A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wonderful 101 is a frenetic action game with moderate cartoon violence. Players combine a large group of heroes into various weapons -- swords, whips, guns -- to fight an army of mostly robotic aliens that explode when defeated. That said, some are living beings and at least one of them gets chopped in half. The titular 100 heroes are clearly virtuous, fighting to save humanity, but the experience is chiefly about action, its minimal story serving simply to introduce new enemies, weapons, and battle scenarios.
What's it about?
The earth is under attack in THE WONDERFUL 101, a action-oriented brawling game in which players control a group of 100 heroes who protect civilians and fight off alien invaders using a variety of \"united\" moves. Each hero has his or her own unique ability that calls on the rest of the gang to assemble into a specific form, such as a sword, gun, whip, glider, bridge, or ladder. To create these forms players need either draw the corresponding shape -- such as a circle, triangle, or right angle -- on the Wii U Gamepad or use the right stick to draw the shape on the TV. These abilities are called on frequently in every mission, and players are often given a time limit in which to successfully enact them. Outside of the campaign lies a shorter mission mode for between one and five players that assigns simpler objectives at various difficulties.
Is it any good?
The Wonderful 101 is a bit of a mess. It’s a deeply inventive action/brawling game that doesn't invite easy comparison to other games and tries hard to surprise and enchant at nearly every turn. Indeed, many players will actively yearn to be drawn in by its colorful, highly stylized visuals and unusual play concepts.
But these same players are just as likely to be put off by a laundry list of design and play problems both big and small. A frustrating camera and tiny characters make it hard to tell what's going on; the main "unite" ability is awkwardly constructed, making it hard to properly and efficiently draw the required shapes; and dialogue strives for gut laughs but usually fails to elicit even a grin. A niche audience will likely click with the finicky morphing mechanic and stilted story, but most will likely come away from this creative and ambitious game frustrated and a little confused.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Have you ever felt different after playing a game? Perhaps more excited or tense? Why might that be?
Families can also discuss role models in games. Is it enough for a character to simply take a stance against evil, or do they need to exhibit other traits to be considered a good role model? What might these qualities be?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Skills: Collaboration: teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: September 15, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: T for Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes