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[E3 2013] The Wonderful 101 Preview

In Previews, Wii-U by Kevin Kartanata

If fighting evil in tight spandex suits and yelling out your attacks is your idea of a good time, I’m sure you’ve been looking for a video game that isn’t an underwhelming cashgrab adaptation of a children’s martial-arts superhero show. The Wonderful 101 is looking to be the most (and maybe only) un-ironic video game sendup of superhero and sentai tropes the world has ever seen.

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The Wonderful 101 puts you at the helm of the titular Wonderful 100, a veritable platoon of superheroes dedicated to fighting evil by morphing together into powerful weapons or tools to traverse Blossom City in style. The game demo featured a short couple of fights to stretch your legs with the game’s hilarious combat, which is where Platinum Games’ influence becomes very clear. Morphing is accomplished by drawing shapes or patterns on either the analog stick or touch screen, the latter of which also shows the position of your NPC horde relative to your own.

And it is a horde. Your Pikmin-influenced Wonderful 100 actually begins as more of a Wonderful 20, but while moving through the game’s isometric cityscape, you may find frightened civilians running amok. Your first instinct may be to save them, but why do that when you can recruit them to your superhero team to help you fight the enemies of humanity? Recruited heroes are randomly generated and are generally temporary, only lasting to the end of the stage (provided you survive that long) but recruiting some may net you permanent heroes to add to your team.

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Regardless of how you obtain your comrades, the more you have, the better – morphed weapons get stronger and stronger the more heroes you use as a part of the morphing process. These weapons can be switched to on the fly, with the game even going into a pause mode to facilitate the drawing of patterns on either stick or screen (Clover Studio’s Okami, anyone?). This means multiple weapons can easily be chained together as a combo while dodging and blocking enemy attacks. As a result, combat is engaging as it is chaotic but polished, a well-loved hallmark of a Platinum Games title.

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And if everything looks familiar, you can look no further than Platinum Games’ roots in the now defunct Clover Studios. The Wonderful 101’s director and producer combo Hideki Kamiya and Atsushi Inaba both worked on the similarly stylish Viewtiful Joe on the Gamecube and PS2, and it seems that their mark on the game is as undistinguishable as it is striking.

The Wonderful 101 soars into stores on the Wii U on September 15.

Kevin Kartanata[E3 2013] The Wonderful 101 Preview