When I first saw a trailer for The Wonderful 101 (back when it was called Project P-100), I thought it looked like some simple, low-budget action game that could probably be sold exclusively through the Wii U’s eShop. I was surprised when I heard it was from the folks who made such epics as Okami and Bayonetta. Knowing that, I was eager to check the game out, and made sure to take a look when Nintendo brought the Wii U to New York for a press demo.
In the game, you control a squad of monster-fighting superheroes. On their own, the heroes are no match for the giant monsters they must face, but they have incredible collective power. In the demo, I could make my squad form into a giant sword or a giant gun or a giant fist. This is done by drawing the appropriate figure on the gamepad touch screen; if you want a gun you draw something like an upside-down “L,” while a sword is simply a vertical line. For some reason you have to draw the figure and then press A. I don’t understand why I can’t just drawn and have my soldiers instantly transform, but perhaps there’s a good reason for that. Or perhaps there isn’t.
Once your soldiers have coalesced into weapon form you can attack monsters with your giant weapon until the superheroes fall apart again. For defense you can form the heroes into a gelatinous blob that can then quickly slide behind a monster.
At a couple of points in the demo I came across someone I could recruit to increase the size of my army. This was done by encircling that person with my squad, but I never quite understood how to do that.
The game’s simple, cartoony graphics seem disappointingly unimpressive compared with previous games from the same designers. But in terms of gameplay, 101 is very promising. Judging from the trailer, there’s a lot I didn’t see in the 10 minutes I played the game, and I’m looking forward to a more in-depth experience when the 101 comes out this winter.