
“UNITE SWORD!” [Draw a line with the R Stick, then press A!]
Okay, sure. Doot-de-doot… nice. We’re a sword now. So let’s slice this pipe in half! A success once more. Now that that imminent doom has cleared out, we can talk more at length about the mechanics of the game.
In this game, you fight enemies by converting the members of your party into weapons, pudding (shield), springs (dodge), and miscellaneous other thingamabobs, all while meeting all the hallmarks of a Platinum Games title; namely:
- Funny dialogue
- Epic boss battles with more health bars than you can shake a stick at (the final boss has 11)
- A plethora of collectibles (118 figures, 70+ files, 100+ achievements, and so on)
- Scalable difficulty that doesn’t fully unlock until multiple playthroughs have been completed (the highest difficulty requires minimum 2 playthroughs to unlock)
- Side challenges (if you liked Alfheims you’ll love Kahkoo-regahs)
- An insane final challenge (in this game, it’s over an hour long)
- And an oppositely colored rival
- Read above list, plus:
- Innovative combat system, where weapon use is limited to how quickly you can draw what you need
- Vast enemy variety (over 30 non-boss enemies)
- High skill ceiling (you can’t Pure Platinum everything without pressing a few retries; or a few hundred, as it will be)
- Difficulty gets a little ridiculous at the highest level (some segments, including one in between the final boss’s forms, are minute-long avoidance festivals, where you can’t miss even once… these will likely take you 20+ continues to finish)
- Slightly dumb introductions for female characters (yes, we get it, you have female body parts, but so what)
- A plethora of strange, tiny bugs… for example, retrying a Kahkoo-regah from within the retry screen costs a continue, but not continuing and then re-entering doesn’t cost a continue; sometimes you’ll get stuck on enemies, sometimes enemies just won’t die (causing an enemy that normally gives you ~5,000 combo points to give over 110,000), sometimes you’ll weirdly clip through things… the whole kit and caboodle
The Wonderful 101 is likely my favorite title on the Wii U. It’s given me over 110 hours of play, and I’ve still not reached 100% completion (granted, I have reached 97%, but still). Its challenging combat, excellent mechanics, and humorous dialogue more than make up for its occasional bugs.
It’s also, like, $20 nowadays. That’s a plus.
(Wonderful 102 & Bayonetta 3 when, Platinum? Don’t make me ask Kamiya on Twitter… it won’t work.)