I was planning to go into detail about The Wonderful 101 today, as I've finally beaten the game after having waited months to play it. However, then I had to spend the entirety of today gathering all my stuff and disassembling furniture (god bless Ikea) because I'm moving out of my student room tomorrow, so that kind of put a damper on things. I only made it through the day by the combined force of video game OSTs and LotR - Extended Edition running in the background. (for reference, when I was done The Two Towers had just finished)
But you know what? Fuck it, I'm going to talk about The Wonderful 101 anyway.
As most of you should know, The Wonderful 101 is a WiiU-exclusive action game by Platinum Games. And let me tell you, it more than earns its place in between the other Platinum titles that most people will probably be more familiar with. Everything about this game centers around being as awesome as it possibly can, while still being delightfully silly. It works fantastically well with the gameplay, but I imagine that it would also be lots of fun to just watch someone else play with the 101 heroes.
Gameplay-wise, I've heard this game described as Pikmin meets Viewtiful Joe, which I think is pretty accurate all in all. You play as a team of up to 100 pseudo Power Rangers. These guys can combine their powers to transform Green Lantern style into all sorts of objects and weapons. You get 7 main heroes who each have their own signature weapon, such as a giant fist, sword, Wolverine claws (yes, I'm experimenting to see how many famous heroes I can get into these -isms), and a whip. You activate these powers by drawing a specific symbol either on the the GamePad or with the Right Stick, after which you can use your newly formed weapon to put the hurt on whatever baddies you may face.
The system works pretty well, but I often felt like things got too chaotic too fast. It's not easy keeping track of your lead character among those 99 other guys, for one. Even if you do manage to do so, enemies tend to attack you without much warning and sometimes even from off-screen. The Wonderful 101 is not an easy game, and not always for the right reasons. Beyond that, the game also likes to change up the gameplay at certain parts, which doesn't always work out well. There are shmup-levels, one-on-one fights, and even Punch-out matches (and I mean that quite literally) with giant robots. It all looks cool, sure, but it doesn't always play optimally. I remember one shmup-level toward the end of the game where I kept taking damage even if for the life of me I couldn't find out what was hitting me. And when your endstage score gets significantly lowered for your poor performance, that starts to sting a little bit.
It's a good thing then, that this game is absolutely oozing which both charm and Platinum's signature awesomeness. Giant robots aplenty in this game, and they keep getting bigger and bigger as the game progresses. It feels very Gurren Lagann, actually. That's always a plus in my book. Other than that the game has lots of quicktime events (the good kind) where our heroes are able to show off their powers in all sorts of creative ways. The cutscenes are definitely the highlight of this game, especially for someone like me who wasn't entirely sold on the combat. It also helps that each of the 10 or so main characters have wonderful personalities and quirks. They're voice-acted quite well too (although with very heavy fake accents), so it's a joy to listen to them spout their nonsense throughout their missions. Each of the character's introductions is really fun as well, and almost perfectly captures the essence of what they are going to bring to your party.
Ultimately, I haven't had the chance to play many Platinum games. I played some of their games when they were still Clover, such as Viewtiful Joe and Okami, I played MadWorld (which I fucking love to bits), but unfortunately no Vanquish, no Anarchy Reigns, no Metal Gear Rising, and worst of all: no Bayonetta (but soon!). If nothing else The Wonderful 101 has shown me that I'm totally down with their style of games, and it's making me ever more excited about the upcoming Bayonetta 2. Now that we know it's going to include the original as well, I quite simply can't wait to play it.
Oh, and also: Lucina and Robin in Brawl, fuck yeah! A Fire Emblem mage (specifically Soren) has been my Smash Bros. wet dream for ages now, so it's great to see this guy/girl make an entrance. Who the hell is this "Robin" person though? I only know a guy named Shade.
Oh, and also also: the Wind Waker as a weapon in Hyrule Warriors. This wasn't exactly what I meant when I said that I wanted more The Wind Waker representation, but I'll take it!
No matter what the experience was or which game or genre left that strong first impression, such experiences have the potential to open our eyes to the rich history of a series or genre. With any luck, we might find even more to love or something better. A great first experience with RPGs could lead to an undying love affair.
Sometimes a first kiss can be so impactful that the game gets placed on a pedestal and enshrined as a gold standard, which has its own pros and cons. I mean, it is nice to have a basis for comparison, but some folks take it too far. There are people who loved Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Final Fantasy VII so much that nothing after them really got a fair shake.
So first impressions matter -- they can shape and inform our gaming habits. I grew up on arcades, Nintendo, handhelds, and eventually into RPGs, so much of what I play will be influenced by how I acquired my tastes. I probably like Overwatch a ton because it has a passion for RPG roles, but contextualizes them closer to older shooters focused on objectives more than gear builds and grinding out perks for better killstreaks.
So for this month's Bloggers Wanted, we'd like you head over to the community blogs write about your first kiss, the games that positively influenced you or maybe biased you a little too much for a time. What turned you on to a series or genre? Was it love at first sight? Did it set any expectations in stone or possibly lead you to something better?
Whatever the case might be, remember to use the title "First kiss" and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!
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