Friday, October 19, 2012

The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Five

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. If you have been following this series of five parts, then you have read about forty excellent Nintendo Wii titles that are worthy of being in one's library (at least in this writer's opinion). We have arrived at the final part where the final ten Wii games will be listed. If for some reason you missed out on a previous part, look at the end of this article for links to all four individual parts. On this final installment of The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games, we examine the sequel to one of the most revolutionary games of the generation, we take a look at a *gasp* good 3D Sonic game, and we cheer on Kirby's 20th anniversary with a superb collection. Are you ready for the final ten Wii games?

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

Wii Sports Resort

After the stellar sales and appeal of the original Wii Sports, it only made sense for Nintendo to follow that success up with a new title. Rather than go the easy way, Nintendo opted to introduce a brand-new peripheral, Wii MotionPlus, to offer increased accuracy and immersion for players of Wii Sports Resort, a title made up of twelve activities. Such sports included Wii Sports favorites like bowling and golf were made more fun thanks to MotionPlus. Other sports featured were swordplay, archery, wakeboarding, power cruising, canoeing, basketball, table tennis, and cycling. Each sport featured multiple challenge levels for players to get acquainted to each activity as well as different spins on a given sport (e.g. Bowling's 10 pin and 100 pin forms). Outside of the Wii MotionPlus attachment (now included within new Wii remotes), Wii Sports Resort introduced a locale that would be featured in many future Nintendo titles: Wuhu Island. It can be seen in multiple games such as Pilotwings Resort and Mario Kart 7. Many imitators have tried to best Nintendo's efforts with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, and very few have come close to rivaling the experience and success of both titles. Wii Sports Resort might be mocked for being a "mini-game collection", but give the game some time, especially with family and friends, and you will be delighted with a fantastic virtual vacation.

Sonic Colors

After the frowned upon Shadow the Hedgehog, the abhorrent 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog, and a less than spectacular Sonic Unleashed, Sonic fans felt that the franchise was better off dead. Then a game that was honest to goodness excellent came out and exclusively on Wii, no doubt. It was none other than Sonic Colors. The game was set on an interstellar theme parked made by Dr. Eggman. The gameplay featured a mix of traditional side-scrolling, over-the-shoulder gameplay, and both fast and more meticulous sections of levels. The new addition that shook things up for the game was Wisps. The Wii version possessed eight different types that could be used to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Some would act like a drill, allowing Sonic to tunnel through soft patches of dirt to make it to secret areas; some would launch Sonic high into the air like a rocket; some would turn Sonic into a laser and bounce off walls -- the point was that each served a purpose. Some levels were short and used one or two Wisps exclusively. Also contained in each level were five Red Rings. Collecting these would unlock simulation levels where Sonic could earn a fabled Chaos Emerald. Alongside the brilliant gameplay and improved controls, Sonic Colors offered an outstanding presentation through graphics as well as a stellar soundtrack. The formula and foundation of Sonic Colors would be used in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Sonic Generations. If Sonic Team can keep utilizing this winning formula, Sonic's fortunes might turn out better than expected.

Fortune Street

Fortune Street was the first game in the long-running Square Enix Itadaki Street franchise. The game was published by Nintendo in North America. For those unfamiliar with how the games work, Fortune Street follows the same structure. It is sort of like Monopoly in some aspects, not so much in others. You roll a die to move around a board floating over a familiar Dragon Quest or Mushroom Kingdom locale. As you move around you buy properties that you land on. When another player lands on your space, you earn money from them. One of the differences from Monopoly was the concept of buying and selling stocks. Additionally, players are forced to gather a set of four suits (spade, club, diamond, and heart) to level up and gain a slew of gold once they reach the start of the board (the bank). The goal of the game was to reach the starting position with the necessary amount of money (possessed goal, value of stocks, and value of properties). It all sounds more confusing than it is, but it does take some learning to grasp. Fortune Street is by no means a Mario Party-like game, so get rid of such a notion right away. It, however, requires a lot more planning and skill than the more luck-heavy party franchise. Containing online play and a host of fan service for Dragon Quest and Mario franchise fans, Fortune Street has a lot of value in the Wii market.

Super Paper Mario

As the back of the North American box of Super Paper Mario says, Mario does indeed flip out in Super Paper Mario. The game was quite unlike previous installments in the Paper Mario series as this game focused more on platforming than usual, forgoing the traditional turn-based battles the series was known for. Rest assured, however, there were still role-playing game elements involved in Super Paper Mario such as HP, experience (earned through gaining points), and levels. There were 32 individual levels within the game, branched out over eight chapters. Each chapter took place in a different dimension with the goal of gathering all eight Pure Hearts to right the wrongs of the big bad. The main gameplay element of Super Paper Mario was the ability for Mario (and only Mario) to flip between 2D and 3D. In 2D, it was your typical Mario platformer. In 3D, the perspective switched and revealed much more depth for Mario to explore. If a batch of blocks in 2D was blocking Mario's progress, he could switch to 3D to walk around them, and so forth. Including Mario, there were four characters players could eventually assume the role of. Super Paper Mario was a nice change from the original formula and an enjoyable experiment. It is a game that is paper thin but thick with fun.

Battalion Wars 2

Leave it to Nintendo to make war colorful. Kuju Entertainment (now Headstrong Games) developed this Wii sequel to the GameCube original. Battalion Wars 2 takes the art of war across twenty missions of increasing difficulty and stakes. Unlike the series it is based off of, Advance Wars, the Battalion Wars series brings with it real time combat instead of turn-based affairs. In addition to the land and air combat of the original, new naval units were added into the mix such as battleships, submarines, and landing craft. To increase the odds in battle, players could capture headquarters, factories, air bases, docks, and other buildings to build more units in a faster amount of time. Alongside the five returning factions from Battalion Wars, the sequel introduces a sixth nation known as the Anglo Isles. Outside of the stellar solo campaign comes multiplayer (an oversight of the original Battalion Wars) which is online for two friends or two total strangers to tackle, consisting of three different modes: skirmish, assault, and cooperative. Whether you wish to team up or battle in tense conflict against one another, Battalion Wars 2's online has you covered. Perhaps my only gripe with the game outside of the occasional odd control problem is the lack of splitscreen multiplayer. Still, Battalion Wars 2 offers a splendid amount of whimsical military action and a high dose of color.

Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition

We celebrated Kirby's 20th anniversary in style with an in-depth review of this next game on the list: Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition. Unfortunately for my PAL pals, the game is not yet coming to your sunny shores, so I apologize for my upcoming gushing over this game. The collection featured six of Kirby's greatest adventures: Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy), Kirby's Adventure (NES), Kirby's Dream Land 2 (Game Boy), Kirby Super Star (Super Nintendo), Kirby's Dream Land 3 (Super Nintendo), and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (Nintendo 64). The games ran exactly as they did on their home systems, for better or worse. Regardless, each game remained fun to this day. In addition to the six games on the collection, there was bonus content included such as an interactive timeline which detailed every game Kirby has ever been in, several challenge stages a la Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and several episodes of the Kirby: Right Back at Ya' anime. A bonus CD was also in the package, offering numerous musical tracks from past Kirby games, and even a few original arrangements. Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition brought with it a massive celebration of all things Kirby, making Mario's 25th ROM compendium look like a student film in comparison.

Mario Strikers Charged

We have already had a Next Level Games title on this list. It was Punch-Out!! Now we have Mario Strikers Charged, the exponentially better game than its GameCube predecessor, Super Mario Strikers. Mario Strikers Charged was very much a nontraditional soccer title (sorry, I'm American, so I will refer to it as soccer). Mario and friends told the refs that they could take their red and yellow cards and put them where the sun don't shine as there are few rules in the Mushroom Kingdom's version of the world's most loved game. Items like red shells and bananas could be utilized, opponents could be knocked to and fro, special moves could be unleashed on foes, and the ultimate in offense, the Mega Strike, could give a team upwards of multiple goals in one play. While the single player content was on the meager side, the multiplayer options were phenomenal. North America's first online Wii title was Pokemon Battle Revolution. Suffice to say, Mario Strikers: Charged took the crown as best Wi-Fi Wii game for the time quite easily. Online matches and tournaments offers plenty of online entertainment for the Mushroom Kingdom soccer elite. Whether you prefer to call it soccer or its more popular name football, Mario Strikers Charged offers a fast and frenetic bit of arcade sports action for Wii owners.

Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy

Based off of Japanese independent developer Kenta Cho's Tumiki Fighters, Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy was a massively overlooked but definitely worth it Nintendo Wii title. The basic gameplay was a shoot-em-up on the x and y axes. As enemies were eliminated, their wreckage could be able to be collected by the player's ship. For instance, if a player caught a fallen cannon from an adversary's ship, they would have a cannon connected to their aircraft, pending where it landed on it. By the end of a level, a player could have a massive arsenal of firepower attached to his or her craft, great for offense and defense. But that was just one part of Blast Works. The other was the ability to build and trade (hence the subtitle) created ships, enemies, pieces, and levels via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and share them with the world. Majesco even created an online sharing hub for players to showcase their creations for all the world to see (seen here). Alongside the new content was four of Kenta Cho's past games for players to try out and enjoy. For a then twenty dollar game, Blast Works was one of the greatest deals on the Nintendo Wii, and the more people that know about this excellent title, the better.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

One thing that annoys me about the Zelda fan base is something that they like to condemn as untrue: the Zelda cycle. Well, it never fails to show up. When Twilight Princess came out, The Wind Waker was better. Now that Skyward Sword is out, Twilight Princess is now looked at more fondly. I'm of the camp that nearly every Legend of Zelda game is something special and worthy of most people's time. Twilight Princess is definitely one of those titles, featuring some of the best designed dungeons in Zelda history. The Wii version of the game offered motion control combat, albeit simple, and other touches such as sounds coming from the speaker of the Wii remote (sword slashes, the infamous chime when a puzzle is solved, Midna's laughter, etc.) and the ability to use certain items with much greater ease and precision than with an analog stick. It really does not matter which version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess you choose. You either get advanced camera control (GameCube) or better controls in general (Wii). Which ever version you choose, you are bound to be blown away by a masterful game. Some say the series is antiquated and in need of a massive shakeup; I say the series has never been better. 

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

A Final Fantasy adventure exclusive to the Wii (and better than XIII, if I do say so myself), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (take a deep breath after you say that long title) was an action-adventure game that starred a young male named Layle with telekinetic powers. Unlike typical Final Fantasy games, the action in The Crystal Bearers took place in real time. Through using his telekinetic powers, Layle could grab foes, throw them into others, as well as grab onto environmental objects. These different maneuvers could cause interesting interactions with enemies. Also, Layle did not gain experience or levels. He earned more health through eliminating all of the enemies in a given area of the world, and he gained strength through equipment such as monster drops. Regardless, battling was just one part of the experience. The story took players through mini-game like events such as performing a getaway on Chocobos while using Layle's powers to get rid of his pursuers, helping a friend out in winning a beach volleyball-esque game, finding children in a game of hide-and-seek, carefully avoiding detection aboard a locomotive, and piloting an airship through a tight canyon. The Crystal Bearers had its true longevity through challenges and achievements -- hundreds of them -- that players could try to complete. Dozens upon dozens of hours could be spent doing as many tasks as possible. Some critics argued that the game should have been more of an RPG than an action-adventure romp. If you can look past that a Final Fantasy game is more action-adventure than traditional Final Fantasy, then The Crystal Bearers is a fantastic addition to your library with a stunning presentation and soundtrack to match.


And there you go -- Fifty of the greatest Nintendo Wii titles! Did I leave off one of your favorites? Most likely I did. If you're not sure, check out one of the previous four parts of this special series of articles:

The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part One
The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Two
The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Three
The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Four

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I may have another "50 Best" five part article in store. It pertains to a certain portable on the market. Find out what it is soon!

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