First Impressions of The Wonderful 101

Posted by Hailinel (24778 posts) -

Nintendo offered a limited number of copies of The Wonderful 101 up for sale at PAX Prime this past weekend (101 copies per day, to be precise), and I got in early enough to snag a copy for myself on the first day. With all of the madness surrounding the show, I didn't have time to properly try the game out until this evening. And all I can say right now is that from what I've played, it's pretty damn good. You might say...wonderful. (Obvious compliment, I know.)

It also has a learning curve to get over to really get the feel of the game. As someone that didn't bother with the downloadable demo, I'm getting there. Still need to iron out a few things, but I'm getting there. A lot of that has to do with learning to properly use the unite morphs and the flow of combat. I've missed more blocks than I could count by just misjudging timing, which is entirely my fault. That being said, the game does offer some decent warm up in the prologue chapter prior to the first proper mission. And even as I've gotten the hang of things, the game can be fairly challenging. I'm playing on Normal (the game also offers Easy and Very Easy at the outset), and the enemies that they throw at you ramp up pretty fast. I'm not sure how the game handles continues on the higher difficulties, but whenever I died, I would be dropped right back where I was at with full health to continue then and there. Though it certainly didn't do any wonders for my end-of-mission rank. "Consolation Prize." Not even a bronze. Ouch.

That being said, the game is really structured around striving for the best mission scores you can get. Each mission is divided into a series of sub-missions you come across during the stage, and each one is individually graded, from Consolation to Platinum. You can go back and play previously cleared missions, earn currency for the shop to buy items and upgrades, or continue on to the next mission in the story. There are also special challenges that offer rewards for clearing, though I'm still not good enough to clear the first one found in Mission 001. (As a side-note, there's a directly link to Miiverse on the touch screen for easy uploading of results screens, but this isn't operating yet as the W101 Miiverse community won't be open until the game is officially released in a couple of weeks.

As for the story, it is really entertaining, with these ridiculous moments like the way characters or even objects will start to wobble with fatigue when they're supposed to stand still while the narrator drones on and on. Still too early to see where it's going, aside from having to deal with the evil guys, but there's some definite tension between Wonder-Red (the rookie) and Wonder-Blue (jackass Californian show-off). The voice acting is fantastic and fits the characters, too.

I also like the way that the Wii U GamePad works with the game. Not just in tracing shapes for unite morphs and so on, but the way it throws puzzles at you like an oversized combination lock where you have to look both at the touch screen and the TV to see what's going on both inside and outside the building.

So in short, I'm having a blast with it so far. Definitely worth a purchase. But the question remains, can I unlock Wonder-Bayonetta?

So awesome!

#1 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1592 posts) -

This game looks great -- I really hope it's successful! Bayonetta 2 not selling well wouldn't shock me since it's outside of the typical Nintendo wheelhouse, but The Wonderful 101 is the kind of game that really needs to do well (within the context of its scope and the Wii U install base) to validate the Wii U as a place for unique non-Nintendo franchise games. This feels to me like a make-or-break moment for the Wii U -- what other imminent exclusives are there that could break the narrative (fair or unfair) about it?

Am I right in seeing the stylistic and tonal similarities between this and Viewtiful Joe, and aside from the obvious mechanical differences, does that general ethos carry over to the gameplay? I've got really fond memories of that game, and that shot you posted could almost pass as Viewtiful Joe concept art.

#2 Posted by Dalai (7029 posts) -

I'm definitely getting my hands on this game as soon as it comes out and not just because my Wii U is starving for attention. From what I remember of the demo I played at PAX East, the controls were a little bit difficult to grasp at first, but I fell in love with the style and the action for me to really care. It's been a must-buy for me ever since.

#3 Edited by Hailinel (24778 posts) -

This game looks great -- I really hope it's successful! Bayonetta 2 not selling well wouldn't shock me since it's outside of the typical Nintendo wheelhouse, but The Wonderful 101 is the kind of game that really needs to do well (within the context of its scope and the Wii U install base) to validate the Wii U as a place for unique non-Nintendo franchise games. This feels to me like a make-or-break moment for the Wii U -- what other imminent exclusives are there that could break the narrative (fair or unfair) about it?

Am I right in seeing the stylistic and tonal similarities between this and Viewtiful Joe, and aside from the obvious mechanical differences, does that general ethos carry over to the gameplay? I've got really fond memories of that game, and that shot you posted could almost pass as Viewtiful Joe concept art.

I don't really see it as make it or break it in that sense because this is a new IP, and new IPs can be hit or miss; particularly when they're as esoteric as this. And it is for all intents and purposes a Nintendo game, seeing as they're doing the publishing and marketing for it.

As far as its relation to Viewtiful Joe, the game really doesn't play anything like those games despite the visual similarity. That being said, Kamiya did let slip during the PAX panel that Sylvia's voice actress plays a character in the game. Not Sylvia, but...well, people will just have to play and see.

#4 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

I still have no idea what this game is.

#5 Edited by GunstarRed (5180 posts) -

When it comes to the combat getting the best scores will require you to use more than one unite morph at a time. I've found that four is too many unless you're an expert, but by always having a second one out whether it be the sword, fist or gun is a good starting point as they're easy shapes to draw with the stick or pad. then work your way up to three whenever you're feeling confident.

I suggest the stick to draw a sword in the middle of using another one just to get the hang of having two at once and then work your way up from there. The pad is nice, but the combat only really shines when using the stick. I fought against this for the longest time because it seemed absurd that its unique selling point is kinda bad for expert play.

You will eventually unlock Bayonetta's witch time and remember to add mods, something the game never tells you can do. getting used to the jelly for physical attacks and sword/dodge for lasers is something you really need to get the hang of quickly. The game has some problems and you'll probably come up against a bunch of frustration in later parts of the game where it seems you need unfair reaction times against some of the attacks.

As I wrote in my write up, the game is not perfect and its faults are something that cannot really be ignored. It is a truly, truly fantastic experience and knowing how badly it bombed in both Japan and Europe is truly saddening.

#6 Posted by golguin (3927 posts) -

It's my understanding that The Wonderful 101 is essentially a character action game. I've heard that the poor reviews have come from people that didn't get the combat. Is this true? It wouldn't be the first time a game got dinged for being too complex and not explaining itself properly.

#7 Posted by Hailinel (24778 posts) -

@golguin said:

It's my understanding that The Wonderful 101 is essentially a character action game. I've heard that the poor reviews have come from people that didn't get the combat. Is this true? It wouldn't be the first time a game got dinged for being too complex and not explaining itself properly.

Essentially, yes, it is that type of game. You might run around with a whole crowd of guys, but this isn't Pikmin, it's an action game, and you need to play it like one. That means learning offensive and defensive techniques, learning which techniques work best against which enemies, and so on. But there's also a fair bit of puzzle-solving that needs to get done as well.

#8 Posted by MEATBALL (3238 posts) -
@golguin said:

It's my understanding that The Wonderful 101 is essentially a character action game. I've heard that the poor reviews have come from people that didn't get the combat. Is this true? It wouldn't be the first time a game got dinged for being too complex and not explaining itself properly.

This is pretty much the case. I mean, the game does have a couple of issues that you could ding it for, like a couple of moments of large framerate dips, sections that use the gamepad to control the camera (though you can hold a button to use the right stick instead, still, it's clumsy) and issues drawing unite shapes and not getting what you want on occasion (I particularly had trouble drawing Unite Gun during QTEs), but it seems that the low reviews are a result of reviewers not quite getting it.

It's weird, I don't even think the game does a poor job explaining and introducing elements of the combat, it's just a difficult game on Normal difficulty (I personally found playing through it the first time on Easy was just right). Combat has a learning curve, but it doesn't really take long to come to grips with and if you've played Bayonetta there are a lot of elements that'll have you feeling right at home.

I honestly believe The Wonderful 101 is Platinum's next best game after Bayonetta. Not that I put any stock in Metacritic, but I can't help but notice that the general critical consensus leaves it ranked lower than MadWorld and that seems just completely bizarre to me.

#9 Posted by Hailinel (24778 posts) -

When it comes to the combat getting the best scores will require you to use more than one unite morph at a time. I've found that four is too many unless you're an expert, but by always having a second one out whether it be the sword, fist or gun is a good starting point as they're easy shapes to draw with the stick or pad. then work your way up to three whenever you're feeling confident.

I suggest the stick to draw a sword in the middle of using another one just to get the hang of having two at once and then work your way up from there. The pad is nice, but the combat only really shines when using the stick. I fought against this for the longest time because it seemed absurd that its unique selling point is kinda bad for expert play.

You will eventually unlock Bayonetta's witch time and remember to add mods, something the game never tells you can do. getting used to the jelly for physical attacks and sword/dodge for lasers is something you really need to get the hang of quickly. The game has some problems and you'll probably come up against a bunch of frustration in later parts of the game where it seems you need unfair reaction times against some of the attacks.

As I wrote in my write up, the game is not perfect and its faults are something that cannot really be ignored. It is a truly, truly fantastic experience and knowing how badly it bombed in both Japan and Europe is truly saddening.

Do you have any advice on the unite morphs? I'm stuck on mission 001-C on that eyeball unite morph. I don't know what it is I'm doing wrong and it seems like every Youtube playthrough of that stage I've seen so far completes it by dumb luck.

#10 Edited by GunstarRed (5180 posts) -

@hailinel: Just pull into the direction of the eye with the right stick. It's one of those things that can be fiddly about where you are standing, it happens a bunch with the WC's and a glass tunnel later in the game.

#11 Posted by Hailinel (24778 posts) -

@hailinel: Just pull into the direction of the eye with the right stick. It's one of those things that can be fiddly about where you are standing, it happens a bunch with the WC's and a class tunnel later in the game.

Yeah. It's just weird because I can get everyone else on the team in there, but then the one I'm controlling doesn't jump in after them and the eye doesn't activate. Doesn't make it any easier with that head trying to laser, burn, and chomp me.

#12 Posted by Morningstar (2158 posts) -

Allright, putting it on my "to buy" list.

#13 Edited by GunstarRed (5180 posts) -

@hailinel: Yeah, that boss is the first time the game asks a hell of a lot of the player, there is almost no warning that it's going to laser you the first time you fight it. The Hand is fireproof , but I don't think they tell you until mission 4 or something.

#14 Edited by ProfessorEss (7368 posts) -

Definitely at the top of my "To Buy if I ever Buy a Wii-U" list. Right under Pikmin and... actually that's it. Pikmin at number one and W101 at number two.

#15 Posted by AgentJ (8778 posts) -

Did you get a chance to stop by the Nintendo handheld booth and play Shantae or the portable Batman? Both were great.

#16 Posted by Hailinel (24778 posts) -

@agentj said:

Did you get a chance to stop by the Nintendo handheld booth and play Shantae or the portable Batman? Both were great.

I didn't play either of those games, though I did play Summer Carnival '92. Oh man, that game is insane.

#17 Posted by YukoAsho (2048 posts) -

I like the fact that you can use either the GamePad or Pro Controller. I love it when developers go the extra mile to let you decide what you're comfortable with. Seriously, just because the system comes with a touch screen doesn't mean it should be mandatory.

Not that the gamepad isn't cool with this game, but I thought it'd be nice to give Platinum props for not skimping on options.

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