Platinum Games are rightly considered to be one of the most inventive developers making action games today, with titles like Bayonetta, Vanquish, Nier: Automata, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in their history, they’ve got a robust body of work. Each of their games has a unique tone and feel, but they’re all centered around flashy, technical and deep combat systems. They’re the masters of game mechanics that let you execute increasingly audacious attacks as you hone your skill at the game. They’re also probably one of the most in-demand Japanese game studios, having over the years worked on games for Nintendo, Microsoft, Sega, Square-Enix, Konami, Activision, and others.
The Wonderful 101 was a game from their back catalog that could have very easily slipped through the cracks, left forgotten to history. It was released exclusively on Nintendo’s ill-fated Wii U back in 2013 and didn’t manage to resonate with the relatively small install base for the system. It was exclusive to the Wii U because Nintendo had funded its development, so at least initially it seemed like it wouldn’t get a chance to be played by anyone who didn’t own a Wii U.
It wasn’t a big seller, but it did have somewhat of a cult following, and there would have been plenty of people that were fans of Platinum’s games in general, but never owned a Wii U.
This scenario contributed to the perfect storm of factors culminating in a remaster. The story goes that initially, Platinum spoke to Nintendo about the possibility of remastering The Wonderful 101, to give the game a second chance. Nintendo, who funded the development of the original game and have at least some ownership of it, agreed to finance remastering the game for their successor system, the much more successful Nintendo Switch. Platinum then gave a counteroffer: They said that if instead they could fund the remaster themselves, would Nintendo agree to let them take it multi-platform, to which Nintendo agreed. Perhaps in part because Nintendo and Platinum have a good long-standing relationship, and perhaps because if the remaster is successful enough, Nintendo would still have a say on which platforms a hypothetical sequel would release on.
Platinum made the decision to take the idea of a multi-platform remaster to Kickstarter, including porting the game to Playstation, Xbox, and PC in addition to Switch. The crowdfunding campaign was a massive success, smashing their minimum target by over forty times.
Backers of the Kickstarter at the appropriate tiers will have already received their early Steam keys, but it is now available on general sale for anyone to buy.
It’s an interesting game that’s worth spending a bit of time on to get to understand it’s systems. It may somewhat look like an isometric strategy inflected game, but it’s a straight-up scrolling beat ‘em up. The unique hook is that you’re controlling up 100 heroes at once, moving as a collective. They can take on different formations to use different abilities, and your attacks get bigger as your crowd increases in size. It’s a brilliant stylistic choice that gives the game a unique aesthetic, as it expresses personality through the individual hero’s bio and appearance.
There are some brilliantly designed setpieces, with huge colorful explosions, creative enemy designs, and the beating heart of a true Platinum action game buried beneath the cutesy facade.
Check out this brilliant review by Matthewmatosis if you want to find out more about why this game did appeal to that cult audience of Platinum Games fans.
This Remaster is not perfect out of the gate though. Platinum has traditionally been a more console-centric company, and only relatively recently started bringing their games out on PC too. Some of their games have been reasonably technically solid on PC, but with a couple of minor issues that end up being fixed with mods or tweaks. The Wonderful 101: Remastered is no exception, where early recipients of Steam keys via Kickstarter noticed a strange bug that resulted in inconsistent frame pacing, essentially with the game’s visuals updating at 59 FPS instead of the expected 60 FPS. Fortunately, with some of the game’s most passionate fans playing the game early, there is a fan-made fix available already too. Head over to PCgamingWiki for details on the fix, and you want to be installing the “SilentPatch” fix to address the frame pacing issues. It would be nice if fixes like these weren’t necessary, but it’s a minor inconvenience that is far more preferable to Platinum simply not releasing games on PC.
It’s going to be interesting to see to what extent this game is able to connect with players, now that it’s available for the first time to a much larger audience, across multiple different systems.
Grab The Wonderful 101 Remastered on Steam now, for $39.99.