The best Wii games

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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. While the game’s motion controls are hit-or-miss, 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.

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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 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 really 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.

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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, were 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 that 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.

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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. Over the course of the 2D sidescroller, 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.

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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 mini-games 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.

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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 baddies, 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.

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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 adds a solid online multiplayer option.

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The Conduit

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” (a.k.a. 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 number of different guns against both human and inhuman foes.

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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 over the course of 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.

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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.

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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.

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Punch-Out!!!

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. It should come as no surprise that the Wii’s unique control scheme works like a charm here, allowing players to “stick and move” their way through matches, earning “stars” by timing their punches correctly before spending the stars to use more powerful abilities. “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.

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WarioWare: Smooth Moves

The Wii is known for being a great party console, and WarioWare: Smooth Moves is evidence of that. Players compete in a series of extremely short (like, less than ten seconds) “microgames” that range from frying food to shaving a man’s mustache, loosely connected via threads of story and (often hilarious) introductions. Smooth Moves is one of the weirdest games you’ll ever see, but it’s extremely simple and extremely addicting, and perfect for non-gamers to pick up and play. Speed is the name of the game here, and players will often find themselves holding Wiimotes at awkward angles to try and fulfill whatever odd objective the game presents. Some of the microgames even offer fun references to other Nintendo titles.

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