With Nintendo’s Wii U on the horizon, 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 1
30. GoldenEye 007 | Eurocom | November 2, 2010
The big hype surrounding this title was largely due to it being touted as the original FPS classic re-imagined with modern amenities like upgraded graphics, new Wii controls, and Daniel Craig replacing Pierce Brosnan. While it did a decent job of capturing the nostalgia of the iconic N64 title, what surprised many is that it was actually a fairly competent shooter that provided a strong experience for Wii players. Aside from a few lighting issues here and there, as well as Activision somewhat cannibalizing post-mortem sales by re-releasing a better, more fully-featured version on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, GoldenEye 007 stood out as one of the best shooters on the Wii.
29. Red Steel 2 | Ubisoft Paris | March 26, 2010
Back when Nintendo debuted the first few game trailers for the Wii, one in particular had us in awe. Red Steel was not only set to be the first game to try and harness the motion controls of the Wii for shooting, but also the first to utilize the Wiimote for the first thing every gamer thought of upon picking up it up for the first time: a sword. While Red Steel failed miserably in most regards, Red Steel 2, which helped introduce the Wii MotionPlus peripheral to Wii owners, took nearly every promise made by Ubisoft about Red Steel and fulfilled it. Red Steel 2 took the series in a completely different direction, and due to several intelligent design decisions, ended up being one of the best games on the Wii.
28. Mario Kart Wii | Nintendo EAD | April 27, 2008
Fans of Mario Kart may not want to admit it, but the series has become a bit iterative over the seven entries in the franchise. With minimal additions from release to release, Mario Kart Wii actually made some pretty great strides to improve the franchise by introducing new features and control schemes that gave the title a fresh feel. In addition to the Wi-Fi capabilities for competitive multiplayer, Mario Kart Wii also gave the player a plethora of options on how to control their on-screen racer. The most notable addition was not only the steering wheel that came bundled with the game, but also a flexible control scheme that allowed players to use the GameCube controller or the Wiimote with or without motion controls, guaranteeing everyone comfortable play. Add to that the decent selection of new and classic tracks, and it’s clear why Mario Kart Wii is a must-play for all Nintendo fans.
27. GameCube Backwards Compatibility | Nintendo | November 19, 2006
It may be considered cheating to put this on the “Best of Nintendo Wii” list, but the Wii having the GameCube’s entire library right off the bat gave it some serious leverage when compared to the limited backwards compatibility of the Xbox 360, and the full-but-later-completely-stripped PS2 backwards compatibility of the PlayStation 3. Having backwards compatibility meant being able to not only play games like Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, but also use the controllers for Wii games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii. The fact that it wasn’t ever an issue that Nintendo had to patch (like Microsoft) or modify significantly (like Sony) is a testament to the mission that Nintendo put out for the Wii in the first place. Of course, the GameCube backwards compatibility won’t make the jump to Wii U, and it was even removed for the recent Wii Family Edition, but for many, the feature was a defining one for the Wii.
26. Ōkami | Clover Studio | April 15, 2008
When it first released on PlayStation 2, Ōkami was anything but a mainstream hit. The sales numbers were decent, but with such a niche appeal, it quickly found itself thrown into the “cult classics” category. Since then, however, the mainstream gaming community has started to warm up to this beautifully-crafted masterpiece by Clover Studio. The controls feel as though they were meant for the Wii, though there were still some rough patches here and there. Overall, however, the Wii port was a shining example of how to re-release a classic title on a console with different capabilities to that of its native platform.
25. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure | Capcom | October 23, 2007
It’s not often that a Wii game received such high praise for its controls, but Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure managed to do just that. The mechanics were intelligent and the presentation charming enough to garner the praise from nearly every major outlet. Zack & Wiki worked to fulfill the potential of what Wii controls could truly do to contribute a unique experience to one’s gaming library. The true tragedy is that this wonderfully-designed title never took off or garnered the sales that it deserved. As it stands now, Zack & Wiki remains one of the Wii’s true hidden gems.
24. Kirby’s Epic Yarn | Good-Feel, HAL Laboratory | October 17, 2010
As a game that was light on difficulty and high on cuteness and innovation, Kirby’s Epic Yarn really was the quintessential title for the Wii. By switching up the traditional Kirby formula, HAL Laboratory gave fans of the spherical pink protagonist a new way to play. No longer did Kirby swallow enemies to copy their powers or fly around levels with ease. Instead, Kirby is taken to a world made entirely of yarn. In this world, there are no “lives” or “health.” In Kirby’s Epic Yarn, players collect beads to buy in-game items, but getting hurt causes Kirby to drop beads. The “no damage” dynamic is an interesting concept that has proven to be a hit with families. Of course, those hoping for more of a traditional Kirby experience had to wait until the following year to get their fix.
23. Sonic Colors | Sonic Team | November 16, 2010
Believe it or not, after the abysmal Wii-exclusive Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic and the Black Knight, SEGA and Sonic Team brought it together to put out one of the best titles featuring the Blue Blur since Sonic Adventure on the SEGA Dreamcast. Sonic Colors brought back the ingenious level design and inspired boss fights that the series had been missing for some time while adding in a new power-up system that proved to be very popular with players and critics alike. Since then, the series has started to do what Sonic does best: gain momentum. Following Sonic Colors, SEGA released the critically acclaimed Sonic Generations in 2011 and the improved Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 in 2012. While neither of those titles made it into the Wii’s library, fans of the series will point at Sonic Colors as a turning point for everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog.
22. Monster Hunter Tri | Capcom Production Studio 1 | April 20, 2010
Monster Hunter Tri introduced the Monster Hunter series to many North American gamers after it made the jump to a Nintendo platform. Sure, it may not have been released for the hottest console on the block at the time, but the near endless quests and epic monster battles made it on par with other powerhouse RPGs on the Xbox 360 an PlayStation 3. The visuals are surprisingly solid for being on the only non-HD console of this generation, and fighting all manner of giant beast on land and in the water has never been more exciting. And with a fully-functional (and free!) online multiplayer that more than doubles the total gameplay time, Monster Hunter Tri clocks in as one of the longest titles on the Wii.
21. Little King’s Story | Cing | July 21, 2009
For a quirky, unique and highly underrated Wii title, look no further than Little King’s Story. The life simulator meets Pikmin-style real-time strategy crowd control with a dash of RPG puts players in the shoes of young Corobo, who just so happens to have a crown that makes anyone do exactly what he says. Building up the kingdom of Alpoko through a variety of activities such as resource gathering and upgrading citizens’ abilities all goes towards adventuring out into the wilderness to attempt to conquer seven rival kingdoms. The sugary-sweet graphical style and humorous localization all add to the irresistible charm of this criminally-overlooked title.
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.