Some people who viewed Nintendo’s E3 2012 press conference felt that the show needed something with a little more “sizzle” than Nintendo Land, one of the company’s big titles for the year, to end on. And some have agreed that “Project P-100″ (working title), which was revealed right after the conference ended, would have been a perfect candidate.
Project P-100 is a Wii U game which will be published by Nintendo, but developed by Platinum Games, a studio best known for their collaborations with SEGA, including MadWorld for the Wii and Bayonetta for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and with Kojima Productions on the upcoming Metal Gear Rising, also for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Prior to the formation of this studio, many of their members worked as a part of Capcom’s Clover Studio, which produced such critically acclaimed titles as God Hand, Okami, and Viewtiful Joe.
In fact, it is with that last one that you can see the strong family ties of Project P-100. Both titles are full of action and bright colors while featuring masked, scarfed superheroes with large heads atop proportionally-smaller bodies… not to mention the cool designs for the monsters, ships, and giant robots you’ll be encountering along the way.
The main hook for Project P-100 is that you basically lead around a whole group of these superheroic types, taking down whatever threats emerge through the force of sheer numbers. In a way, it’s a lot like Pikmin– a comparison frequently tossed around, and an interesting direction at that, given Nintendo’s showing of a brand-new game in that series as well.
Even so, the games are not without their differences, and that is where the explanations get interesting. Pikmin has you plucking a variety of plant-like creatures from the ground to help you retrieve items and fight by throwing them at the enemies.
In Project P-100, you begin with a small group of heroes, and as you rescue endangered citizens, you’re able to recruit them into your fold, resulting in an increase in power. And rather than tossing your newfound allies at the threats to Earth’s continued prosperity, you’ll direct them in lines and arcs and basically hammer away at the attack button, causing the whole swarm to converge on your chosen target and basically pick them to pieces.
Of course, swarming your oversized foes like colorful bacteria is not your only method of attack. As you pummel away at foes, you’ll build up energy in a meter at the top of the screen, helpfully depicted as a row of ten batteries. With one of these filled, you are able to trigger a special “Unite” super move, which seems to have the group transform into a gelatin-like state as they form one of three (in the demo, at least) powerful forms: The Unite Hand, the Unite Gun, and the Unite Sword.
Triggering these moves requires you to draw one of three quick motions on the Wii U GamePad. A circular motion forms the Unite Hand, which can grab certain objects (such as large handles or cranks) or form a giant fist. An inverted “L” shape forms the Unite Gun, handy for blasting away at big bads. And then there was my go-to offensive maneuver, a straight vertical line for the Unite Sword, which they slash away at the enemy.
Uniting is not only handy for taking down foes, but also for progressing. In the case of the Unite Hand, for example, you’ll have to turn certain wheels in order to open doors. Or, during the boss battle with a towering robot, you’ll be able to use a special bridge-like form to move from one of the titan’s vulnerable hands to the other.
The game moved along at a brisk pace, though this was admittedly aided by the demo version’s timer. Simply put, you weren’t allowed to spend too long in any one portion before the timer would punt you to the next part of the demonstration. This was perhaps most frustrating when fighting the boss; according to the Nintendo rep on-hand, no one had been able to beat the boss at the end, though he said I came close as I was attacking the second hand as quickly as I could.
Naturally, the retail release will likely lack the timer, save for perhaps some sort of special mode. But even with it, the game seemed to move at a steady pace, with little in the way of dull moments, save for when you had to splinter one hero off from the group to enter a warehouse alone, looking for a way to allow the group to proceed. The camera controls for that portion seemed a little sticky and unhelpful, but I was able to get through without too much trouble otherwise.
Overall, Project P-100 looks like it has the makings of a very fun action title for the Wii U. What was shown didn’t really do very much with the Wii U GamePad, however; in reality, the three Unite modes could each have probably been easily triggered by a button press (I don’t remember the Dpad being used to do anything, for example). Still, something tells me we haven’t seen everything this game has to offer, and so it might make greater use of the device yet. And even if not, maybe it will at least utilize that off-TV gameplay mode.
One other interesting item of note: The fact sheet issued by Nintendo claims that the game is for one player, and while the demo and the screens in the gallery don’t show it, the video below reveals what seems to be some multiplayer action. More interesting still is that in the portions of the video where multiplayer is shown, it has four players. With only two GamePads usable at a time, will Project P-100 feature online gameplay where Pikmin 3 will not? Or will it be local, using a different, perhaps simplified control scheme on Wii Remotes?
It’s something to keep an eye on, at any rate, as we wait for the nebulous “launch window” the game (and system) to approach.