Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Un-Wonderful One Double One

  …Ugh! …

  Well, … ugh!  Nobody is going to like what I have to say.  Nobody is going to respect what I have to say, because it is aesthetic rather than scientific.  What I have to say is going to go over like a Valiantium Blade straight through the heart of the struggling, game deprived WiiU.


  … I hate the Wonderful 101.

  At first I pegged the Wonderful 101 as a cute, if over-the-top, superhero game that mysteriously baffled reviewers.  The dialog around Wonder 101 is mixed; how can you say it isn’t good until you tried it?  Of all of the reasons to try it, I think that I was looking for something new and different, something to sit alongside Super Mario 3D World and Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U, and heck, consider NintendoLand and Ducktales Remastered.  Without the Wonderful 101 my collection is a greatest hits parade of yesteryear. 

  Boy is this one off the mark.

  Bad gaming experiences often tell me a lot about myself.  Wonderful 101’s earliest levels seemed to begin easily enough, aside from some unfortunate do or die kill moments, known elsewhere as Quick-Time Events.  Wonderful 101 demands much more skill during these short video moments, and correspondingly slows the passage of time to a crawl, calls out the move that I’m expected to do, and starts a counter.  Tough but fair, I said then.  I usually hate Q.T.E.s but I’m not so far above them that I can’t sit through new efforts at the beleaguered game mechanic.

  Subtle evidence began to pile up of conflict with my gaming needs.  Muscles tensing dangerously, with nothing to do.  Heightened heart rate.  Broad confusion.  Moving the core Wonderful One (the avatar) moves the whole formation while it is being built, at first not disruptive at all, but suddenly growing far more relevant.  That’s not to say I wasn’t enjoying the witty banter, or the silly characters struggling to hold a tableau.  The game is legitimately charming.  Made in the era before everything had to look like movies, the Q.T.E.s would be cut for something closer to Golden Axe, hardly my favorite but certainly no slouch.  Consider Golden Axe where all of the allied character unite up to beat up an army of chicken/lizard riders; that description is not far off of everything I like about the Wonderful 101.

  I’m still not exactly sure what I’m rebelling against, but it is clear that rebelling is the correct world.  I’ve just defeated stage 4, the GEATHJERK officer 6th class Laambo and his mount, the Diekuu Ohrowchee.  The battle quickly abandoned the flow of stages and accomplishments that I’ve been getting used to for something completely different, indeed, strongly cinematic.  I hate cinema in my games, with such a passion! >:o

  The tension came to a head in this stage, to say nothing of outright despairing confusion.  Probably my own fault: Wonderful 101 is not a game that takes well to being played during the News broadcast!  But dammit … I am not pleased by any stretch!

  … And I told you that this would be emotional and not rational.  I like games that please the emotional core.  I hate movies, chief among them Hollywood, that tweek the emotional core and try to force a reaction.  I have never, in all my years, since Dragon’s Lair nor all through generation 6, never have I suffered cinema in my games gladly, finding something refreshing and pure in the simple joys of mastering an infinitely deep mechanic.  Yeah, one can already see where this leads to deep abiding love for Mario and Zelda, and Tetris, and Donkey Kong (arcade, mainly, though the Gameboy version was better), and Metroid, and Star Fox, and so many others.


  …Well, I wanted something different.  And I was warned about this one (when I cite this Metacritic link, I refer to the number of mixed, and outright bad reviews on offer; dissenting opinion is usually a sign of strong emotional reactions and polarization).

  …but polarization isn’t a bad thing is it?  Nintendo has always been walking that line, and some of their best efforts came out under the most stringent criticism (Metroid Prime, LoZ: The Windwaker, Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi’s Island, all great stuff).

  …sometimes we all need to step outside our comfort zones… I guess that means suffer a little {grumble, grumble}.

  I’m going to leave off from Wonderful 101 for a while, but not trade it in.  It will probably cost me something, like a shot at playing Splinter Cell: Blacklist or Rayman Legends for a while.  But I think I will hold onto it.  In time, think of its collector’s value.  There may never be another game like it, because this one sure didn’t sell

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