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Hands-On with The Wonderful 101

When I walked into Nintendo’s booth at PAX East, I was surrounded by many games that have already come out. Lego City: Undercover, New Super Mario Bros. U, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (which launched early for everyone to buy at PAX East), so I was not too thrilled to play much. Then I saw that they had two Wii U consoles hooked up to The Wonderful 101, which I quickly pounced on.

Right when you put your hands on the Gamepad, you can tell that The Wonderful 101 feels like a Platinum game. Just like some of their past games like Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising, game is ripe with so much style within its action. The X button performs normal attacks and the A button unleashes special “Unite” attacks, attacks that use all the characters you have on hand. Unite attacks differ from what shape you make with your army with the right stick. For example if you made them form a circle, you’ll perform an uppercut or if you’re in an L-shape, your characters will become a gun. After beating up baddies in an area, you can recruit the innocent survivors by circling your army around them to increase your numbers and make these Unite attacks stronger. Lastly, like almost every other Platinum Games title, you are scored on your performance based on how fast you cleared the area and how stylish you did it.

The PAX East demo took place within the game’s first level. Trekking through it was pretty straightforward with instructing and testing players on how to control this unique game. Whether it was its combat, platforming, puzzle-solving or testing myself on mini-bosses, the level was a taste test of what the game is offering. One part that showed off some neat Gamepad functionality was when I had to look at the touch screen when I entered a building. While I was in there, I saw the effect of what I was doing in there on the TV. After conquering a large building I scaled, I formed my army into a glider and flew off of it, just to land on the left hand of a giant robot – the boss. 

Much like the level I played, the boss was stereotypical to many first level bosses. While I bashed its obvious weak points and dodged its petty attacks, I thought I was doing fine. Unfortunately, a timer started counting down after I swung to its right hand signaling the end of the demo, which I was unsuccessful of beating. All I was left with was a “To Be Continued” screen, never to be retold until the game’s release.

One element of The Wonderful 101 that I was shocked about was its gorgeous Pixar-like visuals. From its crisp texturing to its bump mapping to the well designed 3D models of the characters and environments, this game is one of the best looking console games I have ever seen. This is the first Wii U game that actually shows its graphical difference to the current generation of consoles, which at this moment is exactly what the system needs.

Walking away from The Wonderful 101 has me hopeful. It has the gameplay and visuals down, but little is still known about its story, length, or if it uses the Nintendo Network in any way. All I know is that its Bayonetta mixed with Pikmin, and that is not a bad combination to me. All I wish is for the game’s boring logo to be replaced with something as flashy as its presentation. 

Expect The Wonderful 101 later this year. Like many other first-party titles, it will launch on the Nintendo eShop day one with the physical disc release.


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