Nintendo Direct Roundup: The Wonderful 101
We got a two-for-one deal in Nintendo Direct presentations this week! This time however, it wasn’t the familiar friendly face of Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata greeting us. Instead, this Direct was hosted by PlatinumGames’ Hideki Kamiya.
If Kamiya sounds familiar, he should, because his credits are numerous! This is between his time working for Capcom at now-defunct Clover Studios, and subsequently migrating with various other ex-Clover Studios staff to form PlatinumGames, currently one of the most celebrated independent Japanese developers in the industry!
While at Capcom, Kamiya co-created the Devil May Cry franchise, directing the original game to boot, and was also a director and story planner for not only the Viewtiful Joe series, but also widely celebrated cult hit, Okami. He also did gameplay planning for the original Resident Evil, served as game director for Resident Evil 2, and drew the design template for series prequel, Resident Evil Zero. Fun fact; He was also the Japanese voice actor for Prosecutor Godot in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations. Bet you didn’t know that!
Kamiya was highly influential in forming PlatinumGames, along with Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami, and PlatinumGames’ CEO and former Clover Studios boss, Atsushi Inaba. Since then, Kamiya created and oversaw direction for the outfit’s top hit to date, Bayonetta, and is supervising development of its upcoming Wii U-exclusive sequel, Bayonetta 2.
For now however, Kamiya is serving as game director for highly anticipated new Wii U IP, The Wonderful 101, which was entirely the focus of this presentation, as Nintendo promised in their Direct presentation on Wednesday. We at Eggplante were very excited for this presentation ourselves, as The Wonderful 101 is quickly looking like one of the best realizations of a Wii U game experience yet!
Beyond just talking about the game, Kamiya even went as far as to dress like, speak like and thoroughly imitate Mr. Iwata! Not only was this a lengthy showcase of what The Wonderful 101 will offer Wii U gamers after it launches this September, but it also served as something of an affectionate spoof of Nintendo’s Nintendo Direct presentations. Kamiya’s Iwata impersonation was simultaneously amusing and charming, making this Direct all the more fun to watch!
Still, if you missed it, or just want a recap of the highlights, we’ve got the lowdown on this massive helping of news regarding The Wonderful 101!
Wii U gamers, WONDER-IZE!
WHO WILL STOP THE GEATHJERK INVADERS?!
First, and a little surprising, is the big declaration that The Wonderful 101 will sport a T-rating, for ‘Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes’. Yes, we know, it’s PlatinumGames and their irreverent sense of humour we’re dealing with, but given the cute and colourful presentation, we could have sworn that it would net an E10+ at worst!
No matter, since a fun new trailer for the game played as Kamiya began his presentation. He began by talking about the invading alien forces, known as the ‘Geathjerk Invaders’ (pronounced ‘Geth-Jerk’, almost like you’re cursing at Mass Effect!), who must be stopped by the game’s titular superheroes; The Wonderful 100! The 101st hero referenced in the title happens to be you!
The game’s ‘main heroes’ consist of: Mild-mannered teacher, Wonder Red, smart-mouthed playboy, Wonder Blue, obese foreigner stereotype, Wonder Green, girly-girl stereotype, Wonder Pink, Russian commander stereotype, Wonder Yellow, Asian martial artist stereotype, Wonder White, and mysterious Indian gaming geek, Wonder Black. Yes, it’s exactly like an extra eccentric version of the Power Rangers with the business sensibility of The Justice League or The Avengers! Presumably, these characters will be gradually recruited throughout the story, with each possessing a new ‘Unite Morph’ power, but we’ll get to those.
Revealed with the full cast however is their overseers, the Centinels (ha, get it?), who oversee missions and evaluate threats for your team of heroes. Think of them as the colourful S.H.I.E.L.D. alternative for this crazy world.
Kamiya also claimed that the entire Wonderful 100 isn’t immediately available at the start of the game. Beyond the core story characters, players will have to gradually recruit new heroes as they proceed through the game. These include heroes with painter themes, construction themes, etc.. Basically, anything that PlatinumGames can make more goofy stereotypes out of!
The idea of recruiting heroes is interesting, as it sort of feels like the Stars of Destiny mechanic from Konami’s cult series of Suikoden RPG’s. Not only that, but Kamiya later outlines that Unite Morph powers will increase in strength, range and effectiveness as you add more heroes to your arsenal. Makes sense.
From there, we’re told that The Wonderful 101 will release exclusively for Wii U on September 15th. Ok, we knew that, but still, nice to know in case you missed that information before.
LEAVE NO WONDERS TO CHANCE!
Make no mistake; The Wonderful 101 has a superb combat system, and one that finally justifies all of that eccentric Wii U technology in a core gamer setting! With that said however, the game isn’t just all combat, all the time!
You’ll also need to keep a lookout for civilians who are trapped and in danger during all of the carnage involved in fighting the Geathjerk! If you see ‘HELP!’ flashing on screen, that means a civilian requires your assistance! You are playing as a team of superheroes, so it wouldn’t be very becoming of you if you left them to suffer, would it?
Rescuing civilians definitely has its benefits, as you can transfer your Wonder Energy to them (Wonder Energy is also used with your Unite Morph powers), turning them into temporary heroes for the remainder of your mission! This can help you pick up the slack if you’re short of heroes during a particularly tough challenge.
Again, the more heroes you’ve assembled, the better off you’ll be! You are capable of just using basic, direct attacks against the Geathjerk, but Kamiya advises that this won’t be enough to stop them. Instead, you must also make use of your Unite Morph powers, which he’s teased at length, but hasn’t gone into detail about yet.
From there, he says that The Wonderful 101 is coming exclusively to Wii U on September 15th. Ok, yeah, we heard you the first time, Kamiya, but there it is, in case some of you took a bathroom break or something…
TEAMWORK IS TRULY WONDERFUL!
Finally, Kamiya shifts gears to talking about the Unite Morph abilities, one of the key hooks of The Wonderful 101. He reminds players that Unite Morph abilites are used by drawing shapes on the Wii U Gamepad screen with your stylus. If that’s too gimmicky for you, you can also use the Gamepad’s Right Control Stick to draw shapes, but where’s the fun in that? Frankly, these Gamepad mechanics are some of the most inspired and creative Wii U play mechanics yet seen in a core gamer-directed Wii U offering!
Kamiya reminds players that Wonder Energy is used to activate Unite Morph powers. Drawing a circle for example uses Wonder Red’s Unite Hand powers, while drawing a straight line uses Wonder Blue’s Unite Sword powers, and drawing a wavy line uses Wonder Pink’s Unite Whip powers.
Each capability has different advantages and applications in combat too, and they’re not just for show! Unite Hand is useful for strong, direct attacks, Unite Sword is the ideal strategy for crowd control when your team is surrounded, and Unite Whip is necessary to remove damaging spiked armour from enemies, as some examples.
Not only that, but the Unite Morph powers are not solely necessary for combat either. Sometimes, you’ll also use them to solve puzzles, rescue civilians, and open new paths. Some examples are shown, such as drawing a line to make a chain that holds runaway train cars together, or drawing up a building to make a ladder, which allows the team to climb over some damaging burning wreckage.
The combat powers also have alternate uses beyond combat as well. Unite Hand can turn heavy levers for example, which may be necessary to lower a drawbridge. Likewise, Unite Sword can act as a ‘key’ (more like a lockpick) that turns mechanisms and opens new paths. It all appears to be very well-designed and flexible stuff!
You can even find unique situations where you have to do something like draw a triangle to turn the team into a hang glider, which would be less evident and of no use in combat, but still necessary during situations where you might need to cross a large gap. It certainly sounds like a diverse array of clever puzzles are in the game, which should necessitate plenty of creative thinking on the part of the player! Hopefully, there’s plenty of freedom in the powers!
Again, the more heroes you have, the larger and more powerful your Unite Morph attacks will be! Kamiya shows how Unite Hand gets a lot larger between twenty heroes, fifty heroes, and a full team of one-hundred heroes! This makes it all the more essential that players recruit as many heroes as possible, so they have more of an edge against the game’s many powerful foes!
Once again, Kamiya jokingly reminds players that the game is coming out on September 15th. Yes, it’s obviously a parody of how Iwata closes out every section of a Direct with release info before moving on to the next one; Except Kamiya is talking about only one game, so he just ends every gameplay section with the same game’s release date again. Somehow, the joke is still funny the third time around, luckily for Kamiya!
SHOP SMART. SHOP WONDER MART!
Kamiya details your one-stop shop for all things Wonderful, The Wonder Mart! Players visit the Wonder Mart and spend an in-game currency called O-Parts to upgrade and bolster their heroes. They can purchase and activate new Unite Morph powers via the Wonder Mart, such as Unite Guts, which reflects enemy attacks with a jelly-like anvil, or Unite Spring, which lets them deftly bounce away from enemy attacks.
Players will also be able to purchase consumable Custom Blocks for O-Parts as well. These expand your attack capabilities, heal you, and perform other useful functions. It sounds like they’re meant to be a trump card when the odds are against your team, as spending your O-Parts on new Unite Morph powers is probably preferred, when possible.
Once again, we’re reminded that the game is coming to Wii U on September 15th. Have you marked it on your calendars yet?
PURE, WONDERFUL DIVERSITY!
He goes on to explain that each stage in The Wonderful 101 is broken into various smaller missions, complete with objectives, much like the various combat challenges of Bayonetta, only less exclusively about fighting. Depending on how fast players accomplish a task, how many combos they chained together with Unite Morph, and how well players avoiding receiving damage from enemies, players are given a medal, with the most prestigious once again being a Pure Platinum.
To start racking up these Pure Platinum medals, Kamiya offers some tips on how to play the game with the most panache and efficiency:
First, he claims that it’s a good idea for players to master ‘Climb Attacks’. How these work is, you lead your heroes onto a larger enemy to help stun them and slow them down. Your heroes on the ground can then use their Unite Morph powers with greater accuracy, worrying less about the reduced speed they sustain when using any Unite Morph abilities.
It sounds like there could be a useful risk/reward system here, as using Climb Attacks means less heroes to power up your Unite Morph abilities with, but as a trade-off, you can use your Unite Morph attacks with a lot more reliability. It’s strategic and creative, and we have to say we love it!
Moving on, Kamiya also claims that your team of heroes is not limited to one sole Unite Morph capability. Players can command pockets of their heroes to use multiple Unite Morphs simultaneously, with up to five Unite Morphs able to be active at any one time! Again, this means that the Unite Morph abilities wouldn’t be as useful as if you directed your entire team into them, but it again plays into this question of whether to go for focused power, or flexibility and adaptation, depending on the situation you’re in.
This all gives plenty of promise for The Wonderful 101’s seemingly stellar combat system, which seems like it’s easy to understand, but quite difficult to master! The fact that it incorporates the Wii U Gamepad technology in such a neat way is also incredible! It’s very evident that this kind of game would only be truly possible on the Wii U, and that’s a very welcome justification for what’s gone into Nintendo’s new oddball console!
Kamiya shows how using multiple Unite Morph capabilities plays into combos, demonstrating his personal favourite attack. His team of heroes staggers an enemy with Unite Sword, then juggles them in the air with Unite Gun, before finally smashing them to the ground with Unite Hammer. Yes, it’s an obvious nod to both Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, the two game properties that Kamiya is most often associated with, but that combo definitely looks useful!
Oh, and in case you forgot, the game is coming out on September 15th, exclusively for Wii U, in case you blacked out up to this point.
WHAT A WONDERFUL EPIC!
Kamiya is ready to wrap up the twenty-minute Direct presentation, but not before reminding viewers that they can follow him on Twitter, via @PG_kamiya. This will allow you to keep up with developments related to The Wonderful 101, and likely Bayonetta 2 as well, so core gaming Wii U owners might want to follow him!
To close out, Kamiya then presents a very lengthy and epic trailer for the game, unlike any to come beforehand!
Trust us, you want to watch this trailer; It’s incredible! You get a nice showcase of the main heroes in the story, the villains (which include some ‘space pirate’ doppelgangers of The Wonderful 100, never before shown!), some really cool vehicle sections, and all sorts of action-packed gameplay footage!
If there was any doubt before, it’s likely going to be gone now; The Wonderful 101 is the kind of thrilling, innovative and engaging game experience that the Wii U so desperately needs right now!
The impressive trailer’s pre-rendered footage also shows the team’s dynamics, right down to squabbling amongst the lead characters (so, yes, it is exactly like how The Avengers carry on!), as well as the plight of the world, and even some surprisingly dramatic scenes involving a would-be child sidekick to the team!
It’s all great stuff, proving that The Wonderful 101 is certainly no disposable kids’ game, despite its colourful appearance; It’s an exciting, surprisingly mature superhero epic (you know, briefly putting aside the frequent helpings of PlatinumGames’ zany sense of humour throughout the gameplay!), and one that deserves gamers’ attention!
We were already looking forward to The Wonderful 101 quite a bit here at Eggplante, but this PlatinumGames-hosted Nintendo Direct sold us on the game like never before! The game looks fantastic all around, and, if it lives up to the hype, it could be the closest that the financially-struggling Wii U console has yet come to a genuine killer app!
Even if the game doesn’t end up moving as many consoles as Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U inevitably will, The Wonderful 101 should definitely be high on Wii U owners’ radar, especially if they fancy themselves hardcore gamers! Again, don’t let the cute and colourful visuals fool you! This is a challenging core game experience that seems whole-heartedly directed at people who love both video games and superheroes alike!
We’ll have a full review of The Wonderful 101 sometime in September. Also, if you’re among the handful of devoted Nintendo gamers that already own a Wii U, do yourself a favour and drop a pre-order on this very promising offering. It seems to be the kind of exclusive, innovative and engaging game experience that so many frustrated Wii U players are clamouring for!
Fortunately, the wait won’t be long, as The Wonderful 101 arrives, say it with us now, on September 15th of this year, and only on Wii U!
In the meantime, Eggplante will continue to deliver you all news related to the Wii U, PlatinumGames and The Wonderful 101, as we can unite it!
See you next Nintendo Direct!