The Wonderful 101 Remastered review – a curious gem made that bit more palatable

May 18, 2020
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I’ve always loved the fact that Platinum Games’ wildest effort was saved for one of the wildest consoles in recent years – even if it did mean it got lost in the wilderness a little. If you were in on the Wii U cult, though, The Wonderful 101 was one of the real prizes; a scattershot take on action games from the man who helped birth the genre, it was a colourful grab-bag that was at once maddening and magical, throwing together tokosatsu-inspired superheroes with a thrillingly off-kilter combat system.

It was something of an acquired taste, though the remaster that sees The Wonderful 101 arrive on Switch, PC and PlayStation 4 does make an effort to appeal to a broader range of palates. They’re slight, welcome tweaks – some smart work has been done to bridge the divide between the Wii U’s two screen setup, you’ll be getting better performance on PC even if the Switch version isn’t quite the measure of the original, while elsewhere there’s a bit more guidance early on how to get the most out of your moveset plus a few handy tools available from the off to flatten the learning curve – though don’t go in expecting a substantial makeover. What you’re getting instead is something that makes it that little bit easier to appreciate what makes The Wonderful 101 shine.

And what is that exactly? For me it’s the chance to see Hideki Kamiya at his most unhinged, throwing in everything from a life obsessed with video games and Japanese popular culture. It’s where hundreds of masked superheroes clash noisily against alien invaders and each other across tiltshift metropolises in a game that’s maximalist from its core outwards. Why just control the one superhero when you can have an entire mob at your fingertips? It sounds like chaos, and in practice it very much is.

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