The Wonderful 101 Remastered - Mighty Morphin Power Struggles (Game Review)
Platform: PS4, PC, Switch, Wii U
Genre: Action RPG
Original Release Date: August 23rd 2013
What makes a compelling game stand out from the rest? Take some influences of the early great games of Capcom, created by the insane minds out there in PlatinumGames and going full Kamiya mode on. It's no wonder this got a remaster.
Based on an original idea from PlatinumGames president, this game went through several revisions and brainstorming before Kamiya decides to take it further by replacing the Japanese based characters into American ones based on popular comics. As it was intended for the Wii, by the time that game's concepts became a realization, it was released instead for the Wii U instead, using the touchscreen in the final version.
While this remaster certainly brings the crown jewel back, it also kinds of screws the pooch elsewhere, mainly the porting. PG has a terrible history of PC ports, not to mention there are a litany of issues found in the Switch version as well. Even if the gravitas of the main game stands tall within these problems, you'd start to notice that the mechanical implementation for the Wii U, doesn't carry in the same spirit it does in the other platforms.
W101 features a cast of unique, charming characters with loads of humor to bring, with an emotionally driven story thanks to great character developments while complemented with some hilarious archetypical villains and some satirical undertones.
The seminal protagonist, Wonder-Red takes the mantle of leading a multi-faceted team of superheroes with the strong intent on bringing righteous justice against evil-doers. Even with his naïveté, high IQ and strong convictions, Red's emotional journey to saving the planet takes it to different levels and having that effect on his teammates while returning with some hilarious banter.
Choke full of humor, you'd start analyzing for inside jokes or any deep allegories. The phenomenal witty and sharp dialogue writing holds up with great delivery as well.
Overall it has a great hero narrative with great personalities that carries the main story without it being cliché or overbearing. You know, much like those Trigger anime we all love to watch.
There's a lot this was influenced by. For starters, most of the ideas are borrowed from Okami, Viewtiful Joe and Bayonetta into their own fusion of absurdities. You can summon various weapons or other projections based on the draw mechanic. You use a combination of team attacks and basic weapon attacks to take out enemies. The main important aspect of playing this is to rescue and recruit as many heroes and civilians as possible in your fights. More of them means bigger weapons and more damage provided you've drawn the weapon well enough. Rescuing means you'll also find heroes who offer new weapons for use. Reading tutorials and more about these gets complicated and little inundating as you go along but I've learned that through practice, you easily understand the intricacies around the gameplay and combat.
The game can get hectic fast, which requires you to coordinate and attack. Enemies will come out with different tactics and attacks to circumvent you and at times annoy you too. Making the best of the unlocked abilities like turning into a gelatinous fortress or curl spin for dodging helps make the situation better.
It is highly action and spectacle focused so there's going to be lot of timed QTE movements where you draw weapons out or make the required button prompts. If that's not intense enough, there's a score system where you have to play as badass as possible and you earn points. Points that you use to spend for upgrades, new abilities, and such which comes more useful for later missions in the wonderful mart.
You can search for items by scouring through rummages, buildings and hidden areas. Path finding can get puzzling some times which is essential that you put your thinking caps on and figure out what to do. It also helps break the game's pacing for a bit which keeps you well distracted into doing others before going back into combat.
Most of the boss battles in this game basically require everything you've learned about the game and use it to defeat the bad guys by finding weaknesses or following QTE sequences. Half the time you're just smashing them, the other time it becomes a puzzle to be solved.
This game has loads of personality and charm besides its story and character, as well as hyperactive gameplay mechanics with good puzzle sections, QTEs and boss battles. While this all sounds great, there are issues. One is the drawing mechanics, unless you're using the Switch or Wii U touchscreen, using this doesn't always pan out with the abilities you want and need so it feels kind of clumsy. The camera obstructs from the battle, especially intense ones making playing the game a lot more difficult, easy fix would have been that the camera could zoom out a bit had been an easy fix. But I'd say this much, this was a great creative exercise to play for 13-14hrs and I'd be glad to play this also with my friends. Even if it also feels outdated compared to modern standards.
Yet there's more, there are flashy mini-games and trial combats to partake in after being unlocked through various stages.
There's no online co-op, what a shame. As for the couch co-op, you can play with a party of 4 on a single screen. But this feature is only available for its own dedicated mode which is Multiplayer missions.
Yeah, this remaster wasn't much of a remastering, it has a more polished look but the visual effects and rendering along with texture models still looks really behind times. But the high color palette art style and quirky personality of the broader appeal for the game makes it alluring, so points for that.
Music and sound design is where it mostly holds because of how much you can register the superhero world this game has created in of itself. The music carries itself to high heavens of superhero extravaganza while the sound is loud, unabashed and quaint.
While I played this on the PC, it was running fine. Mostly. There are legitimate technical issues like the fact that you can't map buttons for the keyboard or controller. Pressing escape literally minimizes the game which makes it seem vexing. I played with a controller and I couldn't figure out the tutorial instructions till I changed the main control scheme in the menu. The game doesn't even go fullscreen, more like pseudo-full. I had issues recording footage or capturing screenshots thanks to this issue.
This remaster isn't perfect, not even by a long shot. And, the game itself is fun but once you see the issues rearing their ugly heads, you're not having as much as pleasant time as much you would want to.
If you can tolerate its issues, this is a really fun game and deserving of actually better porting. Heck, I even heard the Switch version has its own fair share of issues. It's been said that they'll be patched out but that remains to be seen.
I kind of expected better, but maybe it is what it is.