As I packed my collection for our recent move, I realized I have the fewest games for the Wii of any Nintendo console! I need show this little “revolution” some more love. It’s unique controls and gimmicks were a breath of fresh air at release (and provided a great distraction for me my first year of teaching!) but truthfully haven’t aged as gracefully as the SNES or GameCube. Wii graphics were charming but not revolutionary, the motion controls brilliant in some games and a hindrance in others. And despite a few boundary pushing games here and there, after a while Nintendo seemed generally content to watch console sales speak for themselves. But despite this there are still excellent titles on the Nintendo Wii! Here are my personal top 10 best Wii games that I think hold up well today.
10. Wii Sports
Is there anyone on the Earth who hasn’t played Wii sports? It was a brilliant choice of pack-in title, as this game was the definition of “easy to pick up and play”. Wii sports holds the honor of the only videogame I’ve been able to get my grandparents to play. Not every sport included is a winner due to some dodgy controls, but tennis in particular holds up very well! I’ll always have fond memories of getting ludicrously sweating in living rooms playing this with friends and family around the Wii release, especially with four players at once.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Of all the Zelda games (my all time favorite series) this is the one I have the biggest “love/hate” relationship with. I absolutely adore some aspects of the game. The graphics are beautiful watercolor paintings come to life. Some of the dungeon design is the best in the series. Being the first game chronologically, the lore is fascinating. And this is my favorite incarnation of Princess Zelda to date! But the motion controls are way overdone-they’re used for nearly everything! You are required to read endless amounts of unnecessary dialogue, especially from Fi with constant and unnecessary reminders. And it’s very padded out-several quests are repetitive and tedious in the back half!
Yet it still averages out to a great Zelda title because of that Zelda magic, and just barely makes my top 10 best Wii games. Hopefully the upcoming Switch remaster corrects a few of the flaws like Wind Waker HD did!
8. Super Paper Mario
Many Paper Mario fans will tell you this is where the series started to go awry. I certainly wish for a return to the RPG roots (like in the excellent Thousand Year Door) but very much enjoyed this entry! The characters and story might be the best of all the games, and the gameplay mechanics were innovative and made clever use of the Wii remote. I had a blast shifting between the 2D sidescrolling and 3D planes! And the action was a lot of silly fun, especially when controlling Bowser and Peach. Moving forward, I’d prefer if Nintendo and Intelligent Systems made Paper Mario games that were either 100% action, or 100% RPG, as opposed to the awkward but still loveable hybrids we have now!
7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
I didn’t play this one until long after the Wii’s heyday, after I had already played New Super Mario Bros. U! It’s one of my little sister and brother-in-law’s favorites to play together, so they introduced me to it. Needless to say, I picked up my own copy soon after! It takes what was already great about the first New Super Mario Bros. entry and amplifies it several times, even adding multiplayer! Although playing with three other people is absolute chaos, it’s also insanely fun. A great mix of what the Wii was all about plus classic Mario goodness, it’s a must-play for any fan of the system.
6. Mario Kart Wii
First off, can we all agree that the box art for this ludicrously top selling game is just kind of lame? Second, how fun was the little steering wheel that was included? (answer: more fun that it ever had a right to be). I generally found the motion controls to be very intuitive here, whether using the wheel or tilted Wii remote. Being Mario Kart, this entry is of course packed full of enchanting and thrilling courses, both new and retro. Nearly everyone owned several Wii remotes by the time the game released, so it was a great party game to play with friends! Definitely still worth playing today, or at least the remixed courses in Mario Kart 8!
5. Donkey Kong Country Returns
I could not have been more excited for the release of this game. Donkey Kong Country is one of my favorite series, and Retro Studios proved they could handle Nintendo’s best IPs with Metroid Prime (see below!). This game definitely has a different feel from the original trilogy on Super Nintendo, but once you’re over that it’s a delightful, atmospheric, and challenging wonder. Level design is always clever and the remixed soundtrack is stellar. It never quite reaches the euphoric heights of Donkey Kong Country 2, but it’s a lovely game that made me smile from start to finish (in between shouting fits of rage, because it’s hard!)
4. Metroid Prime Trilogy
Okay, I’m cheating a bit here. Metroid Prime 3 is the only game in the series unique to the Wii. But the improvements this collection makes to the original games are tremendous, and the packaging/extras this edition came with a dream for collectors! I’ve said this before, but how Retro Studios managed to so brilliantly translate Metroid’s 2D atmosphere into 3D so perfectly is still beyond me. Each of the games just feels like Metroid to me, and although 2D Metroid is still my *slight* preference, these games are spectacular experiences. I’m also a huge fan of lore in game series, and having the option to scan and learn about each of the worlds was a welcome and clever design element. Here’s hoping we’ll actually see Metroid Prime 4 (or at least another remastered trilogy) release in the Switch’s lifespan!
3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
I always associate this game with my first year of teaching. It was the boost I needed to get to Christmas break! I got in line at my local Best Buy at 5am to pick up both a Wii console and this Zelda game I had been looking forward to for years since it was announced for GameCube. And it largely delivered! The world was beautiful, the gameplay was tight and satisfying, and the soundtrack super atmospheric. This is some of the best dungeon design in the series (Arbiter’s Grounds and Snowpeak Ruins being personal highlights), and Midna is easily my favorite “sidekick” in any game so far. I definitely have some issues with slow pacing and the general “emptiness” of the world compared to Ocarina of Time, but I still loved my time with this entry. Plus this the last Zelda guide from Nintendo Power, making it extra nostalgic!
2. Super Mario Galaxy
I didn’t even realize how amazingly nostalgic and comforting this game was until I replayed it with my girls in the 3D All-Stars Collection. They were just as wowed as I was when the game released! Packed full of throwbacks to Mario’s history while also pushing the gameplay forward in revolutionary ways, it was perfect for fans of Nintendo and the Wii console in general. The gravity-based puzzles and exploration dazzled and delighted, and star missions were just the right length as not to overstay their welcome. The fully orchestrated soundtrack was a revelation, and “Gusty Garden Galaxy” continues to be one of my all time favorite themes! A true masterpiece all around. It would only be topped by it’s stellar sequel…
1. Super Mario Galaxy 2
The great “Mario Galaxy 1 vs. 2” debate will echo throughout the rest of history! Okay maybe not, but most fans have a strong opinion on it. I absolutely adore both Galaxy games, so much so they beat out my favorite series for the two top spots on this list. Mario Galaxy 2 simply did everything the first game did so much better (save for the story!). Seeing that the first Mario Galaxy is brilliant in every capacity, that’s no easy feat. But Galaxy 2 rose to the challenge!
The controls feel even better. There’s more variety in missions and less “fluff”. There are more throwbacks to the older games, plus an epic, very challenging, final galaxy. And Yoshi makes his triumphant and glorious return! (it’d been awhile since Sunshine) I have quite a few friends who skipped this title since it came toward the end of the Wii’s lifespan. It’s absolutely still worth playing today! Super Mario Galaxy 2 easily tops my list of top 10 best Wii games.
How do you feel about the Nintendo Wii? Did I miss any of your personal top 10 best Wii games? Let me know in the comments below!