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E3 2012: Project P-100 hands-on

E3 2012

Sometimes there’s the E3 game that comes out of nowhere. Where it had been left out at the Nintendo press conference, Project P-100 – one of the most novel Wii U games on show – was well-represented at the Nintendo booth. We went hands on with Platinum’s latest and found the signature elements of their design in-tact.

A kind of throwback to the style and character of Viewtiful Joe, Project P-100 throws the player in without caution as they control a squad of recruited heroes who take on a range of enemies spanning from large tanks to giant robot bosses.

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The mechanics are handled in the style of a beat-em-up, with specialized move sets (mapped either to stick rotations or swiping on the Wii U touchpad, displayed on the device’s second screen). At first, there’s some oddness about the movement through the environment and an uncertainty with how the moves come out.

In the short demo, the group formations included guns, swords, and a stretch ability to scale buildings. The demo took us through a cityscape being ravaged by robots and culminated in a boss battle with an even larger robot. Along the way, there was plenty of action and then moments where there was none. And that’s where Project P-100 may become problematic. In one instance, the player has to open a door and then switch to the Wii U screen for a third-person segment where they must open another door and then continue back to the main screen for the isometric perspective. It’s a jarring, short moment, but it’s one of those things you find in a launch game, where devs are anxious to use the new tech and are exploring various ways to make that happen.

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Project P-100’s informed by a nicely stylized comic book aesthetic that carries on throughout. It’s a well-realized look that feels true to the aforementioned Viewtiful Joe. And it’s no surprise that the title’s directed by the guy who brought us the lovely Okami. Platinum Games continues to make the great games that Capcom used to and excels at pushing old genres to new places.

As I realized the Nintendo rep couldn’t describe the game, I understood why it hadn’t been shown at the Nintendo conference. Platinum’s an acquired taste and their titles, while some of the best games in recent memory, capture a quintessentially Japanese imagination that doesn’t play as well in the West. And that’s great; it’s the differentiating thing, what makes Vanquish the favorite over Western third-person shooters of the same ilk. A Wii U launch title, Project P-100 looks to continue that tradition.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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