The Wonderful 101 is among the company of Pikmin 3 as one of a handful of Wii U games that actually attempted to utilize the gamepad in different ways. That made them seem like they couldn’t be translated to single-screen systems, but the developers have managed! And that’s a great thing, because now with The Wonderful 101 Remastered, more players have the chance to pick up one of PlatinumGames’ most unique titles.
Developed by PlatinumGames and originally released in 2013, The Wonderful 101 is an action-adventure game where you control a slew of superheroes called Wonderful Ones (of which there are, unsurprisingly, 100) to fight aliens. With its cartoony art style and isometric view, it looks and feels a bit like Viewtiful Joe plus Pikmin, which makes sense considering both Viewtiful Joe and The Wonderful 101 were directed by Hideki Kamiya and produced by Atsushi Inaba.
In addition to standard attacks for the main Wonderful One you’re currently controlling and a group attack to direct your current minions, The Wonderful 101 Remastered‘s gameplay consists of drawing various symbols with the right analog stick, mouse, or on the Switch touch screen or Dualshock touchpad depending on the system you’re playing on (the remaster is available for PC, Switch, and PS4). This initiates different Unite Morphs, which are Power Rangers/tokusatsu-style weapons created by assembling all of the Wonderful Ones.
For the most part, these symbols can be drawn relatively easily with the analog stick or the touch screen – in my case, I played on the Switch, usually in handheld mode, but I found it too cumbersome to do the touch screen input in the heat of battle. In fact, The Wonderful 101 Remastered has a pretty high learning curve, and I pretty quickly found things surprisingly tough on the normal difficulty despite being familiar with the “Platinum standard.”
It doesn’t help that when playing on the Switch on portable mode – one of my favorite ways to play games these days – everything is much too small, from the characters to the text as well the popup menu that has replaced the Wii U’s second screen. The Wonderful 101 is definitely built for the big screen, which makes sense since it originally came out on the Wii U. Plus, it has the perfect Saturday morning cartoon feel!
Adding to the Saturday morning cartoon feel is the game’s levels, which are divided into operations. You’re scored on each operation, encouraging replays, and between each operation, you can purchase upgrades and new abilities. There are some new additions to the menu such icons that indicate upgrades that are recommended to purchase, but the remaster wouldn’t suffer by having a better introduction to the surprisingly complex gameplay mechanics.
Unfortunately, after a handful of hours with The Wonderful 101 Remastered, I still didn’t really feel like I had my head around the gameplay, unlike PlatinumGames titles such as Bayonetta or Nier Automata where I quickly clicked with the combat. The characters and dialogue, however, are humorous and endearing, and each new antic brought a smile to my face.
If you have the patience to stick with it long enough to get the hang of the fast-paced gameplay, you’ll be rewarded with a lighthearted, arcade-style experience. It may take me a while to chip away at it, but as a fan of PlatinumGames’ unabashed style and dedication to creating unique experiences, I’m going to do my best to see The Wonderful 101 Remasteredthrough!