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The Wonderful 101 Review

the wonderful 101

The Wonderful 101, by Platinum Games and their outspoken, ambitious director Hideki Kamiya, has been both praised and criticized from many different angles, with some calling the superhero action game inaccessible or too difficult, while others refer to it as one of the best games of the year. As usual when it comes to divergently extreme opinions, the truth lies somewhere in between.

If games were judged on presentation alone, The Wonderful 101 would have likely received 10’s across the board. Its cut scenes and dialogue are relevant, engaging, and often humorous, with the opening sequence in which Wonder-Red (otherwise known as schoolteacher Will Wedgewood) must rescue a bus full of people standing out as one of the grandest, campiest, most exhilarating game intros of all time. Impressively, The Wonderful 101 manages to maintain its brand of monumental heroic energy throughout, as the superb voice acting never falters, new characters reveal themselves to be more and more outlandish, and the game’s fantastic symphonic soundtrack matches the epic heights of the action with every step. The entire presentation makes the game feel like it was designed by someone with something to prove, and on all of the above levels, Kamiya has proved it.

Unfortunately, however, The Wonderful 101 must also be played, and while it is genuinely fun at times, exhibiting several original gameplay concepts (like drawing Unite Morphs on the gamepad), the gameplay is significantly hindered by several factors that often make the game more frustrating than wonderful.


Yes, the game is difficult, but in all the complaints leveled against The Wonderful 101 that call it complicated or overly demanding, few seem to have pointed out that complications in the game don’t arise because it presents a well-crafted challenge. Instead they arise because of inherent gameplay problems like the sheer number of things happening on screen that distract the player from his or her objective, controls that are far too loose, the frequent inability to draw Unite Builds as long as they need to be on the gamepad, or a camera that unnecessarily follows the protagonist’s every move, making the player’s viewpoint as frantic as the action….just to name a few.

The ability to buy new power-ups helps sustain interest in the game, and while its boss battles offer methodical challenges that do a good job of blending together the wide variety of controls and moves at the player’s disposal, the gameplay throughout the levels too often gets reduced to button mashing, with the Unite Sword tending to be the go-to weapon for warding off swarms of enemies. Additionally, the unwillingness of Platinum Games to explain techniques or objectives necessary for advancing can often make the accomplishment of those tasks rewarding for the player, but sometimes the lack of information means that large portions of the game can be missed the first time through. And with so many rough areas in the gameplay, the replay value is not high enough to warrant the desire to return to the beginning and bridge those missed gaps.

While The Wonderful 101 picks up points for uniting an original concept with some stellar aesthetic presentation, the game purports to be much more fun than it really is, as a severe lack of clarity in its controls and gameplay prevents this band of superheroes from being truly wonderful.


97 thoughts on “The Wonderful 101 Review”

  1. “Unfortunately, however, The Wonderful 101 must also be played, and while it is genuinely fun at times, exhibiting several original gameplay concepts (like drawing Unite Morphs on the gamepad), the gameplay is significantly hindered by several factors that often make the game more frustrating than wonderful.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Same thing for the grade you’ve given it.

    1. “the frequent inability to draw Unite Builds as long as they need to be on the gamepad, or a camera that unnecessarily follows the protagonist’s every move, making the player’s viewpoint as frantic as the action”

      First, the unite morphs are never, EVER, FORCED to be drawn on the gamepad.
      The stick works just as well, if not better[especially in 101% difficulty] than drawing, and the game[outside of 101%] slows things down for you when you’re drawing.
      Pathetic reason that shows the reviewer was nitpicking due to lack of practice on their part.

      Second, the camera can be pulled back a significant degree with a quick tap of the L button, and pressing Y will send them into a Dash that will clearly highlight the leader.

      Again, a complaint that is more about splitting hairs than about any actual problems with the game.

      The real issue with the game is that there wasn’t enough of it.
      The content presented was great, but it would have been cool to see some extra added storyline and new unite morphs via DLC, if not added directly to the game before launch.

      The review doesn’t give the game enough credit; it is at least an 8, if not a 9.
      It just doesn’t hold your hand constantly, that’s all.

  2. 9.5/10 for me, seriously the controls are not that confusing, hell I was even able to explain it to my friend in the multiplayer mode and he had an easy time with it.

    1. While W101 is a good game, I completely agree with you here. I have not put Blacklist down since I got it at launch. And the gamepad features are awwesome.

      1. I thought it was a hellava lot more fun than Black ops though!

        I’ve never played a splinter cell before, so it was new enough I enjoyed it.

        1. I don’t even care about Black Ops…ever.

          It was just “blah blah terrorist blah blah rendezvous blah blah”

        1. So 7 is bad but 8 is good? But… that… What happened to 1-6? What does that mean? And how do you tell if something is “good, but not great? 7.45? Why not just say 5?

          Yeah, 7 isn’t something to brag about on the box, but still, 7 isn’t bad.

        2. So 1-6 is redundant. Your rating scale must be
          7 bad
          8 average
          9 good
          10 great
          That seems silly. It wouldn’t distinguish between great and jaw dropping brilliant, for one thing.
          I say
          1-4 various levels of crap
          5 average
          7 good
          8 great
          9 Ocarina of Time or Super Mario World level
          10 basically unobtainable

        3. People like you encourage that shitty system. 5 should be average, 4 is below, 6 is above, etc. The human mind works in shitty, idiotic ways.

    1. Fuck that shit. The game takes a while to really learn but once you learn it. OH MY GOD ITS ORGASMIC.

      Its like being mad that you cant enjoy Ice Cream.

  3. I’m really confused at how people struggle with the controls or the camera.

    The controls are only an issue when the camera is controlled by the gyro.

    The camera is only an issue when its controlled by the gyro, or when you don’t zoom out as far as possible.

    These are genuine issues that are very problematic, but no review mentions these. And instead complains about the controls and camera for normal combat, which are both perfectly fine.

    Still a fantastic game, but people seem to avoid the real problems it has, and complain about the least complaint worthy elements they can find.

  4. I got the hang of it with the demo. I just bought it, and I’m willing to give it a 9.0 out of 10. It’s a game that takes a lot of practice, and you need to watch a lot of previews to truly understand it. If you play it blindly, it takes a LOT of frustration.

    1. Its not that hard even. Just use the blob of characters, buy the skills , play around with the combos and beat the shit outta the enemies stylishly.

      1. I didn’t have any issues playing the demo. Controls seemed fine to me. It is just not my type of game. Not sure how the demo wouldn’t display the control features properly, so I never understood the complaints about the controls. The demo was fun for what it is, just not up my alley.

  5. So far I agree with this review. I’m only a couple missions in, and it’s good. Not great. The boss battles are BADASS and the dialogue is humorous, but sometimes gameplay becomes overwhelming. And not even because of controls. I’ve gotten used to the controls, which made gameplay significantly more enjoyable.

  6. I think this game is really good. The main frustration I had was fighting two of those cannon things at the same time. I got used to it, though. The game length is plenty long and I found it to be challenging on Normal difficulty. Unlocked Hard after beating the story so I’m wondering what that will be like. This game is very original and it looks like Platinum put more effort into this game than Nintendo usually does with their own IPs.

  7. “Instead they arise because of inherent gameplay problems like the sheer number of things happening on screen that distract the player from his or her objective, controls that are far too loose, the frequent inability to draw Unite Builds as long as they need to be on the gamepad”

    There are no “inherent gameplay problems” you need to focus when your playing the game. There is a lot of stuff on screen. That doesn’t mean its a inherent problem and it didn’t distract me. Focus.

    The controls aren’t far too “loose”, you’re just not very good at the game.

    “the frequent inability to draw Unite Builds as long as they need to be on the gamepad”

    That’s on you, not the controls, you can use the control stick if you want. Bad review, from somebody who sucks as action games and couldn’t adapt to the controls, or just use the control stick to build unite morphs.

    1. I totally agree, if you put in the time to learn the controls, they become second nature. The problem is so many games these days have the very similar controls. Back in the older days you had to learn new controls all the time and you enjoyed it. Thats part of mastering a game. Gamers these days just can’t handle learning something new. This game is by far the best Wii U game yet. Nice try iceass you can troll all day but you’re still a git with posts like this. You must clearly suck at games that require skill if you’re agreeing with this review.

  8. Peanut Butter Kit Kat

    The word “hardcore” gets used a lot these days but this really is a hardcore game, people are used to having their “hands held” too much when it comes to gaming these days..

    1. Exactly kids these days are only good at games that have the exact same gameplay they have been playing for the last ten years. Older generations of gamers are used to adapting to controls. Thats part of mastering a game. Thats part of what makes a damn game unique!! Skyward Sword took a while to get used to (it was never hard, just took a while to feel natural) but once it clicked it just felt so right. I’m playing through wonderful 101 on normal and just taking it easy, then Im planning on 100% the game on Hard mode after the controls have been mastered. Well I’m taking a break

  9. The only thing I dont like about W101 are all those gimmicky segments (if you played it, you know what I mean). But it is a superb action game!

    1. Eh, they’re okay.

      Same way the game has shmup sections, they help keep the game fresh in my opinion, but they are a little jarring at first.

  10. “As usual when it comes to divergently extreme opinions, the truth lies somewhere in between.”

    Wow, that’s awfully arrogant of this reviewer. Clearly has a lot to learn about how reviewing games works. It’s not about matching the average

  11. To the W101 Reviewer: What did you think of the Kid Icarus Uprising controls on the 3DS.

    I find people who didn’t like the Kid Icarus controls, also didn’t like the W101 controls. True? Or did you enjoy the KI controls?


    1. I loved those controls. They’re incredibly simple and elegant. I had some other problems with that game, like I wish Sakurai would have just picked a couple difficulty levels and stuck with them, instead of using the whole heart system. But yeah, the controls are great.

      1. Thanks for the response! That said, I’d say it was a fair review.
        Everyone’s going to have a different take on a game this outside the norm ;D

        I agree that it may be a while before I play through a second time, and am disappointed I’m missing so many collectibles. ;.;

        1. Ha, yeah, everyone has different opinions and I’m only one guy! Haha. Thanks for the support! Sometimes it’s tough in a review to find objective reasons for having a negative opinion about something. I didn’t really care for the campy, over-the-top aspects of it for instance, and I’m sure that influenced my opinion, but something like that is just a matter of taste. So it’s certainly a tough line to walk!

          1. “I didn’t care for the campy, over the top aspects”

            Then why are you a reviewer?
            Don’t sully the score of a excellent game because you’re boring.

      1. After I got used to the controls, I fell in love with that style. I really wish more games could incorporate KI:U controls.

    1. I felt it deserved a little higher score also, but he has some good points. It IS frustrating to have to go back and get collectible items you didn’t really have a chance to get the first time.

      The game is fun as hell, and I’d recommend it to every WiiU owner, there is a lot of content, but I don’t think it drives you to an immediate 2nd play through like Fire Emblem Awakening.

      1. How is it frustrating to go back and get collectibles or find hidden areas? Since when is replay value frustrating?

        Pro tip: Get better at the game.

        I can get, on average, a Platinum rating on every fight on normal at least. Why? Because im good at it, because i bothered to pay attention, and find enemy weaknesses, ect.
        Same way how in games like Dark Souls, part of the fun is learning.

        Too many “Skyward Sword fans” in here that like to be told EXACTLY what to do.

        1. I don’t think W101 is a game that supports a black and white opinion.

          It’s not the difficulty that frustrates me. I love a good challenge. I just don’t UNDERSTAND what I’m doing wrong, or what was needed to do better. Or obtain a collectable. That’s what I think the reviewer was getting at.

          I Think it’s a great game and will continue supporting Platinum.

          1. How?
            The game makes itself very clearly all the time.

            Hand is your all purpose damage, sword is crowd control, gun is ranged, whip is spike immune, hammer is armour immune, claws are fast and freeze, bomb slows guys down, team is for holding enemies in place, enemy attacks can all be blocked, unless its spikes or glowing attacks, everyrhing else can be dodged. There’s literally nothing else to know, and it tells you all of that. Other than that, eery enemy has their own weakness and strengths. You wouldn’t complain that a Zelda enemy is difficult unless you use a specific item.

            Again, it’s not flawed at all, people just don’t have the patience to learn, and/or the skill to be good.

  12. Once you progress in the game, go back to earlier levels. I did that, and then I really saw this game for what it was — absolutely fantastic. Once things blend together, the game isn’t that crazy or stupidly difficult. It’s a good challenge, and the only game of its type of caliber. I’d give it a 9, honestly.

    1. Peanut Butter Kit Kat

      I wouldn’t say that disagreeing with something would be regarded as fanboy behavior, it’s not like anyone has started a petition to get the reviewer removed now is it?

      1. Idk I guess I’m assuming that everyone who disagrees is a fanboy, but I’m sure some of them are. It’s like if a Nintendo games doesn’t get a ten, people just go ape shit lol. Same thing is going on with beyond 2 souls.

    2. “Fanboys”

      Orrrrr people who actually played the game, and aren’t shit, and actually know that the systems are perfect. The only issue is that because of the fixed camera, that very rarely, you can’t see behind an enemy, which is so rare that i can only think of it happening 2-3 in my 3 playthroughs of it.

      The idea that a game, made by Platinum/Clover, who made Bayonetta, Okami, God Hand, Viewtiful Joe, Metal Gear Rising, Vanquish, and saying “the controls are bad” or “it’s unfair” is absolutely fucking absurd.

      1. Yeah I haven’t played it yet, I have it still sealed in my room. I haven’t got to it from all the games I have since I have no time to play them all, but I can see where people are disagreeing about the controls. I’m actually trying to finish bayonetta right now and the controls are fine. If this game is anything like bayonetta I know I will be enjoying it since to me it seems like a bayonetta/ pikmin combination.

        1. More like Bayonetta/Okami.

          Chances are if you beat Bayo and didn’t complain, you’d end up agreeing with all the “fanboys” that are complaining.

  13. Oh for fucks sake…

    As someone who plays almost every character action game that gets released from Bayonetta to Devil May Cry, to shitty DMC, to game that have combat like Darksiders 2, to Metal Gear Rising, and this game….

    Your complaint are bullshit.
    There’s absolutly nothing wrong with the controls, or anything.
    Yes, it’s difficult….okay? It’s really not that hard to draw a circle. Guess what? It’s called LEARNING. Getting better at the game. Im playing it on 101% Hard mode now, and im stomping it. Why? Because im GOOD.

    Jesus christ…

  14. STFU you whiny cunts. thats the definition of whining most of the comments above me, learn it but all you retarded fanboys probably dont think so because you all pathetic sheep. also ive noticed these nintendo fanboys just sit and fucking damage control everything. fuck off. oh my gosh X!!!! yeah BITCHES I KNOW most of you wont even buy it anyway and are just using that game for damage control, fuck off!! “the game proofs that its next gen, yeah look at this game” but most of them havnt even played xenoblade or even will buy x when it comes out!!

    oh yeah you fanboys or damage controls are so dumb you probably think this is whining, when im just saying the truth. deal with it and you all know.

    nintendo fanboys cant see anything and are frauds.

    1. Ok one yeah not a lot of nintendo fans own Xenoblad because one it was limited in copies, two gamestoped over priced it nearly over 100$ nobody was willing to pay for that shit. Three You don’t know anybody in person on this site so u don’t know their plans for X.Four people who have played and loved any xeno game will probably get the game like me played the first on ps1
      . Ur just as worse as any fanboy on this site. In fact why do u own a wii u if don’t like it? Why do u come to this site but to make stupid comments all the tme? Your one sad gamer.

      1. Mr.Something, ice-enema never knows what he’s talking about. He’s a stupid little kid with no logic. He just throws everyone into one category and assumes everyone here is a fanboy. He really is a sad little kid with no friends, you must understand.

    2. ….why are you even talking about X?

      On the subject of X, most are excited because they either played Xenoblade, or older games like Xenogears, or because it just looks good, and that it’s a JRPG that isn’t some shite by Square Enix.

      As for this game, people are complaining, such as myself, because the review was awful, and the negatives false.

  15. It’s a shame how much modern games have coddled us.

    W101 was simply wonderful. A very fun, challenging and rewarding game from start to finish.

  16. I’m not finished with this game yet. But so far, my only problem with it is the camera. Its too far zoomed in on the character unless you are running with a small line of wonderful ones. Also, in rooms where you need the gyroscope to control the camera, I find those to be a nightmare. The gameplay itself has no issues from what I see. It is difficult to get some of the unite morfs to work, but I look at that as a challenge to get better at over-coming. I use to use the sword all the time, but after a while, I learned how ineffective it is. The sword works best for small gethjerk. Each enemy has specific weeknesses, and its up to the player to figure them out. If someone tried slashing the sword everywhere and got bored, that’s their own fault. The game was not designed for that. Then the gameplay gets even deeper as you start to get into combos. By combos, I don’t mean spamming sword on your teammates while you swing your sword, while I have done that because it is the easiest “combo” to do. But Like tearing the wings apart on a dragon with the claws while your team mates throw time-slowing bombs While one or two swords or whips are swinging at surounding gethjerk. To call the game repetitive is fine, but its not the games fault if you played it in a repetitive manner. Its a long game, allow yourself to enjoy it.

  17. I never had any faith (or care) in this game. I just never understood the appeal of superheroes. And no, He-Man is NOT a superhero. Close, but not quite. But if he is, then he’s (and She-Ra) are the only ones I like.

  18. This game is genuinely something new strange even hard to pinpoint, it cant be fit into generic boxes based on camera,combat, and graphics you have to spend time with it to “get” it(a rare thing in games these days) but once you click with it it is a WONDETFUL(sorry) experience. It is a shame that this reviewer has done what many reviewer’s have done classing as clunky or too elitist in design to be enjoyed by the average gamer well im an average gamer and i am loving it(after an admittedly tough first hour)

    give this game a chance it is a true original product unlike anything before or (sadly based on its sales thanks in part to bad misleading reviews like this)after it.

    Its funny looking at this games reception amongst so called experts compared to the incredibly safe sequel GTA V its pathetic. Experts bitch and moan about the industry suffering from “sequelitis” and then when they are confronted with something actually original actually new they cower back to the safe bossom of iterative experience’s like GTA V the new (after Bioshock infinite(sequel) and TLOU earlier in the year) “best game ever blah blah…”

    Do yourself a favour and ignore the “experts” on this one and do something WONDERFUL(again sorry) treat yourself to this gem you wont regret it

    The Lark

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