I have yet to review ‘The Wonderful 101’ as I haven’t completed the game yet, but I feel the need to write something positive because having read other reviews and noticed they are pretty critical, I feel the need to stand up for Platinums latest game.
I want to begin with addressing a common complaint, the controls. 101 is complex, it’s clearly aimed at hardcore gamers; It has a pretty demanding learning curve with lots to learn very early on and with very little hand holding. Now I suppose it’s fair to say that drawing the ‘unite’ moves either on the pad or with the analogue can be frustrating at times, but with practice 95% of those complaints vanish. I’ve found most things that initially seemed to not work right, have come down to me not doing things right.
Not doing things right I reckon is most peoples problem. We are so used to games being very forgiving and flexible while 101 like most ‘proper’ games is about specific tactics, learning attack patterns and precision, a button bashing game it is not. So basically its a demanding game that forces you to think and learn, perhaps a bit too much for this eras remedial gamers.
101 is catering for quite a specific demographic and how it’s packaged probably suggests a more broad and casual target audience, which might be why some feel the need to be critical, but I am that specific demographic and it’s ticking all my boxes, those of us in that demo who noticed this game have got nothing but good to say. I’d argue that the people moaning about 101 are probably best left playing on their 99p smartphones games. If you’re as happy as a pig in shit with candy crush you probably will find a game like 101 jarring. If you don’t like racing games are you the right person to review a racing game? Probably not.
Now OK, there are some glitches (non game breaking) and the controls could be improved upon, but enough of defending 101 based on the criticisms, there is lots of good to say. First of all lets talk about its basic concept. It is quite original, a blend of ideas that seem to marry elements from Pikmin, Kid Icarus, Bayonetta, Power Stone, comic books, superheroes and crude teen animation humour. It’s a fun mix and it carves out its own unique identity. It feels like an original game, it reeks of effort and it’s a credible new IP that’s worth a sequel.
It’s fun to play, it’s fun to watch and it’s very rewarding when you get things right. Nothing is too easy, and nothing is unduly unfair. It’s depth and complexity mean that if this game is for you then you won’t be just playing through it once, there are lots to come back to find and improve upon on as well as tons of upgrades to buy and other difficulties to try. It’s multiplayer features a very enjoyable too.
Its characters and story seem a bit pointless to begin with; Alright but thankfully throwaway. Some of it, even though its deliberate, can seem a bit lame but with time you come to love it. It’s actually pretty clever and it clearly knows what it is doing. The more you play it the more you laugh with it. It does silly things when you least expect them and then surprises you by being rather smart. It also rides its many cliches to its advantage. A bad joke can return over and over and with each variation get’s increasingly funny.
Then there’s the epic scope of the game, which is probably the biggest praise I have for 101. Boss battles are huge, every boss feels like a final boss, the cinematic scale of them is very impressive, and they aren’t over quickly. But all standard levels come with parts that take you away from the task of fighting your way through enemies to do surprising adrenaline fuelled tasks that give the game a truly high-stakes and action-packed blockbuster feel.
And lets talk graphics, because 101 is a good demonstration on the Wii U’s power and Platinums technical prowess. 101’s visuals are very impressive, and where somethings may look a bit last generation that is made up for by the fact that it doing so much. It’s clearly one of the most complex and ambitious games for the Wii U so far. You can tell they worked hard and working lovingly to find their style.
I for one feel like moaning about anything in Wonderful 101 is like pointing out a grey cloud on a sunny day. At worst it’s a diamond in the rough, but one that is still so worth owning. To me it is a bold and ambitious new IP that does it’s very best to be something different. I wouldn’t give this game a perfect score either, but I would tell anyone that it’s worth buying and not to be deceived by its appearance or reviews. This is absolutely one of those games where you feel it is worth what you paid for it. I for one am delighted with it.