Project P-100: An action-packed Pikmin from the makers of Bayonetta
12th Aug 2012 | 12:01
What do you get when you cross Pikmin and Viewtiful Joe with the action stylings of Bayonetta? No, not some disproportioned super woman with a penchant for vegetables. You get Project P-100: a fast paced superhero spin on Miyamoto's plant's-eye view adventures.
But don't let that Pikmin comparison sit for too long. Aside from the visual similarity of you commanding a large group of small heroes against gargantuan aliens, this is a thoroughbred action game that is categorised quite accurately by its creators as "mass-hero action'. No really, that's the game's official genre listing.
And what creators they are. P-100 is developed by Platinum Games, of Madworld, Bayonetta and Vanquish fame, with design duties helmed by Hideki Kamiya, creator of Devil May Cry, the now twice mentioned Viewtiful Joe, and the now thrice mentioned Bayonetta. Hey, when the pedigree is this good it's worth repeating.
EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES
"But how in good Graceland do I play a mass-hero action game?" we screamed at the nearby Nintendo representative at the start of our recent hands-on session. We were just getting into appropriately heroic, full-voiced character and the game initially looks rather alien. To say the rep was terrified would be an understatement. With the clearly under nourished PR hireling cowering and demo clock ticking we decided that the only way to learn was to do. And as it turns out that 'mass-hero action' is pretty similar to normal action, really.
Despite the fact that you're commanding an ever-growing blob of heroes - you can instantly recruit civilians to your ranks as you find them - Project P-100 is simple stuff to understand.
As any hero should, we started by learning how to apply the hurt. Waddling your gang close to an enemy and tapping Y will cause your posse to mass around the towering alien scum and start duffing in their toes. These basic mass attacks fill your batteries, and this is where the GamePad's touchscreen comes in.
Batteries fuel your swarm's powerful merging and shape-changing morph abilities, three of which - a giant fist, a giant sword and a giant gun - were available in the demo. These morphs are accessed by drawing a circle, line, and L shape on the touch screen respectively. These big powerful tools are excellent fun to wield, delivering chunky, satisfying hits to the invading extraterrestrials. And they look superb: it's a delight seeing your mess of heroes all meshing together like some budget Power Ranger Zord.
Combat doesn't end there of course, as any good action game needs methods to avoid your enemy's retaliatory swings. P-100 plays it safe with a basic block and dodge. Grip ZR and your crew will coil up and sproing away from enemy attacks like a human slinky. The block, meanwhile, is more unorthodox. Pull ZL and your crew will mould into a blob of jelly - the first time we used the wibbly-wobbly substance to return an enemy's fire was one of P-100's numerous eureka moments that prove its cred as a 'proper' 'nuanced' 'action game'.
P TO THE KINGDOM
Another of these came when we discovered the ability to tell squaddies to grab nearby automobiles and hurl them at enemies - just when we started to think that the whole mass-hero thing was fancy dressing on an otherwise standard brawler an element of micromanagement crept in, and we've barely scrabbled at the surface.
Another hint of P-100's extended ideas became apparent when we entered a warehouse during our demo, a warehouse that caused action to migrate from the big screen to our personal one. It was then up to us to use a few nearby cogs to match the number on the warehouses exterior (still visible on the TV) with the number on the back of the door blocking our way on the GamePad screen. We're sure this is but a taste of P-100's dual-screen trickery.
GamePad tomfoolery aside, though, the absolute best thing about P-100 is its bravery. Our brief demo saw us in street battles against massed alien scum, hiring a superhero dressed as Santa Claus, narrowly avoiding crashing aircraft, hiring a hero who wore a toilet seat on his head, and using a man-sword to pole vault over a building. But the demo ended with its most impressive spectacle: a fight with a robot a thousand times the size of one of our heroes. Our group of 50 super sorts were jostling for space on its arm as we dodged a drill, battered weak points and unscrewed the unfriendly ET's fist, before turning into an oversized hand ourselves and making an escape on the docking bay of a passing Chinook. Wow doesn't start to cover it.
You'd think P-100 would be conservative, what with it being the sole pioneer in the mass-hero action genre, but this short demo proved it's not in any way restrained. That's brilliant. And that's what you get when you cross Platinum Games with Nintendo - unrestrained brilliance.