If there’s one thing PlatinumGames can be counted on to deliver, it is games with plenty of style. Even something like The Wonderful 101 and its update, The Wonderful 101 Remastered, which might upon first glance look gimmicky or showy excels when it comes to setting a mood. But it’s about more than just nailing a certain sense of ambiance. Everything about this game takes what people know of and expect from superhero games and plays with it, amping it up into what is hopefully an enjoyable experience.
Editor’s Note: There will be The Wonderful 101 spoilers below.
A big part of that comes from the characterizations, which do and don’t play with people’s expectations. There is always a big damn hero in these sorts of adventures, and The Wonderful 101 Remastered gives us one right away with Will Wedgewood, aka Wonder-Red. He’s got the heroic lineage, as his father worked alongside the original Wonder-Red as a member of the army. He’s the default blond-haired, blue-eyed dude. He has a wholesome job as a teacher. But, he’s also the ingénue and, even though he is “our” leader, he’s only just starting to figure out things for himself and is basically as new to the organization as the player.
Also, by having 100 members, we have a greater range of what we might expect heroes to be. Yes, certain characters are considered the main faces of the organization. Wonder-Pink is our initial heroine, who seems a bit into herself, but proves to be quite capable. But with every Wonderful One, we get people who defy our expectations of heroes. We have Wonder-Santa, who is literally Santa Claus. There are cameos, like Viewtiful Joe’s Sexy Silvia as Wonder-Cheerleader. We also have regular civilians who can temporarily become superheroes who help you out. It helps provide more context, because of course one single person wouldn’t really be enough to face a huge threat. But by tapping into people worldwide, with all different specialties, we can find help.
There’s also Luka, who begins by filling a classic stereotype. There’s one person who mistakenly sees the heroes as the villains, all because they couldn’t save the person who mattered most to them. This pushes them toward villainy, except at the last second he learns the truth and not only ends up on the side of good, but because of him being the son of the woman whose consciousness now is Mother Platinum and is within Platinum Robo, is able to be a key part of the plan to completely save the Earth.
But then, there’s the biggest twist of them all, which turns the whole heroic ideal on its head for The Wonderful 101. The big twist is the reason GEATHJERK came back in time is to defeat the founders of the Greater Galactic Coalition that wiped out so many planets and their people: humans. More specifically, The Wonderful 100. Which honestly plays well into The Dark Knight Rises quote from Two-Face that claims, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Given that the time traveling shenanigans means now Wonder-Red and the team are aware of a possible future, it could be averted, but it adds a surprising amount of depth to a game that is otherwise pretty much about good guys beating up bad guys. It makes us wonder how far justice, or what agencies consider justice, could go.
They’re fun examples of how The Wonderful 101, and now The Wonderful 101 Remastered, play around with characters and concepts to entertain the audience. On many levels, it gives us exactly what we want and expect. We have heroes who fit the exact mold of what we’d expect, then ones we don’t. We have our redemption arc. But, we also have to wonder if the future could really be changed too. It shows there’s a surprising amount of thought behind the flash.
The Wonderful 101 is available for the Nintendo Wii U, while The Wonderful 101 Remastered is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC. Physical copies will be delayed by the pandemic.