Editorial: A Wonderful Mess

Wonderful 101 Trailer Screenshot 1
Sure it looks like fun, but looks can be deceiving.

In an attempt to curve my anxiousness for South Park: The Stick of Truth, I did something that is a relic of the past, I rented a game. Actually, I rented two games, The Wonderful 101 for the Wii U and Need For Speed: Rivals for the PS4. Initially, my plan was to complete The Wonderful 101 and write a review to satiate a certain Nintendo fanboy that shares the same first name as me. Unfortunately, my time with The Wonderful 101 was anything but wonderful and it quickly became apparent to me that completing the game was going to be a real struggle. Still, I do not like to disappoint this site’s readership, so I decided to still give my thoughts on The Wonderful 101 as well as the news that the PlayStation 4 surpassed the Wii U’s lifetime sales.

The Wonderful 101 is an action-adventure game developed by Platinum Games. Platinum Games founded by key members of Capcom’s Clover Studios, the now-defunct development studio behind titles like Okami and Viewtiful Joe. On the surface, The Wonderful 101 appears to borrow heavily from the Pikmin series, and, to an extent, that is true. Instead of an army of plants, the player leads an army of superheroes into battle against an invading alien terrorist organization known as “GEATHJERK”. The Wonderful 101 does not shy away from inundating the player with exposition but it gets a little overwhelming because of how fast made-up terms are thrown at the player.

While The Wonderful 101 has issues with its story and the was it is presented, the true issues come out when one attempts to actually play the game. Although The Wonderful 101 looks like Pikmin, it does not play like Nintendo’s popular series. The Wonderful 101 plays more like a beat-em-up game, but with controls that are not very intuitive. Besides the wonky combat controls, what really hinders the player’s progress through the early parts of the game is the lack of explanation offered for many of the abilities that are vital for solving the game’s many puzzles. Switching between abilities is clunky, especially during combat, because it either requires going through a few menus or drawing shapes on the Gamepad’s screen.

Once the player has nailed down the controls, The Wonderful 101 becomes more enjoyable. At its best, The Wonderful 101 feels like the cartoons I watched on Saturday mornings as a child. The Wonderful 101 also has different mission rankings to obtain and loads of collectibles to find, giving the game a lot of replay value. The problem is that none of the positives that The Wonderful 101 brings to the table outweigh the its negatives. Normally, clearing difficult areas in games leave me with a sense of accomplishment, but, more often than not, The Wonderful 101 left me pondering what ways the developers could have alleviated some of the stress.

The Wonderful 101 requires an enormous amount of patience to master, more patience than I have. Unfortunately the control scheme serves as a barrier for most people that do not have the patience to watch an hour of Youtube videos. It feels like Platinum Games was trying to take aspects from their previous games and meld it with the Pikmin formula to create something truly unique, and in some ways they succeeded. The Wonderful 101 is a decent game at the bargain bin price point, but it might be a good idea to rent or borrow it first.

Satoru Iwata Pre-E3 Conference
“I have no idea what to do with this shit now” -Iwata

With my opinion on The Wonderful 101 out of the way, I want to briefly touch upon the news that the PlayStation 4 overtook the Wii U in sales this week. The news itself was not a shock, the Wii U’s struggles and the PS4’s success are common knowledge now. What did shock me was how quick the PlayStation 4 rose to the top of the charts, just a bit over one hundred days. The PlayStation 4 suffers from the same problem the Wii U had this time last year, a lack of games. Yet, as the PS4’s Japanese launch proved, consumers seem to be oblivious to the lack of software. Demand for the PS4 is still exceeding the supply, but it will be interesting to see if that holds true as titles like Infamous: Second Son and Watch Dogs are released.

While Sony is celebrating their success, Nintendo has to be reevaluating their decisions they made last year with the Wii U. Although Nintendo had a good holiday season, I think they were anticipating it to sell more Wii U’s than they did. At this point, it is unclear what direction Nintendo intends to take with the Wii U. I really wish that Nintendo would put more emphasis on improving the Virtual Console’s selection of games. I think that an improved Virtual Console catalog along with games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. could help boost the Wii U’s sales, something that would help re-attract some third-party developers back to the console. Of course, Nintendo could always just decide that the Wii U is a failure and move on to their next console while choosing to not learn from their failure. If that proves to be their course of action, I would not be surprised to be writing about the Wii U 2’s lagging sales two years from now.

4 comments

  1. “The Wonderful 101 requires an enormous amount of patience to master, more patience than I have.”

    Exactly. If I wanted to fight with game controls, I would bust out my Wii Remotes and old Wii titles. There’s a reason I don’t play those games.

  2. Nintendo is a game making company first, a console manufacturer second and waaaaay way down in third they’re also a publisher for their platform. They can make THE best games on the market, they can make good systems, but they really don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to some aspects of marketing and communication and I don’t think they ever have. If it doesn’t involve slow-playing every penny to be had out of Pokemon by being conservative with how they handle this (and some other) evergreen property, then they don’t know what to fucking do. Almost at any turn.

    They need people in their ranks who are REALLY good at how to leverage their considerable assets (they clearly don’t know how to run their Virtural Console or other online services) and to give the company a better idea on what markets have a demand for which titles (*cough*Xenoblade*cough*).

    Nintendo is like an amazingly potent weapon manned by a blind person. That’s not to put all the blame on Iwata (most, perhaps, not all). I think Nintendo’s failures in this capacity are systemic and what ever CEO the board members put in line after Iwata (regardless of when/why he leaves) is not enough. It’s either this or continue to slowly slowly chip away at their cash reserves.

    However, I think Nintendo may have espied an alternative that I’m not thrilled with. I think they’re considering moving away from core titles and even MORE into the realm of things like “fitness” and “health” titles, coming from the assumption that what they traditionally produce is waning in popularity. This would be a TRAGIC miscalculation because not only would it put a potential stop to great games that I’d love, but great games that actually ARE in demand. It’s the delivery of these games that needs fixing and mostly NOT the games Nintendo produces. It’s the implementation, too, of the Wii U that’s stifling software and not the idea of its gamepad or online services or even its hardware prowess.

    And finally, since it might seem relevant here, I don’t know that going third party would suddenly make things great. I have a feeling that Nintendo wouldn’t work well in those conditions (i.e., whatever restrictions Sony or MS may put on development time or how the hardware wouldn’t be to their exacting specifications). Nintendo doesn’t develop games like other companies, it’s all done in a rather fickle and picky process. Turn this into the more traditional processes like those of other third parties and I think you’d find a disaster. When they say it’s first party or bust, I believe them.

  3. I’m flattered to be so well trolled. I honestly found the games controls frustrating as well. Had to play it on easy. But I found the game enjoyable in its uniqueness. Character action usually isn’t my thing anyways. Also the last levels just drag on forever. So you’re not missing much not completing it. As much as the final boss fight was ridiculous it can just be watched on youtube and could have taken a tenth the time.

  4. @KisakiProject It is disappointing to hear that the last levels are a drag. At times, I enjoyed the game enough to understand why people love it so much. However, I think that the choice to not include Nintendo on the development was a detriment to the final product.

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