Few video game consoles stirred up as much buzz as the Nintendo Wii. Before motion-tracking software was considered standard fare and shovelware began popping up left and right to take advantage, Nintendo looked to revolutionize the gaming landscape with the Wii.
The Wiimote and Nunchuck control system gave players a brand new way to game and opened the door for a new generation of interactive gaming. From brand new motion-based party games like Wii Sports and Just Dance to groundbreaking installments to classic Nintendo series like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and the Super Mario Galaxy, the Wii quickly became home to a stellar line-up of games for all ages.
Many of the best Wii games were Nintendo’s first-party titles that still maintain premium real estate in entertainment centers. Here is our round-up of the best Nintendo Wii games of all-time.
When most people think of the Wii, they think of Wii Sports. A simple pack-in minigame collection, Wii Sports featured simple, motion-controlled approximations of tennis, golf, bowling, baseball, and boxing. Players use their created Miis (linked to your Wii profile) to participate in sporting events using the Wiimote and Nunchuk, either competing against other players or the computer.
The games are simple, but also are very fun and incredibly intuitive. You could put a Wiimote in almost anyone’s hand, and they could figure out how to play in seconds. At the time, it was a perfect showcase for the Wii’s potential. In hindsight, it may be the pinnacle of success for the console. For a time, you could walk into any college dorm room or apartment in America and see a couple of bobbleheaded cartoons battling it out on screen.
Given how ubiquitous the title was, it’s no surprise that Wii Sports clocks in as the fourth bestselling video game of all time — only Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, and Tetris have sold more copies, and all three of those were multi-platform releases.
Wii Sports Resort
Despite the success of Wii Sports, some felt the game was a little bit barebones, with just five sports to choose from — one of which (ahem, baseball) was straight-up awful. Enter Wii Sports Resort, which takes the same idea and cranks it up to 11; or, more accurately, to 12. The game offers 12 different fun vacation-themed activities, including archery, sword fighting, and basketball, among others. The immensely popular golf and bowling games from Wii Sports return, as does tennis (but this time, it’s in ping-pong form). Resort does an excellent job of expanding upon a successful formula, with games that use both the Wiimote and Nunchuk to full effect.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
The third entry in Nintendo’s famous fighting series earned critical acclaim for tweaking the popular formula and adding several new features, including crazy-powerful “Final Smash” moves that can swing the momentum of a battle. Brawl also introduced third-party characters to the series for the first time, namely Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake from the Metal Gear series.
Other new additions include a Pokémon Trainer character that controls fully evolved versions of the starter Pokémon from Pokémon Red and Blue. The game featured an expanded suite of single-player activities, including the Subspace Emissary Adventure mode, and offered online multiplayer (via Wi-Fi) for the first time in the series. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi has since shut down, though emulators on PC have kept online multiplayer alive.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
In Kirby’s Epic Yarn, an iconic Nintendo franchise got a complete makeover, and it’s an absolute blast. The gorgeous “knit” art style here isn’t just for show — with his new abilities, Kirby can interact with the environment itself, unzipping portions of the level and pulling on threads to reveal hidden areas. The creatively designed game is built for younger and more experienced audiences alike, with a low difficulty threshold and lots of secrets to uncover as you play.
Clever boss fights and challenges present a good deal of variance in gameplay, with certain levels transforming Kirby into numerous different vehicles. You can also play co-op, working together to reach lofty ledges or defeat crafty foes, and if you don’t own a Wii, the game will be coming to the 3DS as Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn.
As one of the Wii’s most popular titles, Xenoblade Chronicles earned a cult-like following and proved that sprawling RPG gameplay could survive — or even thrive — on the console. With real-time combat reminiscent of MMORPG games, players manage cooldowns and swap between basic attacks and more powerful “Arts.” The massive open world takes place on the bodies of two titans, where protagonist Shulk seeks to use a legendary sword to defend his people against the evil Mechon army.
It sounds like your regular, everyday JRPG, but the game’s scope, immersive story, gorgeous sound design, and intuitive control scheme make Chronicles worth remembering. A sequel for Nintendo Switch, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, has been released, and there’s also Xenoblade Chronicles X available on Wii U.
If you like the idea of Mario Party, but do not want to risk losing lifelong friends over a meaningless video game, consider going back and playing Wii Party. The fast-paced minigame collection features 80 different activities, which you can play a la carte, or as part of organized game modes like “Board Game Island” and “Globe Trot.”
Games like “Time Bomb” and “Buddy Quiz” offer fun game-show-type diversions that let you play casually with friends, though there are also several more involved games like “Balance Boat,” which will require your undivided attention. The game makes excellent use of the Wii’s unique control scheme in creative ways, and — best of all — there are no stupid ghosts waiting to steal all your stuff.
PlatinumGames’ highly stylized brawler MadWorld makes brutal murder look good. Players control Jack, who enters an extremely violent game show called DeathWatch and proceeds to kill his way through several levels in creative and gory ways. MadWorld earned the scorn of many reviewers and media members for its graphic content; in fact, Sega declined to release the game in several countries altogether due to subject matter limitations.
The game is actually quite funny, with hilarious commentary provided by John DiMaggio (Futurama) and Greg Proops, and the story — while short — is engaging and satisfying. Oh, did we mention Jack has a chainsaw for an arm? ‘Cause he does.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
The original Donkey Kong Country is legendary. From its seemingly futuristic graphics (in its time) to the iconic music to the controller-shattering difficulty, the 1994 title provided treasured memories for lots of gamers. After a 13-year hiatus following Donkey Kong Country 3, the series made its triumphant return on the Wii with Donkey Kong Country Returns.
The side-scrolling, platforming gameplay is as ruthless as ever, with more bananas to collect and more hidden areas than you can shake a stick at. This time around, Diddy Kong is equipped with a jetpack to help the primate pair traverse the levels, and a co-op mode lets Player 2 take control of the junior Kong. The Wii version was later ported to Nintendo 3DS, and a sequel is also available on the Wii U and Switch.
Animal Crossing: City Folk
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise has become a household name, beloved by fans across the world for its anthropomorphic animals and quirky life simulation gameplay. City Folk successfully brought that formula to the Wii in 2008, letting players build a life among the woodland critters (no, not those woodland critters); if you liked the Gamecube or Nintendo DS versions of Animal Crossing, you’ll probably like this too.
City Folk brings back series mainstays like the tanuki, or raccoon dog, shop owner Tom Nook, and players get to see the seasons change in real time, according to the Wii’s clock. The game utilizes motion controls for things like chopping wood and fishing. If nothing else, City Folk offers what may be the most exhilarating accomplishment found in a video game: Paying off a mortgage — something that is much harder in real life.
Super Mario Galaxy
Nintendo — and the Mario franchise in particular — has always been known for their innovation. Super Mario Galaxy, one of the most beloved video games of all time (on any platform) is as innovative as it gets, blending the tried-and-true formula introduced in Super Mario 64 with incredibly creative level design and unique mechanics centered around gravity.
Like most games in the series, Galaxy begins with Bowser abducting Peach, after which Mario is granted magical powers so that he can, uh, fly through space and traverse tiny planetoids to collect Power Stars. It sounds dumb, and it is, but the experience is sublime.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
You knew this was coming! The first iteration of Galaxy was universally acclaimed, earning near-perfect scores from just about every reviewer that touched it. Somehow, Nintendo went out and made it significantly better with Galaxy 2, which features more interesting level design, paired with better pacing and tougher challenges than the original.
Here, you’ll find more varied power-ups and some really creative additions, like Light Yoshi’s ability to uncover invisible platforms. The second Galaxy improves upon the (very few) issues that fans had with the first — namely, camera control and a half-baked cooperative component — without breaking the wheel.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
When the Metroid series made its way onto GameCube as Metroid Prime, it was showered with praise for successfully offering a first-person take on the franchise. Like Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes before it, Corruption follows bounty hunter Samus Aran in her battle against the nefarious Space Pirates (and other foes). Samus’ trusty beam cannon and missile launcher return, as does her “Morph Ball” ability, allowing her to roll up in a tiny ball to explore tight spaces.
Corruption makes excellent use of the Wii’s motion controls, combining lock-on targeting with free aiming for a smooth, responsive feel. The difficulty is toned down a bit from Echoes, where boss fights often required several attempts, but Corruption is still a satisfying experience. A fourth Prime game is currently in development for Nintendo Switch, so you still have time to catch up, since it’s still early in development.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess takes on a decidedly darker tone than most Zelda games. This time around, Link is enlisted to save Hyrule from being engulfed by a parallel dimension known as the Twilight Realm and imbued with some transformative new powers. While those new abilities provide a welcome change of pace, the game is arguably one of the most conservative entries in the Legend of Zelda franchise. It’s true, the game’s motion controls are hit-or-miss, but swinging Link’s sword is a lot of fun, and it makes combat more engaging. For one of the earliest Wii titles, it holds up incredibly well. An HD remaster with a handful of differences was later released for Wii U.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Serving as the origin story for the entire Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword tells the first version of the now-iconic legend of three ancient Goddesses capable of manifesting the greatest power imaginable — the Triforce. Due to benevolent forces, the Goddess of Hylia eradicated the threat to the Triforce, sending a large block of land to the sky, and consequently making the world uninhabitable. Many years later, that rock is home to a small society, who tell legends of a world down below. When Zelda is taken to the unknown below by the winds of a tornado, young Link has to go find her.
Skyward Sword is a great 3D Zelda adventure in the tradition of Ocarina of Time. Its greatness, however, is mired by its motion controls. As one of the only titles requiring the Wii Motion Plus add-on, Skyward Sword‘s requirement of precision, when precision wasn’t quite possible with the technology, made the experience frustrating for some. If you can get past the controls, you’re in for a real treat.
Mario Kart Wii
Let’s be real — Mario Kart Wii doesn’t change the game like Mario Kart 64 or Double Dash, but the Wii version of this time-honored Nintendo tradition was still beloved in its own right. It felt like a slicker, better-looking version of Mario Kart 64, and that’s not a bad thing. The most novel aspect of Mario Kart Wii, like many Wii games, was its motion controls.
Nintendo even bundled in the plastic wheel attachment with each copy of the game. With 32 tracks — 16 new, 16 from previous games — and battle mode, the Wii entry of the iconic racer delivered a relatively robust package that really hit its stride when playing on the couch alongside friends. Considering motion controls have been a part of each console Mario Kart experience since (Mario Kart 8 for Wii U and the deluxe version for Switch), Mario Kart Wii‘s impact is still found in the series today. Even though it wasn’t quite what we wanted, Mario Kart is great no matter what. You would be hard-pressed to find a better racing game for Wii.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
A sleeper gem from Vanillaware, Muramasa: The Demon Blade combined old-school beat-’em-up mechanics with RPG leveling and loot systems to create a surprisingly deep and stylish action-adventure. The game’s story riffs off of Japanese mythology and folklore, with the main goal of thwarting the Demon Blades’ corruptive powers. Throughout the 2D side-scroller, you play as two different protagonists, with each section telling a different tale.
The story was interesting enough and the dialogue was competent, but the game truly shined for its gameplay. Although the combat boiled down to fast inputs, the RPG emphasis gave the mechanics a tactical layer that only became more enriching as your characters gained new abilities and techniques. For fans of classic 2D beat-’em-ups but long for more depth, Muramasa was an intoxicating amalgamation. It was also later remastered for PS Vita under the title Muramasa Rebirth.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
From the always-interesting mind of game maker Suda51, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle expanded on the promise of the original Wii game to become one of the standout third-party hits on the console. No More Heroes 2 once again put players in control of beam-katana-wielding Travis Touchdown as he returns to Santa Destroy after a three-year absence. With fun and zany boss fights — for instance, a mech formed by combining a football star and cheerleaders — and fluid action-packed combat, No More Heroes 2 did everything the original did but better.
From the head-scratching (yet funny) writing to the removal of the pesky overworld to the 8-bit minigames that let you take a breather from slaying foes, Suda51’s No More Heroes 2 established itself as an intriguing reason to own the Wii outside of Mario and Zelda games.
Monster Hunter Tri
Originally planned for PlayStation 3, Monster Hunter Tri is an example of how the Wii’s less powerful hardware could be a boon for developers. High development costs shifted development of the third console game in the long-running franchise to Wii. The result was one of the largest, most ambitious titles to arrive on the console.
Like all games in the franchise, Monster Hunter Tri tasked players with fighting huge creatures, capturing monsters Pokémon-style, all the while constantly upgrading your character’s gear. If you enjoyed the gameplay loop and the constant grind, Monster Hunter Tri was a time sink that compelled you to keep going forward. The game was later remastered for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.
Mario Strikers: Charged
Super Mario Strikers was a surprisingly fun GameCube title, taking classic franchise characters to the soccer pitch for action-packed matches, but it got stale after a while — especially if you didn’t have friends to play with. Charged brings that fun to the Wii — with many features that worked in the original game and adding minor improvements across the board. Motion controls are implemented sparingly, but to great effect — you can gesture to knock opponents off the ball or into the fence. Plus, Charged added a solid online multiplayer option, though it is no longer playable, due to servers being shut down.
The Conduit marries schlocky B-movie writing with a unique control scheme designed specifically for the Wii, and it’s actually pretty fun. Aliens known as “The Drudge” invade Washington, D.C. using a series of “Conduits” (aka portals), and the player takes control of government agent Michael Ford to combat the villains. A cool gadget called the “All-Seeing Eye” (we told you it was schlocky) allows players to solve various puzzles throughout the game, while Ford wields a variety of guns against both human and inhuman foes.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
The sequel to 2005’s Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn presents one of the most challenging experiences that you’ll find on the Wii. The sprawling, four-part campaign sees players take control of several different characters and factions spread across the war-torn land of Tellius, engaging in tactical, turn-based combat that requires a fair bit of thought and planning.
Developing your units properly is paramount to success, as battles become less and less forgiving throughout the game. In contrast to most Fire Emblem games, the story here feels a bit trite and undercooked, but the fantastic musical score and overall sense of weight behind the fighting provide a memorable atmosphere.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
In 2006, Nintendo rebooted the Super Mario franchise with New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS. The follow-up for Wii stands as one of the most well-received games on the console, giving the series a fresh coat of paint for a new generation without deviating from the elements that made it popular in the first place. The classic “World Map” layout and linear level progression help make the game feel like Mario titles of old, but it brings some cool new tricks, including new items like the Propeller Mushroom, which give players a reason to use the Wii’s motion controls.
Super Paper Mario
Tired of all these Mario games? Neither are we, because they’re great. Super Paper Mario blends traditional Mario platforming with RPG and puzzle-solving elements, creating an extremely enjoyable package. Players take control of Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser, flipping back and forth between 2D and 3D perspectives to progress. The story navigates eight chapters, each set in a different themed “Dimension,” each full of unique challenges. Like most games in the franchise, Super Paper Mario has some personality, with lots of humorous moments throughout.
After a fifteen-year hiatus, Punch-Out!! returned with a bang as one of the only story-driven boxing games around. Players once again step into the boots of Little Mac as he works his way through the professional boxing circuits, battling against several colorful characters to become the World Video Boxing Champion. Players maneuver effortlessly through boxing matches by utilizing Wii’s remote control, whose technological sophistication is unparalleled. The remote control’s format allows players the ability to coordinate their punches accurately so that they may earn “stars” that will afford them more dominant moves.
“Title Defense” mode jacks up the difficulty, adding new counter moves for the computer-controlled opponents to use, and the included multiplayer is a ton of fun, where players build power before transforming into a hulking behemoth to deal massive damage.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
WarioWare: Smooth Moves is a multiplayer extravaganza solidifying the Wii as the ultimate option for party consoles. Players compete in various short (we’re talking under ten seconds) “microgames” involving activities from frying food to shaving mustaches, all loosely roped together by story and hysterical introductions.
Even non-gamers can participate in Smooth Moves. It’s very straightforward, and its overall absurdity contributes to its addictive nature.
The important thing in this game is speed. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself manipulating your Wiimote at a strange angle in a bid to fulfill the game’s strange objectives. Some microgames also toss out entertaining references to other Nintendo games.
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