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As we get closer to the September 15 release date of the Platinum Games’ first Wii U title, “The Wonderful 101” lots of tidbits about the game are being revealed. From its original proposal as a Nintendo crossover title, to its outspoken creator’s feelings on review scores, and even quite a few profiles on the characters that are part of the Wonderful 100, but what of the inspiration for the game? You might have been able to guess that some of the biggest Japanese TV shows of the 1980s played a role, but an old Japanese story about a school of fish was what really got the ball rolling.
Speaking with the Director of “The Wonderful 101,” Hideki Kamiya recently, he gave us some insight into where the ideas behind his latest creation came from, and how they were influenced by some of his favorite memories of his childhood.
He started by explaining how the idea for the game came about, alluding to the inclusion of Nintendo characters, stating that “the idea was to be able to get a lot of popular characters and put them together into the game world in some form or another.” However, going in this direction brought up some questions from the team around how to “incorporate these characters into a game somehow so that all fans can enjoy them on equal footing.” The answer to that question played a major role in the final outcome of the game, as Platinum decided to go in the direction that “let fans enjoy the game in a way that let them enjoy a particular character that they like.” The end result was “one hundred characters together on screen, and you get the game in the form that it is today.”
Mr. Kamiya went a little deeper, elaborating on one story from his childhood that made a big impression on him, and later on “The Wonderful 101.”
“When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading books, and in one instance, there was a book about small monsters that could join together to form a much stronger monster. There was another particularly impactful book about these small characters that, in order to not be eaten by a bigger fish they form together into the shape of fish to face the bigger threat. I had some influences like these from my childhood.”
This theme of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts should be pretty evident to anyone that’s familiar with “The Wonderful 101” as you join up members of the Wonderful 100 to form objects like swords, whips, and guns to attack huge enemies. Mr. Kamiya continued, “the idea in the game is that all of these characters, while individually they’re very weak, when they come together its very impactful to form something stronger so that they could stand up to the enemies.”
If that idea sounds familiar, it may be because that was a common occurrence in cartoons and TV shows like ’Voltron’ (robot lions that join together to form a giant robot defender) and the ’Power Rangers’ (rangers that control Zords that combine to form a Megazord). When asked as to whether those shows had any influence on “The Wonderful 101,” Mr. Kamiya was clear that those shows, as well as others, laid the early groundwork for a game like this.
“That’s a huge factor. That’s the stuff that I grew up with, and yearned for as a boy. Growing up with ’Kamen Rider,’ ’Ultraman,’ and ’Voltron’ – this idea of heroes is something that I’ve always been fond of, and everything that’s in the game now comes from that fondness in my heart, and stuff that’s really close to me.”
Mr. Kamiya also used the ’Power Rangers’ to demonstrate why the game is the Wonderful 100, as opposed to choosing any other number.
“You have these units of rangers, like the Power Rangers, and you have a group of these heroes that form, and typically they’re in groups of five. So suddenly you hear about having a group of one hundred of these guys, wow – there’s going to be one hundred different heroes taking on these enemies, and it’s almost got this humorous twist to it like just imagining one hundred of these heroes.”