There’s a pretty good chance that you or someone you know owned a Nintendo Wii. Released in late 2006, the Wii and it’s motion controller became a worldwide phenomenon, selling more than 100 million units and becoming the third best-selling video game console of all time. The Wii inspired countless imitators, an endorsement from the Department of Health and a national senior Wii bowling league that’s still going strong to this day. Originally code-named “Revolution,” the Wii lived up to that name by forever changing the mainstream perspective of video games.
So why is it that less than a decade later the Wii has nearly vanished from the pop culture landscape? In short, the Wii’s meteoric rise encouraged a number of developers, from fly-by-nighters to major AAA studios, to cash in as quickly as possible. The result was a flood of terrible games, the likes of which had not been seen since the days of the Atari 2600. For every incredible Mario and Zelda title, there were dozens upon dozens of interactive screensavers, lazy movie tie-ins and thoughtless mini-game collections.
Despite a mostly rancid catalogue, the Wii became home to a number of charming and inventive exclusives, most of which were out-sold by Just Dance. Now that Nintendo has begun the process of releasing Wii games for download on the Wii U e-Shop, which gems should make the cut to the current generation?
Before we get started, here are a few rules.
1. Exclusives Only. Yes, there were a number of extremely cool ports that made their way to the Wii. Scareface: The World Is Yours allowed players to chainsaw their victims to death by wiggling their Wiimotes. But we’re here to recognize the games that couldn’t or didn’t have the advantage of a multi-system release.
2. No Mario. No Zelda. This isn’t a “Best Of” list. It’s a forgone conclusion that Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword will make their way to the Wii U for download, if not an HD remastering at some point.
3. Wiiware? Don’t Care. The Wii’s eShop is still online and operational, which you access from the Wii U. Due to the Wii’s limited 512 MB of flash storage, none of the Wii’s retail line up were available for download. Unless they are added to the Wii U eShop, these games will remain dormant to the aging physical discs sitting on the shelves of a second hand shop.
Makes sense? Great! Here are the Top 10 Wii games we want on the eShop!
10. A Boy and His Blob (WayForward Technologies)
Developed by WayForward Technologies (Double Dragon Neon; DuckTales: Remastered) A Boy and His Blob is a 2D reboot of the classic 1989 NES title A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. Players must guide a boy through dangerous environments with the help of his transforming pet alien blob and the bag of jelly beans. Colorful storybook art, charming orchestra music and smart puzzles makes this easily one of the best Wii exclusives.
Fans of the Oddworld series and Out Of This World will find a lot to like about this challenging and imaginative title.
Oh, and there’s lots and lots of hugging. It’s totally adorable.
9. Elebits (Konami)
As we all know, household appliances and cars only run because of small living creatures called Elebits. What? You didn’t know that? Go back to school!
What Elebits lacks in story it more than makes up for in original gameplay. Players are tasked with finding the sneaky carrot-shaped batteries and snatching them up with their Capture Gun. The more Elebits you collect, the more powerful your gun becomes and the more objects you’ll be able to pick up. Did an Elebit hide behind the couch? No problem! Simply shoot the couch and fling it as hard as you want with the Wiimote.
It’s been said that motion controls are discouraging because “no one wants to come home from work and wave their arms around,” but there are few things as relaxing as trashing an entire house without having to clean up.
8. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (Nintendo)
While the Wii was never short on mini-game collections, none ever came close to dethroning the incredibly wacky Wario Ware. The game is made up of simple goals (drink a glass of water, shoot a robot, pick your nose), but to succeed you’ll need to to accomplish these rapid-fire tasks in less than three seconds with only a single word description.
Combine that with the dozens of ways you’ll need to hold the Wiimote (each accompanied by their own haiku) and you’ll find yourself solving the puzzles before fully understanding the instructions. You had to make the marionette kick the soccer ball. Duh, right?
Smooth Moves is a perfect party game because it never takes itself seriously. Win or lose, you’re bound to be laughing the entire time.
7. Red Steel 2 (Ubisoft)
The original Red Steel was one of the most anticipated launch games for the Nintendo Wii. It quickly became one of the worst reviewed launch titles for the Nintendo Wii.
Three-and-a-half years later, Red Steel 2 continued the first-person shooter series but with little resemblance to its predecessor. Gone were the Hong Kong action film influences in lieu of a sword slashing, gun slinging Western. While the game could become a tad bit easy in parts, Red Steel 2 was one of the few Wii games engaging enough for a 12 hour campaign. When it comes right down to it, there’s nothing quite as cool as chopping a ninja down with a Katana.
6. Lost in Shadow (Hudson Soft)
Fans of Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus, look no further. The hauntingly beautiful Lost in Shadow barely made a ripple when it was released in 2011 but has since grown as a cult classic.
Lost in Shadow is graphically a 3D game but plays as a 2D platformer. Rather than a heroic protagonist, players take control of a literal shadow exploring an ancient castle. As a shadow, you’ll need to adjust the objects in the world around you to create pathways and jumpable ledges. It’s not very challenging, but the way Shadow ambitiously adjusts its design to suit its perspective is admirable.
5. Boom Blox Bash Party (Electronic Arts)
The original Boom Blox gained a lot of its notoriety thanks to one of its designers, Steven Spielberg (Hook, 1941). Thankfully, it was backed up by some of the most inventive puzzle mechanics of the generation. Only a year later, EA released the even better Boom Blox Bash Party.
The objectives in Boom Blox are simple: knock down and blow up anything in front of you in the least amount of turns possible. Kind of like a reverse Jenga or, for you younger readers, a 3D Angry Birds. The objectives become even more wild when underwater and space stages alter the gravity and gameplay mechanics. Combine that with the ability to create your own puzzles and you have a party game that will last many, many get-togethers.
What makes this sequel even better is that is a pure Wii exclusive, while the original was one of the last titles released on the Nokia N-Gage.
4. No More Heroes 2 (Ubisoft)
Suda 51 is one of the strangest video game designers ever.
When most designers saw the Nintendo Wii, many were influenced to create family friendly titles. Suda 51, on the other hand, envisioned a hyper-violent, hyper-sexual, hyper-stylized, B-Movie world that was, well, hyper.
No More Heroes 2 stars Travis Touchdown (yes, really) a playboy/hitman/loser who makes the big bucks by defeating gangs and other assassins with his signature wrestling moves and laser sword. If you’re a fan of Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez, you owe it to yourself to check out both of these insane Wii gems.
3. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (CAPCOM)
Outside of Super Smash Bros., Nintendo consoles rarely see fighting game releases. Apparently Capcom didn’t get the news before making their incredible Tatsunoko vs. Capcomexclusively for the Wii.
Created as a dream team mash-up between Capcom and the popular Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko, TvC contained all the complexity of Street Fighter but with an inviting learning curve. Players could use a normal multi-button control scheme or a streamlined mode that only required two buttons and a dpad. Best of all, you could play a giant robot and take on Ryu and Ken at the same time.
2. The Last Story (Mistwalker)
When the creator of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, announced he would direct his first game in 20 years, Japanese Role Playing Game fans took notice. So much so that The Last Story became part of Project Rainfall, a fan based campaign to encourage the Western publication of a select number of Wii games. Thankfully, their prayers were answers.
The Last Story diverges from most JRPGS in almost every way. The combat is realtime and it’s environments encourage the use of cover and vertical attacks. It’s cast is mainly made up of unbashful adults who know what they want in life and rarely lament for long. The game lacks any of the pandering cute animals normally featured on the cover boxes of JRPGS.
And really, that’s what so refreshing about The Last Story. If feels like it was designed for a more mature audience. It’s reasonable 21-hour length and inspired Nobuo Uematsu soundtrack don’t hurt either.
1. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (CAPCOM)
How could a game critically beloved become fail to find an audience? Both visually adorable and mentally challenging, Zack & Wiki is a cute puzzle/adventure game that intelligently incorporated the Wii’s motion controls.
You play as Zack, a young boy who dreams of becoming the best treasure hunter in the world. Accompanying Zack is Wiki, a flying monkey who magically transforms surrounding objects into helpful tools. Together, the duo must solve a series of puzzles that range from the delightfully simplistic to the infuriatingly obtuse. Yes, the game can drive you a little nuts at times, but the sense of accomplishment is almost too addictive to pass up.