Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top Ten Nintendo Wii Games You May Not Have Heard Of

The Nintendo Wii is a system that I believe will be thought of more fondly in the future. As of right now it is a popular lightning rod for hatred from a certain sect of gamer. The main argument is that the console has a limited amount of compelling games. Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. It's almost as if these gamers only consider big blockbusters to be worthy of their attention and not the smaller, more niche software. This list focuses on the latter. These are titles that not only received little to no publicity (except maybe outside of the occasional one page magazine advertisement), but these are ones that you may not even know exist! It's important to note that I obviously have not played every Wii game in existence, so if your favorite game that you believe no one outside of a small percentage of people have heard of isn't represented on this list, don't be offended. These are the games that I am most familiar with.

10) Go Vacation


Welcome to Kawawii Island, your virtual getaway destination with four specific resorts to explore and play around in: Marine, City, Snow, and Mountain. Go Vacation is essentially a mini-game collection that strives to be much more. For instance, the various resorts you visit act like a sandbox. You can find and participate in unique activities like ATV races, jetski competitions, tennis, equestrian games, scuba diving, skydiving, skateboarding, mini golf, and many more. Some activities control better than others, but the majority of them exude plenty of entertainment.

Journeying across the four resorts offers plenty of opportunities for exploration including uncovering hidden treasure chests that contain gear for your avatar character, photo ops, missions to complete, and other optional tasks. The game focuses heavily on customization as well. You can earn silver keys from finishing off all challenges for a specific activity to unlock different types of furniture for your villa. From getting your interior decorator on with villa creation to personalizing the look of your in-game avatar, there's plenty of room to show off your creativity. Then there's the clean presentation of the game and the absolutely infectious music. Sometimes soothing, sometimes something from 80s pop, it all sounds terrific. Go Vacation sold relatively well in Japan - it even received an Iwata Asks segment. Unfortunately, the sales didn't carry over to North America.

9) The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces


From the team behind the Ace Combat series, Project Aces made a companion game to The Sky Crawlers anime movie. As you can probably guess since Project Aces is aboard, the high flying dogfight-ing turmoil of Innocent Aces is quite high. Whether your mission is to obliterate all enemies from the sky, take out specific targets, or defend a supply freighter or friendly base, you have a heap of aerial action to satiate your thirst for high octane heroics. There are several plane types that you are assigned to using on special missions that add some artificial difficulty to the game, such as having to use a horrible to maneuver aircraft in Senryu to save your squadmates with a panic-inducing strict time limit to boot.

The difficulty is uneven throughout the game, but overcoming it yields great rewards as the gameplay is just so brilliant. Taking down enemy fighters with TMC moves or Tactical Maneuver Commands allow you to shoot down foes effortlessly and while doing so in style. Primary and secondary weapons for each aircraft offer alternative methods to achieve your quota for destruction. Apart from the flying, you might find yourself just soaring around the skies freely just to marvel at the magnificent music and surrounding locales. The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces released at the price point of $30 USD, so it is bound to be even less now.

8) Kororinpa: Marble Mania


Following the lead of Sega's Super Monkey Ball series, Hudson Soft's Kororinpa: Marble Mania has players tilting and rotating the Wii remote to maneuver the simple-at-the-start, complicated-later-on levels of the game. It sounds like child's play, but things become much more challenging later on down the line when a player has to deal with moving platforms, narrow pathways, and an abundance of rail-free sections of levels. The object of each Kororinpa level is to collect all of the colored crystals to unlock the goal which the player must then reach. There are over 50 unique levels in the game to become victorious on as well as to master. Players earn trophies based on their time besting a level, either gold, silver, or bronze.

After a round of levels has been completed, players are whisked away to new level types with different environments. From tranquil gardens to sickening sweet confectionery delights to roll your marble on, there's no shortage of locales to be had. Unlockable marbles each with their own stats and secret, much more arduous levels add to the replay value of the game. A sequel would be made called Marble Saga: Kororinpa, which would allow players to devise and create their own levels. The reason I chose the original Kororinpa is because that of the two games, Marble Mania is considered the rarer of the two, thus giving it more of chance that many haven't heard of it.

7) Dewy's Adventure


After a near launch title for the Wii in Elebits (which one could argue deserves to be on this list as well) was completed, the development team began work on a totally different project and new intellectual property starring a dew droplet appropriately named Dewy. Dewy's Adventure follows the cutesy water droplet as he tries to abolish the threat of Black Water from the land. The game uses the Wii remote held horizontally and has players tilting it to move Dewy around. Sometimes it can feel like you're sliding him around like butter on a hot skillet, but more often than not this works.

Dewy isn't your ordinary living droplet of water either. He has the power to affect the weather. Many times these powers allow him to advance in the various worlds and levels in the game by solving puzzles and taking down large groups of baddies. He can create strong winds that put some foes to sleep. He can summon disastrous earthquakes to destroy boulders in his way, and he can turn to ice to freeze bodies of water, allowing Dewy to cross them without worry. Experimenting with Dewy's various forms is always recommended for when players reach a dead end. I proudly have my Dewy pre-order plushie presented on one of my shelves. I know the game did not receive its fair share of fanfare - and Konami is much less willing to risk money in unsure ideas - but I would love to see Dewy return to the gaming landscape.

6) We Love Golf!


At its outward appearance, We Love Golf! is a standard fare Japanese-centric golf game containing an abundance of colorful anime-esque characters and bright and cheery courses. Delving more inside the core of the game, you realize that We Love Golf! is a remarkably deeper and more rewarding game than you first realized. Tournament mode puts players against a field of 29 names who all vie for the spot of number one as they play 18 holes of a given golf course. The player with the best score at the conclusion of 18 holes is deemed the champion. There are three difficulties with regards to Tournament: the regular Tournament, the more sloped greens and tougher conditions of the Pro Tournament, and the agonizingly challenging Mirror Tournament.

At the start of the game, your choices of courses and golfers are limited, but by the end of the game you have eight courses (not including the three short courses) and a dozen or so bland golfing personalities (though the personality problem is lessened when you unlock Capcom-themed costumes for your characters such as Apollo Justice, Arthur from Ghost 'n' Goblins, and Chun-Li of Street Fighter fame). Unfortunately, I can only imagine that the publisher of the game, Capcom, was banking on Nintendo fans buying the game solely because Camelot developed it. This did not happen. Even with its addicting and rewarding gameplay, bounty of unlockables, online play, and clever course design, We Love Golf! was mightily overlooked and uncelebrated by Wii owners. In fact, I surmise that more Wii owners know of Super Swing Golf than Camelot's wonderful golfing game.

5) Sin and Punishment: Star Successor


I hesitated to put this game on the list because it has been the subject of a metric ton of sales, usually putting the game around the extraordinarily-worth-it five dollar price point to pick up. The original Sin and Punishment released on the Nintendo 64, but it was only available in Japan up until the game came out on the Wii's Virtual Console service in late 2007. The game was 100% true to the original game. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is the first sequel of that Nintendo 64 classic and the first to get a retail release in the west. Players take on the role of either a boy or a girl in this 3D shoot 'em up. Players zoom in and out of areas, bombarding baddies with blasts and melee attacks to send their shots back at them, and battle big bosses with most levels consisting of multiple encounters with more powerful creatures.

This Treasure-developed game rewards players with not getting hit by increasing their score multiplier. Some serious scoring can be done if one doesn't lose their multiplier by taking damage. Scores can even be compared online on the leaderboards, so it's great to literally shoot for number one. If you don't like aiming by pointing at the screen with the Wii remote (why you wouldn't is beyond me), you can opt to use a GameCube controller or use the Classic Controller. From discovering a boss's weak point to the adrenaline rush of carefully dodging a flurry of fiery shots, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is a terrific title. It's just a shame that Nintendo of America let it slip through the cracks instead of letting people know more about the game. That notwithstanding, I guess we should be glad they even decided to localize the game, judging by their recent history.

4) Fishing Resort


Fishing Resort was developed by Prope, a studio founded by Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka.While his games after leaving Sonic Team and Sega have not been significant sellers, the originality and quality of each game has been pretty much all top-of-the-line. Speaking of lines (at least in regards to fishing lines), Fishing Resort puts players on a vacation-like island full of different locales. Fish in the steamy jungle, go ice fishing on the island's tall glacier mountains, or just relax by the beach for some good ol' fishin' fun. The actual fishing has players casting the line with the Wii remote and reeling fish in by performing circular motions with the nunchuk. It can feel like an exercise when one is trying to nab something as ferocious as a ten-foot barracuda!

Also, there are twenty or so fishing-related mini-games such as casting one's line to fall within a target with varying scores based on how close they reach the bull's eye. In addition to the mini-games, players can also strive to catch the hundreds of fish types to add to their collection or give to the local aquarium. There's even online leaderboards as well as local play for up to four anglers to try to determine who is the top fisherman. The customization is also very nice, allowing players to dress up, equip themselves with the best bait and rod for the right occasion, and personalize themselves as they see fit. Fishing Resort released late last year (with or without a special peripheral), and it sort of got away from most gamers like a tough-to-catch fish.

3) Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy


Based off the game by Kenta Cho, Tuniki Fighters, Blast Works' gameplay is a 2D shoot 'em up with a twist. Destroyed enemies can attach themselves to the player's ship, allowing them to act as either extra protection or even extra offense. For example, if a defeated enemy with a cannon falls onto the player's ship, it will intermittently fire at foes as long as it is in commission. This gameplay element serves as something refreshing for a game that might be considered stale without it. But then these people who might consider it stale otherwise haven't met the exhaustive editing tools Blast Works possesses. Players can build their own fighters, enemies, buildings and other architecture for backgrounds, and design their own levels. Or, if one lacks the creative touch to design something wholly original, they can edit already created assets and add a personalized touch to them. These creations could be shared on the official Blast Works site and be shared via the seldom used WiiConnect24 function. Blast Works is like the LittleBigPlanet of shoot 'em up games with a ton of customization and the gameplay to back it up. For twenty dollars (USD) at release, the game was a brilliant bargain. It still is today.

2) The Munchables


Alluding to another one of Namco Bandai's games, Katamari Damacy, the goal of each level in The Munchables is to try to grow your hungry mascot as large as possible. The main attraction to The Munchables is to gobble up enemies. Each level, you start fresh. A predetermined size is given to you at the beginning of a level. Your size is indicated by a level number. You can easily eat up smaller enemies, but if an enemy has a higher level than you, your Munchable won't be able to fit its jaws around it. In this case, you have to attack the enemy so it will divide itself into smaller, lower level enemies. For each enemy you digest, you earn a meal point. These are totaled up at the end of the level to reward you a letter ranking based on your performance, up to an "S" ranking. In order to maximize your meal counter, you'll want to go to town on several space pirates in a row. The more you eat in a continuous manner without taking much of a breather, the higher the meal bonus you'll acquire. You can hold down the chow down button to charge at enemies with your mouth open for a relatively swift way to digest a myriad of adversaries.

There's eight worlds to complete, each with three stages. The third of which is always a boss battle against a food-related foe like a bad piece of broccoli or a sour attitude vine of grapes. Even after the game is completed, a mirror mode unlocks. Then there's unlockable costumes and secrets in each level to discover. The Munchables will no doubt satisfy your craving for something colorful and fresh. Additionally, The Munchables was so overlooked by gamers that SuperPhillip Central was actually the first place to review the game. That's saying something.

1) Excitebots: Trick Racing


In the world of Excitebots: Trick Racing, obtaining first place is not good enough to win. No, no. You have to win in style. By choosing one of many already unlocked or secret bot vehicles which range from a rat to a lobster, players speed through tracks strewn across the world and even in space. Through each of a given race's three laps, players must earn stars through doing a bevy of cool tricks and stunts such as spinning multiple times in midair, smashing into another vehicle, kicking a field goal through the uprights, scoring a soccer goal, knocking down ten bowling pins to achieve a strike, collecting a group of butterflies, playing the role of a daredevil and flirting with danger by passing through a narrow path surrounded by trees, and other incredible feats of amazement. For every successful trick or stunt a racer pulls off, they earn stars (a bonus of stars is rewarded to first place). The racer with the most stars at the conclusion of a race is determined the victor.

Excitebots is a tremendous arcade racer that will certainly get the adrenaline going. One might think that using the Wii remote to steer and perform tricks would be - for lack of a better word - tricky, but that honestly couldn't be more of a folly to believe. The racing feels absolutely sensational, and I couldn't imagine playing the game with a regular controller. The level of fun would be lessened. Excitebots: Trick Racing was released with no applause or recognition on its release - not even by Nintendo. It never even made it to Europe, sadly, so Europeans missed out on a stellar racer, though they did get to experience the launch game, Excite Truck, which Excitebots is a spiritual sequel of. Excitebots: Trick Racing is definitely worth a look as it has a remarkable sense of speed, action, entertainment, great online, and loads to unlock.

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The Wii library is so robust that there are plenty of other titles that I would have liked to have listed here but could not because of the ten game limit. I am referring to titles like A Boy and His Blob, Endless Ocean and its sequel, MySims Racing, Opoona, Zack & Wiki: Quest For Barbaros' Treasure, MLB Power Pros, and a wide assortment of others. The Wii truly has a tremendous library, given you take the opportunity to banish the preconceived notions of the system you might have and actually attempt to give the library a chance.

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