Friday, September 28, 2012

The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Two

I'm sure you read the title of this article and did a double take. Perhaps if you had a liquid in your mouth, you spit it all over your screen. Sorry about that. You might say to yourself, "The Wii doesn't even have ten games were playing, so how can you possibly list fifty?!" Well, this series of five articles is intended for such uninformed statements. You might look at a game on this list, and laugh. They might not all be AAA blockbusters, but a great game is a great game regardless of content or budget. Lots of people learned that lesson with the Wii and handhelds devices.

On this week's installment of The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games, we have a cornucopia of genres and franchises being represented. We have platforming, shooting, survival-horror, swordplay, and even some golf thrown in for good measure (yes, golf). Perhaps this second list of ten best Wii games will pique your curiosity and make you "dust off" that Wii of yours and try a game out you would never have known about otherwise.

Once again, I remind people that only North American releases will be listed here. Sorry, Fatal Frame, Disaster, and Pandora's Tower fans.

Super Mario Galaxy 2


Here we are, starting off with one of the best games of this generation, Super Mario Galaxy 2. The game was essentially a game based on the ideas that the developers of the original Galaxy couldn't fit into that game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 brought with it a stiffer challenge, basically heeding the calls of those who criticized the first game for its ease of difficulty in most levels. And if a certain level is too difficult to complete for a player, that player can use the Cosmic Guide function to have the computer play through the level for them. However, the player won't earn a regular gold Power Star, they will be stuck with a bronze Power Star until they have completed the level on their own. The game itself, much like its predecessor, had so much innovative and intelligent level design, great ideas like a level that changes with the beat of the music or a 2D level that switches gravity on the fly, and a fantastic soundtrack. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is definitely not as groundbreaking as Mario's first 3D adventure on Wii, but I would dare say that it is no doubt superior. It oozes perfection within its creative levels, tight gameplay, and constant surprises. If you own a Wii and don't own this game, you are doing yourself a major disservice.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars


I said it in my review that many said that Capcom localizing their seventh game in their popular Vs. fighting series, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, would not stand a chance of coming out legally outside of Japan. But with the help of Tatsunoko Production, Capcom was able to plow through the red tape and deliver the one of the greatest traditional fighting games of the generation. Multiple reviewers asked if the Wii was the right platform for the game, but then again, most of these people didn't and still don't view the Wii as a "real" gaming console (whatever that means), thinking the Wii didn't deserve "hardcore" games (how dare Nintendo steal our games!). Despite these doubts, Capcom has stated that the project was a success both critically, mechanically, and financially. Regardless, I enjoyed Tatsunoko vs. Capcom over Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the reason that the gameplay was accessible enough for fighting game tyros like me (it used three buttons for attacks), yet containing enough depth for fighting game veterans. The gameplay generally involved two teams of two duking it out along a 2D axis. The characters and backgrounds themselves were modeled in 3D. Many Wii owners, including myself, can't thank Capcom and Tatsunoko Production enough for finding a way to bring this excellent fighter overseas. What it lacks in capable netcode, it contains enough characters, stages, and modes to make for a great game.

Red Steel 2


I never played the original Red Steel. I think it is safe to say I dodged a metaphorical bullet there. The original Red Steel was a Nintendo Wii launch title, and it was the first Wii game to be revealed with screenshots (aka bullshots). The game sold well, a million seller, but many who played through the game were left with a sour taste in their mouths. Perhaps they shouldn't have eaten the game (rimshot). This reason alone killed any enthusiasm for Ubisoft Paris's sequel, Red Steel 2, despite this sequel actually fulfilling the broken promises of the original game. In Red Steel 2, you were actually participating in not only great gun-fighting, but the swordplay portions of the title were excellent as well, utilizing Nintendo's then-new MotionPlus peripheral. You could switch between your gun and your katana at any time, opening up the gameplay possibilities exponentially. On the aesthetic side of things, Ubisoft Paris went with an impressive cel-shaded art style. The Wii was perfect for such an artistic choice as realism generally doesn't do well on the system. There is no doubt that the Wii launch's Red Steel took the wind out of the sails of the franchise for many people. It's a shame because Red Steel 2 is honest to goodness a terrific title with loads of personality and great gameplay.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition


I am calling it right now. Resident Evil 4 on Wii is the definitive version of the game. You may have played Resident Evil 4 on every possible device imaginable: GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, iOS, etc, but you have not played the most optimal experience until you try it out on the Wii. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition contains all of the content you could want from the game, including the PlayStation 2's bonus content, such as Assignment Ada. However, what makes this version the bee's knees (how that turn of phrase fits in with the realm of Resident Evil 4 is beyond me) is the Wii remote's pointer functionality. Aiming with Leon's wide array of weaponry was never easier, more intuitive, and just a blast to do, and if you felt the game was too easy with this control setup or don't care for pointing the Wii remote at the screen (it is a huge workout to hold your arm up, after all), you could utilize the Classic Controller for a more traditional gameplay experience. Resident Evil 4 is one of the greatest games of all time, and it is likely the greatest survival-horror title, too. The Wii version just makes an already phenomenal game even more phenomenal.

Rayman Origins


Unlike most games that have been and will be listed on these fifty best Nintendo Wii games, Rayman Origins is also available on other platforms including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita. It is really a tremendous title regardless what platform you play, and I would include Rayman Origins on a list for the fifty best HD games, too. Regardless, what makes Origins so invigorating and enjoyable to play is that it is 2D platforming fun in such sensational simplicity. You run, you jump, you traverse up walls, you glide, you swim, you collect Lums, save Electoons in cages in various hidden areas, and you go to the goal. The responsive and entertaining platforming is split up occasionally by segments where you ride on a mosquito, sucking in foes and shooting them out, in these auto-scrolling segments. Then there are treasure levels where you make a mad dash through a collapsing obstacle course as you chase a treasure chest. These are platforming nirvana as well as some of the most challenging segments of the game. But what Rayman Origins is also known for, outside of up to four players going through levels locally, is its impeccably spectacular art style. The game is absolutely gorgeous, HD or not. Rayman Origins is a modern classic, and I cannot wait for the mechanics of the game to be shown in all of its glory in Rayman Legends on Wii U.

We Love Golf!


Now I imagine you might be wondering how a cartoony golf game can be listed as one of the best games of a platform. Well, that's easy as on the PlayStation Portable Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 would definitely make such a list. On Wii, Capcom and Camelot's We Love Golf! is such a title. Remember what I said earlier about a great game being a great game regardless of content. Using the Wii remote to pull it back to set the power of your shot was intuitive, and swinging the controller forward once the mark passes over a specific spot on the power gauge made for an easy-to-learn, hard-to-master golfing experience. The game takes you across eight unique courses and three short courses of the par 3 variety. There's English countrysides full of castles, Japanese gardens, sprawling deserts with ancient ruins, and sweltering jungles to perfect your swing in. Outside of the standard Tournament modes, there is Match Play to unlock new characters, modes that focus on specific shot types like approach shots, and for the North American and Australian versions, online play. While the cast of characters is on the vanilla side, unlockable costumes depicting characters from other Capcom series can be gained through accomplishing certain in-game goals. Such characters include Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, Zack from the Wii's Zack & Wiki, Arthur from Ghost 'n' Goblins, and Apollo Justice from the Ace Attorney franchise. A superb game of golf, don't immediately write it off -- it's quite good once you get the "swing" of things.

Mario Kart Wii


Mario Kart might not be a series known for dramatic changes, but don't be fooled -- there are some significant changes that alter the mechanics and/or gameplay of each entry. For instance, with Mario Kart Wii, the addition of four more participants were race made for some chaotic and crazy rides. Besides karts, racers could now choose to hop on a bike, something that differed in handling (e.g. bikes couldn't take corners as sharply as a kart, but bikes could ride on one wheel for extra speed while sacrificing control). What makes Mario Kart Wii so spectacular is its wide range of well designed tracks such as Mario Circuit, Koopa Cape, Maple Treeway, Toad's Factory, Dry Dry Ruins, Grumble Volcano, Coconut Mall, among many others. Alongside the sixteen new tracks were sixteen of the retro variety from such games as Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, and Mario Kart DS. There was also a stunning 24 character roster set across three weight types: light, medium, and heavy. Depending on the weight of a character, that roster member could only choose from a certain selection of karts and bikes. The kart and bike designs, having a grand amount to select from, were also a great inclusion. Perhaps what makes people return to Mario Kart Wii is the splendidly done online where, for the first time in the series, all tracks and battle courses were available to compete on. While much more dependent on luck than previous entries in the franchise, Mario Kart Wii is still a lovely entry in the legendary arcade racing series.

Monster Hunter Tri


Most probably know that the third mainline installment of the popular in Japan Monster Hunter franchise was originally intended for the PlayStation 3. However, the high cost of development and perhaps the popularity of the Wii console made Capcom change their minds on what platform to release the game on. Their end creation was Monster Hunter Tri. For those unaware of what the hubbub of the franchise is about, Monster Hunter Tri had players participating in quests to vanquish a certain monster prowling within one of the many sectors of a given land (split up by short loading screens). A monster could cross into any sector, so the player would have to keep up and keep track. When the monster was found, most of the time a battle of endurance took place, sometimes lasting upwards of a half hour in one encounter alone. The fun of the series not only comes from learning the attacking patterns of each monster, keeping not only your reflexes sharp but your weapon, and hacking away the monster until it is slain; but it comes from farming unique and more powerful equipment to make your warrior look and become more powerful. Online play allowed friends and total strangers from across the world to engage in the thrill of the hunt with other players. If you haven't yet checked out Monster Hunter Tri, you are best off waiting to get Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on either the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U when the game launches in March of next year.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade


Japanese art and mythology intertwine to forge Muramasa: The Demon Blade, a beautiful title for the Nintendo Wii. The game was developed by Vanillaware, makers of Odin Sphere, which Muramasa is the spiritual sequel of. The gameplay has you choosing between two characters, each with a different starting point within the game and alternate boss battles and story. The game is a 2D affair, and action-adventure game with role-playing elements. Each character begins with one of three swords, but there are over 100 to forge, find, and collect. Overuse of a sword will make it break, but a broken sword can mend itself over time through sheathing it. Muramasa: The Demon Blade is coming to the PlayStation Vita, no doubt with added content to sweeten the deal. No doubt this already gorgeous game will look even more fabulous on the Vita's large OLED screen. Whether you want to wait for that version or just pick up the cheaper Wii game is really up to you, but don't pass up on playing this title. It is an artistic delight on any platform with the gameplay to back it up.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle


The original No More Heroes was a fun but flawed game directed by Suda51 and released internationally in North America by Ubisoft of all publishers. Most of the problems I had with the original game have been fixed in its 2010 sequel, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. For one, gone is the need to make money in order to pay the fee to fight the next boss in the game. Also gone is the empty overworld map which tasked players with driving around a desolate Santa Destroy, searching for ways to make money, finding collectibles, and just slowing down the pace of the game. There are still ways to make money in Desperate Struggle, but these have been made into engaging (if not simplistic) 8-bit style games. But the main meat of the game comes from protagonist Travis Touchdown slicing and dicing his way through armies of enemies and taking on powerful bosses which stand in his way of becoming the number one assassin. To join you along the ride of excellent motion control combat is a wacky off-the-wall story with plenty of comedic moments, featuring pop culture references and "loads" of sexual innuendo. (See what I did there?) A poor seller -- send out a game to die never works for big sales -- No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a worthy action game for any Wii owners thirsty for a more adult experience than generally publicized on a Nintendo platform.

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There you have ten more terrific Wii titles to titillate your gaming senses. Perhaps a game that passed by you that was listed here is one that you will look into. The Nintendo Wii has a stellar amount of variety within its massive library. It's important to pick out the good among the many items of software that are bad. This list of fifty Wii games is intended to help you do just that, and I hope so far it has. Next Friday we will have the third sampling of Wii games that no open-minded gamer should ignore. We'll see you next week.

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