Sunday, 30 November 2014

Review No. 85 The Wonderful 101 - Wii U (12+)

Strong Points:
Innovative gameplay
Good storyline
Great music
Good graphics
The enemies are mini puzzles, themselves
Lots of collectibles
Great for making your own playing style
Lots of varying types of gameplay (platforming, hack and slash, shooter and boxing(?))
Makes great use of the Wii U gamepad
Challenging
Great voice acting
Bosses are big and brilliant
Colourful cast of characters
Its cheesy and it knows it

Weak Points:
Difficulty spikes
Graphics can be a little too shiny 
Harder difficulties aren't unlocked straight away, forcing multiple playthroughs through the same story for a real challenge
Some of the Wonder Signs are hard to draw/very similar to others
You aren't allowed very many items
Credits are hard to earn
Hard to get a good score (die and its goodbye platinum, gold and silver trophies)
Ultimate form doesn't actually do anything
Two player requires a pro/classic controller

Rating: 90%

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
Europe: August 23, 2013
Japan: August 24, 2013
Australia: August 24, 2013
North America: September 15, 2013

Controls:
Explained-ish, in game - it's much easier to just play it for a couple of hours and learn them than it is for me to try, and fail, to explain them all.

As the titular Wonderful 100 (the extra one is you!), you will fight your way 9 operations spread throughout the world and through hordes of aliens and robots known as the GEATHJERK, battle a vengeful prince and get blinded by the shiny-ness of everyone's costumes all while transforming into a sword, hand, whip and jelly (?) in order to save a shield known as MARGARITA in order to stop a race of superpowered aliens with a grudge. If this is the world of the future, then I want to live in it (you know, minus all the death).

And in order to do all this, you will need the help of your CENTINEL suit and 100 virtual friends/citizens you pick off the street. Once you have some people at your disposal, simply draw on the gamepad (with your right analog stick. I would recommend using the right analog stick for easier shapes such as the sword and hand and the gamepad for harder ones such as for the bomb and hammer) and behold a wondrous weapon (known as Unite Morphs) such as a hand, claws or bomb made out of your friends! The different weapons correspond to different shapes - circle for hand, line for sword, gun shape for gun etc - as well as a different colour and hero (for instance, the whip is unlocked by having Wonder Pink on your team while the gun is wielded by Wonder Green). These characters, as well as other Wonderful Ones such as Wonder Beer or Wonder Party (although only the colour based heroes, and some special story based ones, give you new powers), stay on your team forever, after you've collected them. You can also get citizens to (unwillingly) join your ranks by drawing a rainbow coloured circle, known as the Wonder Liner, around them. The Wonder Liner can also be used to hit enemies or draw a bridge over gaps. The other things you can do (once you've bought them in the shop) is activate special powers such as Wonder Guts (jelly that stops attacks), Wonder Rocket (a rocket that goes straight up in the air or Wonder Glider (a glider that can be used to cross gaps. These special powers are activated by pressing the triggers on the gamepad and can also be upgraded in the shop.

You also have the group attack which is activated by pressing X (and can be charged by holding X). This is actually a more powerful attack than it looks as it enables Wonderful 101 to stick to the enemy and continuously attack him. Think Pikmin but with people.

The enemies can be killed by either pounding them enough with any of your varied weapons until their HP goes down or by figuring out their specific weakness and using it against them. Some enemies (such as the tortoises that need Wonder Hammer to kill) need specific Wonder Powers to kill so you will have to get used to all of them.

You will also have to face bosses which, as I said in the Strong Points, are big and brilliant. These bosses will force you to think and use all of your resources that you have at your disposal as well as your ability to adapt and the speed of your drawing. However, they are also the best bit of the game and are great to spectate as well as to play.

The items range from health boosting Wonder Soup (and it's two, larger, variants) and the energy recharging Wonder Noodles as well as the Wonder Liner upgrade (which makes your Wonder Liner do more damage/draw faster etc). The final thing you can buy are Wonder Chips which can be used to edit your playstyle even further as, when equipped, they will upgrade one stat and decrease another.

There are also loads of collectables which vary from Platinum Coins (5 per level) to Wonder Figurines (figures of the different Wonderful Ones) as well as Wonderful and GEATHJERK Files (which hold information on the two factions). You can also find various Space Vegetables (of Pepper, Carrot, Eggplant variants) which can be mixed together to make different items including a credit card which can be used to buy one item in the shop for free. Also, at the end of each mission (there's generally 3 per operation) you will be awarded with a trophy, depending on how well you did. This is where the real challenge lies as it requires you to play through the game almost perfectly (in order to get a platinum trophy, that is).

The cheesyness of the game is also brilliant and its not afraid to flaunt it. I won't even bother with one example as the whole game, from the shiny graphics, bobbing heads, blaring music, stereotypes and storyline just drips it. And it's great for it. Never have I seen so many crazy stunts (parts of the game have you jumping between fallen buildings as huge enemies track you down) and (sometimes genuinely funny) puns and cringe worthy scenes in one game. And all of this covers a very strategic and very brilliant gameplay system that is hard to learn but brilliant fun when you master it. 

Wonder Missions are extra, smaller missions that you can do at any time and can be used to hone your skills, get more credits or challenge yourself. They can also be played with a second person, although only if they have a pro or classic controller (which is rather annoying, really).  

Overall, The Wonderfull 101 is a brilliant game that is both great fun to play and watch. Get passed the overwhelming chessyness and steep learning curve and you'll find a great core with some genuinely beautiful sections (in graphics, gameplay and storyline).  

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