A brief note from me to anyone reading this in North America: It’s frustrating to see a hotly anticipated game being up for sale elsewhere first, isn’t it? I’ve had the privilege to play through the game a number of times weeks in advance of its September 15th US release date, and I’m still chomping at the bit to have another go with my own copy of the game on my own Wii U. It’s not every day that I’m able to sit down with a game as part of my job, and find that I like it so thoroughly that I anticipate playing it again with such fervor. Developed by the geniuses at Platinum Games, industry veterans who have produced the finest action games to grace gaming consoles since their inception. The Wonderful 101 continues a fine tradition. It is a game that does very little to hold your hand, demanding that you stay on your toes with every encounter with the evil GEATHJERKs. (That’s Guild of Evil Aliens Terrorizing Humans with Jiggawatt bombs, Energy beams, Ray guns, and Killer lasers. Yeah.)
It’s also a hilarious game. It helps that I am aware of many of the sources the game takes inspiration from, but for a game that expects you to take it seriously if you expect to get anywhere beyond the continue screen, it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The core of your offense and defense in The Wonderful 101 is the Unite Morph. Your team of up to 100 super-heroes combine their bodies into various tools for justice, smiting the GEATHJERK with speed, power, and precision.
In order to succeed at The Wonderful 101, you’ve got to understand the potential of the abilities at your disposal, and employ them accordingly. Over the course of the game, you will gain access to seven lead heroes, representing the seven types of abilities all heroes in the world can possess. These seven core Unite Morphs. On top of those seven abilities, you’ll also earn special upgrades to your Unite Morph arsenal, enhancing your offensive and defensive potential, adding new moves and attributes to your team.
The following seven abilities (and their primary heroic representatives) are the core of your arsenal. You start with Unite Hand, quickly earn Unite Sword, and over the course of the game, you earn the other abilities. To switch between these seven Unite Morphs, you must draw their shape using the Wonder Liner, a line formation consisting of your team of heroes moving in single file. You can do this with the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen, or Right Stick.
In addition to the standard capabilities granted by each of these unique Unite Morphs, leveling up their primary user in combat will eventually grant you three additional moves: Wonderful Stinger, Wonderful Rising, and Wonderful Cyclone. The only exception to this rule is the Unite Bomb, which does not have these three moves. But, by using the motions that would normally activate those moves, you can manipulate the Unite Bomb in a variety of ways.
These three special moves must be unlocked before they can be used, and all three have special control inputs that must be executed while a given Unite Morph is active. Again, the exception to this is Unite Bomb, which does not have access to these moves. In their place, the Unite Bomb can be thrown in a variety of ways by using these special move’s controller inputs. As a nice bonus, you don’t even need to level up Unite Bomb before you can use the different throws.
Primary User: Wonder-Red
How to Use: Draw a circle with the Wonder-Liner to activate Unite Hand.
Unite Hand is your bread-and-butter offensive maneuver. One of the hardest hitting Unite Morphs, a fully powered Unite Hand can demolish most enemies with incredible speed. It’s not particularly fancy, but it doesn’t have to be. Its range is short compared to Unite Sword, but you can compensate for this by using Wonderful Stinger to stick close to more evasive foes.
Unite Hand has the special ability to absorb flame attacks or ambient fires. This enhances the already hard-hitting Unite Morph by allowing it to set enemies on fire or light torches in order to solve puzzles.
Primary User: Wonder-Blue
How to Use: Draw a straight line with the Wonder-Liner to activate Unite Sword.
The scintillating Unite Sword cuts through nearly anything like a hot knife through butter. One of the longest ranged weapons in the game when it is at full power, the Unite Sword is an extremely versatile weapon. It is lacking in power, especially when compared to Unite Hand, but it is much easier to combo with thanks to its reach, making it one of the most capable combo weapons in the game. If you manage to stun multiple enemies close to each other, you can juggle all of them with a single well-placed Wonderful Rising; this is a good tactic to try when you’re running with a team of 50 or more heroes. The reach of Unite Sword can extend across most arenas.
Unite Sword has the special ability to absorb electricity to enhance its combat strength, and it can reflect lasers away from the team and oftentimes directly back to their source. Many combat encounters will rely heavily on your ability to reflect beams away from your team at a moment’s notice.
Primary User: Wonder-Green
How to Use: Draw an L-shape with the Wonder-Liner to unleash Unite Gun.
Unite Gun provides the Wonderful Ones with a powerful ranged attack. By using fellow Wonderful Ones as ammo, Unite Gun users can fire their comrades at the enemy, where on impact they will initiate a Climb Attack, clinging to the enemy while delivering a beating.. This is a very useful weapon to use on smaller, more maneuverable foes. When powered up, Unite Gun becomes a large rocket launcher, firing a shell comprised of multiple heroes. At maximum power, Unite Gun turns the whole team into a mobile missile launcher platform, capable of firing enormous barrages of rockets at enemies, at the cost of most of your maneuverability.
Unite Gun has the unique ability of being able to pick up the cannonballs fired by enemies like the Die-Rixen or the Die-Tiekuu. These spherical shells can be fired back at enemies for heavy damage.
Primary User: Wonder-Pink
How to Use: Draw a wavy line to summon the power of Unite Whip.
Unite Whip enjoys fairly long range for a melee weapon, while also hitting harder than Unite Sword. Unite Whip’s attacks are more direct than Unite Hand or Unite Sword, which makes it less ideal for dealing with swarms of enemies and more focused on taking down single targets.
Unite Whip’s unique ability is grabbing on to things, from the hooks on construction cranes to swing across chasms to the spiked armor segments on certain enemies. Without Unite Whip, you can’t hope to find a way through spike armor. A large enough Unite Whip can even pick up and slam a stunned enemy for very heavy damage, which can make it a very good weapon to use against some of the heavier foes you’ll face. Like with Unite Gun, you can also pick up cannonballs from the ground and fling them back at the enemy, though it is a bit tougher to be accurate with Unite Whip.
Primary User: Wonder-Yellow
How to Use: First draw a straight line, then add a circle at the end of it to call upon Unite Hammer.
Unite Hammer is not a weapon for those who want to do long, fancy combos. Unite Hammer is about a massive burst damage for every hit you manage to land on an enemy, and it rewards timing. Each swing of Unite Hammer is slow, but each impact causes a shock wave that damages enemies nearby. Larger Unite Hammers cause a shock wave so big that you can affect enemies from a fair distance away. Armored enemies, such as the Megang or the Hoedown and Raydown tanks, will find that their armor cannot save them from a Unite Hammer strike (or multiple strikes).
Another use for Unite Hammer is to pound hammer spots located throughout the world to uncover hidden items. Surprisingly, large enough Unite Hammers can act similarly to the Unite Guts ability, repelling certain attacks when held up high. It is even capable of blocking artillery barrages from above.
Primary User: Wonder-White
How to Use: Draw a zigzag line with the Wonder-Liner to begin tearing your foes apart with Unite Claw.
Unite Claw is about putting as many attacks on a target as possible in the shortest amount of time. You can attack so fast in midair that it feels as though you’re hovering near your victims. Each slash while on the ground emits a shock wave that cuts deeply into enemies. On top of this, your slashes have a chance of freezing your enemies in place in a block of ice, allowing you to really get medieval on your foes. The one drawback to all of this striking speed is that Unite Claw does not appear to build up your combo multiplier as quickly as other Unite Morphs, which can make reaching Platinum ranks for Combo rating tough.
The other major ability of Unite Claw is that it can pry open stubborn doors. This ability is all but required to fight the Hah-Gonay GEATHJERK dragon, which will routinely close its wings in front of its head. An excellent, if not extremely specific, extra ability to have on hand.
Primary User: Wonder-Black
How to Use: Draw a circle, then a straight line leaving the circle in order to drop the Unite Bomb on your foes.
Unite Bomb can slow down anything caught within its area of effect. This costly ability drains huge portions of the Unite Gauge, but it is absolutely worth using as often as possible. The larger the bomb, the more damaging the explosion, and the time-dilation effect of the blast wave will last much longer. You don’t necessarily do combos with Unite Bomb, but you can set up some of the longest and most damaging combos in the game with its proper use.
Interestingly, Unite Bomb doesn’t have special moves like Wonderful Stinger or Wonderful Rising, but you can still do useful things with Unite Bomb beyond just dropping it at your feet.
Using the motion for Wonderful Stinger will let you throw a Unite Bomb a good distance away from you. Set up distant enemies for punishment before they can react and before they manage to get there.
The motion for Wonderful Rising causes you to throw a Unite Bomb straight up. This is good for catching pesky airborne enemies while you’re stuck on the ground.
Lastly, the motion for Wonderful Cyclone causes your hero to throw three bombs all around you. This can catch enemies clustered around you, a nice surprise to spring on them. For some bonus craziness, try using Unite Camp to supercharge your Unite Gauge, then use Wonderful Cyclone to unleash three of the largest bombs possible all around you.
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