There was a sad piece of news last week as Nintendo announced that it was ceasing production of the Wii. It’s a console that’s divided many, but here at A Most Agreeable Pastime, it’s a gaming machine that we hold close to our hearts.
The Wii has been criticised over the years for becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for minigame collections, but this is unfair to say the least: a quick glance at the Wii’s back catalogue reveals a plethora of triple-A-quality titles, many of which are exclusive to the system. In fact, it’s home to some of our favourite games of all time.
As we say sayonara to the Wii, it’s only fitting that we should pay tribute to its greatest moments, so for your delectation we present our top ten favourite Wii games…
10. House of the Dead: Overkill
Lucius – The Wii was home to some amazing light-gun games over the years, but this was probably my favourite – if only because it was so bloody hilarious. Think Tarantino’s Planet Terror and you’re pretty close. Back in the day I paid tribute to it in my very first (and laughably dreadful) podcast.
Sir Gaulian – I have only played the PS3 version of this, but from all accounts that’s just a prettier version of what was already a spectacular, stylish, gory and tongue-in-cheek light-gun-like experience. Sometimes the simple things in life are often the best, and while House of the Dead: Overkill is simple, it also happens to provide some of the most laugh-out-loud fun available on any system. If the Wii is your weapon of choice, I can’t recommend this one enough, although it’s strictly for the adults.
Sir Gaulian – It’s no secret that I have a rather large soft spot for Platinum Games, and MadWorld for the Wii basically encapsulates what I love about their work. It’s stylish and bloody and never shies away from the ultra-violence that the Wii wasn’t really known for. Playing the game was a blast, and while the game is simple to learn, there’s a real incentive for you to master your approach to the free-flowing combat. Either way, in MadWorld the blood is well and truly flowing freely.
Lucius – Rarely has there been a game as gleefully fun and inventive as MadWorld. Its stylised black and white graphics with gruesome splashes of red still look fantastic today, and the twisted, ultra-violent gameplay is an absolute hoot. It tends to get a little reptitive in the later stages, but it’s still a must-play game for any Wii owner.
8. No More Heroes 2
Sir Gaulian – Suda51’s crazy first foray into the world of the Wii was a flawed gem, combining slick motion-controlled ultra-violence with a stylish yet simplistic graphical style. No More Heroes was great, but its sequel No More Heroes 2 takes everything that was brilliant about the first game and ditches everything that wasn’t to make what is probably one of Suda’s best. Using a faux-light sabre to cut up scores of enemies never gets old, and the removal of the sandbox elements basically mainlines the player straight to the violence, making No More Heroes 2 a gratuitously gory, must-play Wii game.
7. The Last Story
Lucius – The Last Story snuck out for a European release in the dying days of the Wii and turned out to be one of the best JRPGs in years. Designed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, it’s clearly influenced by his earlier work, but the simplified fighting system makes this game much more accessible than the sometimes fussy FF games, and it looks fantastic to boot.
Sir Gaulian – I kind of pity Klonoa. Namco Bandai’s non-descript marsupial/mammal/rodent seems to have been overlooked at every turn, and this remake of Klonoa’s first adventure on the PS1, Klonoa Door to Phantomile, is no exception. While it may not have sold terribly well, Klonoa is easily one of the best platformers to grace Nintendo’s system. It didn’t revolutionise platforming in any way, and its bright and kiddy appearance may not have sold the masses on it, but Namco Bandai’s remake is well worth tracking down if 2D platforming is your thing.
5. WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Lucius – This was one of the Wii’s first games and also one of the best. It was the perfect introduction to the concept of motion control, encouraging all sorts of wacky gestures. My favourite involved actually putting the remote down on the table – a phone rings on screen, then when you pick up the remote to ‘answer’ it, a voice says “Hello?” from the remote’s speaker. Genuis.
Sir Gaulian – As a long-standing fan of the WarioWare series, it feels like a crime to have WarioWare: Smooth Moves so low down the list, particularly when it’s so outstanding. The originality and outright insanity of WarioWare shines through in this one, although the addition of motion control does slow down the action a bit. But the microgames themselves are so insanely brilliant and original that it’s easy to overlook the fact that this one may not be quite as good as the WarioWares that came before.
4. Little King’s Story
Lucius – The Japanese developer Cing is sadly no longer with us, but before they departed they bequeathed one of my favourite ever games. Little King’s Story plays a bit like a cross between Pikmin and an RPG, and it brims with humour and imagination from start to finish. A sequel/remake was released for the Vita a while back, but it failed to capture the brilliance of the original – the Wii is still the only console on which you can play this essential and unique game.
3. Metroid Prime Trilogy
Lucius – We’ve gone for the trilogy here, but this spot could just as easily have gone solely to Metroid Prime 3 on its own, which in my opinion is the pinnacle of the Prime series, and even gives Super Metroid a run for its money. The motion-control system doesn’t sound like it would work on paper, but playing the game is a revelation – afterwards, playing an FPS with traditional gamepad controls feels clunky and unresp0nsive compared to fluidity and accuracy afforded by the remote and nunchuk.
Sir Gaulian – Unlike Lucius I am of the opinion that Metroid Prime 3 is the lesser of the trilogy, but it certainly caps off what was an immensely entertaining and likely timeless series. Say what you will about Metroid Prime 3 as a whole, but there is no denying that no developer did first-person motion-control schemes as well on the Wii, and if nothing else Metroid Prime Trilogy gives you the opportunity to play through both prequels, which originally appeared on the Gamecube, with Prime 3‘s control scheme. One could write a thesis on everything Retro Studios did right with the Metroid Prime Trilogy, but all you need to know is that it represents the best-value experience money can buy on the Wii. If you can find it, that is.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Lucius – Shamefully, neither of us have yet played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (see below), but Twilight Princess more than deserves its place in the top ten. It follows the design of Ocarina of Time extremely closely – no bad thing considering that it was one of the best games of all time – but adds an entirely new dimension with the ability to transform into a wolf, as well as some fantastically realised boss battles.
Sir Gaulian – Twilight Princess was the game to have at the launch of the Wii (that didn’t come packed in at least), and while time has soured people’s views of it, for me it still stands up as a mighty fine way to spend 40 hours or so. Twilight Princess successfully took what 3D Zelda’s had done before and stepped it up a notch to make what was a huge homage to the games in the series that came before it. A beautiful world and a ‘homely feel’ to the aesthetics are what make this game so memorable; add to that the tried and true Zelda formula and you’ve got an outstanding piece of interactive entertainment.
1. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
Lucius – OK, we’ve cheated a bit here by including both games, but it really is too difficult to choose between them. They are quite simply the best Mario games of all time, each brimming with more ideas in a single level than most games manage for their entire length. Easily two of the most fun games ever made, and probably the best reason to own a Wii.
Sir Gaulian – There is no doubt in our mind that Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are the picks for the best Wii games of all time. The only question was which one. But to that effect why choose, because both games are excellent examples of creative, fun, precise platforming that are exactly why Nintendo are still at the top of the pack in many respects. Every stage brought with it a level of beauty, polish and perfection that most games only dream of ever achieving. It’s stuff like Galaxy that gives me a sense of almost unconditional hope for the future of Nintendo and its struggling Wii U.
We debated for ages about which games to include on our top ten – it turns out there are a helluva lot of great games on the Wii. Here are a few that almost made it on: Sin and Punishment 2, Tatsunoku vs Capcom, Wii Sports, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, Dead Space: Extraction, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Rabbids Go Home, Boom Blox Bash Party, Deadly Creatures, Project Zero 2, Resident Evil 4, Zack and Wiki. Sadly even HAL Laboratory’s pink puff Kirby missed out, despite having two absolutely smashing entries during the Wii’s life. These were the hard decisions we had to make.
Fianlly, we have to mention three games that neither of us have yet played but that almost certainly would have featured in the top ten if we had: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Xenoblade Chronicles and Pandora’s Tower.
It’s sad to see the Wii go out with a whimper rather than a bang. It seems like only yesterday that every man and his dog was waiting for stores to restock Nintendo’s motion-controlled market beater in the hope that they could get one to take home for themselves. But it certainly feels good paying homage to what was, for a long time, such a disruptive force in the market.
So what do you agree with on our list? Let us know your own top ten in the comments below.