"The Wonderful 101" stars 101 super heroes, as the name implies. Each one is a unique creation from the minds at Platinum Games, though that wasn't always the plan.
According to the most recent Iwata Asks, the game was originally going to feature an all-star cast of Nintendo personalities.
Director Hideki Kamiya reveals that the game began with an order from the CEO and President of PlatinumGames, Tatsuya Minami, to come up with something that brought together a host of Nintendo characters in one single title.
Kamiya explained that he was a big fan of "Wai Wai World" and "Famicom Jump," old Japanese 8bit releases that brought together characters from various Konami and Weekly Shonen Jump games and manga, respectively. Well before "Smash Bros." did the same thing many years later, which Kamiya also cites as doing the same thing, and very well:
"There are a lot of all-star games featuring characters from various mediums, and I think it's really moving and inspiring to be able to transcend the original games by having those characters interact."
Unfortunately, when the idea was pitched to Nintendo, producer Hitoshi Yamagami declared it impossible right there on the spot, and the project was shelved. But not long after, Kamiya pushed to revive the project, mostly because of the gameplay that had already been developed. So original characters were used instead.
There's no word on whether the original "Wonderful 101" would have featured 101 different Nintendo characters. Are there even that many characters to begin with? Given all the games that have been produced over the past 30 years from first party developers alone, the answer is an easy yes.