Welcome to the third and final installment in our three part series featuring the best console exclusives of this generation. We end with what currently stands as the best selling system between the three, the Wii.
We’ve already learned that the Xbox 360’s exclusives were a touch lackluster. It’s not that it didn’t ever see wonderful exclusive titles, it’s that a lot of its exclusives were timed. They eventually jumped to other platforms, thus removing said exclusivity.
The PlayStation 3 had some absolutely wonderful software. It was actually tough to parse our list down to 10 great games, and we still aren’t even considering the stuff that’s not out yet.
Here we arrive at the Wii. The Wii is special because the games on it, for a while at least, couldn’t be played on any other system in the same way. That lead to a lot of interesting software. It also lead to a lot of crap, but this list isn’t about that stuff.
Here are 10 of our favorite Wii exclusives.
A Boy and His Blob
Nobody makes classic games relevant again like WayForward. The California based studio has been responsible for many great revivals over the years, primarily 2D platformers for Nintendo handhelds.
Their sole exclusive trip into the Nintendo Wii however blends their knack for gorgeous 2D visuals with the more family friendly image of the Nintendo.
A Boy and His Blob tells the story of a young boy who feeds his pet blob mysterious beans. These beans morph his pet into a wide array of objects which can help him overcome obstacles. Puzzles and wackiness ensue…
Not only does it update David Crane’s classic with a gorgeous and much needed makeover, but it makes the interface more usable. The NES game was developed by a master of the Atari 2600, and his knowledge of the advanced technology showed. The easy select menu screen makes all the difference in making it a more enjoyable game.
A Boy and His Blob didn’t walk away a huge hit or anything, and vanished into the mass of shovelware like a lot of other worthy titles in the Wii library. However, it speaks worlds about the Nintendo Wii’s surprisingly strong puzzle game library.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
The Fire Emblem series in America has been mostly a handheld success story, and the console games often go overlooked by all except the hardcore fans. Path of Radiance though was a huge critical success for the Gamecube, and many wondered if Intelligent Systems could carry the series over onto the more mainstream Nintendo Wii.
Radiant Dawn did just that. It successfully continued the tale of Path of Radiance into another generation of consoles. The difficulty didn’t change. The core gameplay didn’t change. Even the widely criticized visuals from Path of Radiance didn’t change.
Overall, it was the exact same package with not much more than a new narrative to set it apart from its predecessor. You either love or hate the Fire Emblem series, and that is more than enough to hold me over for a series to get a proper jump forward, which it did a few years later on the Nintendo 3DS.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
While The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess felt like a GameCube game with last-minute motion control mechanics (which is what it was), Skyward Sword was the true Zelda title we wanted on the Wii all along. Complete with MotionPlus support, Skyward Sword combined 1:1 sword mechanics with that Zelda flair we all know and love.
The art style of this game, though, is one of the reasons that I love it so much. Somewhere between the quasi-realism of Twilight Princess and the cartoon aesthetic of Wind Waker, Skyward Sword almost looks like a watercolor painting. It’s gorgeous, and it is still one of the most vibrant games on the Wii.
This isn’t the best Zelda game in my mind, but it’s definitely the best option on the Wii.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Just like the Nintendo DS original in the New Super Mario Bros. series, New Super Mario Bros. Wii did great work in resurging Nintendo’s love for the classic 2D genre. Sure, we might be just a tad tired of 2D Mario games right now, but the iteration on the Wii was nearly pitch-perfect.
One of the central themes with this list seems to be games that play well in groups. That theme carries on for New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In fact, this is one of the only games that I recently played all the way through in couch cooperative mode. That’s a dying genre, but Nintendo’s managed to keep it alive with a few of their titles.
Before the music and art assets grow too stale, remember New Super Mario Bros. Wii as being an awesome game. I do.
Rhythm Heaven Fever
And this is the part where I try and convince you that Rhythm Heaven Fever deserves a win over game like Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Rhythm Heaven Fever was an exceptionally game for both solo and group play. This flick and tap rhythm title was mesmerizingly simple and addictively difficult.
I dumped hours into mastering rhythm challenges in Rhythm Heaven Fever, and the fact that it was such a cleverly made and animated game lead friends and family to enjoy it as much as I did.
Beyond the senseless frustration of racing in Mario Kart Wii and the odd copy-and-paste design that was New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Rhythm Heaven Fever was a fun game that felt completely fresh and earned its spot as a fantastic Wii title. I love this game. A lot.
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Wii owners got this nice little treat at the peak of when the console’s image was suffering from being a little too casual friendly. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is the sequel to the lost Nintendo 64 game from Treasure which only recently made it stateside.
Treasure and their action games have never been known to take it easy on even the most seasoned of gamers, and this hellride is no exception. Treasure makes masterful use of the Wii-mote in piloting the gunners through each of the games 8 bullet-hell stages.
Never mind the ridiculous narrative. Nobody can make sense of that mess, but then again, that is also a staple of all Treasure games. This is a total visual and gameplay experience from beginning to end. It was a little too short to justify a $50 price tag for most gamers, but it is a steal for the $5 it can be found for nowadays.
Almost overnight, nobody had any more space to claim that Nintendo was a place where only easy games pop up. Star Successor put a quick stop to that idea.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
For my money, I consider Super Mario Galaxy 2 the best title on the Wii and, at the time of its release, the best entry in the Mario franchise since Super Mario World. The game that’s since come close is Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo 3DS.
Super Mario Galaxy was a strong game, but it was built with a lot of frustration and, seemingly, missing elements. Super Mario Galaxy 2 felt like a revision of the original, fleshed out and completed for the love of the game. It felt bigger, better, more rewarding and more playful.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 stands as my favorite game on the Wii, and I encourage anyone out there who has yet to give this offering a try to find a way to do so immediately.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Ever since this series got its start on the Nintendo 64, Smash Bros. has been one of Nintendo’s best in show. A fighting game built from a stable of Nintendo characters that mixes crazy skill with complete luck, Smash Bros. quickly evolved into one of the best party games in all of gaming.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is not my personal favorite in the series. That honor goes to Melee on the GameCube. Still, Brawl is easily one of the best games for the Wii.
Looking back on classic consoles, there are always games that you know will be played for decades to come. Folks still play games like Super Mario Bros., Halo: CE, Mario Kart 64 and Shadow of the Colossus. The same will be said for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Xenoblade Chronicles took the JRPG genre a step forward by making an evolutionary leap that actually makes sense for the genre. Many have tried their hardest to blend the free roaming exploration of Western RPGs with the focused path and mechanics of the JRPG, but none have come as close as Monolith Studios.
It’s a 100% streamlined experience with fast travel, no random battles and an easy combat system which perfectly balances fun with speed. There is no drag or needless backtracking, and it is a rare example of a JRPG which can back up its play time with the proper amount of content.
Best of all, none of this comes at the sacrifice of what makes the genre so popular, namely the story and characters. All of these great leaps in gameplay never come at the expense of classic Japanese storytelling tropes. A world created on the back of dueling titans, and kids with crazy fashion and exotic weapons set out to save the world. Good stuff.
In a strange twist of fate, Nintendo turned the tables on Sony and robbed them of the JRPG genre. The DS stole most of the good releases, and the Nintendo Wii walked away with the best of the generation.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
When many first saw the Nintendo Wii-mote for the first time, one of the first genres which came to mind was the point-and-click adventure genre. The DS had already seen a few decent attempts, so consoles were the next obvious destination.
It was an idea that never panned out as well as some would like, but we did get one charming little game. Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure took many of highpoints of the classics and tied them in with clever timing puzzles and brain-teasing boss fights.
What good is an adventure though without a story or a fun world to explore in? Zack and Wiki has that covered by taking its two titular heroes through a world of pirates, high skies and seas, and paradise beaches. Capcom has always been known for adding an extra layer of entertainment through its games’ presentation.
Unfortunately, the game tanked pretty horribly. Blame it on the new Wii market still trying ideas or the cutesy characters being released in the face of Marcus Fenix and Master Chief, but not a lot of people got around to enjoying Zack and Wiki. It should be cheap now. Get out there and try it.
Honorable Mentions: MadWorld, Little King’s Story, ExciteBots, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Mario Strikers Charged, Mario Kart Wii and Pandora’s Tower.