Hello, and welcome to the first installment of my blog-series where I’ll attempt to review every single (worthwhile) Wii game.
This blog is the first entry in a series. As we wait for Wii U to arrive, there remain plenty of great games we all missed out on (unless, of course, you’re a compulsive freak that has no life outside of video games). Hopefully, this year-by-year look at the Wii’s back catalog will help you identify some of the great games you missed, and give you one last chance to grab em before they’re buried by the next-gen Nintendo.
I’d initially planned this blog to launch as an all-inclusive, all-at-once entry (every year, game, and review . . . in one post) but quickly realized that NOBODY would be able to read the whole thing (the draft file is over 20 pages long). Accordingly, I’m going to split it up by years–and some years include so many games, they’ll probably need to be chopped into bite-sized posts.
Every review includes the IGN score and a handy link to IGN’s own review. All of the writing and reviews are my own unless otherwise indicated (thanks to CharbroiledEwok and Kyliemale for their awesome contributions).
I’m hoping that you readers find these posts useful. Please feel free to bookmark these posts for future reference–in the process of writing this blog, I’ve played a lot of great games that I originally missed, and encourage you to do the same.
2006: In The Beginning . . .
Though the Wii’s first year roster was very thin, we need to recall that the system only arrived in the USA on 19Nov2006. As a result, the list of worthwhile titles for 2006 is much shorter compared to other years. There is no doubt that Nintendo would have been wiser to launch with a larger selection of must-have titles. However, in the end, I think it all worked out for the best–most of us were too busy playing Wii Sports and Twilight Princess to notice anything else. There will be inevitable omissions from my list (Red Steel comes to mind), but my goal here is to give overviews of the “must have” titles for a given year, or describe the best games that busy players might have missed. Naturally, I’m going to cut some things out of consideration–but I welcome your comments and input on games I didn’t include here. Without further ado . . .
Wii Sports (7.5)
As thegame that sold literally millions of consoles and unseated Super Mario Brothers as the (technically) best-selling game of all time, IGN’s score strikes me as a bit low, which is why I’m giving it the lead-off position. This isn’t the format I’ll be following for the rest of this series (rankings are determined purely by IGN’s overall score), but for Wii sports, I’ll make an exception.
I can already hear the complaints, and I totally agree with some of them . . . Wii Sports isn’t the deepest title of all time, the sequel (Resort) includes more events and technical improvements . . . and yet . . . considering the mass-market appeal, I think it deserves a little bit more credit than an “average” 7.5 rating–don’t you? I mean, are you kidding me, IGN? Even IF we admit that the controls are flawed for some events, and even IF we (the SERIOUS gamers of the world) are tempted to look down our noses at this Holy Grail of Casual Gaming . . . Wii Sportsis simply an all-time legend. It’s the kind of game people will still remember in 20 years (the bowling game, by itself, sold millions of consoles) and will keep people–young and old–coming back to Nintendo, time and time again. Kind of like those little ole games about a mustached plumber-turned-koopa-hunter.
Twilight Princess (9.5)
Full disclosure , first things first. . . I didn’t love TP. At the time of it’s release, it struck me as a formulaic rehash of earlier Zelda games (IGN’s own review acknowledges this as a potential problem for TP). In honesty, I played about 10 hours and resold it without even getting close to the end. This isn’t a critique on Twilight Princess so much as an indicator of my feelings toward the franchise in general–I can’t deny that modern iterations haven’t innovated as much as I’d like. On the other hand, the vast majority of fans loved it, and I’ll gladly accept that my opinions are in the minority. Looking back on IGN’s review of TP, it’s comical to spot so many similarities with their recent reviews of Skyward Sword (which I did like) and to see (2006) IGN acting as an apologist for TP’s lack of 1:1 motion control swordplay. Yet for a game that is a GameCube port, TP definitely did a lot of good things that won’t be forgotten by Wii fans anytime soon–transformations into a wolf and the twilight world were highlights for any player, and the game had a more expansive world than it’s sequel. Regardless of personal opinions, the importance of a launch-day Zelda cannot be underestimated. Deserves a look from any self-respecting Nintendo fan.
Madden NFL 07 (8.5)
I never play realistic sport-sims (my last one was NHL ’94 for Sega Genesis). I’m sure plenty of fans were happy to see this one come to Wii, and the IGN review makes it sound like a worthy title for football fans. If any reader wants to offer a quick blurb, I can edit it into this placeholder. Otherwise, I’m basically including NFL 07 because the IGN score is high enough to make it stand out from the crowd. Also, since the Wii is pretty light on sport games in general (at least ones that don’t include Mario), we should at least remember there were a few true sport sims that might have appealed to some gamers. IGN’s review is receptive to the motion controls and the game in general. I wonder if the critics gave it higher scores due to a thin software launch (less competition to compare it against), but you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Rayman Raving Rabbids (8.3)
A good friend picked this one up. Wasn’t my cup of tea, but I could see the appeal. Generally entertaining and an early entry in the popular Wii-minigame pantheon. We drank some beers and played the Rabbids. I liked the concept, didn’t love the graphic style. The humor was a welcome aspect–not being too familiar with the Rayman/Rabbids universe, I didn’t know that they are entirely demented–yet there was something about the overall presentation of this one that I never loved–something about the way the graphics were rendered or something. Today, given that Wii is close to the end of it’s life-cycle and there are quite a number of mini-game collections available, I’m wondering if the IGN score for Rayman Raving Rabbids still holds up–I mean, an 8.3 puts it above a lot of really decent arrivals down the road. Yet with “like new” copies available on eBay for under $10 shipped, I’d say that even if time and competition dock a few points from RRR, it’s probably still worth it for any gamer who loves this offshoot of the Rayman universe. I know the Rabbids are an institution, so I must be missing something, and I’m sure I should give the game another chance. Hey, it was fun for a Friday night, and maybe another down the road.
Excite Truck (8.0)
A unique racing/action combo that was overlooked by too many players. The sequel, Excitebots: Trick Racing (2009) is even better (and equally overlooked)–and I tend to think that the sequel was released just to further capitalize on an engine/IP that was missed by most players. In any case, the game’s mechanics and concept are really worthwhile entertainments, and it’s sort of a toss-up whether a gamer should check out this original “excite” entry or the robotic-oriented sequel. Thanks to the NVC crew making frequent references to Excitebots, I was smart enough to add it to my collection–and then got hooked until I’d achieved gold-star ranking in every race. I’ve still never played Excite Truck, but considering how similar the game appears to it’s sequel, it’s almost certain to be a game with more depth than the box art indicates. Check out IGN’s review, compare it to my review of Excitebots below, and decide which version is right for you.
Let’s get this out of the way first: I’ve never played either of the Trauma Center games for the Nintendo DS. So, of course, this was my first experience draining tumors in a video game. I understand it’s a remake (with added content, Wii-specific controls, and a slightly updated presentation), but I can only review it according to my own limited exposure to the series. It’s an interesting cocktail of disparate genres: a hectic arcade-style mini-game collection realized through an absurd sci-fi/hospital drama. While it’s basically a good game (and an awesome premise), I’ve never actually finished it. I became too frustrated by the game’s reliance on trial-and-error and demand for unrealistic precision. I never got the hang of sewing a patient up, mostly because it had to be done QUICKLY (something I hope is rare in actual hospital settings). If the game had valued quality over speed, I wouldn’t have ranked so low in each scenario (or outright failed others). Too bad, because I always wondered what was up with the “GUILT” parasite, and would have liked to see how things wrapped up…My Score: 7.5
Call of Duty 3 (7.7)
The ratings are higher for COD3 on the other consoles, but for Wii console junkies, we were glad to have a reasonably acceptable (single-player) version of this installment. COD3 is one of those games that is tough to include in the “best of Wii” list–especially since the Wii version lacks multiplayer mode–but if Wii was all you played, it was still a game you probably wanted to get. These days, probably better to skip ahead to a different iteration. Still, I’m compelled to include COD3 in this list because the series is such an institution that there are sure to be players who absolutely need to play every episode, even if the Wii version is a little faulty. Plus, it’s not like the Wii has a million first-person shooters, so you might want to grab a copy (new, shipped, for around $10) on eBay and check it out. PS. I’m not including an image here–I’m betting you already know what COD games look like.
Metal Slug Anthology (7.2)
I never played Metal Slug in the arcades, but a friend brought this Wii anthology over to my house for a few nights of good time shoot-em-up action. I immediately understood why the series has enough episodes to warrant an entire collection–it’s a kick-ass Contra-style game with worthy cartoon sensibilities. I admit that I had some gripes with the presentation and other technical issues–I have a hard time seeing bullets and identifying threats vs. friendlies/background art, and some aspects of the porting process seem poorly handled (can someone explain to me why it’s so hard to add a second controller??)–but for a very low cost, the player gets a sizable bolus of affordable multiplayer action. Anyone who loves games like Contra will get a kick out of Metal Slug. The episodes play identical to a classic arcade experience, the sprite animation is entertaining (and far more cartoony than one expects from a war game), and the challenge-level is extremely high (we–two veteran gamers–have yet to make it through to the credits in any of the MS games). Not the most sophisticated or polished offering, but this is a heck of a lot of game for a very low price.
Wii Game of the Year 2006:
Wii Sports. Sure, Twilight Princess is the obvious choice, but I’m willing to stick my critical neck out for Wii Sports as the must-have title of the year. After all, the enormous success of the Wii is integrally linked to this amazing piece of gaming history. The entire world will always remember those first couple months of Wii bowling parties with your friends and family–including people who’ve never played (or enjoyed) a single other video game in their lives. Say what you will, but I don’t think that there’s any credible comparison between the importance of (one more) installment in a long-running franchise, and a game that shook the gaming world to its foundations.
Runner Up Wii Game 2006:
Twighlight Princess. Go ahead, get mad that I called it the “runner up”. Then get even madder that I sold my copy without even finishing it. ;’]
Most Underrated Wii Game 2006:
Excite Truck. It couldn’t compete with the likes of Zelda, Red Steel, and Madden, but it was a great formula and a worthwhile experience. And without Excite Truck, we’d never have gotten the even odder (but better) Excitebots.
That’s it for 2006! It’s easily the easiest year to review for Wii, given that the system was on the market for under two months before a new year arrived. The upcoming entries in this series are MUCH larger and will continue my attempt to cover EVERYTHING worth playing on Wii for those years.
I welcome your comments, corrections, and proposals for games I’ve forgotten to include. I’m just one guy, and I can only research and play so many games at a time.
Seriously, leave me some comments. It’s my favorite part of the whole “blogging” process.