The Wonderful 101: Remastered PC Review

The Wonderful 101 has a lot of great elements but there is plenty of vexing moments holding this overwise great game back.

By Grayshadow, Posted 16 May 2020

The Wonderful 101 is one of the least known titles from acclaimed developer PlatinumGames. Released as a Wii U exclusive the game garnered positive reception but due to the console selling poorly not a lot of people played it. Now, PlatinumGames has rereleased the title for modern systems thanks to a massively successful Kickstarter campaign. The Wonderful 101: Remastered is a creatively charming adventure that masks its difficulty with cute characters and bright colors. However, the game's core mechanics and the poor camera often lead to a lot of frustrating moments that artificially increase the game's difficulty.

The Wonderful 101: Remastered,NoobFeed,PlatinumGames,

The Wonderful 101 takes place during the third war against Earth and an alien terrorist organization called Gearthjerk Federation. Humanity's greatest defense force the Wonderful Ones are deployed to defend Earth against the hostile alien force. These heroes are part of the CENTINELS Planetary Secret Service, an organization created by the United Nations, and can use an ability called Unite Morph to create weapons, structures, and even control enemies.

The leader Wonder-Red recruits other heroes from the CENTINELS to fight against the alien force. These heroes each have unique personalities and distinct weapons that they use to complement the entire team's synergy. Some heroes are more important than others and during the finale of the game the late additions are pushed to the back. The invading aliens are mostly one-dimensional but serve their purpose as destroyers of the planet. Keeping them from totally falling flat is the dialogue, which resembles that of a Saturday morning cartoon.

Like other PlatinumGames titles, The Wonderful 101 is an action-adventure title with a heavy focus on combat. Unlike titles like Bayonetta, Vanquish, or Astral Chain players build their weapons using specific patterns, similar to Okami's painting systemThe developers attempted to make the patterns simple, such as a circle to create a hand or a straight line for a sword. You gain a myriad of new powers as the game progresses with each key weapon wielded by a specific character. You're required to recruit the civilians and soldiers, that can be controlled, around each map to increase the strength of your weapons depending on how many your have in your team. This leads to one of The Wonderful 101's biggest problems, the drawing system.

The Wonderful 101: Remastered,NoobFeed,PlatinumGames,

This game has a heavy learning curve. At first, drawing your weapons is easy enough but eventually, you gain access to new weapons and tactics that overlap each other's patterns. The game does its best to recognize specific patterns but often it'll mistake 1 for another. You do eventually learn shortcuts that help shorten the designs and make it easier for the game to recognize one over another but that frustrating moment where the game will simply not understand the weapon you're drawing happens too frequently. Especially when attempting to get more powerful versions of certain weapons that require larger patterns. This can lead to a lot of cheap hits and vexing moments as you attempt to draw a certain pattern only for the characters to get stuck or the game thinking that the Hammer design is a Whip.

I would argue this could've been resolved by having a simple hotkey option linked to these weapons. This would disrupt the creative direction the developers were going for but it would also alleviate one of the primary frustrations of The Wonderful 101. 

The enemy encounters are exceptional, each requiring specific tactics to take down and each is wonderfully designed and animated. Each fight is challenging and the developers prevent fighting the same enemies, sometimes with slight changes, over and over with new environmental hazards. The boss fights are giant cinematic fights often with multiple phases complemented with a fitting soundtrack that makes each new fight truly spectacular.

The Wonderful 101: Remastered,NoobFeed,PlatinumGames,

The isometric camera is okay at times but often it'll get way too close to your team. This makes it harder to draw patterns during combat or QTEs and there's no option to control the camera at all. The camera can also often get so close to the heroes that you cannot see where to go.

Perhaps the biggest issue from The Wonderful 101 comes from its lack of explanation. You're given the basics such as how certain attacks work but critical skills such as parrying, evading, and skill management is not provided. You have to purchase these skills, which are essential, for next to nothing which begs the question why wasn't it given to the player from the start? This extends to certain boss fights to which you'll have to guess what is required of you a lot to avoid damage. You do learn what specific tactics are required for each situation through trial and error but these circumstances are so common that it stops becoming exciting and more irritating. 

If you do happen to die the game is quite forgiving. You can instantly restart from the point of death but this does affect your final rating. Like many PlatinumGames you're rated on performance such as damage taken, combos, and speed of completion. With a medal awarded for each fight and an overall score given at the end. You're given points depending on your performance that can be used to purchase new skills and upgrades.

The visuals are true eye-candy. The flood of colorful characters, brilliant setpieces, and detailed environments are noteworthy. The character models are a bit off especially when the character's mouths move but this is a small complaint about what is a visually outstanding game.

The Wonderful 101: Remastered,NoobFeed,PlatinumGames,

The Wonderful 101: Remastered is a creative adventure full of amazing boss fights and dynamic events. The boss fights are thrilling cinematic encounters that test your skills in a multitude of ways and the game constantly changes in such a vibrant way that it's hard to predict what will happen next. However, between all those moments of joy are times of vexation as you learn the game's mechanics. Trying to quickly draw weapons in time-sensitive situations that often lead to you doing it again and again until the game recognizes that pattern. That or fighting the game's camera on everything. The Wonderful 101 has a lot of great elements but there is plenty of vexing moments holding this overwise great game back.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS4, Switch, PC, WII
Publisher(s): Nintendo, PlatinumGames
Developer(s): PlatinumGames
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: 2013-08-23

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