The Wonderful 101

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Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Lately, many have been talking about Platinum Games’ relatively obscure cult classic, The Wonderful 101, coming to Switch. This game, originally out for the Wii U, didn’t see many sales due in large part to the low sales of that console. But why are people so excited? What is The Wonderful 101 all about? Today’s game is The Wonderful 101 developed by Platinum Games and released on the Wii U in 2013.

The Wonderful 101 is a superhero action game but not in any sort of way you’d expect. The name refers to 101 superheroes, known as Wonderful Ones, that the player can potentially gather and control all at once in a superhero horde. The player starts with an individual hero, Wonder-Red, but quickly gathers up more heroes to join their horde and this horde is what players will typically control. As more heroes are gathered, new Unite Morph options become available. Unite Morphs are special formations that the horde can shape themselves into by having the player draw forms on the Wii U gamepad. For example, Unite Hand turns the hero horde into a hand and increases the strength of attacks. Unite Sword turns them into a sword with lower damage than Unite Hand but longer range.

Players play through levels, being graded on each one based on how the time elapsed and amount of damage taken. The Wonderful 101 also features co-op for up to five players by using the Wii U gamepad and 4 Wii U Pro Controllers. The plot has the Wonderful Ones coming together during a third war against an alien terrorist group known as the Geathjerk Federation. By completing missions such as stopping a speeding bus from impacting a school or protecting a power plant from alien invasion, the Wonderful Ones help defend the innocent and take the fight to the alien invaders.

The game and plot feel heavily inspired by Saturday morning cartoons with lots of bright colors, light-hearted story moments and a good dose of camp. When it originally released, the tone was praised although some reviewers found it to be too challenging and many of the boss fights were repetitive. In its first week of Japanese sales, The Wonderful 101 only sold 5,258 copies. Despite the low initial sales and lukewarm critical reception, The Wonderful 101 started gathering praise and attention from fans. Perhaps due to the low number of games on the Wii U console, The Wonderful 101 started receiving fan reviews calling it one of the best games on the system and sales started to pick up, particularly in the west. While sales never turned around completely, fan campaigns apparently convinced Platinum to port The Wonderful 101 to multiple consoles, including the Switch, Steam and the Playstation 4. Without low console sales holding it back, The Wonderful 101 may finally get a fighting chance.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.