If you were looking for a reason to own the Wii U, The Wonderful 101 is it. What feels like the spiritual successor to Viewtiful Joe (because developer Platinum Games is composed of people who left Capcom) the game manages to harness that same brilliant zany universe and dump it into a whole new genre, one Nintendo likes to call “Mass-Hero Action”. For what it’s worth, The Wonderful 101 is hand’s down the best Mass-Hero Action game I’ve ever played.
Continuing down the line of similarities between Viewtiful Joe and Wonderful 101, aside from the general art direction and zany universe, is the forward facing HUD. Perhaps not as engrossing as Viewtiful Joe, much like you had an FX meter you needed to build to use your special powers in VJ, in the Wonderful 101 you need to build your battery. Collecting more batteries as you traverse the environment grows your meter, while doing basic attacks fills the meter. Relatively straight forward so far, but what makes Wonderful 101 so much fun is the powers you have available to you.
Real quick, have to get to the story portion of the game so you can understand the powers a little bit more. So, Aliens. What to do? The main protagonist (whose name I don’t know but looks like the picture below) must enlist citizens to help him. As far as I can gather, our protagonist has the ability to morph would-be bystanders into somewhat useful super heroes. They don’t have any real power themselves, but you, playing as the protagonist, have the ability to then wield this cadre of half heroes into whatever you need them to be.
During my time with Wonderful 101, I was able to transform my troupe into a gun (not very useful), sword (SUPER useful), giant hand, ladder, chain and hang glider. Depending on how big of a gesture you draw on the Wii U tablet determines the size of the object you create. Pretty neat. Also if the touch controls are a little to unwieldy to use, you can also opt to use the right analog stick. While slower, it allows you to be very precise in certain scenarios where, for instance, you need to create a giant ladder to reach the top of a building.
Naturally, being a game that launches or comes near to launching with a new console, the console makers love to show off what new great features the system has. One scenario is where you walk into a warehouse, but the game keeps it’s same isometric viewpoint and instead you now look into the Wii U controller to have a third person over-the-shoulder viewpoint. Clearly labeled on the gate blocking my way was the numbers ‘235’. And right next to this gate are three knobs. At this point you realize you need to turn the knobs to be the same value as the gate. What you must do then is look back at the main TV screen as you turn the dial to make it match the gate. Not the most clever use of the dual screened interface, but it gets the job done.
All in all, I was super impressed by the Wonderful 101. After my fifteen minute session, I only wanted to continue playing. Bottom line: Get this game if you own a Wii U.