Friday, November 2, 2012

NYCC 2012: The Wonderful 101 Impressions

During Nintendo’s E3 presentation this past year, I found myself disappointed with Nintendo’s showcase of Wii U games. I was certainly excited for Pikmin 3, but nothing else really got me excited for the Wii U as a system at the time. It also didn’t help that Pikmin 3 was the first game shown; resulting in the rest of the show feeling like a letdown. The day after Nintendo’s presentation, I watched a trailer for a Wii U game tentatively titled Project P-100. It was a game developed by Platinum Studios and published by Nintendo. After watching the trailer, my immediate reaction was, “Why wasn’t this shown at the presentation?!” I thought the game looked great. I knew I had to try it because the game looked like a potential system seller.

Let’s fast-forward to this year’s New York Comic Con. The game has already been renamed to The Wonderful 101 and is available to try and Nintendo’s booth. As you are probably aware of by now, I just had to try it out. Turns out it’s just as awesome to play as it looks.

The best way to describe The Wonderful 101 is that the game is Pikmin meets Viewtiful Joe. In the game you control a team of heroes who have to band together in order to fight an alien invasion. As you progress through the stages, you are able to draw a circle on the touch screen of the Wii U controller to recruit people on the street as additional heroes. In addition, drawing specific shapes allows the team to transform into various shapes for different fighting styles.

For the demo at the show, I had eight minutes to get as far as I could through the demo stage and then another two minutes to fight in a boss battle. Control wise, the game feels great. I had no problem using the touch pad and the controls felt very natural. The three attack forms I could use during the demo were a giant gun, a giant sword, and a giant fist. When it came to the fighting, I personally found the sword to be the most effective form of attack. However, the demo also showed that these forms can have functions outside of just fighting. For example, the fist can be used to turn dials and the sword can be used as a pole vault. In the demo, there was a section where I had to look at the screen on the controller in order to discover and open a combination lock. The picture on the screen looked great and the use of the two screens was actually quite fun. Hopefully the final product will have good puzzle designs throughout the game.

The thing about The Wonderful 101 that impressed me the most was the combat system. When fighting, you can’t stick to just one style. Ideally, you’ll want to attack with just the power transformations, but you can’t due to the battery meter. Your special attacks require battery power to work, and the only ways to recharge is to either find batteries on the ground or to fight the enemies using regular team attacks. In addition, enemy fight styles require you to take the defensive either through quick dodging or by turning into a giant Jell-O mold that doubles as a shield. Based on what I played, it feels like a good balance that hopefully will prevent combat from getting monotonous.

Due to the strict time limits, the demo is nearly impossible to complete, but it left me wanting more. I loved every part of the demo. I loved the music, the art style, and even the fact that if you lose all your health, the hero that took the final hit (man or woman) gets smacked into the TV screen in only their underwear. That’s the kind of stuff I like; crazy, colorful, different, and fun. Both this game and Nintendo Land has convinced me that the Wii U is a system I want sooner rather than later. And when I buy myself a Wii U early next year (I’m waiting a bit before I get it), you can bet that The Wonderful 101 will be the first game I play on it.

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