Impressions: The Wonderful 101 (Wii U) Demo

Earlier this month, there was a Nintendo Direct released specifically for the game The Wonderful 101, which is being developed by Platinum Games and published by Nintendo exclusively for the Wii U. The Direct had a lot of information about the game, including a 7 minute “Director’s Edition Trailer” (above) and was led by the game’s outspoken director, Hideki Kamiya. After the broadcast, a demo of the game was announced and released via the Nintendo eShop in Europe, North America and Japan.

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The game has been described as a “mass-hero action” game, and lives up to that name. During the demo, you are allowed to take on the roles of Wonder Red, Wonder Green, and Wonder Blue. Each hero comes equipped with a different “Unite Morph” power. Unite Morphs are utilized by gathering up helpless citizens and turning them into superheroes, and then combining them in various ways and numbers to turn them into your character’s Unite ability. Wonder Red’s Unite Morph ability is a giant fist, able to grab different objects and punch enemies. Wonder Green unites his units into different guns, and Wonder Blue comes equipped with a blade. The amount of citizens you have gathered has an effect on how strong or efficient your weapon is. Wonder Blue’s sword becomes insanely giant when you have a large amount of other heroes at your disposal, and Wonder Green’s guns change depending on the number of citizens you “put into” the morph, varying from a pistol to a machine gun.

The morphs are activated by using the Wii U GamePad. When you need to use your character’s morph, you draw whatever their ability’s symbol happens to be, though if you don’t feel like using your finger or stylus to draw the shape, you’re also able to draw the symbols using the right thumb stick, and within my time with the demo, I only had to remember three easy symbols: a circle (Red’s Unite Hand), a line (Blue’s Unite Sword), and an “L” (Green’s Unite Gun). The game recognizes these symbols well, as is to be expected, and the simplicity of the shapes allow for quick transitions.

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The demo gives you one level to experience the game before launch, but one is enough. The stage you arrive at is broken into several different segments, and after defeating the enemies within the segment or completing whatever objective, you’re given a grade. These grades depend on varying factors, including time taken to complete that particular section and damage taken within it, and the level as a whole ends on an overall performance breakdown, awarding you different trophies depending on how well or poorly you did.

It’s difficult to really nail down how the game is played, and it’s hard to tell you. As is to be expected of any new Wii U title, until the game is in your hands, playing on your system, you can never understand how it feels. It all works well enough, the parts I did figure out, but it felt so sudden to be thrown into that area . I understand it’s a demo. They try as hard as they can to get you enough of the game to grab your interest, but not enough to make you satisfied. They made this point abundantly clear, but maybe not for the reason they thought. It’s less about “I like what I’ve seen” and more about “I can’t wait to understand”. There were characters I picked up that I had no idea what to do with, and items that remained unused. I want to know what these are about, how they effect how the game is run.

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To try to describe the experience I had with this title so far is difficult. I love the style. I love the characters. I love the idea. But so far, that’s all they’ve given me, an idea of what the game could be, both a positive and negative thing. Immediately you’re thrown into the chaos, with little explanation along the way. The demo was placed between two awkward stages of description, where there’s a lot to explain, but not enough time or gameplay to explain it all. The views on the GamePad were switching constantly. I was thrown back and forth from buildings to missile sights to the regular menu. It was overwhelming and exciting. I was amazed at what I was seeing, but there was so much to see.  They gave me an idea of what The Wonderful 101 is going to be, and that idea is exceedingly crazy and chaotic. But it felt extremely full, perhaps a little bit too full for a demo. There was so much to do and understand within this demo, with item descriptions flashing on and off the screen, and explosions, sparks, flashes, tons of on screen movement. It was insane, the best of Viewtiful Joe, Bayonetta, and a little bit of Okami drawing and Pikmin‘s mass army gatherings rolled into one, and it’s shaping up to be another great game for the Wii U.

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