The Wii U needs games, plain and simple. It’s dreadfully obvious that the Wii U is seriously lacking in the software department. I myself bought a Wii U in January and, while I’ve been meaning to buy Lego City Undercover, the only thing I’ve played on it in the last few months is Xenoblade Chronicles.
So where does the Wii U stand right now? The Playstation 4 and Xbox One were just announced, and both will have a host of very strong titles behind them when they launch later this year. With the PS4 being only $50 more than a Wii U Deluxe, Nintendo has to be starting to feel the pressure.
While they didn’t come out as strongly as they could have at E3, Nintendo’s stable of games that they announced and showed off was definitely impressive. My favorite among all of the great games announced, though, has to be The Wonderful 101.
Although it was announced a while back, there hasn’t been a whole lot of information about the game and getting my hands on it definitely bumped my interest up. Made by the masterminds over at PlatinumGames, the premise of The Wonderful 101 is as follows,
“As Wonder-Red, leader of the Wonderful 100, you must unite your band of Wonderful Ones to morph into powerful transformations such as a fist, sword, glider or gun to battle invaders throughout Blossom City and all of Earth. It’s up to you and your team of superheroes to take on colossal robots and alien masterminds bent on obliterating everything in their path.”
So the basics are to control your team of superheroes and form them into different powers to fight off the hordes of invaders. The whole game is done in an amazing art style that looks really sharp. The way that I’d describe it is almost action figure-like; it almost looks like you’re controlling a group of superhero action figures. The demo I played has you making your way through the city while defending it from alien invaders. While I was only told about four of the weapon formations that you can use in combat, it seems as if there are a lot more to use.
You can use either the touch screen on the gamepad or the right analog stick to form your group into a weapon. You can draw them into a circle to form a fist, a straight line for a sword, an L shape for a gun, and an S for a whip. Each of these forms vary in power and range and, for some larger enemies, there’s a certain weapon you need to use. For example, you may have to use the whip to tear armor off of a robot or the sword to hack away at a gel enemy.
In addition, there are points where you need to use the different forms to interact with the environment. At one point, you have to use the sword to unlock a door, and use the whip to swing over a gap.
As you advance through the stage and defeat enemies, you’ll come across civilians to save. After you fight off any enemies in the area, you can draw a circle around these civilians and they’ll be added to your group. Some turn out to be brand new superheroes and get a quick little stat screen when they join; others will just be powered-up civilians that join the group. As you accrue more members, you can increase the size of your weapons by drawing bigger shapes, greatly increasing their power and even causing them to change form in some cases.
The thing that really got me about The Wonderful 101 was just how crazy, fast-paced, and ridiculous the gameplay is. Once you start, it’s a nonstop action ride with your superheroes, and it manages to be quite challenging at some points. You fight off hordes of enemies, and some boss encounters are just absolutely ridiculous (something Platinum is pretty much known for now).
While the controls work really well in the game, it does take a bit of getting used to just because it’s so different from anything you’ve played. Of course, quick time events are easy enough but actually controlling your group from a top down perspective is a bit challenging, especially in more hectic battles.
You use the left stick to move the group, and can draw the attack patterns with either the touchpad or right stick. Then the face and shoulder buttons are assigned to various things like attacking, dodging, and interacting with things. It almost feels like a cross between a real-time-strategy game and Pikmin, but it turns out to be so much fun.
However, as much fun as I had with single player, what was even more enjoyable was the multiplayer. The Wonderful 101 supports up to five player multiplayer: one on the gamepad and four using pro controllers. As of right now, I was told there is no support for the Wiimote and Nunchuk, which is a bit disappointing.
In multiplayer, each of the five players controls their own group of heroes and, while these groups start out small, they can get as large as your own group in single player. It was an absolute blast having five groups of heroes darting around on screen, facing hordes of enemies and competing for scores all at the same time.
The multiplayer here seems like something you can boot up real quick at a party and have a lot of fun with.
If there’s one word that I would use to describe The Wonderful 101, it would be charming. The entire game, from style to gameplay, just oozes charm. It’s one of the few games at E3 that, while I was playing it, I just forgot everything I had to do and how much work was left, and there’s something to be said for that. PlatinumGames has never disappointed me in the past and I don’t expect them to do it now.
With the Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2, they’re certainly showing some good support for Nintendo as of late. Games like this give me hope that the Wii U won’t just fade into the background but will instead become a platform where you can find some wonderfully unique experiences (no pun intended).
All I know is that I’m eagerly anticipating when The Wonderful 101 launches on September 15th , exclusively on the Wii U.