Reviews: The Wonderful 101

Fun, frustrating, and very creative

The Wonderful 101 is one of the most creative games out there, as well as a mixture of old-school and modern game designs.

What can be difficult to understand at first, and a big cause of frustration, is that The Wonderful 101's combat provides a more technical challenge. Exact timing is required for dodging and blocking, specific attacks do far more damage to specific enemies than other attacks, and the game is quite far removed from a button masher. The other frustration comes from a large number of Guide Dang It moments in both combat and level design.

The game isn't just combat, though. In fact, things are often mixed up by frequent changes to other gameplay styles, some of which are very old-school. There's a couple shoot-em-up segments that involve piloting a ship, a section of a boss fight that plays exactly like Punch Out, a segment that plays exactly like Space Harrier, complete with running along the ground if you go to the bottom of the screen, and more.

While these gameplay changes break up the action, they also can sometimes be difficult in their own right, as you suddenly have to learn new (yet simple) mechanics on the spot and immediately adapt to them, which can be annoying if you die doing something you never had to do before in the rest of the game, or if you don't care for these particular mechanics. Some of them are a fun break from the regular action, while some are annoying.

Fortunately, the game is very forgiving and arcade-like. If you die, you can respawn on the spot instantly, no matter what was going on, losing absolutely no progress, but a big chunk of score.

One major plus I have to give to this game: this is one of the few games in which I find boss fights not only fun, but a complete blast. In most video games, I tend to find boss fights to be tedious and repetitive. But The Wonderful 101 tends to treat boss fights as if they were levels, and diversifies the fights quite a lot. For example, one fight starts off with you fighting a giant mech in a volcano, before you then enter the mech and fight the individual piloting it, and then you ride the mech itself before entering a boxing match against another mech!

It's not a perfect game, but The Wonderful 101 is experimental, diverse, and fun. More games like this need to exist.