Action Figures in Action
Reaction to Nintendo's E3 press conference has been decidedly mixed. While the company certainly covered a lot of bases for the many audiences it is hoping to attract with its upcoming Wii U console, many wondered why they left one of the most promising games, Project P-100, out of the conference. After having extensive playtime with the game, I believe it deserved more coverage than it received.
In an unlikely collaboration, Nintendo has tapped the ever-reliable Platinum Games to develop the title exclusively for the new system. The studio name may not have been around for a long while, but the developers themselves have displayed a consistently high pedigree. Hideki Kamiya, having worked on a veritable Pantheon of games with Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and Bayonetta, is serving as director for what seems to be an amalgamation of many properties, Project P-100.
The story so far reveals a wide variety of aliens, from tanks to Tetris-shaped beings to giant robots, attacking your home planet. As crises continue to build and the city crumbles, groups of normal citizens band together to become heroes. You can recruit practically any stray individuals, turn them into unique-looking heroes, and amass an army to take down your alien foes. The whole premise has an action figure feel to it, what with the battery-shaped bars that you need to charge in order to attack, as well as the Gashapon-like machines sprinkled across the city that you can use to acquire more heroes.
The best comparison I can make to describe how Project P-100 plays is to call it a mix of Viewtiful Joe and Okami. The former provides a whimsical aesthetic that harkens to super-deformed comic book superheroes, while the latter's influence is most apparent in the game's use of touch screen controls. Add in a dash of Pikmins controlling legions-of-individually-ineffective-but-powerful-when-working-together gameplay, and you have a recipe for something truly fun.
Okami's innovative combat came in the form of using magical inks to execute attacks. Draw the correct symbol and the appropriate action would initiate. Both iterations on the PS2 and Wii provided serviceable controls, but the lack of tactile response made the gameplay a tad more unwieldy than it could have been, since you had to pause in order to draw. Project P-100 follows the same premise for executing larger attacks.
You first charge up your battery bar with basic melee button mashing. Once one is full, you draw out the simple correct gesture (e.g. a circle) on the Wii U GamePad's integrated screen, and the corresponding devastating attack will take place (e.g. multiple heroes combine to form a giant sword). Considering the GamePad's tech, the game does not require any pausing. The drawing is quick and intuitive, and the action remains blindingly swift.
Another instance of touch screen use in Project P-100 has your group entering a warehouse. The action shifts to an over-the-shoulder third-person view on your controller, while the TV screen remains fixated on the top-down view of the city. You have to solve a puzzle in the warehouse in order to move on.
The developers at Platinum Games are known for unique premises and intense action gameplay, and this is no exception. The 12-minute Comic-Con demo provided only one stage and merely a small glimpse at the crazy arcade-like action. Project P-100 is scheduled to release in the Wii U's launch window and, while Nintendo is offering a bevy of heavy hitters this holiday season, this game is unquestionably one to keep a keen eye on.
Writes for a few media outlets, does graphic design work for a few clients, as well as production work for a few studios (all poorly). Believes the best correlation between the words "twilight" and "sparkle" has less to do with vampires and more to do with a sarcastic pony.
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