As much as we’ve stuck by Nintendo’s motion-based console, the Wii has seen better years. Despite the console’s massive user base of over 92 million units sold–10 million of those coming this year alone–it seems that most developers have jumped ship. Third-party developers are looking towards greener pastures and have almost completely abandoned the Wii, and some of the most talented in-house developers seem to be favoring mobile platforms like iOS/Android or more familiar motion controlled games like those found on the Xbox 360 Kinect. Others still have moved on to developing for the Wii U, leaving a gap in software coming out for the Wii. This has driven Nintendo back into a position it’s quite familiar with–most of the major games selling on the Wii are published by Nintendo itself.
Still, there are some bright spots, and we’ve managed to scrounge up five of our favorite games this year. Our rule on other consoles has been exclusive releases, but a couple of these are multiplatform games. When a game is developed for multiple platforms including the Wii, that game undergoes a serious amount of conversion for the Wii’s controls and processor. So while there may be a few titles familiar from the other consoles, the Wii version is different enough to make it on this list.
If you have a Wii, there are already six Bit.Trip games available for download. The series originated on Nintendo’s WiiWare service, but it’s now available as a full retail release in this nice compilation. The Bit.Trip series pulls a lot of its inspiration from the old Atari arcade days of gaming. Much of the gameplay is fairly simple, but also has a musical edge to it. As you destroy enemies or interact with the world, they make sounds that alters the games’ retro soundtrack.
Bit Trip Complete includes Bit.Trip Beat, Flux, Core, Void, Runner, and Fate. Each entry is fairly different. In Beat and Flux, you play aPong-like game where you reflect pixels back into the ether from whence they came; Core has has beats falling from corners and plays kind of like a simple version of Guitar Hero; Void puts you in command of a black circle that must pick up black beats while avoiding white beats; Runner is a side scroller where you have to avoid obstacles; and Fate is an on-rails shooter of sorts. The Complete package also adds some difficulty settings and 20 new levels to every game. Check it out, at launch, it was retailing for about $40.
This one’s a stretch, but it’s a decent game. Blue Tongue Entertainment’s de Blob 2 came out way back in February 2011, which means it’s quite cheap now. Like Rayman Origins, this isn’t a Wii exclusive, but it’s prequel, de Blob, made its debut on the Wii back in 2008. Like a polar opposite version of Super Mario Sunshine, your goal is to paint the color back into a city that’s been taken over by an evil black and white general. Your goal is to touch and color all of the areas with colors and then blend different colors and paint things in the correct order.
This sequel also introduces some other cool gameplay elements like 2D stages and gravity-based puzzles. Like some of these games, experienced players will probably get annoyed at the amount of help the game gives you, but younger players probably enjoy the attention. All in all, this is a colorful, fun game by THQ and fits right in with the Wii’s family-friendly demeanor.
Return to Dream Land is both a classic Kirby game and something new. Developed by Nintendo’s HAL Labratories, who invented the franchise way back when, the new Kirby is a pretty standard affair. Though Nintendo likes to bend the Kirby license to its whims quite frequently, this game has no yarn, dream courses, air rides, or cursed canvases. Nope. Instead, the game is kind of a sequel to Kirby’s Dream Land 3 or Kirby Super Star, both from the SNES era. Most of the levels and standard Kirby abilities make a return.
The real differentiator here is the multiplayer. Much like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, up to four players can plow through these side scrolling levels at once. Player one is Kirby and everyone else can choose a character like Meta Knight or King Dedede. Friends can join or quit as they please, all taking from Kirby’s lives. You don’t have to play nice either, though screwing with your friends might start some fights. Aside from that, giant ultra abilities are also present, which are basically super moves, much like the Super Smash Ball in Smash Bros. Brawl.
For hardcore gamers and Nintendo fans alike, Skyward Sword is the best reason to own a Wii right now. It’s the first adventure game to make good use of the Wii Plus motion control outside of Wii Sports Resort (a minigame collection) and (five years into the Wii’s life), it is the first game to really prove that motion control can have a significant and positive impact on hardcore games. Though we thought the Wii would become the best console for first-person shooters because of its control, it never really happened, but if more games likeSkyward Sword had come out earlier, Nintendo fans might not be clamoring for the release the Wii U so badly.
Skyward Sword is a prequel to many of the recent Zelda games. While the new motion-based sword and weapon control is the biggest change for the series, it also has an art style somewhere between Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker, which should be pleasing enough to fans of either style (they’re quite different). Nintendo has also reworked the way it integrates dungeons. The temples inSkyward Sword are present, but they are filled with fresh types of items and integrate better with their surroundings. There isn’t torch lighting in this game–it is more clever than that. Still, it’s not perfect. Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword review for more information.
Rayman was born on the PlayStation, but it’s quite at home next to Nintendo’s franchises. Origins isn’t a Wii exclusive, but it looks and runs fantastically on the Wii, plus the motion controls make it feel unique. You just don’t see a lot of whimsical animated games on consoles outside of Nintendo’s regular releases, so it’s nice to see Ubisoft sticking with Rayman and bringing it back to its roots in this 2D sidescroller.
The animation and art direction is better than almost anything we’ve seen in some time, and it feels kind of like a Disney movie meets Mario meets Earthworm Jim–but the result is better than you’d imagine. Like Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, you can also play with up to four players, though this game is fun even if you’re flying solo. It’s not a gory first-person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world being attacked by aliens, but almost any gamer should find some fun in Rayman Origins if they care to give it a go. Did we mention it’s only $35 on Amazon right now? Read our full Rayman Origins review.
What do you think of our list of the best Wii games? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.