The big takeaway from Nintendo’s Wii U showcase in London last week was this: in a world where drab, colourless shooters and Western franchises dominate on Sony and Microsoft platforms, the dazzling display of colours and Japanese quirkiness is a breath of fresh air. No game demonstrated this better than Project P-100, Platinum Games’ madcap action brawler that combines Power Rangers with Pikmin and Ultraman.
Just seeing it in action was enough to cast wonder across the faces of press and industry. That soon turned into horror and apprehension as they were offered the Wii U GamePad to give it a go for themselves. For you see, when you see Project P-100
in action, it looks pretty damn complicated. A flurry of masked men dotting about a screen flinging massive fists at giant robots... just what the hell is going on?
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Platinum Games title if it wasn’t just a little bit mental. This is the brainchild of Devil May Cry
creator Hideki Kamiya, and his creative stamp is evident in the signature over-the-top action moves and combination flair. But when you start playing the game, all of the zany presentation is cut away and things become quite simple to understand.
You control a superhero (mask, underpants and all) who acts as a team leader for all of the fellow supermen and superwomen that follow you around. You start in one location of a colourful city under siege, and work your way through the city by beating the snot out of all sorts of outrageous mechanical monsters. Beat that particular enemy, and the next area is opened up for you.
You have two forms of attack. The ‘team attack’ is your basic weapon, and by pressing the X button you command your rag-tag team of vigilantes to slam themselves into your nearest opponent. By connecting attacks in this way, you can build up charge in a battery meter - which can then be used to launch special moves known as Morph Attacks.
As the name suggests, Morph Attacks use the power of all of the members of your team to build a crazy weapon to use against your foes. There are three Morph Weapons to choose from, and you can switch between them by drawing patterns on the Wii U GamePad’s touch screen or by moving the Right Stick in a particular fashion.
Drawing a line upwards sees your team of misfit heroes stack atop one another like a totem pole, to create a huge blue sword. A circle will create a big red fist, and an “L” shape will provide you with a massive green gun. Each of these Morph Attacks affect the bosses you face in different ways - a bit like Rock, Paper, Scissors, you’re going to need to use the benefits of each Morph Attack to ensure victory between villains.
Along with a block move (on the ZL trigger) and an awesome-looking dodge manouevre (ZR), there’s really nothing more to it. But, like Kamiya’s past creations, Project P-100
’s simple-looking control system belies its depth and variety when it comes to combat and combination moves.
And you won’t just be engaging in combat the whole time (just most of the time). There will be platforming elements which will require your superhero team to leap over buildings to reach a destination, as well as basic puzzles to overcome using the Fist Morph power. In one example, I was led into a warehouse where I had to turn three locks to open a secured door - while the TV displayed an isometric view of the city outside, my indoor activity was taking place on the Wii U GamePad. Clever.
You can recruit civilians to your cause during your mission, too - drawing circles around panicked NPCs will transform them into wannabe superheroes and they’ll hop to the back of the line. I’m told that up to 150 people can be recruited in your team at any one time - which is going to be mental when you consider that there’s potential for a four-player co-op mode too.
All in all, it’s looking like a bonkers boss rush with all the pizazz of a day-glo Kamen Rider
. And despite the isometric viewpoint, there are some shocks to be had - running along the city highway while the world literally crumbles beneath you is pretty gripping, and having to use your Morph Sword to pole vault over a billboard to safety just proves that Kamiya’s sense of humour is well and truly intact.
will be one of the reasons to get a Wii U early on in its life cycle - and we can’t wait to play more of it!