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.
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.