The Capcom Five (while sounding a little too much like a bunch of superheroes) was a set of titles that were announced in 2002 for release exclusively on the Nintendo GameCube. Killer 7, Resident Evil 4, Dead Phoenix (which ironically never released), P.N. 03, and Viewtiful Joe were eventually shown to the world. While Viewtiful Joe did manage to sell enough to earn itself a sequel, and then a shoddy Smash Bros style brawler, the franchise ultimately disappeared - along with its developer, Team Viewtiful.
You probably haven’t heard of Team Viewtiful as they only made one game under that name. The studio was renamed Clover Studios to allow the creation of the Viewtiful Joe sequel, but eventually disbanded and became Platinum Games; with MadWorld, Bayonetta, Vanquish, and Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance under their belt, you may have heard of them.
If you are aware of the team's history, there's a small surprise to look out for in the opening credits of The Wonderful 101, where the Team Viewtiful logo makes an appearance. Is this to signify a connection to the series that started it all, or does this simply suggest that you’re about to embark on what is clearly the spiritual successor? The art style (minus cel-shading), the humour, the pacing, the frantic combat, the difficulty levels, the rankings after each stage; it all feels like they belong to the same world. And what a world we get this time around.
We're introduced to this version of Earth at a time where it seems to be constantly under attack by alien beings. The defense shield -- oddly named Margarita -- is holding up to the onslaught, but some enemy craft have snuck in and look to pose a serious threat to mankind. After a brief but amazing intro you’ll meet the first of the Wonderful One Double Oh: Wonder-Red. Mild-mannered elementary school teacher by day, fighter of the GEATHJERK (Guild of Evil Aliens Terrorising Humans with Jiggawatt bombs, Energy beams, Ray guns, and Killer lasers) and leader of the Wonderful 100 by night. Red has little time to breathe before the action begins, and he’ll barely get time to again before the game ends.
Humour plays as big a part of The Wonderful 101 as action and gameplay, with Platinum Games trying to get a laugh in every chance they can get. Characters have all been fleshed out with their own quirks and they all seem to tie together well. Wonder-Green is a connoisseur of fine food and women, Yellow is a bashful (ohhhhh because he has a hammer… right) Russian guy, Blue is a dude-bro who wants to seek revenge for something, and Red is an up and comer who seems intent on making sure people are addressed properly.
A lot of the gags found in The Wonderful 101 are visual, so it’s best not to detail any as I’d hate to ruin the special moments they create. Needless to say, the humour is incredibly Japanese, a little oddball, and some of it even mimics what you'll find in western classics like The Naked Gun. It’s amazing how seriously the game takes its comedy; despite one of the characters being overweight, there isn’t a single moment where he farts. Instead of just slapping together anything to get a laugh it looks as though the jokes were thoroughly thought out.
Like Viewtiful Joe, The Wonderful 101 is not an easy game to just jump into. Despite being shown how to control the game, and then every new move as it comes up, you’ll be eyeing up the difficulty setting after securing a low rank at the end of each level. Don’t be fooled, Normal is the hardest unlocked difficulty because it is infact hard. Viewtiful Joe did this, and they even renamed the Easy difficulty to “Kids” just to make you feel worse for not doing well at Normal.
The game isn’t made for a single play-through, so if you need to play it on Easy, or Easiest, to get a handle on the controls, then by all means do so. Enjoy the story on your first go, and then punish yourself with a selection of new moves and stronger attacks on a higher difficulty. While a New Game+ doesn’t become available, you can just select any level you’ve fought through previously.
There’s a fair few hidden objects and collectibles to be grabbed inside each stage, and if you want to get all the BottleCaps (Wonderful 101’s answer to achievements) you’ll definitely be playing through the stages more than once - even if it's just revisiting them with a newly unlocked character. While only a handful are important to the story, there are a total of (well, this is kinda obvious) 100 Wonderful ones to find. Each character is rather… unique… to say the least (Wonder-toilet….), and each holds one of seven types of weaponry.
Continue reading on page 2.