The Wonderful 101

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
The Wonderful 101 Game Poster Image
Inventive but flawed brawler has frequent cartoon violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

The Wonderful 101 wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive Messages

Some basic themes concerning bravery and heroism can be found buried under the action, but this game was designed primarily to entertain with its inventive cartoon violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Wonderful 100 are a diverse cast of heroic personalities, all committed to protecting the Earth and its inhabitants. Their motives are pure, and they save a lot of civilian lives. That said, very few of them are perfect angels. They tend to be overly competitive and even occasionally insult one another. Plus, they seem pretty enthusiastic about engaging in acts of violence.

Ease of Play

Three difficulties provide a wide range of challenge levels. The easiest makes it almost impossible to die. However, the lack of clear in-game directions means players may still get stuck figuring out where to go next, how to get there, and how to defeat certain bosses.


Battles are cartoonish but constant. Players use a special power to form giant swords, guns, bazookas, whips, and other weapons out of their allies and use them to carry out large-scale attacks. Alien enemies consist mostly of robots that simply  explode and disappear, but some are fleshy creatures -- including a lizard-like boss that gets chopped in half showing a small amount of blood. One of the game's heroes talks fondly about using his gun-shape power to take the life of an enemy. 


Some of the game's female characters wear outfits revealing minor cleavage. Wonder-pink is obsessed with her appearance.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A large mug of beer appears on screen.

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. 

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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?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fast action

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