With Nintendo’s Wii U on the horizon and all the launch details available, players have undoubtedly noticed the slowdown of releases for the console’s predecessor, the Wii. Aside from three games that had to be semi-successfully petitioned to be brought to the United States, the Wii’s last true meaningful releases came at the end of 2011 with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. Since then, Nintendo clearly shifted its focus to supporting the 3DS and hyping the upcoming Wii U. In the time when Wii releases were scarce to non-existent, popular opinion turned on the Wii, leading many gamers to start looking down on the console for its technological shortcomings and fading library, rather than remembering it for its innovations and revolutionary attempts to new gameplay mechanics.
While the Wii did fade in its later years, nearly every gamer has that fond memory of the first time they fired up the white rectangle for some bowling with family members who’ve never played a video game before, or for a round of tennis with someone physically unable to play the real sport. The Wii succeeded on so many levels, yet its last few years will inevitably overshadow its legacy. For that reason, we wanted to take a look back at the VGW staff’s picks for the best games on the Nintendo Wii.
Missed 30 through 21? Read part one of this feature right here.
VGW’s Best of Nintendo Wii, Part 2
20. Muramasa: The Demon Blade | Vanillaware | September 8, 2009
As the only Vanillaware title to come out for the Wii, Muramasa: The Demon Blade holds a special place in many a Japanese game fan’s heart. The game draws on a healthy does of Japanese folklore to create one of the most artistically-inspired titles in the console’s library, and the classic 2D brawler-mixed-with-RPG gameplay gives players a double dose of nostalgia and exhilaration. Players can choose between two distinct characters and three difficulty levels to hack and slash their way through the game’s varied areas and crazy enemies. And let’s not forget the game’s brilliant soundtrack! Muramasa: The Demon Blade is the whole package: an expertly-crafted experience that just oozes style.
19. Trauma Center: Second Opinion | Atlus | November 19, 2006
Sure, everyone pictured themselves holding a sword or a lightsaber the first time they picked up a Wiimote, but surely there were some who imagined it as the needle holder of a surgical suture, right? That may or may not have happened when the Wii was first announced, but once Trauma Center: Second Opinion launched alongside the console, it was easy to see what the developers were thinking when they decided to bring the DS’s Under the Knife to a home console. The Wii’s controls proved to be a perfect way to test surgical prowess in a unique storyline. The game also spawned a successful Wii-exclusive sequel in 2007′s Trauma Center: New Blood, along with the follow-up Trauma Team.
18. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land | HAL Laboratory | October 24, 2011
If Kirby’s Epic Yarn was an invitation for fans to try new things, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land was the series love letter fans had been waiting for. Return to Dream Land highlights many of the traditional Kirby features that fans have come to know and love, but also incorporates drop-in multiplayer with unprecedented success. And though the level design is brilliant, the sound design is arguably the stealer of the show. Combine the excellent sound with the title’s strong levels and great visual presentation, make this one of the Wii’s crowning achievements. Because it came so late in the console’s life, as well as the fact that its launch was largely overshadowed by that of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, many have yet to experience this brilliant title.
17. Pandora’s Tower | Ganbarion | No North American Release
Pandora’s Tower sticks out like a sore thumb on our list for one reason: it’s the only title included in our countdown that hasn’t been released in North America. It’s a crying shame that this game never made it over to the States, as it was one of the best titles for the Wii. Featuring thirteen different towers to battle through Zelda-style, Pandora’s Tower touts a meaty campaign with many compelling gameplay and story elements. Choice and relationship-building come into play in this unique twist in the action role-playing genre, as players are able to experience different endings based on a number factors. With Pandora’s Tower being the only “Operation Rainfall” title to not receive North American localization, RPG fans will have to hold out hope that it will be released via other avenues in the future.
16. WarioWare: Smooth Moves | Nintendo SPD Group No. 1 | January 15, 2007
The WarioWare franchise was known for its compelling use of the DS’s dual screens prior to the launch of the Wii, but following the release of WarioWare: Smooth Moves, the franchise rose to being one of the most enjoyable party games around. Featuring goofy tutorial scenes, hilarious motions to perform ,and a nice variety of gameplay, WarioWare: Smooth Moves has prevailed as one of the best games to be play when drinking with friends (don’t try this at home, kids!). Sure, the story is nothing short of silly, and there could have been some streamlining to the game’s structure, but the fun factor of Smooth Moves makes easy to overlook the game’s flaws.
15. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories | Climax Studios | December 8, 2009
14. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition | Nintendo | June 19, 2007
There are those who consider Resident Evil 4 to be a highlight of the survival horror-turned-action horror franchise, and no version received critical acclaim like Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. The Wii version of the game received considerable upgrades in both the control and content departments. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition represents the realization of how a shooting-based title could thrive under the Wii controls. While it was rare for Wii versions of multiplatform games to be considered the essential iteration, it was never more true than it was with the iconic Resident Evil 4.
13. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword | Nintendo EAD | November 20, 2011
A game that is as divisive as it is revolutionary and intuitive, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has been viewed by some as an entry into the Zelda franchise that is as enjoyable as the legendary Ocarina of Time. The main criticisms of Skyward Sword were in regards to how long the story took to really get going, as well as how the swinging of the Wiimote for every one of Link’s gestures became tiresome after hours of play, but once the story got rolling, players were treated to some of the most ingenious dungeons the series has ever seen. Skyward Sword is viewed by many as the last great first-party title for the Wii, and while it was released a full year before the Wii U is scheduled to hit store shelves, the game served as a brilliant last hurrah for the system.
12. Super Smash Bros. Brawl | Ad hoc team | March 9, 2008
Wherever there’s a Nintendo console, there’s sure to be a Super Smash Bros. game somewhere close by. This enjoyable truth has held ever since the series debuted in 1999 on the Nintendo 64. Since then, the series has been a critical and fan darling, garnering praise for its frantic multiplayer and all-star cast of characters that has enabled long-time gamers to finally settle the score of whether or not Mario could truly beat up Yoshi. With Brawl, the Super Smash Bros. franchise hopped online for the first time, and expanded the roster to include non-Nintendo characters like Solid Snake and, of course, Mario’s longtime rival, Sonic the Hedgehog. While the limitations of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection have always held the title back, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is undeniably a highlight for the Wii.
11. Wii Sports Resort | Nintendo EAD | July 26, 2009
Just like its predecessor was packaged in with all new Wii consoles to show off the system’s motion control capabilities, Wii Sports Resort was developed for one reason: to market the Wii MotionPlus. While the MotionPlus never really took off aside from a few first-party titles, Wii Sports Resort did a great job of showing off the new mechanics enabled by the accessory. The MotionPlus went on to take a starring role in games like Red Steel 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but no game focused so intently on the peripheral itself like Wii Sports Resort. The updated collection of mini-games successfully brought more of what made many players fall in love with the Wii in the first place, and for that reason alone, it belongs in the list of the best that the Wii had to offer.
Editor’s Note: Titles and order were selected by a committee consisting of Brian Shea, Christopher Floyd, Anne Lee, Jake Baldino, Jen Bosier, Stu Strock, Larry Frum, Scott Grill and Russell Jones. Anne Lee contributed to portions of this article.