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.
VGW’s Best of Nintendo Wii, Part 3
10. Super Mario Galaxy 2 | Nintendo EAD Tokyo | May 23, 2010
The sequel to the beloved Super Mario Galaxy not only avoided being disappointing, but it surpassed the expectations of many who wondered if Nintendo could strike Mario gold twice on the same home console (the first time to do so since the NES). While the sales figures didn’t quite hit the high mark set by its predecessor, Super Mario Galaxy 2 brought many improvements to the formula. The only real complaint levied against the spectacular game was one that Nintendo has heard time and time again: that it wasn’t different enough from the last game. The philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was certainly put into practice with Super Mario Galaxy 2, and it paid dividends, as many refer to it as one of the greatest platformers of all-time. Plus, c’mon, who doesn’t love the fact that they added Yoshi?
9. Xenoblade Chronicles | Monolith Soft | April 6, 2012
Xenoblade Chronicles almost deserves inclusion on this list due to the fact that it finally came over to North America after the massive public outcry when it was revealed it might only see a European release. Luckily, the game stands on its own, even without its exciting history. Touted by many as being the best JRPG of this generation, Xenoblade Chronicles shakes up the traditional linear world and turn-based combat so common to the genre by presenting an expansive, open world and a real-time battle system reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII. Anyone worried about the future of JRPGs would do well to spend a few hours with Xenoblade Chronicles.
8. Metroid Prime: Trilogy | Retro Studios, Nintendo | August 24, 2009
What was once an opportunity for players to experience all of the games in the Metroid Prime trilogy with updated Wii controls has now turned into an expensive collector’s item. Metroid Prime: Trilogy did more than just compile the three titles in the acclaimed trilogy together in one collection: it brought the the two Metroid Prime games from the GameCube and added new Wii controls as well. And as supplies of this limited-run title went low, prices soared. As of this publishing, new copies are going for around $150, while used copies are near the $80 mark. If you can find a reasonably-priced copy of this trilogy, it’s highly recommended that you pick it up –– not for resale value, but for the fact that it’s the best way to experience the superb Metroid Prime trilogy. Plus, each game in this series is leagues beyond the 2010 release, Metroid: Other M.
7. Disney’s Epic Mickey | Junction Point Studios | November 30, 2010
By taking the Disney license and applying it to a unique storyline, Junction Point Studios brought players something truly extraordinary in Disney’s Epic Mickey. The art style, the gameplay and the atmospheric setting all came together to create a memorable experience that painted Disney’s mascot in a different light than some know him for. Epic Mickey may have received criticism for its camera problems, as well as speculation that the Wii itself was limiting the game’s potential, but it remains, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable and impression-leaving experiences on Nintendo Wii.
6. Donkey Kong Country Returns | Retro Studios, Nintendo | November 21, 2010
Few titles tickle that nostalgia bone quite like Donkey Kong Country. The original release was one of those rare (no pun intended) games that made buying a new console absolutely worth it. Through 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns, Retro Studios and Nintendo successfully captured most of what made the original SNES series so charming and engaging. The game was very difficult and sometimes plagued by the unnecessary use of motion controls, but there was no denying that Donkey Kong Country Returns was an overwhelming success and an outstanding revitalization of one of gaming’s most treasured franchises.
5. Rayman Raving Rabbids | Ubisoft Montpellier | November 19, 2006
The lovable Rabbids from the Rayman series finally received their own video game in 2006, with the mini-game-packed Rayman Raving Rabbids. The title was perhaps the biggest surprise of the Wii’s launch, as it not only appealed to younger gamers with its ease of play and slapstick humor, but also older ones with its variety of mini-games and enjoyable control schemes. Not only that, but Rayman Raving Rabbids helped the Wii earn its identity as the console to bring out during parties. The title succeeded as a perfect companion to Wii Sports for families looking to pick up party games for the newly-launched Wii in 2006.
4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii | Nintendo EAD | November 15, 2009
By taking the original formula for success for the Super Mario Bros. series and bringing it to the Nintendo DS, it’s clear that Nintendo realized that it had a winner on its hands. By expanding that same equation to the Wii, all the while including four player simultaneous cooperative play for some of the most chaotic and flat-out entertaining moments ever seen on the Wii, Nintendo had hit the nail squarely on the head. The game was so successful that Nintendo made an immediate console sequel a priority for its next platform, The Wii U. New Super Mario Bros. Wii also succeeded in continuing one of Nintendo’s main goals with the Wii: bringing titles that any member of the family could enjoy.
3. Wii Sports | Nintendo EAD | November 19, 2006
Nintendo knew what it was doing when it decided to include copies of Wii Sports with every new Wii sold. The game has been criticized for being nothing more than a glorified tech demo, but that didn’t keep it from doing its job extremely well. By showing off the Wii Remote’s ability to pick up a precise swing in tennis, or a particular spin in bowling, Wii Sports perfectly demoed the Wii’s capabilities while whetting the appetites of gamers for more titles to play. The games contained within Wii Sports were multiplayer as well, which helped bring players from non-gaming generations in front of the television to join the younger generations in playing. This collection of mini-games is not only one of the most enjoyable titles on Wii, it’s going to be the title that will likely define the Wii for future generations.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess | Nintendo EAD | November 19, 2006
As the launch title to have for the Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess proved to be quite divisive, but the adventure came as close to rivaling the epic scope of Ocarina of Time as we had seen to that point. The title featured adult Link and brought an interesting mechanic that saw him transforming into a wolf form to complete certain passages of the game. With imaginative puzzles and strong action sequences, Twilight Princess is remembered as one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2006 and of the Wii in general. Even though a GameCube version came out weeks prior to the Wii version, many opted to delay their purchases until this version released alongside the Wii console.
1. Super Mario Galaxy | Nintendo EAD Tokyo | November 12, 2007
By using the 3D platforming foundation that was laid by Super Mario 64, and combining it with spectacularly brilliant planetary physics-based level design, 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy proved to be one of the biggest hits of this generation. The game throws back to the nostalgic side of Mario just enough that it isn’t using it as a crutch, but rather as an enhancement for longtime fans of the series. The boss battles were epic, the levels were challenging, but not overwhelming, and the music was delightful. Super Mario Galaxy may have been the perfect storm on the Wii, but it resonates beyond just the Wii fan base. Super Mario Galaxy was the very definition of a console seller, and with sales figures ranking near 11 million units worldwide, it clearly did more than its fair share of selling. Just as Super Mario 64 defined the 3D platformer genre in 1996, 11 years later, Super Mario Galaxy redefined it. The game was the recipient of countless awards in 2007, but by showing what the Wii could truly accomplish, Super Mario Galaxy takes home VGW’s award for the best Wii game of all-time.
Editor’s Note: Titles and order was 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.