Did you own a Wii U? Statistically speaking, the answer to this question is “no,” but you have to admit, there were a couple of games that made the prospect very tempting. Some of the Wii U’s best games, like Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors, eventually made their way to the Nintendo Switch, and they’ll soon be joined by PlatinumGames’ The Wonderful 101: a bizarre action/adventure title that arguably didn’t get the love it deserved the first time around. That in and of itself is not so shocking; what’s weird here is that it required both Nintendo’s beneficence and fans’ funding to make it happen.
Information comes from The Wonderful 101’s Kickstarter page, which tells (almost) the whole story. Platinum has developed titles like Bayonetta, Nier: Automata and Astral Chain, but the offbeat company does not publish any games itself. It’s relied on larger publishers for that, from Sega, to Nintendo, to Square Enix, to Activision. Since Nintendo published The Wonderful 101, it seems like a Switch port should have been entirely at Nintendo’s discretion.
And, in a way, it was. Instead of publishing a Switch port outright, Nintendo gave Platinum permission to raise some funds on Kickstarter — just about $50,000, in fact. While this probably wouldn’t cover the cost of a port completely, it’s more than enough to demonstrate that the project is financially viable.
Here’s where things get interesting, though. Some of the stretch goals for the game included Steam and PS4 ports for the game as well, meaning that Nintendo was fine with one of its games showing up on competing platforms. While Platinum did not go into great detail about its relationship with Nintendo, it did offer the following two tidbits on the Kickstarter’s FAQ page:
“Although PlatinumGames has been able to grow over the years thanks to the players and our fans, we still haven’t been able to fully realize our long-time dream of self-publishing our own IPs,” the team wrote. “Now, with the support of Nintendo, we have been given the opportunity to bring this game to the Nintendo Switch and other platforms as well!”
The rest of the Kickstarter project is pretty standard crowd-funding stuff. You can pitch in ¥3,900 ($35.70) for a digital copy of the game when it comes out, on the platform of your choice. As the rewards increase in price, you can get physical copies of the game, soundtracks, keychains, t-shirts, action figures and more.
Perhaps the most compelling reward begins at the ¥11,000 ($100.68) tier, in which you can get blocked by Hideki Kamiya, one of the company’s most beloved game designers. Kamiya has notoriously little patience for people on Twitter, and getting blocked by him can be a badge of honor — or a sign of shame. (The blocking reward is optional, but you do get a personalized tweet just before he hits the “block” button, so that sounds like a good tradeoff to us.)
For those who never played The Wonderful 101, the premise alone may be enough to sell the game. You take control of a team of superheroes, who can combine their powers in a series of transformations called Unite Morphs. Using these morphs, the team can fight enemies, solve puzzles and traverse the tricky levels. As you recruit more and more citizens to your team, you can morph into bigger and more complicated configurations.
The Wonderful 101 Kickstarter is unusual in a couple of ways. It’s Nintendo loosening the leash a little bit; it’s an indie developer trying to branch out and publish its own games, with a parent corporation’s full cooperation; it’s maybe the first time getting blocked by someone on Twitter hast cost $100.
In any case, The Wonderful 101’s journey to Switch is going to be a very weird one — which is fitting, considering the source material.