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Review: 'The Wonderful 101' is one of 2013's best games

The Wonderful 101
The Wonderful 101

One of the most revered game studios within the video game industry is, without question, the independent development company known as Platinum Games. The company’s first video game release was Wii exclusive beat ‘em up title MadWorld in early 2009. Following the launch of MadWorld, Platinum went on to develop Infinite Space for Nintendo DS, and proceeded to make one of the generation’s most beloved games and one of the all-time best third-person action games with Bayonetta for Xbox 360 and PS3.

With such an impressive work résumé, it is obvious as to why Nintendo turned to Platinum Games to develop two exclusives for Nintendo Wii U – though we must patiently wait for Bayonetta 2 to see release in 2014. In the meantime, gamers have a new title from Hideki Kamiya – renowned director of Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, and Okami – to enjoy as The Wonderful 101 sees release for Wii U.

Team! Unite up! It is time to play a wonderful (pun intended) Wii U game.

The Wonderful 101 is a brilliant game on many levels. Anyone who watched Saturday morning cartoons or the Power Rangers knows about over-the-top, zany action and The Wonderful 101 conveys an unadulterated form of entertainment that will leave you in awe. The title is creative, wild, and never ceases in impressing the player – whether it is with new characters or memorable boss battles. This is a game that delivers on every aspect of what a video game should be.

If you own a Wii U, skip the remainder of this review and buy this game. At least download the demo off the eShop.

The best words to describe The Wonderful 101 are energetic and imaginative. The Wonderful 101 is energetic by its very nature. It is a fast-paced action game that features tons of stylish moves, upbeat colors, and a lively cast of characters – both the heroes and villains. It feels as though the game is constantly throwing new content at you and testing your battle skills a little more with each progressive fight. There is always something happening in the game world that keeps your attention.

For those looking to get greater rewards from the game’s deep combat system, swapping heroes on the fly to pull off move combinations requires patience and quick reflexes. However, it is worth it once you get a firm understanding of the game’s core battle mechanics as the combinations will quickly destroy any enemy and earn you big points.

The Wonderful 101 is imaginative in its delivery and concept. With a comic book look and feel to it, the game expresses a sense of bringing a comic to life. With colorful characters like Wonder Red, Wonder Pink, Wonder Blue, or Wonder Green, each character’s distinct personalities are brought to life with humorous dialogue. Each character also has his or her own weapon type and unique abilities – for instance, Wonder Blue can reflect energy beams and absorb lighting with his sword.

Creative thought also extends towards many of the game’s major battle sequences as you never know what to expect. One moment you will find yourself piloting a ship through a city skyline while battling a two-headed dragon. Immediately following you will be crossing swords with a giant alien villain. The Wonderful 101 consistently introduces eccentric ideas and delivers them with perfection.

Hideki Kamiya and the development further use the Wii U GamePad in inventive ways – like providing an alternative view to the game world to solve clever puzzles. To take the role of a different hero, one must first draw a shape designated to their unique skill – a straight line for a sword, circle for a fist, or a zigzag for a whip, to name a few examples. The concept is simple: draw the shape on the GamePad touch-screen or use the right analog stick to make the shape – whichever you prefer.

Some may find that they need rush to draw these shapes; however, this is not the case. The action happening in the game will temporarily slow, thus giving you enough time to draw the desired shape accurately. If you rush, though, you will encounter instances of the game not recognizing your shape or it may accidentally identify it as another, consequently calling forth the wrong hero.

A minor inconvenience found in The Wonderful 101 stems from the game’s camera system. It can be challenging to pick out your character among a crowd of nearly a hundred allies and dozens of enemies. Your hero will have a glowing aura around them to help you keep track of them, but there are times it can prove difficult. It will take some time to adjust to this viewing setup.

Only the basics of The Wonderful 101 are explained to the player. Most of the game is left to the player to discover – like buying a blocking skill before starting the first mission. This may confuse some at first, but it also allows the game to advance with strong pacing as there are no lengthy tutorials to be found. Many of the game’s abilities are tied to a marketplace, and this allows everyone to play and experience the game differently. Perhaps you don’t want the ability to block and reflect attacks during a playthrough, hence giving yourself a greater challenge.

The Wonderful 101 can be whatever you want it to be.

Most will find that the main game will take around 12-16-hours. The campaign certainly encourages multiple playthroughs as there are medals to earn and secrets to discover. Outside of the main game there are extra missions to accept. There is a lot to do in The Wonderful 101.

Anyone who enjoys superheroes, comics, or fast-paced action games will absolutely love The Wonderful 101. It is one the best games on Wii U and one of the best games of 2013.

Overall: 9.0/10

(Editor's Note: A digital code was provided by Nintendo for review. The game was completed prior to review with a total time of 35-hrs spent with the game.)

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