Games: Reheated Wii U cult classic The Wonderful 101: Remastered still a frustratingly dense gaming experience
The Wonderful 101: Remastered (Multi)
By: Platinum Games
WITH its perfect storm of likeability – cult Japanese developer meets videogame virtuosos Nintendo on an underdog console – Wonderful 101 was one of the best action games of its generation. Fuelled by Platinum's obsession with Japanese pop culture and inspired by everything from late-70s Saturday morning anime Battle of The Planets to Power Rangers, a gaggle of helmet-and-cape sporting animated types punched out aliens in an acid trip of digital derring-do.
For a game that was all about harnessing the heroic power of the general public, it's fitting that 2013's Wii U actioner has been resurrected through the fiscal might of crowdfunding. Controlling a heroic team leader who battles alien invaders alongside the great unwashed, Wonderful 101 was custom made for the Wii U, as players scribbled on its generous GamePad to corral a mob of up to 100 characters who bounced through urban arenas and a laundry list of minigames.
Set-pieces abound in a game bursting at the seams with hyperactivity – from Punch-Out-style fisticuffs to racing and retro shooters – though many of the visual cues are unclear and you're often left haplessly trying to fathom brand new gameplay elements with their own moves and rules.While Remastered offers more guidance and a few tools to flatten the learning curve, it's still a game notoriously bad at explaining itself.
The combat was the big star here, yet so dense is the gameplay, half the time you're playing some unrelated mini-game in an effort to keep the experience diverse. It kills momentum in a game all about momentum.
On the Switch, at least, you can still use the touchscreen to control your gang, but there's no such luxury on PS4 and PC, where the right analogue stick is used to draw. It's imprecise though, and anything more than a simple line can be maddeningly difficult to get right.
Tech-wise, Remastered looks barely scrubbed – but then the Wii U original was no slouch. The tiny characters still make it difficult to navigate the environment properly, though at least on PC and PS4 Pro you'll appreciate the visual clutter in 60fps.
Seven years on from its debut, there's still nothing quite like Wonderful 101's love letter to manga, superheroes and videogames, and with the right retooling it could have been a glorious resurrection. There's a lot to love amid its spandex silliness and row-of-tents camp, but given its core gameplay demands the kind of real estate only offered by the Wii U GamePad, this is one curio that perhaps should have stayed buried.