The new Wonder Momo game is shaping up to be fun, sleek and cool, while successfully giving me flashbacks of my traumatic experiences with the original.
If you've ever gotten through the original Wonder Momo, be it the arcade version or the port on the Turbografx-16 or Wii Virtual Console, then congratulations; you're a better gamer than I. The original side-scrolling beat 'em up game was bright and colourful and horrifyingly unforgiving.
That said, the IP was rife with untapped potential and garnered a cult following, which is why ShiftyLook producer/editor-in-chief Rob Pereyda decided to bring Momo back with a new anime and game.
I got a chance at an exclusive hands-on with the new Wonder Momo game at the Namco Bandai announcement event and I must say, I was impressed. The game, like the original, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up game where you play as the protagonist, Momoko, a high-school girl given the ability to temporarily transform into the superheroine, Wonder Momo, to fight the evil Warudemon.
Through the stages, you collect power points to build up your Wonder Meter. When you collect enough, you can transform into Wonder Momo with a full health replenishment to boot. As Wonder Momo, your attacks do more damage and you can use her signature weapon, the Wonder Hoop.
The first thing to notice is the stunning 2D graphics. Apparently, Wonder Momo is the most ambitious undertaking by the developers at WayForward Technologies — which is saying something, considering how nice Ducktales Remastered looked. The movement animations are beautiful and you can tell they put a lot of work into making the game look as good as they could.
The new Wonder Momo game also breaks free of the original game's quite literal stage-size restrictions — in the original game, the "stage" was a high school theatre stage — and instead stages are fairly long with a variety of obstacles, traps, and enemies in your way.
Another positive change is in the difficulty. The original Wonder Momo game was difficult as Hell. I have met many people who have played the game, but very few have managed to actually beat it and I have yet to meet anyone who could beat it in a single credit — although, apparently they DO exist. Fortunately, the new Wonder Momo is much more forgiving. The controls are fairly intuitive and seasoned gamers will probably be able to get the hang of it quickly, though it's still not necessarily a walk in the park.
The initial launch version of the game will consist of 3 stages, with more to come, which isn't to say the game is short. Overall, the creators expect a complete final playthrough will probably take an average gamer an hour and a half to two hours. There will also be bonus content like exclusive comics that can be unlocked, adding to the game's replayability.
One thing that fortunately didn't make it into the new game is the "camera kid" who, in the original game, would disrupt Momo by trying to take upskirt pictures from the audience (an element that quite possibly contributed to the original game being a Japan-only release).
I got a good solid 20 or so minutes with the game and it was honestly a lot of fun. It's similar in feel to Ducktales Remastered — A challenging but fun game with a firm foundation. I got to try it on both a laptop and the Nvidia Shield, and it looked and felt quite solid. The game can be played on the PC with the keyboard, but the developers do suggest using a controller for a more intuitive action game experience.
Wonder Momo is scheduled for release on the PC and Android consoles in the first quarter of 2014. Console versions are in consideration but will most likely depend on feedback from the initial release. The price tag is as of yet unannounced, but will be "similar to other games in the genre."