Last month in June, I finished the final game in my Wii library. In total, I have owned about 50 Wii games and have played around 70 games. Before I started my Wii REVIEWS series, that number was short 26 games which I all played and reviewed for Destructoid, beginning in May of 2015 and finishing last June of 2019.
The reason that I started this review is that I wanted to explore a number of Wii games that originally flew under my radar. If those games were any good, it would disprove the notion that the Wii didn’t have any games. While my library was filled with high-quality titles, they mostly were first party Nintendo games, which was nearly the only type of Wii stock that was available in my country.
After finishing this exercise, I am ready to make a list of the Wii’s top 10 games. I have always shared the theory that any console with 10 “must-play” games is worth owning. In that regard, the Wii is surely a “must-own” console if only to play these 10 games.
As for the value of my Wii REVIEWS series; well, the fact that 4 games in this top 10 are games I reviewed as part of this series proves the value of the extended Wii library. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Wii games, in alphabetical order:
Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010):
Before the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns (DKCR)¸ the Donkey Kong franchise was relegated to experimental games and non-headlining events for about a decade. With Retro Studios on the helm, DKCR was a triumphant return (hence the name) of the franchise that directly challenged the excellence of the SNES Rare titles.
With excellent level design, tight platforming mechanics, impeccable art and sound direction, there were very few complaints about the games. Two minor shortcomings were noted, the lack of David Wise music and the bland enemies (both which were resolved in the excellent sequel), but they only distracted from the game getting a perfect score.
Of course, the elephant in the room was the “forced” motion controls. Many actions in the game required waggle to be performed, some of which are critical to the flow of the game. For example, rolling requires a slight shake of the controller, and rolling is hugely important as it a necessary move to pick up speed and jump over chasms. Many reviewers, including here at Destructoid, complained about that feature.
As someone who finished this game 100% (completing all the time trials), I can confidently say that the waggle mechanic is the only thing missing from this game’s sublime sequel. In pure human physiology science, a flick of the wrist is faster than a thumb press. Once you get the hang of flicking your wrist to roll, it frees your hand and mind to focus on speed-running the levels like hell. It requires minimum adaptation but is in my opinion, an effective motion control mechanic.
This little game with the big heart was one of the biggest surprises in my Wii REVIEWS series. Simply put, I have never heard about this game before. Never saw it in any store. Never saw it in any top 10 Wii games list before I found the list by GamesRadar which convinced me to start this whole review blog series.
It is difficult to explain what Little King Story is, but I will try anyway.
Here is a game about a child who mysteriously becomes the king of this fantasy land. As with kings throughout history, the little king must gather-up troops to invade the neighboring kingdoms. The gameplay is similar to the Pikmin series in that you control a character with a diverse army behind him that you can throw at enemies and obstacles. For instance, you have soldiers and archers which can fight enemies. In the more peaceful front, there are lumberjacks and miners, which can scavenge for resources in which you upgrade the kingdom as well as remove obstacles in the way. It is some brilliant gameplay with an addictive feedback loop that hides a lot of challenges. Each of your pawns has a name and they can even make children. If not treated with care, a dragon enemy may simply kill you in a few moves.
All of this is presented in child-like drawings, with cut-scenes designed like some moving watercolor painting with animated brush strokes and an art design that gives character to the world while maintaining focus during the most chaotic of battles. Of course, I shouldn’t forget to mention the excellent soundtrack, which is a brilliant use of classical music in both its original form and with some brilliant remixes.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007)/ Metroid Prime Trilogy (2009):
This is a case where the inclusion of the Metroid Prime Trilogy in this list is subject to debate. Technically, both Metroid Prime & Metroid Prime 2 were released on the GameCube. However, the trilogy updates both games to have the superior control scheme of the third game.
Regardless whether we consider the trilogy or not, Metroid Prime 3 deserves inclusion on this list despite being a slightly weaker title than its predecessors. With its excellent First-Person gameplay that utilizes the best features of the Wii, playing the game is a smooth experience. Getting lost in alien planets and strafing to shoot space pirates in the face has never been more satisfying.
The Metroid Prime series has successfully crafted a First-Person Action-Adventure game that translated the design sensibilities of the Metroidvania 2D games into 3D space. With a lot of exploration, alternate paths opening, the discovery of upgrades, and a sense of wonder at an ever-expanding map, all three Metroid Prime games are great despite the flows present in the second and third installment.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade (2009):
It is difficult to pin down Muramasa: The Demon Blade to a single genre. Wrongly classified by some as an Action RPG, the game is more of a Beat ‘em Up with some RPG staples added in. Regardless of the classification, the summing up of this game would say that it is an action-packed brawler with a lot of depth to its combat and a continued sense of progression because of the RPG mechanics it borrows.
Divided between two characters with similar gameplay, the game takes place in Tokugawa-era Japan with a really cool story that spans Japanese and Buddhist mythologies. While some saw a limitation in the formulaic way the story unravels, I thought it was just fine. Especially with multiple endings that you get based on your completion of the game.
The main gameplay gimmick is that you can use three swords at a time, each with their own special move that can alter the way you handle some fights. It’s a cool mechanic that opens up a lot of combination.
Of course, if you are familiar with Vanillaware, then you would expect some gorgeous 2D graphics and animations and a killer soundtrack to boot.
Fans of this Wii cult classic will understand why I did not choose between the two No More Heroes games. This is a case where the fans are almost equally divided in favoring one over the other, as these games, while similar in many aspects, are also very different in others.
Starring everyday assassin and total jerk, Travis Shutdown, the game’s world can be considered a parody of the hyper-violent and hyper-sexualized world of movies and videogames. Juxtaposing the intense violence of the game against the mundane and boring life of Travis serves to showcase how jarring it is in this game, and consequently similarly jarring in every other game.
If you are not interested in the meta-plot of the games, then rest assured that the basic gameplay and story is engaging and fun even if it rarely reaches greatness. To be fair, the game never aspires to greatness. In fact, it revels in being mostly style over substance, and that’s understandable when a game has as much style as this.
Now that Travis Shutdown will show his face in a proper sequel on the Switch, I wholeheartedly recommend his earlier Wii games. That way, you will get all the light blade recharging in-jokes.
Super Mario Galaxy (2007)/ Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010):
In another case where it is difficult to choose between the original and sequel, the only thing we can say is that Super Mario Galaxy is probably Nintendo’s best attempt at crafting specific set-pieces for Mario to navigate through. With excellent 3D platforming gameplay in a very well-designed world that looks graphically impressive even in today’s HD standards, these are games that stand the tests of time.
With the first sweeping orchestral notes, it is obvious that the game has a far-reaching adventurous scope to it. In fact, it still probably is Mario’s most ambitious journey yet, as he goes from planet to planet to collect the necessary stars to stop Bowser’s newest world, nay, galaxy conquering efforts.
When trying to differentiate between the first game and its sequel, it is clear that the second game has better levels (and more content overall). However, fans of the first game appreciate its introduction of Rosalina (which ended up being a very popular Nintendo character) and the mini-hub world that gives it more of a character than the second game.
Overall, these two games are still considered some of the best 3D Mario games by some, and there is a good reason for that.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008):
I know that this is going to be a super controversial statement, but Super Smash Bros. Brawl was, and remains, my favorite Smash. Before you roll your eyes and tune out, note the genre that I am classifying this series as; classifying them as fighting & party games.
In that regard, it is clear that Brawl is the best in the series in fulfilling both those categories. It’s floaty movement and more forgiving nature means it is easier to include non-gamers in the fun of the game. In contrast, Melee is almost impossible for a novice to have any fun with, and both 4 and Ultimate are not that much better. Simply put, I have played all Smash games, and the one I enjoyed most with both experienced and non-experienced people was Brawl. My non-gaming friends simply could not get into any of the other games in the series at all.
On other notes, the game still holds well graphically, and it has some of the best music remixes in the series (along with the best damn theme song as composed by Nobuo Uematsu). It introduced some cool characters like Snake and Meta Knight (who is not overpowered in a party format).
Of course, its biggest differentiation is also its killer single player campaign that remains the pinnacle of the series in terms of gameplay and presentation. Just look back at some of those cut-scenes and you will see some of the coolest tributes to Nintendo’s various franchises, and then some.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011):
When choosing which Zelda game to include in this list, I debated hard within myself. I greatly enjoyed both Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. However, I ended up giving the nod to Skyward Sword because it better encompasses the console that it is in. With the best application of the motion controls on the Wii, it is the game that best showcases the unique abilities of the little console.
It must be said that the total focus on motion controls in the game does indeed detract a little from the experience. While swordplay and aiming are perfect, controlling the Scarab is a little pain. Overall though, you have a fun and different experience once you get into the groove of things.
Also, the many nitpicks I heard about the game are honestly frivolous to me outside of the over-reliance on Motion Controls. Flying didn’t take much time (and I faster than sailing in the Wind Waker), Fi is no more annoying than any other side-kick character and I barely noticed her (you can skip her dialogue and hits by the way), and the repetitive boss you fight doesn’t take upward of 15 minutes to defeat. As is usual with Nintendo games in general, the nitpicks gets amplified to near-universal flaws.
What we have in this game is a pretty good origin story for the Zelda series with one of the best incarnations of the characters to date. Some really good villainous turn from Ghirahim. And some of the best damn dungeons in the series. Seriously, few Action Adventure game has better dungeons than the Ancient Cistern and the Sandship.
Trauma Team (2010):
Trauma Team, the final game in the Medical Simulation Trauma Center series, is a game that very much tied to what the Wii is about. Not only because it’s gameplay is very much motion control oriented (which it is), but also because it is ostensibly a mid-budget title that was not going to fly in the HD-focused era of the PS360.
There isn’t anything flashy in the game, with the medical operations taking place in less gore, and more neon-infused arcade feels. You would think surgically removing an I-Beam from a construction worker would need more than medical clips, but you would wrong.
What this game has is a really good medical drama story that unfolds through six characters, each with their own game mode. In this final installment, the nail-biting challenge has been toned down to make room for more variety and more story focus. This actually serves to make it a more relaxing experience than the previous two games which increasingly compelled me to chuck the Wiimote at the TV.
Overall, Trauma Team does well in everything it tries to do. Having an engaging medical drama tied to some cool and engaging gameplay. It is a game that is really fun that couldn’t have worked in any other system, and wouldn’t have been attempted in the first place. I really hope we get another shot at the series with the motion control of the Switch.
Xenoblade Chronicles (2011):
Perhaps unfairly, the history of Xenoblade Chronicles will forever be married to the fan movement to convince Nintendo to publish it in North America after it has already been localized in English for the British market. In that way, it is a testament to Nintendo’s own failures in that era in capitalizing on their great creative output.
That’s because, any way you slice it, Xenoblade Chronicles is a great creative output. A very ambitious Action RPG game made by the same minds behind the Xenogears and Xenosaga games, this was one of the biggest and broadest games of the Wii library. Nintendo’s failure to launch this as a franchise (which is now more evident with the huge success of the game’s sequel) signified the trouble they would later have with the Wii U.
Back to the game itself, it is the setting that is most unique about it. At the beginning of the game, we see two titans facing each other in an endless ocean, each dealing a fatal blow to the other. From the dead body of those titans sprang life. The entire game’s universe is basically set in the body of those titans, from lush forests to forbidding swamps, you can see the body parts of the two titans in the horizon. Look up, and you can see their faces staring spitefully at each other.
Of course, the setting can only be appreciated because of the excellent gameplay and good characters and story involved. Without spoiling much, the tale of Shulk and his friends as they fight the denizens of the other titans is full of twists and turns that remain engaging to the end. Their quest taking place in a quasi-MMO style, where abilities are activated in a cooldown timer, and getting loot and doing minor quests is an ever-engaging cycle. Being on the Wii, the resolution is a little low, but the art direction more than makes up for it as the game looks much prettier than it has a right to be. Last but not least, the game has a seriously killer soundtrack.
That concludes my list of the Top 10 Wii games. All of the games in this list are ones that would enrich any console they are in and are, in my humble opinion, must play titles. On the Wii, I struggled a bit in narrowing down my favorite games to a top 10 list, but not much. The following games are ones that narrowly missed the cut: