In this Talking Point, our colleague Andy Robertson — who runs FamilyGamerTV — explains why The Wonderful 101 is a game perfectly suited to families and, in particular, the young teen audience; it's an age group rarely catered to directly. Andy regularly works with families and appears on radio and television to provide advice and analysis of video gaming for families.
The Wonderful 101 has been praised for many things, and for good reason. It's part of a growing catalogue of Wii U games that wouldn't be possible on other systems, and it's another triple A game from Platinum Games that looks as good as it plays. It's as unique and quirky as the controller you wield to play it.
But I'm excited about it for a reason usually off the gaming radar, its PEGI rating. If you didn't know it, and it’s likely you didn't, Wonderful 101 is a PEGI 12 (ESRB Teen in North America) game. Nothing unusual in that you may think, but actually this is the least populated of the age ratings for full price console games.
Study the weekly game sales charts with an eye on the rating of each game and the pattern emerges; it's not surprising when you look at the rating details. A touch too much realism, or a loose alcohol reference will tip a PEGI 12 into a 16 (ESRB Mature), and with good reason. Also the opposite can be true as developers are cautious to hit the lower age rating they end up falling into the PEGI 7 age group, and are likely no worse for it.
Not a big deal? Talk to families or friends with children and you quickly realise that the PEGI ratings are a really useful tool for navigating the often complex world of video games. Not only to avoid games that are unsuitable but finding the right games that work best with the ages of their children.
I often talk to families, and did so on the BBC's The One Show recently, to suggest that they play games together in the family room rather than in bedrooms. This leads to talk of getting younger children off the older PEGI 16 and 18 games.
As you might imagine, those that are honest soon suggest that many other children seem to be playing these games or that there aren't any alternatives that are as much fun or as exciting.
Finding genuine alternatives to the older rated shooting games is harder than you imagine. I have a handful of PEGI games I regularly suggest, games like Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Gravity Rush, Motorstorm and Mario Strikers Charged. This list now has a new game at the top of it, The Wonderful 101.
It's as exciting, exuberant and as boisterous and high impact as any Call of Duty or Battlefield experience. But more than that, like my other PEGI 12 picks it offers something unique rather than simply a toned down shooter.
The other killer feature for families is multiplayer, not online as you may imagine but good old local multiplayer; here the Wii U comes into its own with that special controller. Not only does that create new ways to play together in the same place, like with Nintendo Land and Game & Wario, but it turns four person local co-op into five player.
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed was one of the first to offer this with five player racing and many more have followed. It's surprising the difference adding more players locally can make to the experience; even Microsoft seems to be adopting Nintendo’s approach with its recent announcement that the Xbox One will support eight controllers locally.
While there is no easy answer to getting the right games into the hands of the people who will get the most out of them, more games like The Wonderful 101 in the PEGI 12 age bracket will certainly help.
Are you a parent or perhaps a gamer that's 10 years old to early teens? Let us know what you think about the challenges of finding entertaining games rated for that age group, and your thoughts on The Wonderful 101 as a new entry in that category.