The Wonderful 101's PC port is janky, but at least the weird cult classic is preserved

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

The original Wonderful 101 released exclusively on the Nintendo Wii U—the low-selling link between the Wii and the Switch—which limited its audience. But even on the Wii U, the oddball brawler really only appealed to diehard PlatinumGames fans and people who were about to become diehard PlatinumGames fans. It's vaguely Pikmin-like, but with complex, zoomed-out combat and unmitigated Hideki Kamiya weirdness. One look at the tiny characters, ultra-shiny trousers, and bizarrely-proportioned school bus in the first mission and you could tell that this was going to be a niche game regardless of platform.

After playing around an hour of The Wonderful 101: Remastered, which released on Steam today, I suspect it takes a while to click—in between bouts of confusion, I'm just starting to sense how I might form praise for it. Unfortunately, even if you already love The Wonderful 101, you may find the remaster frustrating. It's not a great PC port. 

It runs fine for me, at least, and looks how you'd expect a Wii U game to look at 1440p—crisp, but dated. It's locked to 60 fps, which is too bad, but expected for an aging console game. The small number of graphics options is essentially the bare minimum of what we expect: Three quality settings, V-sync, a resolution selector, and fullscreen, windowed, and borderless modes. There's also an "HDR" toggle but it isn't for HDR monitors. It's just high dynamic range lighting within the game, much like Valve added to Half-Life 2 in 2005.

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

In The Wonderful 101 on PC, it's the controls and menus that have been the real annoyances for me. 

The control prompts default to mouse and keyboard and don't automatically change if you start using a controller, so you'll have to change that manually. And if you have a controller plugged in but are using the mouse and keyboard controls, it'll vibrate anyway, so you'll have to turn that off or unplug it. Not a great start when most games these days have no problem automatically detecting which input device is being used.

Playing The Wonderful 101 with a controller is mostly fine, but at certain points you have to draw circles with the analog stick, and it's extremely awkward and difficult (this could be done with a stylus in the Wii U version). The mouse is better for drawing shapes when required, but not as good a control scheme for anything else, so there really isn't a best way to play.

Also, when using the mouse I had to turn off my second monitor, because the window doesn't trap the mouse even in fullscreen mode, so I kept clicking outside of it, causing it to minimize.

It looks better than it did on the Wii U, but the graphics haven't been overhauled. (Image credit: PlatinumGames)

On that topic, the Escape key switches from fullscreen mode to windowed mode instead of opening the menu (which is opened with R for some reason), so look forward to accidentally doing that a few times before you train yourself out of it.

The menus in general are just atrocious. Some things can be clicked, while others have to be navigated with Q and R, WASD, Enter, or Backspace (and remember not to accidentally hit Escape or it's windowed mode for you). I feel like I'm solving a puzzle every time I need to switch from windowed back to fullscreen, or navigate the shop between missions. 

If The Wonderful 101 is special to you, this may all be completely tolerable—after all, you aren't meant to spend all your time futzing with the menus. But for those trying to understand and appreciate a game that's notoriously hard to get into, all the little annoyances in the PC remaster won't make it easier.

That's too bad, but at least the issues aren't related to performance. As a short-term preservation effort, it does what it needs to do. It runs, so PlatinumGames fans now have a way to experience this weird moment in the developer's history even if they don't own the least popular console of the last two decades.

The Wonderful 101 Remastered is $40 on Steam.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the rise of personal computers, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early PCs his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.