The Wonderful One: After School Hero (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 21.01.2024

Review for The Wonderful One: After School Hero on Nintendo Switch

The Wonderful 101 was destined to be a niche action game. Its toy-like aesthetics and emphasis on colourful superheroes made it appear intended for kids. However, it delved into mature themes and included characters unafraid of uttering foul language. Most notably, The Wonderful 101 was a highly challenging and deeply intricate action game, which alienated general audiences. Those who dedicated the effort to comprehend and master its intricate systems discovered it as one of the greatest action games ever crafted. When PlatinumGames announced a Kickstarter campaign to remaster it, one of the stretch goals was a 2D side story featuring Luka, the young deuteragonist of the tale. These stretch goals were met, and The Wonderful One: After School Hero was released in two parts as free DLC for The Wonderful 101 Remastered. After a certain period, the DLC was offered as a standalone experience. Can this bite-sized bonus game stand on its own? Discover the answer in this review of The Wonderful One: After School Hero.

The Wonderful One: After School Hero is set shortly after the events of The Wonderful 101, where Luka Alan Smithee is training to be a new member of the team. Luka has matured a bit since the events of the original adventure, but he is still the same oafish boy as ever. During his drills, he sees his classmate in the simulation, and it is revealed that Wana, one of the Geathjerk aliens, is not quite dead yet and has uploaded his mind into the computer system.

The voice actress for Luka returns, and she delivers a convincing impression of a hot-headed kindergartener. Sadly, Steve Blum does not reprise his role as Wana. It is unusual for Wana to be silent, and in this bite-sized adventure, he never says anything. This departure from Wana's typical character is so pronounced that he could be replaced with anything, and it would make no difference.

The story is presented economically in a visual novel style format, with big expressive character portraits and static backgrounds. The Wonderful One: After School Hero was obviously made on a shoe-string budget as most of the assets and enemies are recycled from The Wonderful 101. This game was intended as a free bonus for the remaster, and it is understandable that corners were cut. All of the conservative efforts do pay off though, because After School Hero manages to impress with its unique action platforming gameplay.

The Wonderful One: After School Hero unfurls in one big homage to retro action arcade games that the developers grew up with. Luka dons the wonder goggles and with the right analogue stick, he can fire lasers in full 360-degree range. He is small, moves very fast, can double-jump, and has the ability to dash. The playability is as snappy and responsive as it was in the vanilla game, but with a 2D perspective.

Screenshot for The Wonderful One: After School Hero on Nintendo Switch

The wonder goggles come with three modes: slow bounce shots that ricochet off surfaces, a short-range spread gun, and the standard long beam. Luka will be tasked with battling Geathjerk foes in simulated locations based on environments from the main game. These skirmishes are utterly chaotic and frantic due to the sheer number of enemies and bullets on the screen, which can be overwhelming, but also thrilling. Surprisingly, the gameplay is forgiving, as Luka is provided with numerous health pick-ups to sustain the fight. Lives are also easily earned since Luka's goggles are powerful enough to swiftly eliminate most enemies in succession, resulting in significant combos.

Even though Luka is a formidable child armed with a deadly weapon, even he can come close to being outmatched. Boss fights take standard foes from the base game and enhance them into massive enemies, who come with reinforcements to give Luka a hard time. Thankfully, the scoring system also levels up a meter with charges that can summon some of the main heroes from The Wonderful 101. Each of the original-coloured heroes can assist Luka in a pinch, and they all have the ability to afflict various statuses on foes. Wonder Black can stop time, Wonder Pink can stun enemies in a radius, and Wonder Red can deal moderate damage to any unfortunate Geathjerk caught within the range of his fists of justice. For gamers who want to witness the entire gang team up for a massive attack, be prepared to keep charging that gauge to fully expend it all.

The fast-paced action and the small scope of the story make it easy to get into without having to deal with expansive scripted sequences. The Wonderful One: After School Hero feels like the kind of bombastic and opulent arcade game from a forgotten era. It's an experience that's easy to return to for a quick and thrilling adrenaline rush, and much of this is attributed to its intense focus.

If there is one area where The Wonderful One: After School Hero did no cut any corners on, it is the soundtrack. All of the classic themes and leitmotifs from the main game are rearranged and reimagined as crunchy chiptune. These pieces of music were so perfect and having new interpretations of them in this style is a gift fans won't realize they wanted until they hear it.

Screenshot for The Wonderful One: After School Hero on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Wonderful One: After School Hero is a very fun diversion and was worth the wait. It is noticeably low budget, but PlatinumGames' ingenuity shines through in this lean, mean, but clean mini adventure. For its price, it largely delivers the thrills and is packed with enough variety to make replays enjoyable.

Developer

PlatinumGames

Publisher

PlatinumGames

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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