I have put a good six-plus hours into The Wonderful 101 at this point and I have a bunch of thoughts on it. The first thing I want to mention is that this is a pretty tough game, the enemies from very early on don't joke around and you need to learn how to counter a lot of their attacks using Unite Guts (jelly form) It doesn't help that you can often be spammed by projectiles from far away and it can be pretty frustrating to collect all your little superheroes up only to immediately have them scattered everywhere again. This is not something that can be eliminated with skill, you would have to be psychic to know it's about to happen. So, the combat is great when it works and insanely frustrating when it doesn't. It can get a bit mashy and there's a handful of moves like the stinger that seem to unlock with use of each form/weapon, but for the most part you will stick to the fist or the sword as they are the most effective. The whip and the hammer are useful to destroy armour and spikes, but as all-purpose weapons kinda useless. Now, the biggest problem this game has is that as soon as you start having more than three weapons the game gets confused often about what you are trying to draw, and this applies to both the touchscreen and the stick.The hammer, fist and whip get confused so many times and when a boss or an enemy requires you to quickly switch between the two and it won't do what you're asking unless you take your eye away from the screen and draw it precisely It can make you want to scream... which in an action game as hectic as this is ridiculous.
I'm trying to get through the game's problems first and there is good stuff I promise! The other major problem is during some of the bigger action sequences the camera pans out really, really, really, really (yeah, really) far and you cannot see anything on the screen. The TV I'm playing this on is not small and I found one part incredibly irritating where I had to judge jumping distances at an isometric angle as the platforms I was standing on were falling. All while there was 100 little people surrounding me that were about the size of an ant. If you miss jumps with the leader of your party it's a loss of life.. this one section though was really bad from the camera angle to the distance. Upon completing it I was forced into a boss fight that required me to know what was coming before I'd even started.
The first thing that really strands out about the game is how damn funny it is. Really good writing and voice acting going on here with Red being the usual goody-goody hero, blue being the guy who just wants to cut stuff and Green the romantic that loves his food and random french in the middle of sentences. There seems to be a strange rivalry between Blue and Green and they make fun of each other constantly. I do love the little chat sequences, they are really charming and have these animated portraits that pop up on the side of the screen that have this almost stop motion quality to them. Pink seems to exist purely to have the camera zoom in on her boobs and bum, which seems a little out of place. I have also met the villain and he seems really fun. The theatrical pink alien that likes to reminisce about past relationships when he should be threatening the heroes, complete with confused minions and all of the unite powers you possess. He seems to be the standard opposite of Red which is pretty cool. I didn't know this game would have any sort of rivalry.
The game never lets up, ever. I was finding it hard to stop because I was constantly being pushed forward. Fight this boss!, Escape this burning plane! Fight this other boss by chasing it on your airship and shooting it! Jump off of this exploding building! Freefall towards the earth while a giant laser dragon tries to murder you you! Fight another boss!...and another! and another! This sure is a game made by the same dude as Bayonetta. It's actually surprising how similar a lot of it feels, the parts where you have to jump on platforms as they fall out of the sky or mashing the button to do massive damage feel exactly like the moments with the hair-demons in that game.
The game does a really good job at keeping you on your toes with boss fights full of quick time events that feel natural and never give a game over for failing them. It seems strange how forgiving they are when the bosses are super aggressive with tons of attack patterns to try and work out. It can be a little overwhelming at times due to the amount going on screen and the really limited time you have to react. It almost feels as if it wants you to struggle your first time through which is kinda cool, but can almost feel unfair at times like when you need to deflect a laser and the only chance of you doing so is to have the sword equipped... chances are if you don't you're going to take a ton of damage.
The second screen is used for a bunch of really inventive things, like controlling spaceships with giant buttons, turning dials, inserting giant batteries and playing roulette. I'm so glad someone is using the pad for something other than a map screen. I assume there will be a lot more inventive uses as I get further into the game. I haven't even touched a lot of the menu screen stuff including lists of figurines, files, the upgrades for the Wonderful 100 you have collected and a collection of 100 in-game achievements. The game feels like it never wants you to be doing the same thing at any given time, the amount of creativity and gameplay styles is to be applauded even if some of them work a lot better than others.
I'm definitely going to add to this as I play more of it later. It seems like a very good game with a bunch of problems that can't be overlooked even with the rest of the amazing stuff on offer. It feels like a game jam packed with secrets, upgrades and cute little jokes. It helps that the game is visually stunning and very funny and the combat can make you feel like a crazy miniature Power Ranger. This feels like a strange one. It doesn't seem fit for a casual audience despite it's cartoony looks and it's even less approachable than Bayonetta with such a high level of difficulty and controls that require you to experiment with them a lot before you're even close to being comfortable. It helped that I got used to them from the demo, but even the demo won't prepare you for some of the frustration ahead. Will add more later.
The first time it tells you to make a bridge/chain it is super confusing.
The theme tune is amazing.
It has almost zero in common with Pikmin.
Awsome/ful cocktail puns!
edit #1 - Space cops, cougars, adult humour, missile riding and some backstory for Wonder Blue. It's pretty cool how the background story seems to be played with a straight face despite the amount of craziness on screen. The writing has continued to hold up and there have been a couple of really cool sequences using the second pad like a spaceship shooting vents with electricity on the TV while you climb about coloured grates inside the building on the pad screen.
The amount of bosses in this game is insane!
Edit #2. So, the more and more I have played of this game the more I fall in love with it. I'm at 19 hours of game time now (although it's platinum so the in-game time says 12... Wii U log doesn't lie!) I feel like anything I write now could possibly get a little spoilery. The controls feel a lot more natural now and no matter how many amazing combo videos are put out there it still doesn't mean the problems aren't there. I have looked around the internet and my experience with the game seems to be pretty common among most people that are playing it. The level of skill required to pull off the moves/switching in this impressive video is really high and should not be used as an example of the way the game has to be played. This video is also against some of the lesser enemies and when things go crazy in the later parts of the game you will often find it hard to see what is going on, especially in the endlessly form-shifting face off fights against Prince Vorkken.
So the game has gone into a bunch of different styles now like an isometric spaceship shooter, a love letter to Punch Out which would be far cleverer if Ms 'Splosion man hadn't done it two years ago and a section where you have had to move around in a cube by hitting the coloured buttons with the right weapons (this was the most frustrating sequence I have played in any game this year due to the stupidly close camera on the game pad screen, there was so much clipping into the walls that I thought I was playing Sonic 06 again.) There was even a flashback sequence where you played the original Red with a cool D.A that could be used as a giant drill! This might have been one of my favourite sequences in the game so far.
I'm probably in the back portion of the game now (Shrunken down and inside someone's body at the moment) and it has opened up a whole new chapter with new villains and plot twists. I'm still very happy with the game, I'm having some of the best fun I have had with any game this year, but when things don't work it can wipe the smile off of my face in an instant. It's always good to know there will be something delightful or hilarious just around the corner.
Nice reference to Clover.
Oh, and I can do Witch-Time from Bayonetta now!
Edit #3 - I don't have much else to say other than upon completion I was left exhausted. There is officially about five billion bosses in this game and they just get crazier and crazier. In fact I don't think there is another game to be released this year that could out-crazy The Wonderful 101. The final missions are like Asuras Wrath x10, utter insanity. One thing is for certain... This is a video game!