Comic-Con 2013 started with an appropriately heroic showing of Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101. I got a chance to play the game from its opening cinematic through the conclusion of a thrilling chase sequence, and I’m eager to learn more about these masked crusaders.

When we first meet up with Will Wedgewood, the mild-mannered teacher at Blossom Elementary is riding a bus/train hybrid with his students along a futuristic city. Without warning, a menacing ship appears and attacks the bus, sending it careening out of control. As Mr. Wedgewood, I run down the aisles, gathering the panicked students behind me like ducklings and make my way to the rear. The last car disengages from the rest, saving the kids as it slows down to safety. Mr. Wedgewood stays with the rampaging bus, and I eagerly await his rescue.

But what’s this? Will tears off his thick glasses and his eyes narrow. He presses a medallion, and he transforms into Wonder-Red, AKA Crimson Fist – after a ridiculously long animated sequence. It turns out, Will is a special combat agent for the Centinels, a group of 100 heroes across the globe who are charged with protecting humanity. 

I take control of Crimson Fist, and leap to the top of the bus chain, which has taken some damage. Robotic enemies await me, and I beat them up with a flurry of quick attacks. Wonder-Blue and a crew of other heroes join in the battle, and I get to try out a few of the game’s morph attacks. Drawing a circle on the GamePad or tracing one with the right analog stick gathers a few of the heroes into Wonder-Red’s control, where he can transform them into weapons such as a giant fist or sword. Sure enough, I’m able to pummel the comparatively tiny robots into submission with my giant hand, and we move toward the front of the bus. We all move in a cluster, which can be a little confusing – fortunately the giant hand sticks out nicely, so I know where I am. A few of the enemies blend in the mob, so I blindly jab into it until I get confirmation that they’re goners. Clunky, yet effective.

Some of the cars are separating, so I use the morphing ability to create a superhuman chain and cross over my fellow heroes. When I finally get to the giant robot in the front, we take it out with a cinematically delivered punch. We arrive just in time, since the bus was on a collision course to the school. Our heroes bend a missing freeway section to create a ramp, and the out-of-control vehicle plunges safely into the ocean. The kids cheer ecstatically as our bizarre group of heroes soaks up their adulation. Now that I have a moment to breathe, I notice that the Wonderful 100 have costumes that incorporate streetlights, garbage, and an entire toilet. Wonderful.

The best part of the demo was easily the overall presentation – especially the soundtrack. The opening credits include names exploding through buildings, all accompanied by an anthem that sings the praises of our heroes. And that song goes on and on, throughout the entirety of the first level. By the end of it, I was about ready to join the Centinals myself. 

Look for The Wonderful 101 on the Wii U on September 15.