The Wonderful 101
|The Wonderful 101|
North American box art
The Wonderful 101[a] is an action-adventure game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Nintendo for the Wii U. The game was directed by Hideki Kamiya and produced by Atsushi Inaba; the pair also worked together on the Viewtiful Joe series and Ōkami. It was released in August 2013 in all major regions except North America, where it released the following month.
In The Wonderful 101, players control a horde of superheroes from an isometric viewpoint and can turn them into various objects called "Unite Morphs." As levels progress, players must explore each stage to find helpless citizens and recruit them to join their army of heroes. The more heroes gathered, the greater the special morph powers can be. At the cost of depleting their battery meter, players can use "Unite Morph" forms to defeat enemies, solve puzzles, or traverse the environment. The meter can be recharged by performing normal attacks or by picking up batteries dropped by a defeated enemy. Enemies will also drop "O parts" (the in-game currency used to buy upgrades), new "Unite Morph" abilities and items. To transform the horde of heroes, the appropriate symbol is drawn on the Wii U GamePad's touchscreen or right analog stick, such as an “L” for a gun or a squiggly line for a whip. The GamePad can also be used to change the view to a traditional, third-person angle and better explore tighter environments, such as those found indoors.
The single-player campaign is broken into levels. Each level ends with a grade depending on a number of factors, such as how long it takes the player to complete the level and how much damage was taken by the player. In addition to a single-player mode, the game has a cooperative mode that supports up to five players, with one person utilizing the GamePad and the four others using their own Wii U Pro Controller.
The game takes place during a third war between Earth and an alien terrorist organization –called the Geathjerk Federation– that has invaded the planet. The only hope for humanity is the Wonderful Ones, a group of superheroes working for the CENTINELS Planetary Secret Service, an organization created by the United Nations.
The main protagonists are Will Wedgewood (Wonder-Red), a Blossom City elementary school teacher and the leader of the Wonderful Ones, whose father Arthur is killed by Laambo; Eliot Hooker (Wonder-Blue), a police detective whose older brother is killed by Vijounne; guns expert Jean-Sebastain Renault (Wonder-Green); fashion modeler Mariana Kretzulesco (Wonder-Pink); Russian soldier Ivan Istochinkov (Wonder-Yellow); ninja-in-training Momoe Byakkoin (Wonder-White); and video game player Krishna Ramanujan (Wonder-Black).
The supporting characters are P-Star, a robot who assists the heroes; Laurence Nelson (Wonder-Captain), the commander of the CENTINELS who was previously known as Wonder-Red; Virgin Victory operator Alice MacGregor; and science chief James Shirogane. Luka Alan Smithee is a Blossom City Elementary School student whose scientist mother, Margarita, died working for the CENTINELS and gave her life so that the artificial intelligence, Mother Platinum, could sustain the Earth's defensive shield. Luka joins the group and becomes Wonder-Goggles at the end of the game. The last member of the Galactic Police Federation is Immorta; her brother, Prince Vorkken, lived at the Roaming Comet Rhullo, but was brainwashed by Gimme, an alien who plants a virus in the form of a bio-weapon insect named Vaaiki on Vorkken's body. Vorkken becomes the space pirate leader of the Guyzoch and sides with Chewgi.
The main villain is Jergingha, the supreme overlord of the Geathjerk Federation, who is attempting to use Chi-Q to take back the galaxy from humanity.
The story opens with a school bus full of children being attacked by alien invaders known as the Geathjerk. The teacher, Mr. Wedgewood, transforms into the superhero Wonder-Red and teams up with the other superheroes to destroy the aliens. One student, however, Luka, appears disillusioned and expresses his hate for both the heroes and the aliens. This sequence serves as the game's tutorial, introducing the heroes and their Unite Morph ability.
The heroes then meet on their flagship to plan their defences. The Earth is protected from invasion by a shield, powered by five Super Reactors. The heroes must travel around the world to protect these reactors and destroy the aliens who slip through the shield. As they travel, they meet up with Professor Shirogane, who explains that once the reactors are safe, they will use an orbiting cannon, the Shirogane Comet, to destroy the remainder of the aliens. Along the way, Wonder-Red struggles to lead his team, particularly Wonder-Blue, whose brother was killed by one of the alien leaders. Blue's desire for revenge causes several problems until Red convinces him to cooperate with the team. Also, Luka stows away on the ship and the heroes are forced to bring him along to keep him safe.
The heroes also repeatedly fight the space pirate Prince Vorkken and his first mate Chewgi. Vorkken is searching for the strongest fighters in the galaxy so that he can have the strength to get revenge on the Geathjerk. Vorkken fights with Unite Morph attacks similar to those of the heroes and serves as a foil to Wonder-Red in their encounters. With the help of Vorkken's sister, Immorta, the heroes defeat him, and Wonder-Red convinces Vorkken that his desire for revenge has turned him evil.
At the climax of the story, Luka betrays the heroes and joins the aliens, revealing that his pendant is the key that controls the Super Reactors. Luka explains that his mother died working on the shield that protects the Earth and he wants the aliens to destroy the Earth to get revenge for the loss of his mother. Wonder-Red however, announces that Luka's mother is still alive: she turned herself into Mother Platinum, the computer system that controls Earth's defences. Luka abandons his desire for revenge and Mother Platinum gathers pieces of the destroyed city to create a giant robot named "Platinum Robo". Using the robot, the heroes fight their way to the Shirogane Comet and fire its cannon, destroying the invading fleet. Jergingha, leader of the aliens, does not give up and returns in a gigantic fortress with an even bigger fleet. Platinum Robo flies to attack the fortress, while Chewgi and Vorkken arrive to help break through its defences. Jergingha's fortress turns into a giant robot, even bigger than Platinum Robo, but the Wonderful Ones, Immorta, and Vorkken all combine their power and destroy it, saving the world. The Guyzoch leave with Vorkken to help rebuild the worlds they attacked. Luka joins the Wonderful 100 to help make up for his mistakes. As a result, the team is renamed to the "Wonderful 101".
The epilogue shows Luka (now "Wonder-Goggles") and the other heroes saving a school bus from the aliens, paralleling the game's opening. The story ends with the heroes continuing their fight against the remaining Geathjerk.
The development of what would become The Wonderful 101 began during the lifetime of the Wii. The original idea came from PlatinumGames' president, Tatsuya Minami, who wanted to bring a group of popular or iconic video game characters together in one game. Because different gamers would prefer certain characters over others, the idea of being forced to play as a certain character at various points in the game was quickly scrapped. Instead, all of the characters would be on-screen at once so the player could choose between them at any time. PlatinumGames initially thought of using Nintendo first-party characters, who would work together to get past obstacles, but when the idea was presented to Nintendo, they questioned how the mechanic would fill an entire game. Director Hideki Kamiya also doubted that the "conflicting elements" of the different Nintendo characters could be successfully "put into a consistent formula" like in the Super Smash Bros. series. Further brainstorming was put on hold while he worked on another game, but when progress on that game was halted a year later, work on The Wonderful 101 resumed. Kamiya decided to use the Japanese henshin / transforming theme, with a group of five original heroes who could unite and transform into various weapons. Soon the group expanded to one hundred heroes and the Japanese superhero style changed to "an American comic book vibe". Although the developers had been thinking of making the game for the Wii, when PlatinumGames and Nintendo finalized their partnership, it became Wii U-exclusive. The developers wanted to use the console's unique features effectively, so they came up with drawing on the GamePad as a way to activate the "Unite Morphs".
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The music in this game is an orchestrated score, written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Akira Takizawa, Hitomi Kurokawa, Norihiko Hibino, Masato Kouda, and Rei Kondoh. The theme songs are called "The Won-Stoppable Wonderful 100" and "The Won-Stoppable Wonderful 101". They are sung by Foresta in the Japanese version and by Jimmy Wilcox, Rob McElroy, and Bruce Blanchard in the English version. A two-volume, official soundtrack was released on September 15, 2014.
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The Wonderful 101 was revealed at E3 2012 on the conference floor, codenamed Project P-100. On July 3, 2013, Nintendo introduced their "Wonderful Wednesday" social networking campaign to promote The Wonderful 101, where on each Wednesday leading up to the game launch, they release a new character portrait. Two days later, however, Kamiya posted on Twitter that he was worried about the lack of marketing for The Wonderful 101. He was referring to the lack of information in magazines or websites, and claimed that the game took almost 1.5 times the resources and manpower as Platinum’s biggest game, Bayonetta. On August 7, 2013, Nintendo Direct, Satoru Iwata announced that in two days time, a Nintendo Direct presentation would be made exclusively for The Wonderful 101.
The Wonderful 101 received generally positive reviews from critics. It has an aggregate score of 78.02% on GameRankings and 78/100 on Metacritic. The game came in for criticism from some game reviewers over its hard learning curve, while others, such as Nintendo Enthusiast's Michael Nelson, praised the game for requiring a certain amount of skill.
Most reviewers enjoyed the ridiculously nonsensical story, characters, and humor, but some found the few sexual jokes in the game to be out-of-place in what was perceived as a kid-friendly game (although it has a Teen rating). The Wonderful 101's length and pacing seemed a bit drawn-out to some reviewers due to repetitive enemies and boss fights, while others thought these issues were unproblematic thanks to the even distribution of new moves and upgrades.
The necessity of forming weapons by drawing on the touchscreen garnered a mixed reception. Many reviewers found that the GamePad worked fine for straight lines or circles (to make a sword or a fist), but that it sometimes interpreted more complex shapes as the wrong weapon. Others thought that drawing simple shapes on the GamePad while using the right analogue stick for others was more reliable, or that the GamePad worked perfectly and it was simply a matter of practice. The camera was criticized for being too zoomed-out to keep track of all of the characters during battle but also too zoomed-in to see the occasional out-of-view enemy. Reviewers agreed that the game lived up to PlatinumGames' trademark high difficulty, with some citing the controls and camera as contributing factors.
Nearly all reviewers were pleased with the creative uses of the GamePad's second screen. However, a few thought that navigating inside of a building using the controller's gyroscope was clunky.
The Wonderful 101's cartoony art style and flashy effects in battle were praised by reviewers, but critics also thought the character models looked low-poly if the view zoomed in. The set-pieces and giant bosses were likewise well-received, as were the voice acting and soundtrack.
- ザ・ワンダフル ワン・オー・ワン (Za Wandafuru Wan Ō Wan)
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