The Wonderful 101
|The Wonderful 101|
North American Wii U box art
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
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. The Wonderful 101 received generally positive reviews, but failed to meet sales expectations.
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. In specified areas, the GamePad (by default) is used to change the view to a traditional, third-person angle and better explore tighter environments, such as those found indoors and inside caves.
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 Wii U GamePad and the four others each using their own Wii U Pro Controllers.
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) (voiced by Charlie Schlatter), a Blossom City elementary school teacher and the leader of the Wonderful Ones, whose father Arthur is killed by Laambo; Eliot Hooker (Wonder-Blue) (voiced by Roger Craig Smith), a police detective whose older brother is killed by Vijounne (voiced by Paula Tiso); guns expert Jean-Sebastain Renault (Wonder-Green) (voiced by Kari Wahlgren); fashion modeler Mariana Kretzulesco (Wonder-Pink) (voiced by Tara Strong); Russian soldier Ivan Istochinkov (Wonder-Yellow) (voiced by JB Blanc); ninja-in-training Momoe Byakkoin (Wonder-White) (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal); and video game player Krishna Ramanujan (Wonder-Black) (voiced by Kris Zimmerman).
The supporting characters are P-Star, a robot who assists the heroes; Laurence Nelson (Wonder-Captain) (voiced by Gideon Emery), the commander of the CENTINELS who was previously known as Wonder-Red; Virgin Victory operator Alice MacGregor (voiced by Laura Bailey); and science chief James Shirogane (voiced by Fred Tatasciore). Luka Alan Smithee (voiced by Debi Derryberry) 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 (voiced by Stephanie Lemelin); her brother, Prince Vorkken (voiced by Quinton Flynn), 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 (voiced by Steve Blum), 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 with Unite Morph powers. One student, however, Luka, appears disillusioned and expresses his hate for both the heroes and the aliens.
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, Vijounne. 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. Upon being confronted, Jerrgingha reveals the Geathjerk are actually from 1,500 years in the future where Earth becomes an evil empire called the Greater Galactic Coelition, which has destroyed the homeworlds of the Geathjerk leaders. Geathjerk has come back in time to destroy Earth to prevent the Coelition from ever existing. 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. The Wonderful Ones vow to make sure Earth never becomes an Evil Empire like Jergingha seemingly predicted. 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. For Remastered, Yoko Shimomura, Keiichi Okabe, and Yuzo Koshiro provided several arrangements.
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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's 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. During the 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.
In a May 2018 interview, Kamiya stated that the team have some ideas for a possible port on the Nintendo Switch, as he made internal documents on how they would do it. Platinum launched a Kickstarter in February 2020 to port the game in a remastered edition to the Switch and other platforms including PlayStation 4 and Windows when stretch goals were met, with further stretch goals to add downloadable content to the game. Hideki Kamiya and Atsushi Inaba said that they had approached Nintendo, the publisher and co-owner of copyright and solely owner of trademark, about republishing the game for a wider audience. Nintendo only wanted to publish a new game if it was going to be exclusive to Nintendo Switch, while Platinum wanted the remaster to be on more platforms. Nintendo allowed them to do it, though they wouldn't publish the remaster. This gave Platinum the opportunity to try self-publishing. With the game nearly in a complete state for these new ports, they opted to use Kickstarter not only to judge how popular the game was, and thus mitigate the Kickstarter's stretch goals based on this, but also that there was still a necessary business element to self-publishing that the Kickstarter funds would help cover and deal with risks involved with publishing. Studio executive director Atsushi Inaba affirmed the Kickstarter was not about money for development but as a means to bring the community together and to make sure what additional content they could bring to the base game. Among other cosmetic updates, Platinum had devised a way to take the two-screen approach that had been used on the Wii U version (including the picture-in-picture) into a version that will work on the single-screen platforms. Drawing features will still be incorporated in the Switch version.
Within hours, the campaign had surpassed its goals for all three versions. The campaign concluded with over US$2.25 million raised, achieving several of the stretch goals that included a separate 2D side-scrolling game based on the adventures of Luka. A celebratory Twitch stream held by PlatinumGames at the Kickstarter's conclusion brought in additional donations that allowed a last stretch goal, orchestral arrangements of two of the game's songs, to be made as well. Remastered was released digitally in North America on May 19, 2020, in Europe on May 22, 2020, and in Japan on June 11, 2020.
The Wonderful 101 received generally positive reviews from critics. It has an aggregate score of 78/100 on Metacritic. The game was praised for its innovative gameplay and the depth of its combat system, but its hard learning curve received a mixed response, with some criticizing it and others such as Nintendo Enthusiast's Michael Nelson praising 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 critics 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. Many also thought the multiplayer mode was enjoyable, but often lost track of their own group of characters. Most agreed that it felt "tacked on". The Wonderful 101's cartoony art style and flashy effects in battle were also praised. The set-pieces and giant bosses were likewise well-received, as were the voice acting and soundtrack.
Nintendo shipped 30,000 copies for the game's launch in Japan. The game sold 5,258 physical copies in its first week in Japan, where it went on to sell 27,028 physical units. The game reached 22nd place in its first week on the UK sales chart. In the United States, The Wonderful 101 sold 49,000 units by the end of 2013, bringing the game's total known sales to 79,000 units in Japan and the United States.
Both Atsushi Inaba and Hideki Kamiya have expressed interest in a sequel.
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