Platinum Games are one of those rare studios who’ve never made a duff game. A few very niche titles, certainly, but everything they’ve put out so far has been of high quality, and usually inventive, trailblazing titles too. The Wonderful 101 looks to continue this tradition. It’s as blatant a lift from Pikmin as Bayonetta was from Devil May Cry, but it looks to have that Platinum games sheen once again.
You control a team of superheroes defending the planet from aliens, giant robots, and other Toho-inspired threats to the planet. Each superhero in your team is either geared towards close combat, shooting, or defense, which dictates how strong your team is in each field. You can send them swarming enemies with the right stick, or form them into swords, guns, or defensive forms with the face buttons.
That’s basically all there is to it – the gameplay is very similar to Pikmin, but it’s in the world and the level of detail that The Wonderful 101 really sells itself. Everything is vibrant and chaotic, and the world is brimming with detail. That the machine is only around as powerful as the XBox 360 is apparent even at this stage, but the design and character of The Wonderful 101 still make it an appealing prospect.
The Wonderful 101 is not exactly the strongest display of the Wii U’s touchscreen controller, but this does mean that it’s blissfully free of novelty controls. The most you get is the odd icon to draw on the touchscreen, or the action shifting to the smaller screen when your team is inside a building. This allows for some nifty puzzles, as you can see the effect your team’s efforts inside have on the outside world.
It might not be awe-inspiring, but The Wonderful 101 is just the sort of solid third-party support Nintendo will need to keep hold of the audience they established with the Wii. If there are more games like this and fewer lumps of party game shovelware, the Wii U might just work out.
The Wonderful 101 will be out sometime after the Wii U launches.