While there was a lot to look at with Nintendo’s classic franchises on the Wii U, some new challengers approached for the first eighth-gen console, and I was also able to get a little bit of hands-on time with two of them, The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2.
The Wonderful 101 is a superhero game for the ambitious – you control 101 of them. The Wonderful 101 is a new venture from Platinum Games, which has worked on games such as Viewtiful Joe (as Clover Studio, now controlled by Capcom), Madworld, and the original Bayonetta. And artistically, 101 looks like a spiritual successor to Viewtiful Joe. Unfortunately the similarities end there.
Originally slated to be in the Wii U’s launch window, The Wonderful 101 puts you in the role of Wonder-Red, leader to a group of superheroes known as the Wonderful 100 (with you, of course, being the 101st). These superheroes fight crime and save the day in Blossom City by morphing into objects such as a laser sword, a giant fist, or a pistol in order to stop the oncoming alien invasion. This is done via the Wii U Gamepad. Only a short demo was available for play at the time.
I’m not sure the delay helped the game at all. The Wonderful 101 was one of the few games I walked away from feeling like, “Oh. That wasn’t really that good of a game.” It’s possible that I just didn’t really have enough time with it – E3 previews can be rushed – but I just didn’t enjoy it. The gameplay of having to move your group of superheroes, then using the Gamepad to form a shape or an item, felt clunky and forced. My demonstrator informed me that I could do the same thing using the Gamepad’s right stick, but then when I tried it, it wasn’t as effective as the touchscreen; focusing on the touchscreen though got me a face full of alien zap. Moving the group as a unit was difficult (which can be expected for a game of this nature). Again, it’s wholly possible I just didn’t give it enough of a chance, but this was the one flop Nintendo put forth.
Platinum Games’ other offering, Bayonetta 2, on the other hand, looks like a sure-fire winner. I didn’t have time for a hands-on chance with it but I did watch someone else’s demo, and the look and feel of the original has been seamlessly ported over to the Wii U. Though it hasn’t been rated by the ESRB yet, it assuredly will retain the M rating of the first game. The game can be played traditionally or via touchscreen controls, and will support Off-Screen play.
Nintendo also offered a slew of games for the portable 3DS system, and I had to get my hands on demo of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Zelda fans who do not own a 3DS, the time to buy one is now. Set in the Hyrule of A Link to the Past, the game feels like an updated version of the SNES classic, right down to the locations of places from the original; however it truly does feel like a new experience. I got to demo a dungeon level, where the orange posts make a return to be smacked with the Magic Hammer. Climbing on top of the big ones, however, launched Link up to the next level of the dungeon. I also got to test out the Merge ability, which turns Link into a 2D etching to move along walls. The new technique worked well, and I was quickly back to my Zelda ways, poking around for secrets when I should have been advancing in the dungeon. I also tried some of the tricks I tried in the SNES Zelda, and rediscovered my Spin slash with the sword, so it’s nice to see that make a return.
Before I left, I passed by a 3DS and saw Yoshi on it, so I had to make one more stop to check out Yoshi’s New Island. Though much wasn’t revealed in terms of storyline, the third installment plays like the first two, but features new mechanics such as the Mega Egg, which can be used to break down walls and reveal hidden items and doors. The Mega Egg utilizes the 3DS gyroscopic functionality for precision aiming. Yoshi’s flutter jump and ground pound make a return, as does the irrepressibly-adorable-until-he-cries Baby Mario.
This year’s E3, as has been the rumor for many years past, was supposed to be the final nail in the coffin for the Mario Machine. But if the turnouts spotted at the E3 booth are any indication, once again the rumors are simply false alarms.
Scheduled release dates for the above-mentioned games are as follows:
The Wonderful 101: September 15, 2013
Bayonetta 2: 2014
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: November 2013
Yoshi’s New Island: 2014