|The Wonderful 101|
Let's get this out of the way, yes it looks like super hero Pikmin & yes, it does share similarities but it's got a personality of it's own. The story has you playing as the global super hero team, The Wonderful 100! An alien threat known as the Gethjerk are invading Earth & it's up to our heroes to stop the alien threat from taking over the world by using the team's special ability, Unite Morph! The story does feel heavily inspired by Japanese super hero TV shows.
The game has you fighting enemies by turning your group of heroes into a variety of weapons. Each weapon is also required to defeat certain enemies & also has puzzle solving properties too. There are plenty of extra moves to learn to assist in battle as well as help with some of the puzzle solving. The puzzle solving may sound scary to the average gamer who has earned the Tea Bagging achievement in every FPS, but they aren't to frequent or difficult... combat on the other hand isn't that easy, but at least you get infinite continues.
The stages contain missions like Bayonetta(made by the same company Platinum Games) where you get locked in an area until you defeat every enemy in there and get graded on your performance & a couple them require you to solve a puzzle. You'll most likely see the consolation prize most, so don't be discouraged, enough practice & replaying the missions can net you the Pure Platinum... but it will take A LOT of skill. Switching between the before mentioned weapons is done by drawing the corresponding shape on the gamepad's touchscreen or with the right analog stick. You can also spam weapons in combat by pressing the team button instead of the attack button & trust me, you'll need to do it in a lot of battles!
On top of the gamepad being used to draw the Unite Morph shapes, it's also used in a couple of sections in the game as part of a 2 screen experience that can be... disorienting. These sections have you using both screens to solve a puzzle or navigate a section or even in one instance, fight enemies in a cockpit of a ship while also piloting it to destroy other ships & it gets really disorienting in that one! It's an interesting experiment but man... be prepared for a dizzy spell if you move your head too much!
Each stage has people to rescue... by temporarily recruiting them as heroes to add to your pool for Unite Morphs. Along with them, scattered across the stages are more members of the Wonderful 100 to find. Some are very well hidden & will require all your skills to find them all. Admittedly, they all are just there to fill the pool of heroes to use and their weapons are the same as the main characters that you get the weapons from, still finding them means more at the start of each stage.
There are plenty of collectibles to find throughout the game. Some are found with the skills you learn, others through special missions & some are found by squishing a bunch of heroes in a toilet... I'm kidding on that one... I hope! Completionists will enjoy hunting them down but if you just want to finish the game, they can be easily ignored.
Boss fights in the game range from epic, to frustrating & some switching between the two during the battle. Battles have strategic patterns to learn, so you'll need to pay attention to reduce you chance of dying... although the quick time events will beat you like an abusive parent. Yeah... just like Bayonetta, we get QTE's to aggravate you if you're not a fan of them. There are also some mini bosses too throughout the game that help add to the action, but some do become normal enemies later in the game.
The game does support local multiplayer, but it's not exactly... fun. Yes it can be "fun" if you're playing with someone else who's about as skilled as you, but it's just a better single player game then it is as a co op game. Also it's hard to keep track of who's who on screen.
There is a challenge mode call Wonderful Missions that extends the playtime past the story mode. These can be a nice challenge if you want more from the game, but I honestly prefer replaying the story mode. The challenges can also be frustrating too so don't go in thinking it'll be a cake walk!
So is The Wonderful 101 as wonderful as it's title? Well, yes in some ways. It's a fun and challenging game with a lot of character to it. The difficulty can be daunting for some, especially younger gamers but it's so much fun! This is a game that makes owning a Wii U worth while. Just buy it now before it becomes a rarity like other great classics.