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Let me start off by saying I think the Wii is a terribly misunderstood console. When comparing it to the PS3 and 360 it's hard not to bulk a bit when they are suppossed to be the same generation. Fact is, the Wii isn't trying to be like them, it was built to be a machine for everyon not just the core gamers. The thing to understand is your enjoyment of the Wii really depends on how you set it up. That means having the right connection (component video) the right kind of controllers (Wii remote+, Gamecube controllers, Classic controlers) and of course the right kinds of games; which is where this blog comes in. Anyone who tells you that the Wii doesn't have a respectable collection of quality games is either ignroant or lying. Not saying you don't have to dig through some shovelware to get to those quality games, but they are there to be had. So here's my list of reccomended games.
My crazy modded (limited edtion Wii)
For starters these are my top 10 Wii games, I'd reccomend these above all else.
1 Super Mario Galaxy
Without a doubt my favorite platformer of era and my favorite game on the Wii. Any disapointment that people have had with Super Mario Sunshine could easily be aleviated with Super Mario Galaxy. In many ways feels like the true successor to Mario 64. The graphics are brilliant, the challenges are well laid out, the pacing is spot on, and the variety is staggering.
2 Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
While some may prefer Twilight Princess (also on this list) it's hard for me not to like Skyward Sword better. The motion controls that were an afterthought with the former are fully realized in the later. This is the game that truly showcases what Nintendo wanted to do with the Wii remote. The puzzles arewhat really won me over, the game is incredibly imersive and theres so much to do and see in the world.
3 Mario Kart Wii
To me this is the Mario Kart that got it right. I enjoyed previous and subsequent entries but something about Mario Kart Wii just feels right. Each of the 32 tracks feel like they are fine tuned, ready to be raced over and over until every turn is mastered. It's easily the best online experience the Wii had to offer, and even though servers are down local multiplayer can live on.
4 Super Smash Bros Brawl
I'm going to come out and say it, Brawl is better than Melee. Okay it's not a popular opinion, but I actually prefer the floatier mechanics and slower gameplay, it makes the game more tactical in my opinion. But even if you disagree it's hard not to appreciate the sheer amount of content to be had here, the roster is massive, there's an 8+ hour subspace emmisary, with mini games, challenges, stage builder and more options than you can shake a stick at. And if you really dislike the mechanics, Project M is an SD card away.
5 Metroid Prime 3/Trilogy
Which Prime game is the best? Well, Prime 1 obviously, but the other 2 are great games in their own regard. And you can get all 3 amazing games on a single disc. Here's the best part, the controls are updated so you can look and move at the same time! But I digress. Seriously, these are 3 of the best adventure games ever made. The world of Metroid is deep and there's nothing quite like exploring anciet ruins as Samus Aran, legendary bounty hunter. Very highly reccomended.
6 Tatsunoko vs. Capcom
I'll be the first to admit the Wii isn't a haven for fighting games. But this is easily one of the best fighters of the last generation. If you enjoyed Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or Street Fighter x Tekken, TvC is sure to please. 2 on 2 tag team fighting mixing the world of Tatsunoko and Capcom. Even if you don't know Yatterman from Karas it really doesn't matter, it's a fighting game people. If you are a Dreamcast fan this one is sure to resonate with you.
7 Donkey Kong Country Returns
Donkey Kong's glorious return after years of side games. It's a straght up ode to the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES, but it's not a remake, it's more of a modern take on those games. The controls are tight, the platforming is tough, and the nostalgia is high. Seriously, if you can't appreciate old school hardcore gameplay like this you have no soul.
8 New Super Mario Bros Wii
Also a return of sorts to the old school days is New Super Mario Bros Wii. It feels like a mix of Mario Bros 1-3 and Mario World. People have called the art style bland, but I've always found the game to be charming. Much like Donkey Kong it's a challenging game, and gets even moreso as you add players. If you can mangage to beat the game with 4 players co operativley you are a better platforming guru than I, and this is coming from someone who beatlost levels without warps or cheats.
9 Sonic Colors
It's about time Sonic made a decent 3D game. I can't help but enjoy running through Robotnick's interstellar amusement park. The foundation of the gameplay is as old as Sonic Adventure 1, except the mechanics are a lot better. The twist though is the wisps that give Sonic Temporary powers such as digging though the ground or flying. It's by no means earth shattering, but it's the best Sonic game of the generation.
10 Kirby Return to Dreamland
Yes, another platformer. But that's one of the systems strengths. RTD is a love letter to fans of Kirby Superstar on the SNES. You can play as Kirby, Waddle Dee, King Dedede or Metaknight, each with their own abilites. It's also got drop in drop out gameplay, and really delivers on the promise of 4 player co-op in away Mario just couldn't nail because of difficulty. Yes, it's on the easy side, but don't hold it against it. Oh, and like most HAL games, it's packed to the brim with content.
These are the rest of the list. Not every game on here is a timeless gem, but each one I feel is worth at least checking out. Theese aren't in any particular order other than similar titles being listed together.
Wii Sports may have caught all the headlines, and it's a great game for what it accomplished, but it's hard to deny it's little more than a tech demo. Wii Sports resort is the real deal. All the ideas that Wii Sports had, feel much more fully realized in this release. Swordfighting is a particular highlightbut even things like Tennis, Golf and Bowling have a lot better fidelity with the Wii remote + . It's a fun casual game, that's best played with friends.
Kirby's Epic Yarn
If you had to choose betwen the two main Kirby titles I'd defenetly chose Return to Dreamland, but there is a certain charm about Epic Yarn. It reminds me very much of little big planet, everything is super polished and obviusly looks like fabric and yarn. It's a relativley simple game, a 2D side scrolling platformer where the goal is to collect as many gems as possible and complete the level. You lose gems when you get hit but you can't die, much in the same way that the Lego games work. I'm sure most guys here weren't chomping at the bit to play this, but in it's defense it wasn't made for you, it's made for younger kids and it shows that very clearly. If I had a kid, I would start them with something like this.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
This game is interesting in the sense that Nintendo usually doesn't give us a direct sequel to a major franchise on the same system, or if they do, they are ususally radically different. Mario Galaxy 2 in many ways just feels like a natural expansion on what the firt game offered. But if it isn't broken, don't fix it.Mario Galaxy 2 is bigger, more challenging and sports a lot of new ideas. It basically assumes you've already beaten the first game and are ready to move on. The cloud suit and inclusion of Yoshi are highlights. Still for what it's worth I like the first game a little more.
SNK Arcade Classics Vol 1
There's quite a few anthologies to be had on the Wii, but I would say this one is probably the best one to get simply because it has more variety than the others. If you have fond memories of that red machine with 4 buttons it's hard not to enjoy this game. I never knew about Shock Troopers until recently, it's a top down shooter (think Commando) with surprisingly great controls, tons of weapons and an co-op to boot. But there's also stuff like Art of Fighting, King of Fighters 94, Metal Slug and World Heroes, each of which have their own compliations. So it's a nice introduction to the world of SNK if you aren't familiar.
Metal Slug Anthlogy
If you've played one Metal Slug, you've played them all, but why not enjoy them all? Serioulsy, if you've never played a Metal Slug game you owe it to yourself to try it out. They are 2D shoot em ups, somewhat simiar in structure to the Contra games but slower paced. There's power ups vehicles, different paths and of course co-op. Each one kinda has their schtick.
King of Fighters The Orochi Saga
Reinhold Hoffman's favorite fighting franchise, or at least one of them. This compilation starts you out at King of Fighters 94 and takes you all the way to 98. While that's by no means a complete set, it's the main line of classic games. It's interesting to see how the series evolved in such a short amount of time. The game work on team play, you have 3 characters to chose from, but in the original you can't even pick your team, they're already pre determined. Each incarnation does something a little different and expands the roster. The main game you'll be spending time with is KOF 98. If you've stuck to the Street Fighter side of the pool then I'd recommend branching out. I still prefer SF, but I must admit I'm a fan of the more "deliberate" (for lack of a better term) gameplay.
Samurai Showdown Anthology
Maybe you aren't a fan of King of Fighters style mechanics, Samurai Showdown has it's own feel. Of all the SNK games, I would have to say I love the original Samurai Showdownt the best. The roster is small but each character feels signifigant, the pacing feels right, the controls are spot on and the visuals are stellar. However, popular opinion sides with the second entry which I'm also a fan of. But like I said in the other anthologies, why not try them all?
House of the Dead 2-3 Return
Oh I miss light gun shooters, it's a shame that those old guns won't work on our modern TV's. But lest we forget the Wii remote can easily facitiltate that function. I've always viewed the House of the Dead games to be the defacto light gun shooter. Sure the dialog is cheesy, and the hits are cheap, but think about all thememories you can relive with your friends. It's a straight forward port except as you play you unlock more credits so you can get better and farther, just don't expect to beat the game without cheats. It's a damn shame the original isn't packaged with this, the only other home port is on the Saturn.
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core/Plus
And people say Tatsunoko is the only game worth owning an arcade stick for. I beg to differ. If you've never played a Guity Gear game this is a nice place to jump in. I'm pretty much a casual fan of the series, I couldn't tell you all the differences between the versions, nor can I nail those 25 hit air combos. I can tell you this though, it's got a diverse cast of outlandish characters, beautiful animation, spot on controls, and a hell of a soundtrack. It's pretty hardcore to say the least, so be prepared to invest some time if you want to be proficent.
Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil/0
You might be put off by these titles, they are actually just re releases of the Gamecube games. If you've never played any of the classic Resident Evil games this is really a fantastic way to start. If you have to pick one the remake is the better game but I'd say get both for the full background. These are not the fast paced action games that 4-6 are, they are slow meticulous, scary, and require you to not only pay attention but conserve resources. Long story short, everything the new games
aren't. The reason I reccomend getting these instead of the Gamecube games, is the 480p support, ability to play them on the Wii with the classic controller, and the fact that they aren't split across 2 discs.
Resident Evil Umbrella/Darkside Chronicles
Okay, maybe you don't want to go through all the trouble of going through those old school Resident Evil games with human tank controls. That's cool, Wii has got youcovered here as well. Think of the RE Chronicles games as a readers digest version of the story of Resident Evil told by means of a light gun shooter. These games are nicley paced, story driven, and have rewarding gameplay. Unlike the House of the Dead these aren't arcadey, which means progress is saved, guns can be permantanly upgraded and theres more to come back to than just a higher score; co-op is great too. Darkside Chronicles in particular is a fantstic choice, it's the best light gun game I've ever played.
Resident Evil 4
How could I not reccomend the classic? People argued which is better, the Gamecube version with better graphics, or the PS2 version with more content, then the Wii version comes along with both and on screen aiming to boot. Even if you aren't the biggest fan of motion controls you can still play this with the classiccontroller. It holds up better than a lot of games do from 10 years ago. If you've never played RE4 I highly reccomend picking this up.
Metroid Other M
Okay this game gets a lot more flak than it deserves. No, it doesn't touch the Prime games, but frankly, it's not trying to. In some ways I feel like it's trying its best not to tread on Retro's work. You play with the Wii remote sideways and play in third person, when you need to look at something you just point the Wii remote at the screen and it switches to third person. It facilitates both action and puzzles remarkably well...at least most of the time. It's by no means a perfect game but dispite it's many faults I had a great time with it, the graphics are slick, the combat is fun and frantic in a way that Prime's never wasand that Ridley Fight was the series best. The game is only $8 at Gamestop, give it a shot, you may be surprised.
Sin and Punishment Star Successor
I'll admit, there are some Wii games that feel more dated than they actualy are, but this isn't one of them. Treasure has always had a knack for giving gamesamazing presentations and that's definitley the case with Sin and Punshment SS. From the instant you boot it up you know this game is special. You can use the classic controller, and for most Wii games I reccomend that given the option, but I never even considered it. The game itself is like a light gun shooter only your character is on screen, you have to dodge and weave with the analog stick and aim using the Wii remote. It feels so natural in a way that most motion controled games don't. It's a pretty tough game, but rewarding to progress. If you enjoyed Kid Icarus Uprising but not the controls it's well worth checking out.
Naruto Clash of Ninja Revolution 1-3
If you've played the Clash of Ninja Games on the Gamecube, you'll know exactly what these games are about. I enjoy the games because they are simple fun. Combat has two attacks (light and heavy) a throw and special button. They all do great fan service, and have tons of content to go through. These are fun party games but there's a lot of content to go with that. Fighting games just don't have single player campaigns anymore for whatever reason. They aren't amazing gamesbut they are a lot of fun. If I had to reccomend one in the series I'd say the third one is the best as being the most refined.
Zack and Wiki: Quest of Barbaros' Tresure
They don't make games like this anymore. Fundamentally, Zak and Wiki is a modern day point and click adventure. It's a puzzle game with excellent motion controls, it's actually pretty challenging and requires you to pay attention. I adore the art style, it reminds me of the Dreamcast days where Capcom wasn't afraid to make their games "gamey". I never beat the game, but I had a great time with what I did play. I would love to see a follow up on Wii U but it didn't sell very well in the Wii's heyday, so it's rather doubtful.
Animal Crossing City Folk
If you want a slow paced game with no real goal or ambitions then Animal Crossing will be right up your alley. See, I'm not a fan of sim games in general but forsome reason Animal Crossing just resonates with me. I love the slow music, making relationships with the other animals, and avoiding Tom Nook and in general doing whatever I feel like. If an animal keeps threating to move away, I say GTFO. Because, yeah, I'm like that. Granted this isn't my favorite version of the game (3DS and Gamecube versions are more enjoyable) but I can't deny that it's still a fun game all around.
Admittedly, this is on every platform under the sun, so why would you get it particularly on Wii? Well, no specific reason, but that doesn't mean it should be takenoff this list. Rayman Origins is platforming heaven. If you've played Legends it's very much the same kind of game, only less refined. The game just feels right the art style is fantastic, the controls work well, it's totally replayable and with 4 player co op it's a great party game. There's a lot of trial and error if you like that sort of thing (I do), but I can't imagine someone liking platformers and not liking this game.
Pikmin 1/2: New Play Control
This is another example of a game improved by motion controls, it seems any game that uses the pointer aspect of the Wii remote instead of the motion aspect works to the games advantage. Pointing and clicking where things should go is usually a luxury only affored to the PC gamer, but here you get that kind of accuracy. Okay, maybe not quite the level of a mouse, but it works as a 3D mouse. Much like other Gamcube re releases you are getting 480p and 16:9 support, and even though the visuals are dated, the style hold up fairly well. Both games are totally worth getting but they can fetch a pretty penny online.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat: New Play Control
Another Gamecube re release, there's actually a whole set of "New Play control games". The original game was made for the DK Bongo's (remember them?), but the Wii version changes the controls around for the Wii remote and nunchuck. While I still prefer the bongos to the new play control, it's a nice way to enjoy the games and the controls still work really well. It's a 2D scrolling platformer with a twist, it's built around combos and timing, you have to collect bannans,defeat enemies and platform in one fluid motion. The more combos you can stack together the higher the score you will get. It's unique in a lot of ways and feels like a great fit for Wii. I'm glad the game got a re-release because the original fell under a lot of people's radar due to being released late in the Gamecube cycle.
Now this is a game I bet you didn't expect to see on this list, did you? But the fact is, this is a really well made game. It takes a balance board with your Mii wieghs you and tests you to see what kind of shape you are in. It does a remarkably good job of encouraging you and giving good advice. This isone of those games that feels really "next gen" to me as its got "an outside the box" kind of thinking. It keeps track of your stats, compares your progress to your friends, and makes suggestions. It's a little scary how much was thought of in the game. But the exercises are actually fun with multiple levels and makes a fantastic use of both the board and the Wii remote. IMHO it's one of the most innovative games that last gen had to offer.
Battalion Wars II
If you enjoyed the original game on the Gamcube this one is sure to please. You basically are a leader of a batallion and have to lead your troops into battle against the soviet army. Each of your men have a class and it's up to you to put them in their place to optimize performance and win. It's a strategy game of sorts but you control it all. You can fire the bazookas, ride in tanks, or take control of the artillary. It's pretty kid friendly, but that should be expected from a first party title. Controls work well because, again, it works with the pointer, not the motion.
Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
How could this game not be on the list? I case you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years you know that Twilight Princess is the Zelda game that fans were clamoring for for years. It's the anthesis of Wind Waker, which means the game is dark, mature, with more emphasis on the dungeons and less on thevoverworld. Even the story gets kinda out there. There was a few times where I was wondering if I was actually playing a Zelda title. Yes, this game is bettervwith traditional controls if you ask me, but it's certainly not bad on the Wii. It still plays quite well today, and it's increidby immersive.
Warioland Shake it
Seeing a pattern here? Yeah, the Wii pretty much has the undisputed crown for platforming last gen. This is an old school platformer in the style of the Wario Land games. It's quirky and has some limited motion controls, but they aren't too invasive. Acutally this is pretty obviously a Gamecube game that just got moved over mid development. But you basically go into a level getting all the treaure you can when you get to the goal you have to get back to the beginning with the allotted time. Obviously, not all the treasure can be had going in, some has to be gotten exiting the level. Which means there's quite a bit of replay value trying to maximize the amount of treasure in a given run. It's not likely to melt your brain, but it's got a great sense of humor, nice mechanics
and fun gameplay.
Now this is how you revive a dead franchise! I've always loved the Punch Out games, never been good at them , but that doesn't stop them from being great. This is a love letter to fans. You once again control Little Mac and work your way through the ranks to become the heavyweight champion. But this is far from your typical boxing game, see it's more of a game of learning patterns and memorization than actual boxing. Enemies have weakness that you have to exploit as
well as attacks that have to be avoided, it's all about learning when to dodge, block and attack. I can't help but love all the characters as they each have their own personality and antics. It's as much of a reward to win as it is to see the next character you have to face. Never could beat the game but I had a great time trying.
Mario Pary 9
I'll admit I haven't sunk countless hours into Mario Party 9, but I do feel like it belongs on the list. As opposed to other MP games, you all travel in one car around the board, each player collects mini stars. It has more of a focus on mini games than previous entries and most of the games are pretty solid. Like any Mario Party it's best for 4 players as the AI is likley to use underhanded tatics.
I know a lot of people wanted to see Goldeneye show up on the Virtual console, but it never happened for a lot of reasons. I think this was meant to be more of a homage to the N64 classic without being a re release. This is a game all its own. Essentially, this is a retelling of the 1995 movie as if Daniel Craig was acting in it. Before you cry blasphemy, it's very tastefully done and brings a new flavor that serves the plot well. Frankly, I'm glad it didn't ride the coattails of the N64 games as so many did before it. No, it's not that groundbreaking, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's running on a modified Call of Duty engine with JB style objectives. I like the implementation of cameras and other gadgets so it's not a shooting gallery. The multiplayer is really nice as well. Grab 4 classic controllers and play split screen, just like the old days.
Dead Space Extraction
Remember when I said that light gun shooters made a return on the Wii? This is another fine example of that. EA could have shoehorned a bastarized version of Dead Space for Wii like Capcom did with Dead Rising. Instead they thought they'd do the fans and the series a service. This is a prequel to the orignal Dead Space told in the form of a light gun shooter. This is even slower paced than Resident Evil Chronicles but it does pick up. There's quite a few places where you have to use the Wii remote in intersting ways, you have to figure out how to block holes or cover your exit. It's not just about shooting and I can totally respect that. And don't worry about the tension and mood being toned down, that's not the case at all. It's very foreboding and well made.
Silent Hill Shattered Memories
To me this is my proof that some developers just didn't try with visuals on the Wii. This is proof positive that realistic games can look great on the system. The environments are carefully crafted with some stellar lighting. Seriously, go through the game and cast your light on anything and watch it reflect in real time on the walls with true to life accuracy. The snow, the architeure, even the texture work and character models are impressive, effects you just don't see done on the Wii. Oh, and this game is incredibly creepy, the audio is chilling and the tension runs high. Even the motion controls work exceptionally well here. There isn't much like this on the Wii and I highly reccomend giving it a shot.
Tomb Raider Anniversary
This is another game you won't see a whole lot of on the Wii, a single player puzzle adventure game. The game is esentaially a remake of the original on PS/Saturn, but uses the mechanics of Tomb Raider Legend. The controls work well enough, but I'm not convinced they are particually better, except for maybe the shooting. Much like, Dead Space and Silent Hill, there's a deep imersive expereince to be had here and it doesn't baby you at all. You have to learn the mechaics and avoid traps. Puzzles are challenging, and there's a ton of ways to die here. Thankfully the checkpoint system is forgiving. Theres a long game here to be had for those willing to see it to the end. I can't say I ever made it all the way through, but I'd like to revisit the game when I get some time.
Red Steel 2
This is not your traditional first person shooter, in fact I have a hard time calling it a first person shooter, more like a first persona action/adventure game. The gameplay revolves around taking jobs and and fighting enemies. The gamplay is rewarding as you are constantly getting better gear to take on more jobs. There'sa good amount of variety here as well. The controls work well due to requireing Wii motion plus, and I love the western theme.
Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga
This is anothe one of those relreleases that are worthg getting because it's an upgrade from the previous generation. You are getting both orignal Lego Star Wars games and all the extras with 480p and 16:9 support. Both of the games were alread chock full of content but both together is enough to keep you busy for a long time. The gameplay is a fairly straightforward afair with collecting lego studs, solving puzzles (which is basically finding the right character with the right ability) and a little platforming mixed it. It's got drop in drop out co op, and it works well either way. Lego games are as common as can be but the originals are still a lot of fun.
This is the rest of the list. Frankly, there's some games here that I either haven't spent enough time on to reccomend or that I simply don't have. I would really love to pick up games like Fire Emblem and Pandora's Tower but lack the time and money to get around to them. If anyone has any experience with these games I would love to hear them.
My entire Wii collection
Super Paper Mario
Super Mario All Stars Wii
Muramasa The Demon Blade
Fire Emblem Raidant Dawn
Monster Hunter 3
Sakura Wars So Long my Love
No More Heroes 1/2
House of the Dead OVerkill
Kirby Dream Collection
Pokemon Battle Revolution
Lost in Shadow
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
So there you have it, Sorry to drone on. I promise I won't get offended if you just read the sections that you wanted. But I would like to hear back from the communuty. Have you guys played these games? Does anyone else appreciate what the Wii for what it was, or will it take a few more years before others start looking back at thesystem?
While I’ve went into detail about my favorite game, I’ve never touched on my favorite console. After years of gaming, I must say that the Gamecube is my favorite and I’d like to give a history of how that came to be.
I’ve found in my life, some of the things that I am most fond of, I had a lukewarm initial reaction to. Over the years as I grow more familiar with a piece of hardware or software that I grow to appreciate it’s finer points. This was certainly the case with the Gamecube.
Roll back the clocks to 2001, much to my chagrin, the Dreamcast was being discontinued, and I had foolishly decided to sell the system while it was still worth some money, to invest further in my new PS2. At the time there was little to play on the platform, but by the end of the year some bigger games were coming out.
The N64 which I held so dear had tapered off in appeal. The big games had already came and went, and while I loved the system quite a bit, the second half of the systems life held far less interest to me in light of the upcoming PS2 games. The PS1 had simply offered me the kinds of games that I couldn’t get on the N64, and I was betting the PS2 would continue to do that.
I had little interest in Nintendo at the time but I was still hoping that their next generation console would be a return to form. See the N64 was notoriously hindered by the cartridge format, while it offered some distinct advantages, the system ultimately paid a high price for them. What I was hoping for was something more akin to the SNES or PS1, but as we all know, that was not what the Gamecube was.
Instead of moving away from the N64’s oddities it was as if Nintendo was embracing them. This didn’t feel like a more traditional console, it felt less traditional. The system was a purple cube with a carrying handle, the controller was a hodgepodge with buttons scattered around. It’s not what I wanted at all. But still, this was Nintendo, a company that I had grown up with, I had to at least try it.
What a strange looking console
And that I did. There was a Walmart that had one on display so I ran over there to see the new system. Now I don’t remember much but I do remember that Smash Bros Melee was on display and being really impressed with the fidelity it offered over the N64 game. That’s always been Nintendo’s deal, making a “super” version of the last game they made. As impressive as the current gen version of a said franchise is, the net gen blows it out of the water.
But I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Smash Bros (frankly I’m still not), so it wasn’t enough for me to jump in. It wasn’t until the Resident Evil/Capcom deal was announced did the system pique my interest. I was having some financial troubles at the time and I was still in high school, so purchasing the system wasn’t a possibility.
Fast forward a year when I was in a better financial situation, the system had got a price drop and a then limited edition platinum color, I bought in. My first game was obviously Resident Evil. The game floored me visually back then, and it still looks great today. Okay, maybe it hasn’t held up perfectly, but a lot better than many games do from that age. The way I see it the graphics from the original were improved more with only a 6 year gap, than the HD remakes are after a 12 year gap. That says something to me.
Anyway I think the reason I was disappointed with the system initially was that I was expecting to be wowed the same way I was with the N64, and frankly it just wasn’t there. Mario Sunshine didn’t wow me like Mario 64 did, Wind Waker fell short of Ocarina of Time, there was no Goldeneye-like FPS to bring my friends over, and Rare wasn’t present long enough to give us sequels to much beloved N64 games. I was hoping for a revolution, not an evolution.
In hindsight, I don’t think any system could have given me back my piece of childhood that I found in the N64. I think I looked back with rose tinted glasses and unrealistic expectations. I was an adult now. I picked up some games here and there, got some ports, but nothing made me appreciate what the system was.
I moved to Pensacola, FL for Bible college in 2003 so I fell off the gaming radar a bit, didn’t keep up with gaming much, just played what I had, picking up a few games here and there. But in my senior year I was convinced that I was divinely lead to sell off my entire video game collection. Now I know what you guys are thinking, because I’m think it too, in fact I’ve been thinking it since the day I did it: what an idiot. All I can say in my defense is religion makes you do strange things. Thankfully, that chapter of my life is over. It’s a little painful to write about, but necessary for my story.
After I graduated and moved back home to Cincinnati, I got the itch to buy another Gamecube. I’m not entirely sure why I wanted one so badly all of the sudden, but I did. They were cheap by 2007, in fact I remember going into Best Buy asking for one, only for the salesman to try to “hook me up” with an Xbox 360. I understand what he was trying to do but he didn’t listen to me, I wanted a Gamecube.
A man usually finds what he’s looking for (that’s a great truth by the way), and that’s what happened. I bought one. I don’t know what it was, but something about the system just felt right to me, like I was ready to appreciate now, whereas I wasn’t before.
I think the thing that initially stuck out to me was the level of polish that the games had that PS2 games simply didn’t. The controller that I thought was so odd initially just melted into my hands. That Z button just felt right for bringing up the map in Metroid Prime. The system just booted up so quietly, the menus were simple and easy navigate, it was reliable and games looked fantastic.
I swear it's more comfortable than it looks
Before long I started getting obsessed with the system. I tracked down those exorbitantly priced component cables, got the Game boy player, and started finding some of the hidden gems the system had. It turned out a lot of Gamecube games looked better than their PS2 counterparts, sometimes they would have exclusive Nintendo content or features. (Seeing that Nintendo in Wii U games now is just awesome.)
There’s a lot more variety to be had on the Gamecube than there was on the N64. The N64 specialized in certain things like 3D platformers, first person shooters, and racing games, but there were hardly any RPG’s to be found. Gamecube has a little bit of everything to offer.
For adventure games it’s hard to go wrong with the Metroid Prime games, they are deep, immersive and very well thought out, Wind Waker is amazing too as it feels like an open world game where you can do whatever your heart desires.
For fighting games, there’s obviously Smash Bros, but there’s also Soul Calibur II (with Link!), it’s a much better port than the PS2 version. There’s also Naruto Clash of Ninja 1 and 2 which are exclusive. It’s got good ports of Mortal Kombat V, and VI, Dragon Ball Z Budokai 1 and 2, and Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO.
I could go on with RPG’s like Skies of Arcadia, Baiten Kaitos, and Fire Emblem, action games like Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes, and Resident Evil 4 or racing games like F-Zero GX and Mario Kart Double Dash. I think you get my point though. Doing just a little digging, you’ll find that there’s a wealth of great games both first and third party. Sure a few big names like GTA never hit, but most of them came to the Cube. That’s more than can be said about the Wii and Wii U.
In 2007 people were having Wii fever and the Gamecube was only mentioned in connection with the system, so games were pretty cheap. But today it has had a bit of a resurgence, so it’s a bit pricier to collect for it. The component cables alone can run you over $100 and the Game Boy player is at least $50 complete. But if you’re willing to forego that later option you can get a backwards compatible Wii for $50. I recommend going that route for sure, even if it is annoying to have to boot the games with a Wii remote.
Not a bad way to go
I know not a whole lot of people appreciate the Gamecube like I do, but then again I’ve always been attracted to underground things. There really is no system like it. There weren’t gimmicks to try to lure you in, it didn’t try take over your living room being a DVD player, it was just a gaming console pure and simple. It may not have revolutionized the market but it’s got a fantastic library of quality games and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.
Every so often I get asked what my favorite game of all time is, and for a long time I didn't really have an answer. It's kind of like a favorite song, it just changes so often that it's hard to nail down one. But I thought about it and it dawned on me: it's Super Mario 64.
I wanted to give my story on how I came to that conclusion. For as long as I could remember I was always interested in video games. I only enjoyed watching at first, too scared I was going to die, but eventually I worked up the nerve to try it for myself one day. The game was the orginal Super Mario Bros, and yes I did die (at least I assume I did) but I don't remember that. I just remember having a great time, and then subseqently needing to get my hands on the game, and of course an NES to play it on.
For me that was a point of revelation. I was probably only 7 or 8 at the time, but I remember the exact spot I was when I fell in love with gaming. The fact that I can still go there is interesting to me as well, something about that is just special to me. Eventually, I did get the system and found myself growing with gaming as the medium evolved. So I played each game in order, I feel like I could fully appreciate the jump in fidelity that each game offered. Each of the original games and Mario World just resonated with me but in differerent ways. To this day platformers are my favorite genre.
At that time I would have considered myself a casual gamer. Sure I enjoyed playing games on a semi regular basis, but I knew nothing of the industry, I didn't know that the 3D revolution was about to begin, nor did I know how impactful it would become to me.
The next turning point for me was the day I walked into a Toys R Us in 1996. I remember seeing multiple demo N64 systems playing and no one was around. I grabbed that strange new controller and saw Mario in 3D for the first time. Unfortunatley the analog stick was out of alignment so Mario moved of his own accord. I tried to fool around with the controller but ended up frustrated at the malfunction. If you would have watched me as a 12 year old you would have though I walked away disapointed. But that day it planted a seed in my mind.
Not the most intuitive controller ever made
The next year rolled around and I still had that seed in my mind. It had grown signifigantly so I asked for an N64 for Christmas. I wasn't so sure I could get it as my parents weren't in the best financial situation, but lo and behold my dad said yes...with some strings attached. See he wanted something out of me, I had to get on the honor roll at school and go out for wrestling. I wasn't the smartest kid but I had an easy enough schedule for 8th grade, but wrestling was another story. Wresting involved 3 hour practices through the week and 8 hour meets on Saturday's. Talk about having no life, but it was a way, I took the bargain.
That Christmas morning to this very day, was the best I ever had and probably ever will have. Now perhaps that has clouded my judgement, but I can't help but have the fondest memories of that Christmas.
Okay so what about Mario 64? Well I actually didn't get it till the following spring actually, money was hard to come by but at least Diddy Kong Racing (the game my parents bough with it) was enough to keep me occupied.
Yeah, I got the player's choice version...
But when I finally did get my hands on the game I must say I was estatic. I think what most impressed me about the title was the freedom that it offered. All previous entries into the series were all about moving left to right, power ups, and getting to the end with the allloted time. But now there was no time limit. If I wanted to spend 15 minutes trying to find a secret in the courtyard I could. If I wanted to complete objectives out of order I could. But I think what really got me excited, was the idea that if I wanted to complete an objective in my own way, I could do that.
One such example is the second world in Mario 64 called Thwomp's fortress. There was a star in a cage way up in the air. Now what you're supposed to do is climb up in the tree in the front and an owl would come out and take you up there. I had no idea about the owl so I got in one of the cannons and started trying to blast my way over there. I can't tell you how long it took, but I eventually got it.
There were other things that made an impression in my then 13 year old mind. Mario 64 brought a lot of new concepts to my attention. Flying in a 3D space for instance was something I was only vaguely familar with. I played the original Star Fox but changed the pitch to normal. When I grabbed the wing cap and blasted out of a cannon, I was forced to learn inverted controls and analog movement. I learned other things too, like how to control a camera, or how false walls work, and even got my first taste of survival horror. To this day the Ghost house music still creeps me out.
To me it was the perfect game to cut my teeth on, and is one of the few games that I feel deserves a perfect 10. No, it's not a perfect game, but it epitomizes what a 10 should be. It was beatiful, had amazing music, spot on controls (for Mario at least), tons of content and secrets, and has aged rather gracefully. I could knock it for the camera controls but it's 1996. That's like playing basketball with a retarded kid and calling him for double dribble, you gotta let a few things go.
Long story short it took me from a casual gamer to a hardcore. It made me appecitate all the nuances that we take for granted in today's games. It pioneered 3D gaming and should be on everyone's list as one the greatest games ever made.
It's no secret that the Sonic games have had their ups and downs for years. If you look at some of the games that Sega has really put their heart and soul into you can see some brillant examples of quality platforming. But conversly, you can see where Sega has just slapped games together for a quick buck or for a contractual obligation. What's odd about this is we've seen perfect examples of both in this past generation. So much like my blog on Virtua Fighter (which you should read, nudge, nudge) I want to discuss what I would like to see from the next Sonic game.
First off I want to clarify that I am talking about the next console Sonic game. It's not that I have anything against handheld Sonic games, it's just that the kind of scope I am looking for isn't going to be as easily accomplished on a handheld format.
First off I want to address the overworld. I feel like Sonic developers have been fooling with different ideas for the overworld since the orignal Sonic Adventure back in 1999. While I really liked running around as Sonic and the crew in a fairly large hub world (for the time) I felt like it had far too many problems. There was a lot of tacked on puzzles, too much backtracking, and the camera went apeshit in tight quarters. The novelty of climbing up the terrain with Kunckles quickly died when I was constantly glitching the enviornment or scratching my hea trying to solve some cryptic puzzle.
The hubworld in any Sonic game needs to be straightforward and well thought out. The game I think that nailed this was Sonic Unleashed. Before you say it, yes, Sonic Unleashed was a bad Sonic game, one of the worst, but that doesn't mean we can't glean from some of the parts they got right. I liked that it had a litteral world map where you chose your world location. It was easy to see where you were and what options you had available to you. Once you clicked on a location you would then drop into the overworld for that region. The entrances to the levels were clearly maked as well as the requirements to enter them. There were also places to explore so there's room for hidden power ups. Sonic games don't need you to solve puzzles to unlock levels, they need to let you concentrate on platforming and exporation. Sonic games in the future need to adopt this philosophy in design.
Secondly, the engine. This is the real mean and potatoes of the game. Admittedly, Sonic Team has been doing much better in this area as of late. The days of random pits, momentum killing obstacles, horrid cameras, and glitching through environments are over. Not to say that still doesn't happen, but it's far less frequent. If you don't think Sonic has evolved much over the years, go play Sonic Colors or Generations, then go and play Sonic Adventure 1 or 2. I feel like there's still room for improvement though. I would like to see differerent shields make a return, I also feel like water sections are sorely missed (I'm probably alone on that) as well as heavier interactions with enviornments. I also feel there are far too many sections that run in autopilot. Don't get me wrong, they look cool, but that's hardly something to base a game on. Long story short, I want to take the ideas from the Genesis games and convert them over into the modern 3D entries.
Along with that I want more playable characters. Back in the day I used to whine when they shoehorned unfun characters into the game for the sake of variety, but that was because Sega couldn't get it right. For whatever reason they thought fishing with a retarded cat (Yes you Big) was a good idea. They fullfilled my dream of gliding around with Knuckles in 3D only to restrain him to digging for emeralds in a small space. I never understood why I can't tackle the same levels that I just cleared with Sonic, with Tails and Kuckles. That's what made Sonic 3/Knuckles the best game on the Genesis. It gave three destinct play styles but retained the fun and intuitive Sonic gameplay that we all know and love. Would it take some clever level designs? Yes, but that's what needs to happen. How cool would it be to go through the same level with each of the 3 main characters and have a unique expereince each time. I wouln't mind at all if each world had 3 acts. If the themes can bear the repetition I would welcome it.
Speaking of theme I feel that needs to be addressed. For whatever reason Sega seems to want to treat the Sonic like Mattel treats Barbie. What I mean by that is they keep wanting to spice up the franchise with a new gimmick or mechanic instead of just making a quaility game. The old Sonic games never did this but then again suppose you have to do something to make the annual Sonic release stand out.
I never played Sonic 06 and from what I've heard I don't want to. But the aethetics sure looked like what I want from a sonic game. No goofy wisps, no scarfs and tape, just classic Sonic themes. I feel like they had a great idea in rebooting Sonic the hedgehog for a new generation it was just so horribly excecuted that it had the opposite effect. I would be really estatic just to see the character settle down in a good series of games with a consistant storyline. And I don't think it needs to be said that having any kind of kinky fanfiction relationships is just out of the question.
Finally, I think the series needs some replay value. I've always been irrititated by how little there is to do beyond the main quest with more modern entries. I realized that there have been attempts with DLC (Sonic Lost World) side quests (Sonic Generations) and extra objectives like the Red Rings and Time Trials (all the recent Sonic games) but they just don't bring much t the table. I really loved the idea of raising chaos from the first two Sonic Adventure games. I never got into it becauise playing on the VMU screen seemed lame, and I never was quite sure how to get into it. But maybe if they adequately explained the process or better yet rebooted it, I might give it a legitimate chance. It doesn't even have to be chao racing, just the idea of a side game that can be played interchangeably with the main quest seems awesome. One of the best examples I can think of is the card game from Final Fantasy VIII. You could completley ingnore that aspect of the game or you could spend hours challenging people and building up an impressive deck, better yet use those cards to aid you on your quest. Something like that would be amazing for the Sonic games.
I really enjoy the Sonic games. I feel like they have a lot of charm, the levels are fast and frantic, the music is often memorable and I usually look forward to the next game in the series. I just feel like more often than not the ball is dropped on the finer elements (usually in the second half of the game) that keeps it from being a stellar franchise. Just a little more variety, attention to detail and quality control would go a long way to bring Sonic back to its former greatness.