Hello, and welcome to the SECOND installment of my blog-series where I’ll attempt to review every single (worthwhile) Wii game.
If you missed it, here is the link to the first entry (Best of 2006)
This blog is the second 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.
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).
The order of the following list is determined by IGN’s overall score–and don’t forget, you can click the header of each game to link to the IGN official review. I thought about doing my own scores–but it just seemed redundant. My reviews will indicate cases where my own view of the game differs from IGN’s score.
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.
2007: The Real Wii Launch Year
With a number of big name titles and some notable third-party support, 2007 was a strong first (full) year for the Wii, including a number of significant games that deserve a home on the shelf of any true Wii devotee. It was frustrating that we were forced to wait almost an entire year for an epic Mario title to grace the system, but for those in the know, there were a lot of really good games to get us by in the meantime.
Super Mario Galaxy (9.7)
This one needs no introduction. SMG(1) is an unforgettable, home-run, knock-it-out-of-the-park, once-in-a-lifetime type of game. It’s such a good game that Nintendo broke with tradition and released a direct sequel on the same platform–using identical architecture and gameplay– . . . and the sequel is even better than this epic first installment. Taking cues from previous 3D Mario games including M64 and Sunshine, Galaxy feels like the launch title we should have gotten alongside Wii Sports. With an enormous amount of content and even some notably steep challenges for completionist gamers who collect every last star, Galaxy shines in so many ways that it must truly be played to be understood. Though the framing narrative is too childish, and the hub world struck some as needlessly confusing, these minor pitfalls do nothing to diminish Mario’s shining star. Galaxy will invoke the same kind of nostalgia that Mario 64 does for an older generation. It’s a must-have for any Nintendo gamer, and I’d doubt that there are very many Wii owners who don’t already have it in their collection. For a character with the most games (and household recognition) of any video game hero, Galaxy stands out among Mario’s very best.
Though it puts me at odds with the majority of Nintendo fanners, I can admit that I wasn’t crazy about MP3. My complaints were partly due to a sense that the Prime series was getting repetitive, and while I could appreciate the symmetry of a complete trilogy, I wasn’t too thrilled to don Samus’ FPS helmet one more time. You’d be right to compare my feelings toward MP3 to my negative reaction to Twilight Princess. . . sometimes even the most devoted Nintendo player wishes that the Big N would go to greater lengths to reinvent their franchises (as opposed to endlessly rehashing them). Specifically, I found MP3’s combat to be far too easy (I went through the entire game with an insanely low number of deaths) but worse, the 3D map system was so confusing and difficult to use that it caused me to quit playing the game for months at a time. Still, the game looks incredible, controls very well (other than that f^%king map) and rounds out the trilogy in serious style. I was pretty tired of the formula, but most fans went apeshit–and I respect your opinions. It’s commonly cited as one of the best on Wii, though anyone who hasn’t yet played it might as well just spring for the complete trilogy disc and see what all the fuss is about. There’s no doubt it’s a great game.
Dedicated fans of the Wii (or my previous blog posts) already know how awesome this point&click puzzle/adventure was. One of the great original IPs for the Wii, Z&W ranks among the most underrated titles on Nintendo’s latest console. If you haven’t played it, do yourself a favor, and check out my blog here (scroll down for the Zack & Wiki content). No need to rehash it all in this post. It’s an incredibly cool point-and-click puzzler with a ton of charm and worthy moments. Sadly, Z&W is very unlikely to ever get a sequel, so this may be the one chance you’ll ever have to meet this bizarre pirate-and-flying-monkey pair of treasure hunters. The game isn’t without it’s problems (occasional flaky controls make for some frustrating deaths), but the positives of this unique and challenging puzzle adventure far outweigh the occasional flaws. Click through to my previous blogpost, and once I’ve convinced you, go buy a copy.
Resident Evil 4 (9.0)
The definitive version of the GameCube hit. For me, this one was a mixed bag of emotions–I’d already played the hellout of my GC version (there’s no doubt that it was one of the GC’s best titles), so there didn’t seem to be much reason for purchasing it again. Yet, I give major applause for Capcom’s decision to re-release it with updated Wii motion controls . . . for anyone who hadn’t already crapped their pants at the sound of the unforgettable chainsaw, take a memo: RE4 is a high point for the entire series–many think it’s the best RE, hands down–and I’m sure thousands of people hold this Wii port in the highest regard. If you’re like me, its been a few years since you played through RE4, so it might be about time to pick up a copy of this truly legendary game.
Super Paper Mario (8.9)
If I were to summarize my feelings on SPM in a single sentence, I’d say, “Cute game, but far too easy”. If you gave me another couple sentences, I’d want to ask, “What happened to the RPG elements that define the Mario&Luigi games? And what about the truly-epic Thousand Year Door?” It’s gonna make me sound like a hater, but one of the most irksome things for me was the widespread praise from fans and critics, all of whom were seemingly unaware that SPM represented a step backward for an otherwise great series. Though I played all the way through the game–and had a reasonably good time doing so–I felt like I was the only one wondering why this beloved RPG/platformer/adventure series had taken such a sharp turn toward the casual market. Sure, it looked great, and sure, it attempts to capture the wit and humor of earlier installments, but I can’t help but feel that SPM was the weakest Paper Mario/Mario RPG installment to date. This isn’t to say it isn’t a good game with a lot of polish and reliably Nintendo quality–it is. SPM is a fine introduction to the “flat mario” concept, but for older gamers looking for more depth and challenge, try the GameCube’s Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (soooo awesome) or any of the DS Mario&Luigi titles.
Guitar Hero III (8.6)
At the time, it was great, though has been long surpassed by multi-instrument/microphone/dj table madness. I missed this episode at its launch (though I’ve dabbled with it in subsequent years)–I was still rolling my eyes over plastic instrument madness when III rolled around. It’s the game that exposed hundreds of thousands of people to the core concept of shredding-as-a-game, and will always have a distinct spot in the larger gaming pantheon. I’ve heard that this episode is also one of the hardest in the entire series, so challenge-seeking gamers may well want to revisit this early installment. I don’t think I need to go into much more detail on this one–you’d have to have been living in a cave . . . on the MOON . . .with your fingers lodged solidly in your ears. . . to not know about Guitar Hero. ‘Nuf said.
Medal of Honor Heroes 2 (8.4)
8.4 is a decent score for any game, but especially for an FPS on Wii. I’m not the world’s most avid FPS gamer (or WWII buff), though make no mistake, I’ll occasionally call off sick from work if I’m really into one (2010‘s Goldeneye 007stole about 150 hours of my life, so I’m not totally imune). Bozon’s enthusiastic IGN review gives the game high marks in critical areas including a steady frame rate and one of the earlier instances of a fully customizable control layout for the FPS-friendly Wiimote. He even awards lofty praise to this early incarnation of online Wii gaming, with MoHH2 supporting up to 32 players in a quality competitive experience. Matt Casamassina even weighs in to compare the experience of MoH with the quality found in Metroid Prime 3. Now that’s saying something. Unfortunately, none of my friends picked this one up, but having re-read the IGN commentary, I’m starting to think I might need to squeeze a little time in with this one, even if the FPS genre has been pretty much done to death.
Mario Strikers Charged (8.3)
This game is in my top 5 Wii games, period. I’m betting many of you have never played it. Me? I’ve played hundreds of hours of local multiplayer against close friends. I have a poster of the game on the wall next to me, and I modified the tap on my kegerator to feature an image from the game. Now I’m here to tell you that the selling point for MSC is it’s surprising depth and subtle complexity–much more than one might expect from a simple cartoon soccer game. The basic roster of players includes character balances and skills that can be twisted and rejigged into a wide variety of team styles and offense/defense strategies. The captains (Mario, Peach, WaLuigi, etc) bring brash superpowers and a variety of basic skills to the field. If I was to compare it to another Wii title, I’d mention Super Smash Brothers: Brawl. Though not in the same league, anyone who can appreciate the finer distinctions between fighting styles, defensive moves, knockback, ranged attacks and the like . . well, MSC is a humbler version of Smash on a soccer pitch. Beyond mere multiplayer (local or online), it’s also got one of the hardest single-player seasons that I’ve ever beaten in any game. Next Level Games–the same folks who brought you Punch Out!! for the Wii (and who are currently developing Luigi’s Mansion 2 for 3DS)–were behind this one, and it’s been added to the Nintendo Selects library ($19.95 new), so you should buy with confidence. It still holds up 5 years after launch. For those who are interested, here’s a link to a great interview with the designers of the game. But if you haven’t played it, stop reading, back away from the computer, and go buy a copy. Now.
Warioware: Smooth Moves (8.2)
This was actually one of my first games that I owned for Wii. As a result, almost all of my friends and family have fond memories of it, and still regularly request me to bring over “that one with the funny games where you pick noses and swat flies and stuff”. W:SM was a great way for me to be introduced to the Warioware series–I’d never bothered to check one of these out before (I’d assumed they were aimed at little kids). Although I was able to “beat” the main game in a very short amount of time (unlocking every challenge within a matter of mere days), the appeal of Smooth Moves isn’t the single player mode–its the party game madness. Though the game suffers from the classic “unlockable” flaw (you’ll need to complete single-game challenges before opening the dual-player mode–I was reminded of this terrible design decision when I accidentally deleted my save file), once you’ve got everything open, the game becomes a veritable symphony of good old fashioned fun. The bonus challenges are excellent (I never expected to get addicted to a game where you swat a ping-pong ball through an ascending tower, or balance piles of blocks on a serving tray), and the various competitive modes are simple yet entertaining. I definitely wish the game included slightly more minigames (I’d say there are about 100, but either way, I could stand many more), but the offbeat humor and style are so excellent, I consider W:SM to be an essential part of a truly complete Wii library.
I wouldn’t consider myself an apt reviewer for a Fire Emblem game–tactical RPGs aren’t my cup of tea–so anyone who wants a full review of the game should click through to Bozon’s review. To summarize, Bozon weighs the pros and cons of this game–one that could have appeared on GameCube with no changes whatsoever–and concludes that the RD experience is worthwhile and engaging, though this episode fails to innovate or update the series in any way. I’ve always liked the idea that characters, when killed in FE games, die forever–yet this attractively hardcore aspect isn’t enough to override my general dislike of the genres (it’s just a little too slow and time-consuming for my standard tastes). I’d welcome any supplementary reviews from fans of the series–I’d gladly some’s review in this space, since I never played it, and probably never will. I’m going to give the FE series another try on my 3DS ambassador copy of the GBA episode, but I’m not expecting any tectonic shift in my opinion. As I’ve said elsewhere, and will surely say again, “to each their own”!
Geometry Wars: Galaxies (8.0)
Geometry Wars isnt the deepest title you’ll ever play on Wii, but if you (like me) are a fan of classic arcade-style experiences, you’ll probably think this cool game is worth every penny (especially since used copies run for around 8$ at GameStop). I personally thought GW:G was awesome. The game will remind you of every asteroids-style knock off you’ve ever played, but it does everything better and more brazenly. The graphics are simple, colorful and perfectly designed, the gameplay is frantic and white-knuckle-inducing, and the difficulty ramps at a fair and demanding pace (aspiring to and eventually matching the ridiculous expectations of old arcade standups). The upgradeable “drone” adds strategy to every battle (players need to figure out which of the drone’s varied skills are best for countering a specific onslaught) and the sheer amount of levels means that even the best gamers will be playing GW:G for many hours. My own disc got irreparably scratched and unusable, so I look forward to picking up another used copy and continuing my battle against the legions of geometric baddies.
I know, I know–it’s an on-rails “Zapper” title, lacks a “number” behind it’s name, recycles content, and it’s nothing like the other entries in the series (in terms of control and play action). Yet, on the other hand, Umbrella Chronicles offers co-op multiplayer, great graphics, and for those who care, greatly expands the RE backstory, plot, and character biographies. Imagine a mix of high-octane on-rails FPS mixed with the classic Resident Evil narratives, and you’ve got the recipe for UC. The fun is best when shared with a buddy, though most players will find the game to be far too easy when playing as a team. Even as a single player experience, finishing the game isn’t incredibly difficult. The real challenge (and it’s a doozy) lies in achieving a hallowed “S” (superb) rank on all boards. You’ll need to pull of headshot zombie kills while being swarmed from all sides, simultaneously hunting down hidden items and extra ammo if you want to be the best of the best–therefore, even good players will need to make a few attempts at every level. I actually found the game to be a great deal of fun, though perhaps I’m just a softie for anything RE-oriented. And who doesn’t enjoy a bit of raucous zombie blasting on a Saturday night? Pass the Doritoes man.
Matt Casamassina reviewed this one for IGN, and his review comes across as fair-minded and cautiously positive. I’ve played Armageddon on a friend’s console a few times, and I can’t really offer much in the way of review. Having played MKII more than almost any other game in my life (though SNES MarioKart comes close), I know better than to pass quick judgement on a fighter with as many characters and likely subtleties as this pinnacle Kombat title. I generally enjoyed the few times I’ve played it, but the motion controls included with the Wii version left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied, in spite of the fact that Casamassina seems to give them positive marks. I’d personally recommend the classic controller for a more legitimate experience. In fairness, I acknowledge that my days of memorizing slews of secret moves and combo attacks are behind me (at least for now)–and as a result, I didn’t play enough Armageddon to even master a single player, much less the entire roster. The painful fatality–for the Wii version–is the lack of online support (a feature included on other platforms). Therefore, gamers with an itch to dismember friends will probably opt to play elsewhere, but for the die-hard Kombat+Wii fan, this one is worth a look. It’s not bad at all. . . it’s just not perfect.
Another look at Mortal Kombat: Armageddon by CharbroiledEwok
One of my all-time favorite games in the Mortal Kombat series is MK Trilogy, for the N64. Armageddon continues in the spirit of that beloved game, albeit with a few hiccups along the way. While offering a solid brawler for fans of the Wii console (including every character and several locations from past titles), the game falls regrettably short due to a lack of online support, the superfluous inclusion of unresponsive gesture controls, and the removal of traditional fatalities (in favor of generic dismemberment/stage fatalities). Still, the game can be played with the Classic or GameCube controller, the modes and unlockables are diverse and plentiful, and it’s sure to satisfy the bloodlust of any Wii owner looking for the frenetic fun the series is known for. My score: 7.5
Manhunt 2 (7.7)
Both IGN reviewers zero in on the fact that this sequel is simply not as good as the original game. Matt Casamassina, however, recommends the Wii version over the competing systems based on better graphics (!?!) and clever implementation of motion controls. Jeff Haynes, on the other hand, sounds fairly disappointed with both the Wii version as well as the game in general. It’s a Rockstar title, so most gamers can imagine the sort of sandbox-style, commit-horrific-act-then-flee-from-pursuit style of game that Manhunt 2 likely is. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’ve never played it, and the mediocre review has always kept me from laying down cash on this gory stealth/slasher game. But every time I revisit the IGN review, I can’t help but feel a bit intrigued by Wii’s adoption of a ultra-M-rated series that focuses on tearing countless victims to shreds. The IGN editors drive home the point that the game’s AI is unforgivably stupid, but that the sound effects and Rockstar-style atmosphere are enveloping and entertaining. I don’t know. On one hand, it seems like there are a lot of better titles to spend our time playing, yet Manhunt 2 is sort of a lone wolf of a Wii game, so it might be good for some players. Your choice.
If you take a look back at IGN’s own review of this one, one of their primary complaints has been eliminated thanks to the passage of time–you can grab this game for almost nothing in the used bin. At the time of it’s debut, PoP:RS was priced at $50, though the (virtually identical) GameCube version was available for only $20. Since then, much sand has flown through the hourglass, and now the Wii version can be picked up for less than that. Unfortunately, the other primary complaint of the IGN team is still as relevant as ever–if you played Two Thrones on GC, you’re just getting the same game with new (motion-based) controls. And apparently, the mapping of a dual-analog game to Wiimote/Nunchuck is an awkward transition. Still, reading through the IGN review (for what must be at least my 10th time), I still want to get ahold of this title–I never played it on Wii, and Prince of Persia is almost always a great deal of fun (film adaptations not withstanding). Money where my mouth is: I just checked my “to buy” list and saw it’s still listed there. Let me know if I’m wrong to be interested. (Postscript: I picked up a different Prince of Persia game for Wii (Forgotten Sands) and would probably recommend it over Rival Swords).
Link’s Crossbow Training (7.0)
A surprisingly awesome, if VERY short, pack-in game with the Wii Zapper. Much like Wii Sports, I feel as though IGN’s score fails to truly capture the fundamental fun factor you’ll discover in this tiny, entertaining little game. I’m definitely not the only person hollering for a sequel . . . for more on that, check out my diatribe here: Unoclay’s Demand for a sequel to LCB. Indeed, every time I’ve ever brought this game up with other Wii owners, the praise is almost universal–it’s not as casual as Wii Sports, it’s got Twilight Princess tie-ins, and it’s just a satisfyingly fun little shooting gallery that ends before it really gets a chance to shine. No doubt, they should sequel this game for the Wii U, and sell another bazillion zapper attachments (that will never be used again). We’ll still buy it. On the right, you’ll see a fictional game box created by Gamesradar. This is a snip from their hilarious article, Nine games that could break our hardcore gamer hearts. In spite of their opinion, I’d actually love a game like this!
I’m not a “Sonic” guy. That said, I’m including this one for the legions of Sonic Nation. The score isn’t terribly good, but reading through IGN’s review, I get the sense that a hardcore hedgehog fan would probably want to include this one in their final collection of Wii games, even if it isn’t one of the entirely best representation of the blue blur. I’m glad to have CharbroiledEwok’s review to include, because myself . . . I stopped playing Sonic games somewhere around 1994 when I sold my 2nd-and-last Genesis to get money for SNES games. Mario’d!
- Another look at Sonic and the Secret Rings by CharbroiledEwok:
Two words spring to mind when I think of this game: wasted potential. It’s not a BAD game, per se, but you’re unlikely to ever complete it. I’m willing to believe that SatSR represents an honest attempt to simulate the thrill of the original 2D Sonic games (i.e., “Run THAT way, very fast!”), but haphazard level design, muddy controls, and an uncooperative camera will produce profanities from your mouth you didn’t even know you knew. In the beginning, you’ll enjoy the beautiful graphics and the RPG-lite character building, but towards the end, you’ll likely give up in frustration. My Score: 6.0
This is the game with the lowest score of my entire survey (all years). No matter what you thought of the game itself, the bundle pack was an excellent way to get that extra Wiimote (which you definitely needed for Smash Brothers competitions or Guitar Hero madness) so I’d argue that Wii Play earned it’s place in a top 100 list. It’s undeniably hilarious that Wii Play–thanks to that included Wiimote–is now technically one of the best selling games of all time. And though most of the minigames are forgettable (or outright sucked), the final unlockable app, “Tanks” (a two player game with many similarities to the Atari classic “Combat“), was a genuinely addictive multiplayer experience that captivated my neighbor and I for a surprising number of late night firefights. But why am I trying to convince anyone? You probably already own it.
Wii Game of the Year for 2007
Super Mario Galaxy. Sure, this is a no-brainer, but even in light of a sequel that equals or bests it, there is simply no way around it–SMG is an incredible game that belongs on every single gamer’s shelf. Whether or not you’re an all-exclusive Nintendo player (like me), or someone who flits from system to system depending on the day of the week and your gaming interests, SMG is a classic for all time, a game that sets (yet another) new standard for all games, regardless of platform.
Runner Up Wii Game for 2007
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. This is the place where you’ve got to give me credit as an unbiased reviewer–I didn’t even like MP3 very much, but I’m still willing to bow to popular opinion. For my money, there are better games (i.e. ones with more challenge and less back-tracking) to spend your money on, but people went ape-shit for it, and I hear ya–it’s an integral part of the core Wii catalog.
Most Underrated Wii Game for 2007
Mario Strikers Charged. Picking the “runner up” entry is more fun than the other categories (it gives me one last chance to crow about epic, overlooked games) , and in this case, it’s especially sweet since MSC is one of the games that will live forever in my own personal roster of “games I got a little too obsessed with”. Though you wouldn’t know it to look at it, I am here to tell you that the subtle challenge and character balance of this Next Level Games production is on par with far loftier titles (cough cough Brawl ahem) and has nearly as much replay value (for those willing to look for it). Even if you’re good enough to finish the single player campaign (severely doubtful), you and your friends will still be duking it out late into the wee hours, throwing controllers at each other and shouting obscenities as Dry Bones electrocutes your goalie, or a Hammer Brother flattens your entire defensive line. It’s an epic little piece of gaming history, and like so many, one best enjoyed with a friend. Try it, or forever hold your peace.
That’s it for 2007! As you’ve now seen, this year was a much more active year for the Wii compared to lackluster Wii launch schedule . The upcoming entries in this series are even larger (gulp!) 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. (Incidentally, since this site essentially functions as my archive of game-related writing, you may wish to check out my blog at IGN, where I get a very decent response and comments. The link for that is http://www.ign.com/blogs/unoclay1 . However, if you comment here, I’ll definitely respond. Thanks for reading.