The DigestVideo

Games Of September 2013: The Wonderful 101

Blunderful.

By John Teti • October 23, 2013

In this installment of The Digest, Anthony John Agnello is here to talk about The Wonderful 101, a game that excited us before we got our hands on it and disappointed us once we played it. Near the end of our conversation, Anthony guesses that this game was hurried out for release before it was ready, and that sounds right, because there’s nothing lazy or even especially wrongheaded about the game. It’s just not quite there.

Our snack today is Emmy’s Lemon Ginger Macaroons. They’re vegan, “raw,” and gluten-free, and they contain no genetically modified organisms. Good for them! But do they taste like anything? We find out.

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  • Citric

    To get my Project Runway Guest Judge on, I am confused by that cardigan.

    • snazzlenuts

      I like it, actually, it looks rather comfortable.

      • Anthony John Agnello

        It is very, very comfortable. The t-shirt underneath shows instructions on making an origami bee as well, so there’s functionality in the outfit.

    • HobbesMkii

      auf Wiedersehen, Anthony

      • MathleticDepartment

        He makes it work

  • rvb1023

    Wonderful 101 is pretty much the only game until X that makes me wants a Wii U, but the constant comments towards the controls has me worried. The one person I actually know with the game loves it but he is a huge Nintendo fanboy, so I don’t know what to think.

    • Enkidum

      It got a good review on this site, actually – I guess neither John nor Anthony reviewed it. Too lazy to check.

      And, as they say, it’s a lot of fun, and they actually enjoyed it, just serious issues with it. But it sure looks like nothing else out there.

      (What do I know, I’ve never owned a Nintendo console.)

      • Jackbert

        Derrick Sanskrit reviewed it. He didn’t mention control issues. I think it’s the type of game that’s up his alley. Colorful and shiny and exciting. I’m with Derrick, it sounds fun enough that I think I could overlook the controls

        • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

          I very intentionally did not mention controls in my write-up, and told both Teti and Agnello at the time. The mechanics are imperfect, for sure, but I didn’t find them to be all that much of a barrier. For the harder-to-draw shapes, practice on the touch screen, but using the right stick is far more fluid. The important thing is to pause and think about the shape, stopping for a moment when you need to. Don’t try to draw the hammer in one smooth movement, just draw a big line, stop, then a small circle. Booyah, you’ve got yourself a hammer. Bomb? Reverse it with a big circle, pause, and a small line. Big enemies do telegraph their moves, like Agnello said, but they all do it differently from one another so you’re bound to get beat up a bit while you learn their tactics. Lasers can be reflected with the sword, raining debris is shielded with the hammer, cannonballs can be blocked, et cetera. Once you’ve caught on, it’s a dance, a very shiny dance. Wonderful 101 is the Platinum game that I’ve found benefits the most from replay.

      • rvb1023

        I can get used to funky control schemes, the Lost Planet games were some of my favorite shooters this gen, so I imagine I will pick this up at some point, just have to get a Wii U first.

        And to support Platinum, those lovable bastards.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      There are a handful of games out now on WiiU I’d definitely get if I had one, but nothing to make me want a WiiU yet. This one looks pretty neat. Blergh.

      • Citric

        Right now I’m at this, Wind Waker and Mario 3D World. Not quite enough to push me over the edge. I suppose there’s some Wii stuff, but Wiis are cheaper anyway.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          And Wiis can play an arguably better-looking, certainly cheaper version of Wind Waker!

          • Citric

            But I can’t buy a new Wii that’s worth a damn (Wii Minis can’t play Wind Waker anyway), and all the used ones I see kind of look like they’ve been in a giant butt.

          • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

            It’s so weird. There are a 100 million of them out there – you’d think you’d be tripping over them unopened on the subway – but buying one that doesn’t suck is weirdly impossible, or costs almost as much as a wii U . Also, I’ve never seen one in a giant butt, but the after effects are there for all to see. There’s clearly a whole section of the Wii story we know very little about.

        • boardgameguy

          also, Game and Wario is fun for single or multiplayer.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        The most recent trailer for Mario 3D World is worryingly close to convincing me. It looks so good, but probably not good enough for me to buy a $300 Mario machine.

        • Newton Gimmick

          I’m sure someone in my extended family will get one for Christmas.

        • CrabNaga

          Nintendo is Super Mario 3D World, some other new 3D Mario game, some other new 3D Zelda game, a new (good) Metroid game, and Super Smash Brothers away from convincing me to get a Wii U.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Did I just see a Goomba in a cat suit and a Bullet Bill with cat ears? If so, can I have some of what Nintendo’s smoking?

          • Newton Gimmick

            They’re smoking catnip, obviously.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Yeah, that one looks great. Also the new Smash Bros!

          And I finally bought myself a 3DS XL last night, but have yet to get any games for it yet. A $200 soon to be mario machine!

    • Raging Bear

      I tried the demo, and absolutely could not figure out how to attack. I looked for the instructions for how to attack, and there were none. My patience ran out pretty damn quick.

      • CrabNaga

        It’s easy. Just spin the middle side topwise. Topwise!

    • NakedSnake

      I’m keen on it too, but that’s probably just b/c it reminds me of the Superhero League of Hoboken.

  • PaganPoet

    Quelle horreur, Mr. Teti! C’est un macaron, pas un macaroon! The nation of France is usually very forgiving for slights against their culture. But THIS, sir…this is impadonnable

    • Jackbert

      There are three fucking cookies in that package. Each of them are, what, an inch in diameter? I don’t know how much that costs, but I’d bet it’s too much.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        My exact thought. “Those BoBo cookies are probably 10 bucks a pack, over 3 bucks apiece.”

      • snazzlenuts

        I was thinking the same thing, so I looked it up. They are $2.95 for a pack of three. Not unreasonable.

        • Jackbert

          $2.95 for ¾π square inches of cookie? Not as bad as Girard feared, but that doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

    • Fluka

      Wait, is it a macaron? Are there two little layers of meringue with a thick dollop of ganache or buttercream inside? I can’t see at this resolution – they look like solid round cookies, which while not traditional American coconut macaroons, could place them closer to the almond macaroon archetype. These are very important cookie questions.

    • HobbesMkii

      You’re wrong and @Fluka:disqus (and thus Teti) is right. They’re macaroons (the Italian-derived coconut confection), not macarons (the French-derived meringue-based confection). http://emmysorganics.com/products/lemon-ginger-macaroons

      The nation of France will have to take its haughty disposition elsewhere.

      • Roswulf

        Huh. Why would anyone make a macaroon that looks like a macaron?

        Macaroons are meant to be wild, embracing the effusive misshapen-ness of shredded coconut.

      • Fluka

        LIKED, for making the very important comment that I WAS RIGHT.

        • Enkidum

          Liked for realizing what is truly important about this site (and, by extension, life).

      • Dora_The_Explorer_Game

        Nobody tells me where to take my haughty disposition.
        Nobody. Though I don’t have a clue how macarons are made, so maybe I’m not a true Frenchman after all.
        *sadly puts béret back on head, walks away puffing on a Gauloise and debating existentialism vs rational humanism*

      • PaganPoet

        Well, there’s the egg on my face.

        Sorry, I get a little overzealous to make a joke at the expense of the French. :(

  • dreadguacamole

    Shame. I was looking forward to this game, but the demo left me a bit cold.
    I’ll probably try it at some point later, since it usually takes me some time to click with Platinum games – Vanquish, for example, I loathed at first, and it went on to become one of my favorite third-person shooters when I picked it up again a few months down the line.

  • HobbesMkii

    Teti has never had such a physical relationship with the game’s case on the Digest before this episode. It didn’t seem pleasant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

    “Hurried out for release before it was ready”?! It was delayed at least eight months from its original ship date. This game was one of the main reasons I picked up a Wii U at launch and then it got pushed so far out of the “launch window” that it almost arrived for the system’s first birthday.

    And the only issues I had with the controls were mostly camera-related. Yes, sometimes the shapes were hard to execute correctly (especially the hammer) but with enough practice you learn what works and what doesn’t.

    Some of the other complaints (long stages, questionable availability of the very-crucial block maneuver) are certainly valid. And the game does have a weird relationship with tutorials. But for the most part I found that W101 rewards putting in effort to learn its quirks and hidden depths. Whether or not you feel said effort is worth being spent is up to you.

    EDIT: Can we not insert links in our comments any more?

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      They still had a deadline to meet, though. There was an Iwata Asks with Kamiya and the producers/planners where they mention that, to everyone’s shock, Kamiya put in Multi Unite Morphs in May when the game had to be delivered by August. It’s a good read as always and Kamiya manages to not pass out drunk.

      • Guest

        What voodoo code did you use to get that link to work? I’ve tried both HTML and BBCode and neither took.

        • Destroy Him My Robots

          Just the same old HTML a href= formatting. Maybe it had a problem with something in the URL you tried? Not I could think of a scenario where that might be the case.

  • snazzlenuts

    Two things:
    1. I think Okami would be the counterpoint to John’s argument against creative controls.
    2. The concept in the Wonderful 101 of using bystanders to create weapons sounds a lot like a rip off of Pikmin.

    • Newton Gimmick

      The Wii version of Okami proves how easily they can be screwed up, however.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590707081 Chris Ingersoll

        Yeah the motion control for Okami Wii was awkward, since it’s hard to accurately draw something without the tactile feedback. A Wii U version of that game might be incredible.

      • snazzlenuts

        I actually liked the controls for Okami on the Wii. How were the controls for this game on PS?

        • Newton Gimmick

          Much better.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    Those macaroons look straight gross. Kale chips 2016.

    But getting to Teti’s glory of the button speech, I was watching the new iPad announcement yesterday (because I’m dead inside) and they touted out that the GPU is 72x faster. I of course have the friend who has been saying that iOS devices will catch up with current gen and you’ll be able to play Uncharted on your iPad, and this totally supports his theory, blah blah blah, but my rebuke to that is always, “Until they make a decent controller, that won’t be the case.”

    With the rise of smartphones and tablets we’ve seen an explosion of games that really seem to be constrained by their platform. There are some decent games on these platforms that are fun but there is nothing with the any real depth. I know this is old news but I’m new to the smart phone fold and I’m honestly pretty bummed at the offering of games on these platforms.

    • Raging Bear

      I have almost no examples to counter this, except the two games by Simogo: Year Walk, reviewed in this space, and Device 6, which came out last week (this depends on the particular smart phone you’re new to the fold of; I think these are iOS exclusive, and Year Walk may still be only iPad).

      The former could be just as easily be played with with a mouse (well, maybe not “just as,” but it’s conceivable), but the latter is almost the only game I’ve played that A) could not exist in the same form on a console or desktop, and B) is really quite good.

    • Carlton_Hungus

      Agreed, true controllers make the game. Someone here pointed out (I forget who but I’ve since purloined it for use in my own arguments (so… thanks)) about how controllers aren’t about freedom of control but logically restricting that freedom into a set of rules.

      Touch screens, wii-motes, kinect, no matter how precise, and how well they may work for certain games (wii sports, other games specifically designed around touch).

      Most of the “hardcore” games, and the majority of games in general are just best played with a controller or mouse & keyboard combo.

    • Carlton_Hungus

      I think the Infinity Blade games (I’ve only played II and III), are some of the best “hardcore” games available for iOs, they work really well with the motion controls, but it could never have the complexity of say, Dark Souls, with simple swipe touch screen mechanics. And don’t get me started on touch screen joystics.

      I look forward to iOs games getting even better graphically and faster, they’re great for games like Infinity Blade that use touch screen well, or puzzles, board games and handful of other genres. But a touch screen also close off so many types of games that without better controls they can’t compete.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        I’ve played infinity blade and they are really fun, though even their swipe controls leaving me feeling out of whack. There’s a way to do combos and has to do with making one swipe motion and then another concurrently and for the life of me I’ve never been able to master it. Occasionally I’ll luck out and randomly get a combo but it never feels like I did it myself.

        But I do love their parry system.

  • Fluka

    I feel like the problems with motion control are a rather stark reminder that videogames are at their heart big collections of computer code. My everyday job relies on writing code to tell big sets of numbers precisely how to behave. The computer doesn’t care what you meant. It’ll only do precisely what you fucking told it to do. So even though motion controls are designed to read a much more “intuitive” set of human gestures, which if another human looked at they would understand, the Wii/Kinect/etc. is still just designed to imitate that kind of subjective, “I meant to do this” input. Beneath that mask of accessibility, there’s still a cold computer waiting for a precise set of input parameters. Well, at least until we develop true AI and enslave it inside our gaming machines!

    • boardgameguy

      Slavery is bad.

      • Fluka

        Battlestar Galactica starts with next-next-gen consoles!!

        • snazzlenuts

          If the PS5 looks like a frakkin’ toaster, I’ll be very scared.

        • DEADPOOL

          Battlestar Galactica happened in the past, you fool.

          • Fluka

            Fine, true. But all I’m saying is…I saw that robot montage!

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    I know exactly the kind of triumphant hero music John is talking about. He should sing it during every Digest.

  • Burger_Bob

    A third-party game for a Nintendo console is disappointing? No way! That’s unpossible!

    • long_dong_donkey_kong

      Nintendo is publishing it, so it’s really more second-party. I’d rather it was straight up third party because then I can wait for a price drop and try it out for $30 rather than $60. Since Nintendo is publishing, the price won’t drop for years.

  • DrZaloski

    Am I the only person who actually loves this game? Am I just weirdly gifted in Platinum’s fucked-up conception of drawing things? It’s very, very awkward at first, but it really does click after a few hours of play. I know, I know, it’s always hard to ask that you stay through an hour of frustrating play, but really, trust me, the game gets really, really fun after some practice.

    • jrdptttt

      I’m with you – I see the controls like executing a super in a fighting game or something. You need to figure out how to move the stick correctly to execute the thing you want (I never used the touchscreen though, I can see how that would be terrible.).

      It seems like this game gets a lot of flak for having complex systems and trusting the player. Like, trusting the player to consider buying the ‘dodge’ or the ‘counter’ move in an action game. Did they just not look at the shop at all when the game threw it at them or something?

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