Judging by its increasingly slim release schedule – and the fact that Nintendo are hopefully set to launch the Wii U at the end of this year – it’s fair to say that Nintendo’s Wii console is approaching the end of its natural life. As a celebration – and a reminder that there’s still plenty of life in the old dog yet – the entire games team at zavvi.com have voted for their favourite first-party Wii games of all time, and the results are listed below. There was only one rule: each game had to have been published by Nintendo itself. Keep an eye out for another top ten list – featuring the finest third party Wii titles – in the coming weeks, but for now, here is zavvi.com’s list of the ten best Nintendo Wii games of all time…
10. Pikmin 2
It may be a largely untouched port of an old Gamecube game, but Pikmin 2′s new control scheme makes it feel like it was always intended for play on the Wii. Regardless of that, it’s still one of the most disarmingly endearing games that Nintendo has ever made, but it’s never cutesy and isn’t shy about ramping up the challenge later on. The first Pikmin game felt like a bit of a trial run, but Pikmin 2 was (and is) the real deal. A fantastic experience then, and an even more fantastic one now.
Team Ninja are a developer known primarily for hardcore action games like Ninja Gaiden and Dead Or Alive, so Metroid: Other M’s emphasis on fast-paced, balletic action didn’t come as much of a surprise. But after Retro Studios’ (utterly) superb Prime trilogy, Other M was a thrilling return to the roots of Super Metroid. Endlessly inventive and featuring several clever nods to things like Star Trek and Aliens, Other M is definitely the most downright unusual Metroid game of them all… but is no less essential for it.
Unquestionably the most underrated game on this list, Pandora’s Tower is an action romp sprinkled with a few light (and very effective) RPG elements. It’s a masterpiece of economical storytelling, and whilst the difficulty palpably escalates in its third act, this is as perfect an entry-level RPG as the two Zelda games on this list are. Responsive combat, a surfeit of needless grinding (and exploration) and some of the zippiest load times on the Wii, if Pandora’s Tower ends up being your final appointment with Nintendo’s revolutionary console, it’s a frankly impeccable kiss-off.
There’s no question that the Wii-mote controls were unceremoniously shoe-horned into it, but after less than half an hour, that quibble vanished into complete insignificance. Twilight Princess felt like a forthright sequel to Ocarina of Time – replete with innumerable sly references to it – and was a step back into the tantalising darkness after the light-hearted and breezy Gamecube hit The Wind Waker. It’s still arguably the longest Zelda game ever made, but there is absolutely zero tiresome padding. A masterpiece of design and savvy craftsmanship.
A hardcore action RPG buoyed by its fantastic sense of humour, Xenoblade Chronicles was truly a game to lose yourself in. Set in a beautiful world that didn’t need HD visuals to make your eyes pop, and featuring gameplay dynamics that only existed so that you could incessantly toy with them, Xenoblade was an experience unlike any other. There’s so much content that it’s still hard to believe that it was ever contained on a single DVD disc, and critics didn’t call it the best JRPG of this generation for nothing. Extremely special, to put it very mildly indeed.
It was so easy to take Donkey Kong Country Returns for granted. A direct follow-up to those seminal SNES blockbusters, it did everything that Rare’s trio of classics did a little under two decades ago… and more. Fiendishly difficult in places but never frustrating, focused and straightforward but bustling with replay value, DKCR is one of the Nintendo Wii’s true unsung heroes. Its creators were allegedly one of the first development teams to receive a Wii U development kit last year, and we honestly cannot wait to see what they do with it.
Just knocked into the number four slot by its delectable successor, Mario’s first adventure in outer space simply has to rank as one of the finest games ever made… or one of the finest Mario games, at the very least. Pick just one of its many levels apart and you’ll find more bright ideas in it than several entire games put together – good ones, at that – and the sense of boundless cheer was exacerbated by one of the finest orchestral scores ever performed for a videogame. If you’ve never played Super Mario Galaxy, you truly have no idea what you’re missing.
Although the first Super Mario Galaxy was one of the greatest things that Nintendo has ever put its seal of approval on, hadn’t they exhausted all of that delectable universe’s possibilities in the wonderful first game? No chance. Even though it doesn’t have the shock-of-the-new on its side, this sequel is every inch as imaginative and charming as its predecessor. A pure, unwavering joy from start to finish.
The most streamlined and action-heavy Zelda game ever made, Skyward Sword boldly discarded those soft, between-mission interludes of hushed downtime that – for many – had come to define the series. The entire thing is essentially one gigantic dungeon, and for all of its narrative virility, Skyward Sword is simply a fantastic action game. Skyward Sword is also possibly Link’s finest hour, it features the true arrival of Princess Zelda as a three-dimensional character, and will almost certainly be Nintendo’s final killer app for the Wii. As denouements go, it is approximately faultless.
1. Wii Sports
The greatest console launch game of all time? Probably. Tennis – the most impressive part of the package, at first – may have lost most of its sheen over the years, but bowling and golf are still as fantastically entertaining as they were back in 2006. Overall it’s a package that countless developers have tried to improve upon – even Nintendo themselves – but few came anywhere near it. If the Wii U ends up being backwards compatible (as it’s rumoured to be) Wii Sports will probably end up being a reliable mainstay for the best part of another decade. An incomparable classic.
Honourable mentions…. Sin & Punishment 2: Successor of the Skies, Wii Sports Resort, New Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Wario Land 4, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Mario Party 9.
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Watch the trailer for Wii Sports below: