Despite how you may feel about the Wii you cannot deny that it has been a success. As of March this year it has sold over 95 Million units, which is more than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it introduced gaming to a larger, more mainstream audience and has helped push technology into new directions; can anyone say for certain that there wouldn’t be a Kinect or PlayStation Move if we didn’t have the Wii?
Yet for all its commercial and technological success, critically, the Wii has not been viewed favourably. More or less forgotten about by the gaming media of late and derided by “core” gamers, the Wii has struggled to find many people who will openly admit to owning one, let alone playing one.
Yet there have been some brilliant gaming experiences on the Wii, some you will know and others you may not have heard of, but between now and the end of this article I’m going to show you why you should still consider buying a Wii.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure.
If you were to pick up a dictionary and look for the term “Hidden Gem” there would be a picture of this game underneath it. Released in late 2007 and early 2008 to massive critical championing, it unfortunately sank without a trace commercially.
The game allows you to take on the role of wannabe pirate Zack and his ‘animal’ friend Wiki. I say ‘animal’ as it’s not really explained what animal can turn into a bell and can fly using its tail.
Zack & Wiki have recently joined “The Sea Rabbits” and are on their way to the hideout when their airship is attacked by a rival gang of pirates. The airship crashes onto a tropical island and Zack & Wiki come across a treasure chest containing the severed but still talking head of the famous pirate Barbaros. Barbaros promises the friends that he will lead them to his hidden treasure if they restore his body. What follows is one of the funniest & most enjoyable adventures on the Wii.
The game harkens back to the old days of Point and Click adventures and has drawn heavily from the Monkey Island games but don’t be fooled by the cartoonish visual style. This game is not easy, it’s taxing, tricky and each individual level will get your brain thinking and I cannot recommend it enough! Unfortunately it seems that Capcom aren’t planning on revisiting the franchise again due to the poor sales performance but don’t let that be your reason for missing out on this.
Now before anyone starts shouting at me I am well aware that this game was originally released on the PlayStation 2, but this is one of three games on this list that the Wii versions surpassed the original format.
Released in 2006 on the PlayStation 2 and then re-released as a port onto the Wii in 2008, Okami is a mix of Japanese folklore and myth which tells the story of how the land was saved from Orochi by the Sun Goddess ‘Amaterasu’ who takes on the form of a white wolf.
The game involves travelling the land of Nippon ridding the land of evil and demons. Amaterasu is helped along the way by residents that she encounters and a constant travelling companion, Issun, who is searching for the 13 Celestial Brush Techniques.
It’s these brush techniques that really make the Wii version stand out from the PlayStation 2. The Wii motion control allows the player to control the brush with more precise movements than dual analogue sticks and can make drawing the certain pictures much easier, especially when in the heat of a battle.
The art style of Okami is beautiful in either version of the game but upgrading the visuals to run in 480p and widescreen made the Wii version stand out.
And to show that gaming trends are cyclical, it has been recently announced that Capcom are working on a HD remake of Okami for the PlayStation 3. The game will be available later this year from the PlayStation Network and will include support for the PlayStation Move controller but for now the Wii version remains the best way to experience this stunning game.
Metroid Prime Trilogy.
For this particular game I wasn’t sure if to just include the final part of this Trilogy, Metroid Prime: Corruption, the only version to be released specifically for the Wii or to talk about the Trilogy package. In the end I decided that you can’t talk about one of these fantastic games without mentioning the others.
Released in 2009, Metroid Prime Trilogy is a one disc collection of all three of Retro Studios epic tales in the Metroid Universe. The disc contains 2002’s Metroid Prime, 2004’s Metroid Prime: Echoes and 2007’s Metroid Prime: Corruption.
Each of the individual games is a must have for anyone who calls themselves a fan of this female bounty hunter. The story being told over the three discs is huge and varies; Samus Aran is the strong silent protagonist with a vast array of weapons and abilities at her command and the game shows that the Wii can do FPS style games. Having all three games on the same disc, without the need for a GameCube controller or memory card, and with the updated graphics and control system of the Wii means that this is the ultimate Metroid package. GO AND BUY IT!!!!
Super Mario Galaxy/Super Mario Galaxy 2.
If there is one thing that Nintendo never ceases to do well its Mario games. Since Super Mario 64 Nintendo have been trying different avenues with their company mascot, some of them have been huge successes in their own right and some have drifted into distant memory but when Super Mario Galaxy hit shelves in November 2007, no one could deny Nintendo had hit gold (coins).
While the storyline for both games is pretty much the same, involving Princess Peach getting kidnapped, Mario sets off on a rescue mission; it was the visuals that really blew people away. Super Mario Galaxy showed the world what the Wii was capable of and while it wasn’t running at 1080p no one cared as the game was perfectly balanced for the little white box.
To put the game in context it is the third highest rated game on Metacritic, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is number four, it’s the best-selling non-bundled game for the Wii and was named as the best Nintendo game of the decade!
Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released in 2009 and followed a very similar pattern to the original but included opportunities to play as Luigi and various types of Yoshi.
In the years between the games Nintendo had again been faced with the scorn of critics and core gamers, Galaxy 2 was a reminder to those doubters as to what Nintendo could accomplish.
Little Kings Story.
Taking a step back from the big Nintendo franchises, this is another hidden gem of a game.
One thing the Wii was able to emulate better than its contemporaries was the point & click style gaming that had found its home on the PC. Little King’s Story was developer Cing’s attempt to bring a real time strategy game to the Wii.
The plot involves a young boy who finds a magic crown that allows him to charm other people into following him and doing his bidding. He soon becomes King of the village he lives in and it becomes his mission to expand the village and make sure that its residents are happy.
The game plays as many real time games do on the PC. You have your fighters, resource collectors, trainers, builders, various building types and of course, various enemies. Players control the King by using the Wiimote and selecting tasks from a very simple menu. You can train different fighters and once you have a good posse together you set out to find some enemies to kill and new lands to expand into.
Eventually your kingdom expands and that brings more upgrades and more residents for you to manage. As with Zack & Wiki don’t let the cartoonish style visuals fool you, this game requires concentration and pre-planning and for me the game has more personality and gave me more hours of fun than playing StarCraft or something similar.
Resident Evil 4.
I don’t think there is a gamer alive who hasn’t played Resident Evil 4. The game has been released on more formats than any other. Initially introduced as an exclusive GameCube title, the game has since then been released on the PlayStation 2, the PC, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 as well as small versions appearing in various mobile formats.
The game involves Resident Evil staple, Leon Kennedy as he travels to an unspecified region of Europe to rescue the President’s daughter, Ashley, who has been kidnapped by a mysterious cult. You control Leon as he fights violent villagers, crazy ex-soldiers, mutated wildlife and solves puzzles that generally have no business being where they are!
The game was a marked change for the Resident Evil series and is the first time a game pulls away from being ‘Survival Horror’ and moves into the ‘Third Person Action Horror’ franchise we know today. The over the shoulder stand point the game introduced became industry standard and can be seen in nearly all third person games including Batman Arkham Asylum and the Dead Space series.
In the Wii version players controlled Leon’s movements using the analogue stick and his gun by using the Wiimote to point and shoot. This gave you more precision when aiming and a quick swipe of the Wiimote would cause Leon to use his knife on the offending enemy. The control system feels much more natural and the improved graphics from the GameCube version seem to hit the games sweet spot. The recent HD releases on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox have not managed to get the visual balance right.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess/The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
In my opinion, no run down of the best games of any Nintendo system is complete without a Zelda game in it. The Zelda franchise is Nintendo’s second biggest money maker, only behind Mario, yet while the Plumber has tended to be a bit stuck in his ways, Zelda has been a franchise that has always pushed boundaries.
The Wii’s lifecycle has been book ended by Zelda games. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a launch title for the console back in 2006, making it the first time ever a Zelda game has launched with new hardware and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is essentially the Wii’s swan song, the last major Nintendo release on its current console.
Many of you will know that Twilight Princess was originally going to be a GameCube title but it was held back from release in order to be reconfigured to suit the Wii’s updated hardware. The game was released to massive critical acclaim with many critics praising the visual style and the expansive storyline.
The art style of Twilight Princess was much darker than the series predecessor. This was seen to some as Nintendo finally giving gamers the game they thought they were getting during the ‘The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’ years, thankfully though that game is now considered to be a classic.
Along with Twilight Princess’ darker visuals came as much darker storyline. The game is set 100 years after Ocarina of Time and involves this iteration of Link rescuing Princess Zelda and Hyrule from a corrupted dimension known as the Twilight Realm. During the adventure Link gains the companionship of Midna, an exiled being from the Twilight Realm and in turn Midna grants Link with the ability to change form into a wolf.
This version of Hyrule is huge and covers all the traditional areas and inhabitants that have been staples since Ocarina of Time, making Twilight Princess the best traditional Zelda game.
The most recent Zelda game, Skyward Sword, is an altogether different beast (pardon the pun) from Twilight Princess. Nintendo have, over the years, come under a fair bit of criticism for its ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude towards the Zelda franchise. Stale, lack of innovation, imagination & creativity have all been used to describe the series and it seems that Nintendo has been listening.
Skyward Sword is an origin story. It tells the story of, what we can assume, are the first Link and the first Zelda. It does away with a lot of what were considered staples of the series and it also changes the well-worn formula of dungeons (Three & Six). With the Wii Motion Plus accessory being a requirement to play the game, it also has a strong focus on precision sword play and ironically gives the players the 1-1 feeling that was promised at the start of the Wii’s life and the end of its life cycle.
Visually Skyward Sword is the polar opposite to Twilight Princess. Twilight Princess was a very dark, almost muddy game with lots of browns being used in the palette. Skyward Sword embraces colour and uses it well, while not as bright as the cell shaded world we had in Wind Waker, Skyward Sword bridges the gap between realism and cartoon.
Gameplay breaks from Zelda tradition and gives players a more condensed world to travel in and uses a lot of back tracking in a way that the Metroid series perfected. I won’t reveal too much about the game itself as it is still relatively new and I’m not going to spoil it for you when I want you to go out and play it!
So, there we are. My run down of what I believe, are the best Wii games out there. With the console nearing the end you can get great deals on hardware now or you can wait until the Wii U comes out later this year, thankfully Nintendo have not done away with backwards compatibility totally. I don’t mind if you buy these games now or later but just buy them, they are your chance to see that despite all the shovel-ware, the endless waggle factor and some downright awful games, the Wii had its brilliant moments.