Goodbye Wii, We Hardly Knew Yii
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Hello former Nintendo Power subscribers. It’s your trusty Nintendo Nerd again.
I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging duties lately because if you haven’t noticed there has been a hell of a lot of new Nintendo product out there for me to suck up through my eyeballs and into my heart. Specifically, the big N launched a new console recently that you may or may not have rushed out to buy. It’s called the Wii U and it’s a fancy new Mario-approved toy that have been hungrily devouring lately like a fat man coming off of a fast (something I also know a thing or two about). The system is already showing some serious promise with a collection of launch titles far better than we should have any right to expect. However, while savoring the delights of a new gaming generation, I couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic for my good buddy the Wii.
It’s hard to imagine that little record sales setting console is dead. It seems like me and my Wii were just getting to know each other. While the system received a healthy amount of bashing during its lifespan for the quirky, gimmicky nature of motion controls and the instantly dated graphics, developers always found ways to kick out the jams and create something special for the console every few months. So, as I wipe the tears from my eyes and prepare to send my Wii off the great Value Village in the sky (or just down the street), I thought I’d bid farewell to my former friend with a look back at my five favourite games on the Wii. We had good times lil’ Wii. Your Wii Shop brought back classics I hadn’t played in ages, got theme music stuck in my head, and gave me far too much credit card debt. Your fancy-pants controllers proved that I could in fact vegetate in motion. And your games…whoo boy, did I ever waste many hours. You’ll be missed, but thanks to these five brilliant pieces of entertainment, you’ll never be forgotten.
5) New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Ok, so New Super Mario Bros.Wii might not have pushed the limits of what the Wii could do and it barely even attempted to integrate motion controls. However, this game can lay claim to doing something really special. It brought back old school side-scrolling games to major consoles for the first time in decades. That might not sound like much, but keep in mind that there were generations of lil’ gamers out there who never experienced the sheer unadulterated joy of 2D platforming. The advent of 3D gaming rightfully made this form a thing of the past back in the N64 and PS1 days, but there was no need for it to disappear. 2D gaming was an art all its own and the sheer joy of that style of gameplay didn’t diminish in the GTA era.
New Super Mario Bros.Wii was an exciting experience with a few new additions like playing with up to four players simultaneously and using gyro controls for special jumps. But what made it special was all old skool (boyyyy!). The classic smooth as silk controls, the gradual increase in difficulty, and the variance of level design. Yoshi, Luigi, Bowser, Peach, the whole gang was back in an adventure slightly bigger than ever would have been possible in 8 or 16 bits. Be honest, the first time you faced a Godzilla sized Bowser your heart exploded and you felt 7-years old again. That’s an accomplishment people. Now, just imagine what actual kids felt while playing this thing!
4) Super Smash Bros. Brawl
We knew there would be a new Super Smash Bros. game for the Wii the second the system was announced. Then the game got a release date and another and another. It kept getting delayed and players began to wonder if it could possibly live up to the expectations. Oh boy, did it ever. Super Smash Bros. Brawl might be a fighting game, but it’s also one of the deepest games ever released on the Wii. Over a year after I bought the game, I was still unlocking levels, items, and characters by surprise. This was a game that had a full-length, satisfying platforming beat em’ up featuring all the characters with an epic story and expensive cut scenes that were considered bonus features! That was a fantastic game in and of itself and most people who bought Brawl never even played it.
There’s a simple reason why, Smash Bros. Brawl is one of the best and deepest fighting games ever made. The roster of fighters was massive, combining virtually every recognizable Nintendo character imaginable (including franchises that hadn’t existed in decades) and added Sonic and Snake for good measure. Sure the online system was pretty well non-functioning, but Smash Bros. has always been a party game and I can’t even imagine how many friendships were made and ruined over this obscenely addictive beat em’ up. This game proved that Super Smash Bros. wasn’t just a franchise of fan service, it was a deep and challenging fighting game in its own right and one of the finest examples of the genre in its generation. Well played Nintendo, well played.
3) No More Heroes 2
There weren’t that many M rated games on the family friendly Wii, so the few that existed had to fight extra hard to suck in the hardcore crowd. No one did it better than Suda51 with this absolutely insane action classic. It felt like peeking into the superstar gaming director’s brain and finding all of his pop culture and video game obsessions combined in one grand parody/homage to 30 years of geek culture. Anime, Star Wars, Grand Theft Auto, 8-bit brain busters, 70s exploitation movies, toilet humor, you name an adolescent obsession and Suda51 crammed it in here somewhere.
The first No More Heroes was a blast to play, but some attempts to parody videogame tedium proved to be well, tedious (it’s funny to have to mow grass and pump gas for XP the first time. Not so much the second or thirtieth time). Part two eliminated that by making the mini-games all brilliant 8-Bit homages to tickle your gaming nostalgia before plunging you into next-gen slaughter in the main story. Lucasarts never delivered on the obvious concept of a lightsaber Wii game, so Suda51 made his own with assassin/layabout Travis Touchdown slashing and decapitating his way through the ranks of super-powered assassins with his own laser swords. Somehow swinging the Wiimote to chop a goon in half never got old and the story never ceased to top itself in…er…over-the-topness. This is the kind of game where a boss battle will suddenly turn into a Power Ranger-style giant robot fight for no reason. You just have to laugh, accept it, and admit that you had never played a game this ridiculously silly and entertaining before. If you owned a Wii and never played No More Heroes 2…well…I’m sorry to say this, but you wasted your life.
2) TatsunokoVs. Capcom
This isn’t really a popular title and there are certainly more accomplished and ambitious games that maybe should have taken its spot. However, this list is dedicated to my personal favorite Wii games, and I can honestly say that I logged more hours onTatunokoVs. Capcom than any other game released on the system. Before Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 brought back one of the most fast-paced and exciting fighting franchises ever made, Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom offered that experience in a way I believed brought it to even more insane heights. This game was never supposed to come out in North America, but it was simply too good to be denied. The graphic limitations of the Wii meant that the 3D HD modeling of MVC3 was out and the old school hand-drawn spirit aesthetic of MVC2 was maintained. Sure, the Tatsunoko characters were barely known outside of Japan, but the Marvel Vs. Capcom aesthetic was always heavily influenced by anime anyways and those practically unknown animated icons were given a perfect introduction here.
The fights are fast and furious, allowing two characters per player (and amusingly a few giant characters so powerful that they stood in for two). Hardcore fighting game specialists had to pick up a classic controller for the old school controls, but I secretly always preferred the other option. The designers somehow came up with a way to play the game using only the two buttons of the Wiimote. Sure, at first you would just mash buttons and win against veterans by fluke. But over time, it was actually possible to fully control characters with only two buttons and a D-pad. I don’t know how they did it, but it worked brilliantly and intuitively. Though not exactly a bestseller, TatsunokoVs. Capcom is for my money one of the greatest fighting games ever made. If you love Marvel Vs. Capcom, it’s honestly worth buying a secondhand Wii just to play this game. Seriously people, it’s that good.
1) Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
As a card carrying Mario addict, there was really only one option to top this list. The Super Mario Galaxy games weren’t just the best titles to appear on the Wii, but it’s arguable that they are the greatest Mario games ever made. The pinpoint controls and massive 3D platforming of Super Mario 64 were matched, but it came in a gorgeous Wii-gen package. The perspective changing interplanetary gravity mechanics and visuals were extraordinary to behold and yet the games were never anything less than logical, intuitive, and easy to master. The games looked and played so well that despite the childish simplicity that they could be held up as examples of videogames as art. There may not have been any HD in these visuals, but I’d stack Super Mario Galaxy 2 up against any PS3 title for the best looking game of this generation.
Actually, you can go even farther than that. The Super Mario Galaxy games are amongst the finest games of their generation full stop. Everything that players have come to love about Mario over decades of titles remained intact along with new design and gameplay features that could only be accomplished on the Wii. The much mocked Wiimote and nunchuck combo was required to control Mario, but somehow it never felt awkward. These two games represent the purest form of videogame joy and I defy any gamer of any age to plop one of these discs into their system and not become instantly addicted. Sure Mario Galaxy 2 fixed a few problems that plagued the original and was a better game, but the original would probably still be the finest game on the system if the sequel never existed. These things were so good that I desperately hope the series continues on the Wii U. Chances are Nintendo have bigger and better plans for their next 3D Mario game, but I honestly can’t even imagine how to top this series in design or gameplay. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2are videogame masterpieces, people. It was worth the Wii existing just to play these two games. Recognize.
Shaving this list down to five favourites was almost impossible for me. If some of your Wii favourites were missing from the list, I can assure you that I feel the same way and had to kill off some of my favourite Wii babies along the way. So, simply to clear my conscience, here are a few more Wii games that belonded on my favourites list, but were tragically bumped. If you own a Wii and have yet to play any of these titles, do yourself a favour and pick them up before they dissappear.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
The House Of The Dead: Overkill
The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Metroid: The Other M
Mario Kart Wii
Resident Evil 4
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
WarioWare: Smooth Moves