The Wonderful 101 is a new release for the Wii U, released by Platinum Games. The title is as obfuscating as possible, you receive no hint as to what you are about to play. And that is for the better. The Wonderful 101 is an almost isometric game that is stepped in Anime kitsch: anime women, mech suits, vibrant colors, and so on. The Wonderful 101 is a tremendous leap forward in the third party library that is starting to filter in to the Nintendo back catalog. But what exactly is this game and why is it so great?
The first thing gamers will notice about The Wonderful 101 is that there is no lead dog in your adventure. The story single player mode is entrenched in the zany action of a Pikmin game and the fighting sequences that can bring an action game above those around the genre. You can control, at any given time, upwards of 100 different characters. They are as diverse as they are colorful with each character possessing their own moves, combinations, and personalities. The fighting sequences occur in a sort of 3D isometric and have some great innovations, including the "UNITE" move that requires you to draw a symbol across your screen in order to activate a combination attack technique.
The Wonderful 101 will bring back the best of memories in relation to early NES and SNES titles. The vibrant colors of the drawings and the smooth animations used in the beat-em-up will call to mind the simple games we played as a child. Only this game is not simple. it is a frenetic and frenzied romp through a world steeped in anime references, nods to other video games, and even references to other Nintendo franchises.
The story is almost stereotypically Japanese. Zany, nonsensical, and full of odd humor and quirky cut scenes. Most of this story fluff can be set aside. The gist of the story is that you, the 101st of the Wonderful, are super heroes defending Earth from alien invaders. Any information past that is sort of just beside the point.
The game plays smooth, overall, and the animation is wonderful. The gameplay is original and unique and tends to offer things other games in the WII U library are just not offering. If there are downsides it would have to be that some of the controls can be clunky: drawing a straight line is hard enough now try drawing all sorts of different shapes on your pad while fighting off aliens. There are some issues as well with the camera and thus your ability to control characters. The isometric view, making small the giant settings you will be playing in, has a habit of causing the camera to be unusable. There will be moments during your gameplay where you lose track of your miniature super heroes and this can cause a few frustrating deaths.
Overall The Wonderful 101 offers something new and exciting. That makes it worth a purchase.