Preview: The Wonderful 101 is all about the action

November 2, 2012

If there’s a Wii U game that’s been exciting to core fans and basically no one else, it’s The Wonderful 101, the Platinum Games project that looks a bit like if Viewtiful Joe got a Pikmin-like spinoff. It’s not quite like that (which is good, because we’ve seen enough of a resurgence in that genre lately), as it’s basically an arena action game that just happens to use people as projectiles and a measure of strength. 

What it is: Known previously as Project P-100, The Wonderful 101 is Platinum’s idea of what works best on the Wii U. You control a guy who gathers all the people to attack aliens and move obstacles. The people can just mob enemies, or they can (through the use of meter-limited special attacks) group into swords and guns and such. The more you go through a level, the more help you acquire.

Why we’re excited: It’s action, and it’s a distinct brand. Platinum is good at making experiences that aren’t bland, and attacking with big people-swords feels different from what we’ve played before. You also deploy enemies for various things like ladders and chains, and it’s designed to be done on the touch screen. Platinum knows its audience, though, so it’s made suitable alternate button-and-stick controls for everything. The touch screen’s a little faster, but if you can’t handle it, you can still play and enjoy the game.

What we’re wondering: How will this game build on the initial levels? We saw interesting uses of the game’s mechanics in our four-level session, but will the game add more mechanics, or just make the decisions about when to use them tougher or more complex? There was also a segment in which you looked on the GamePad to navigate a small building and turn dials. This was more of a third-person action game than the rest of the game’s top-down experience, and has a lot of potential. This bit we saw, though, seemed largely tacked-on. Which way will it go?


You can buy The Wonderful 101 in early 2013, during the Wii U’s launch window.