My Top-10 Wii Games

Alright, I’ve previously brought you lists of my favourite MegaDrive, NES, SNES and GameCube games, now to commemorate the end of Nintendo’s Wii Era, here are the 10 Wii games that stood out the most for me on this system. With one exception, I’ll be sticking mostly to physical and not downloadable releases (meaning: no Virtual Console releases).

Let’s get on with the list…

10. Tales of Monkey Island (WiiWare)

Alright, like I said, I wanted to stick mostly to physical releases, but if I’m going to include one downloadable game, it has to be the fifth instalment of the Monkey Island series. After almost a decade long hiatus, the latest instalment in the classic adventure game series was produced by TellTale and released episodically through late 2009 and early 2010. In the vain of their prior Strong Bad’s Cool Game 4 Attractive People it was initially released exclusively for PCs and the Wii.

In this instalment Guybrush Threepwood is facing off against his arch-nemesis, the Zombie Pirate LeChuck, once again when an improperly enchanted Voodoo cutlass turns LeChuck back into a human and infects Guybrush’s left hand with an annoying Voodoo pox which causes it to have a mind of its own by constantly twitching, punching people and making rude gestures. Guybrush sets off on a quest for a pox absorbing La Esponja Grande to suck up the curse in his hand and, per usual, save his lovely pirate-wife Elaine.

Tales of Monkey Island had to make the list because it was easily, not just one of my most anticipated Wii games but one of the most anticipated sequels for me on a general level. Monkey Island is one of my favourite game series of all time and getting to play it on a Nintendo system was the cherry on top. In hind-sight however, this game really begged for a physical release since the file compression required to get each episode to confide to the appropriate WiiWare standards resulted in annoying audio-compression, some twitchy running and an unfortunate number of bugs. I didn’t enjoy this instalment any less, thanks to its clever puzzles, comedic writing and even ambitious story-telling, but if there is one inherently flawed game on the list, it would have to be this one.

9. Metroid: Other M

I had never been a huge Metroid fan in the past, because while I do enjoy all things sci-fi and love the idea of Nintendo having their own serious science-fiction game series, the scavenger hunt nature of the old Metroid game sis what always turned me off. Metroid Prime 3, however, rekindled my interest in the series and Other M finally offered me something I had wanted from the franchise for a long time: an actual storyline.

Other M, while not everyone’s favourite Metroid game, still kept the atmospheric design common to all games of this franchise. It featured varied locations and probably some of the best visuals for any Wii game. On top of that, we finally hear Samus open up about her past and this additional back-story coupled with the game’s own interesting inner narrative made it feel like a truly ambitious game.

Other M did have its weakness though and this had mostly to do with gameplay. While it was sort of nice that they went back to the side-scrolling, the game didn’t quite capture the action-feel of prior games and the jump from a third to a first person view during a few segments was a little jarring. I liked that you could actually play the game with just your WiiMote, but gameplay is something that this game could have improved on. However, it’s an under-appreciated title from the system and I think one of the better video-game stories of past years.

8. Donkey Kong Country Returns

Once they were done revitalising the Metroid series with the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Retro-Studios moved to bring another one of Nintendo’s iconic franchises back from obscurity. Donkey Kong Country is another series I truly have a lot of love for, but there had not been a proper instalment in the franchise since 2000’s Donkey Kong 64.

Retro-Studios however, brought the King of Kongs back. Classic 2D-platforming fun, coupled with challenging levels, familiar music from the first instalment in the series, an actual co-op option this time and some excellent visual designing as well. It was a blast tearing my way through the various levels and it really felt like I was playing an actual Donkey Kong game after all these years.

Despite the high nostalgia factor involved, Donkey Kong Country Returns didn’t quite make the Top-5 for me. Even though it’s probably the best instalment in the series since DKC2, the game felt like it perhaps relied a little too much on borrowing from the first game. Sure, there were some new gameplay mechanics and a completely original cast of bad guys, but it seemed like all the best elements came straight from the first instalment of the series. And for all the cool fog effects in the world, the game still let’s you cheat through its hardest levels if you keep failing, which I felt was missing the whole point of the DKC experience. Still, a worth-while title.

7. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

While this game came out originally on the GameCube, it was actually the first actual game I played for the Wii (not counting Wii Sports). Skyward Sword was honestly a disappointment in many ways for me and so, I still think that if you want a good Zelda game for the Wii, you need to get Twilight Princess.

Despite running on the prior system’s software, the game is still visually quite impressive, beautiful even. The cinematic elements were really made with a lot of care and this is why the game still looks great. Same goes for enemies and locations which show a lot of variety. My favourite thing about this game are the characters. This game probably has the best cast since Majora’s Mask and certainly a more memorable one than the game’s sequel. The storyline is also very well written, though it has a slightly predictable ending twist.

As a gameplay experience, it was also excellent although I felt the game didn’t really utilise the Wii’s unique controls too well, except for when it came to aiming with the bow and the clawshot. Still, the wolf gameplay mechanics were fun and the gameplay felt natural.

My biggest complaint with this game though is that it’s quite considerably easier than past Zeldas. The dungeons are a cake-walk and with a few exceptions don’t require much thought to beat. It also felt like the game was trying to mimic Ocarina of Time an awful lot which slightly hurts its originality, but at the same time, you have Midna to give the game extra character.

6. Mario Kart Wii

I’ve been going on-and-off the Mario Kart series in recent years, but I do have to admit that I really enjoyed the latest instalment of the franchise on the Wii. Whether you played it with your Wiimote, the silly steering-wheel thingy, a Wii-Classic or just a regular GameCube controller, Mario Kart Wii impressed me with its fun and solid driving feel. Really, the most solid it has been since Mario Kart 64.

The new set of tracks had a lot of variety and character and the cast of characters (with all the hidden ones you could get) was also impressive. The bikes were of course the most controversial addition. While they looked a bit of out-of-place even to me, it was nice how the game allowed you to play both with Wario’s iconic car and motor-cycle and especially that the Princess-characters for once got to wear something other than dresses, switching over to some nifty looking racing overalls.

Mario Kart Wii is just a lot of fun. However, some of the power-ups could be a little annoying and though the game’s original tracks were fun, I think the game shot itself in the foot slightly by adding redone versions of older Mario Kart tracks, because given the choice, I almost always ended up driving on those instead. Still, good game with a lot to unlock and much multiplayer fun to be had.

5. WarioWare: Smooth Moves

One of my most frequent over-all complaints in relation to most Wii-games usually had to do with their utilisation of the Wiimote’s unique features. Either how they were used completely wrong or not at all. It feels a little disheartening to think that the game that probably put the Wiimote to its full-potential was released so early in the console’s life-cycle. Smooth Moves is one of the few games I’ve ever bought just because I wanted to play it with friends.

The WarioWare format is brilliant in its simplicity: a sequence of random seeming mini-games where you have to adopt a certain control style and achieve a certain goal very quickly or else you’ll fail the task. This game is perfect for some intense competition style gameplay as everyone scrambles for the controller and try to be ready to complete their task successfully.

Smooth Moves had a very simplistic, cartoony art-style and a great comical design all-throughout. It paid homage to classic Nintendo titles in a very subtle way and even taught you how to play the game with a comically serene narrator voice. The only down-sides to this game is that you had to play through the single-player story to acquire the multiplayer mode and that beyond that, the only thing left to accomplish in single player is getting the highest score. WarioWare gets this high due to its utilisation of the Wiimote and for its high fun factor but no higher due to its undoubtedly limited content.

4. ExciteTruck

Driving games are really not my cup of tea, but ExciteTruck offered something unique and exciting which instantly made it one of my favourite Wii games when I first played it. The third instalment of the Excite-series of motorsports games, ExciteTruck combines large cars racing along bumpy landscapes with zany weather and power-ups which actually completely alter the land-scape as you drive on it. It’s a weird idea but works perfectly.

The play mechanics are slightly different from Mario Kart Wii, but the game plays excellently with the player controlling the tilt of the car from every angle. When you crash you can still continue by frantically tapping the button and while winning races gives you a nice rush initially, eventually the point of the game is completing crazy stunts to earn the highest rating for each track.

Add to this some nice Heavy Metal music (or music of your own choice via SD card) and you’ve got a game that gets your blood rushing. The more you accomplish the more interesting, exciting and better trucks you unlock as well as alternate paint-jobs to add a bit more variety to them. ExciteTruck is an under-rated title for the Wii which I think was ignored because it came out so early and was buried under better known releases. I also think it’s a shame that Excitebots, the game’s sequel, was never released in Europe.

3. Mario Party 8

I’m not gonna lie, the most multiplayer fun I’ve had on the Wii was playing this game. It shouldn’t be that surprising, I haven’t kept my love for Mario Party games a secret or anything – but Mario Party 8 really is a stand-out title in the series.

Now sure, Mario Party 9 shook up the very foundation of the Mario Party format by getting rid of coins, but Mario Party 8 still had a better gameplay variety. Each board had its own rules that you had to adapt to and this was really refreshing. You could play a more standard game with the Donkey Kong and Beach boards, a more unpredictable game with the Ghost House or Train, or if you wanted to try out a mix of Mario Party and Monopoly, then the city board was where you needed to go.

I also felt that this game made a better use of the Wii’s controls, even if the mini-games themselves weren’t always the best possible, there was still a wide variety of them to avoid the game from getting monotonous. Mario Party 8 shouldn’t be under-estimated for all its cartoony silliness, because the game is just plain old fun.

Also, that announcer guy just crack me up.

2. New Super Mario Bros. Wii

While both Super Mario Galaxy titles were fun games, my enjoyment of them was always affected by things I felt they could have honestly done better as Mario games. Yes, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was a much better game than the first Galaxy, but if there was one Mario game that I never felt that my enjoyment of it was being hindered by stupid little mistakes and gameplay decisions, it had to be New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

This game goes back to the classic 2D Mario format and plays almost exactly like the old Mario games with a few new-school editions like the ground-pound. You have a nice array of both classic and new super powers and beating a level always feels like an accomplishment. And while I didn’t like that you could hurt the other player, the co-op feature was also a lot of fun and added an extra element of joy to this game.

Did New SMB Wii add anything new and revolutionary to the Mario franchise? Not really. But it had solid gameplay, a varied and memorable set of worlds and classic Mario baddies combined with some new faces. New SMB Wii didn’t take this spot on the list away from the Galaxy games because it offered something new or substantially different. It got up this high because it was a truly fun game.

1. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

As mentioned before, I was never the biggest Metroid fan and I’m not really that big into FPS games these days. So how come did this game get so high up on the list? Metroid Prime 3 came out at a time when there wasn’t a whole lot of new coming out for the Wii and I was actually curious to see how would a First Person Shooter work for the Wii. As I would go on to find out: fantastically.

Metroid Prime 3 also did something new for the franchise by giving you more clear goals to shoot for and even attempted a bit of serious story-telling, though by the end it had completely flown out the window. And also, while the game may had been a touch more linear than prior Metroids, you could still revisit prior locations and look for secrets.

Add to this that iconic Metroid atmosphere, soundtrack and graphic look and you have a game that really got the most out of the Wii as a gameplay experience. The lack of a proper follow-up to the game’s interesting prologue was a tad disappointing, but Other M finally gave me that serious and deep storyline I had been hoping from the franchise. Metroid Prime 3 got the other stuff right, it was a fun game, challenging and it didn’t force me to go on a silly fetch-quest to get to the final boss (unless I fucked up in the spaceship wreckage).