Among the three “next-gen” consoles, the Wii U had drawn the shorter stick, despite being released much earlier. However, its sales have started to pick up more with the release of titles like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros 4. Despite those big first-party titles, the Wii U’s game library still needs more to be competitive. If you have a Wii U and are looking for a game to fit the bill, then perhaps you should look for this title. It’s not really new, but it’s still too good to pass up.
The Wonderful 101 is a beat-em-up from the famed Japanese developer Platinum Games that has a good bit of vibe similar to the Gainax anime series Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, but with a lot more people in it. It’s also comparable to other character action games like Viewtiful Joe in terms of style and character design. The similarities are not surprising as this game was directed by the legendary Hideki Kamiya (who also happens to have a very entertaining presence online) and produced by Atsushi Inaba. They both previously worked together on the Viewtiful Joe series and Okami. However, Platinum Games has gone a bit further in putting their seal on this game.
You can say that this is essentially “Platinum Games: The Game” for reasons that will become apparent for those who play this all the way through, and that’s a good thing in this case. The player takes control of a huge team of superheroes in Japanese sentai style, as the title suggests. Most of the game is played in isometric perspective, although there are other parts that are played in different perspectives as well. These superheroes are coordinated in such a way that they can turn into various objects called “Unite Morphs”, which is quite helpful in battle. Think of it as something like Green Lantern, but they use themselves instead of rings that emit green light.
You are up against the alien terrorist organization, The GEATHJERK Federation (yes, that’s their actual name). The United Nations’ best weapon is the CENTINELs, an advanced military organization that was secretly assembled by the UN with the CENTINEL-Suits, which are superpowered masks that give their wearers powerful abilities. Essentially, the UN created a gigantic force of heroes similar to Power Rangers (also known as sentai in Japan). But just as you’d think that it’s a straight-up fight against terrorist invaders, bigger enemies start popping up and
The combat is unique and flexible for many reasons. It’s unique because of how you’re not just one character, but one whole team fighting in various formations to simulate different types of attacks, which also makes it flexible. This style is what gives the gameplay a certain look and feel that makes you feel like the battle is really being fought by a team. You can then use Unite Morphs for combat and puzzle solving as long as you have meter, which can be replenished by charging it with normal attacks.
This game makes use of the Wii U Gamepad in more ways than one to do various things. For instance, in order to use the Unite Morph, you draw the shape indicated on screen with the touchscreen or the right analog stick. You can also use it to see things from third person, which can be useful in exploring smaller environments like indoor settings and such. As for the boss fights, they are as grandiose as expected from Platinum Games. It’s a lot like those from Bayonetta, but with the scale that rivals Gurren Lagann, especially near the very end.
If you have a Wii U just sitting there gathering dust, then consider having a good reason to turn it on again with this game. Even though it’s not a new game, it’s starting to gain more traction and could hopefully be a part of an upsurge for Nintendo and their embattled console. Even if you’re not a big fan of the Wii U though, there’s no denying that Platinum games does make some of the best action titles that come out of Japan.
Tested in Wii U. Final Score: 8.5/10