The Legacy of the Wii: 14 of its Most Influential Games

With Nintendo's all-conquering console on its last legs, we look back at what made the Wii such a huge success.

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Some people wouldn't be caught dead playing on a Wii. For this Wii-shunning "hardcore", the mere notion of motion-control waggle is enough to induce fits of violent rage. Their loathing manifests as a poisonous bile that flows through the great sea of the internet and seeps into the waters of Xbox Live, where they scream their battle cry of "LOL GAY" while facehumping a corpse into oblivion.

But for all their juvenile posturing, the Wii deniers are dead inside. They have never experienced the unrelenting joy of grasping that last coin in Mario Galaxy, or saving the universe in Xenoblade Chronicles, or trying to bowl in Wii Sports after inhaling twelve vodka Red Bulls. No, these are pleasures reserved for the rest of us, the many who bought into Nintendo's promise of a console for everyone and discovered a heaving bosom of gaming brilliance, ripe for the suckling.

Sure, it has a daft name. And sure, it has the graphical prowess of a drunken monkey daubing faeces on a brick wall. But for all of its lack of technological wizardry, the Wii succeeded, and spectacularly so. Its influence is far broader than that of its contemporaries, bringing gaming to the fickle family audience by enlisting movie stars, pop stars, and footballers to shamelessly shill for it on television. That's not to mention the fact it made waggly motion controls standard issue for the industry--for better or worse.

Mums were using Wii Fit to keep in shape. Dads were vengefully lobbing Blue Shells at their offspring in Mario Kart. Wii Sports tennis battles were fought in retirement homes across the nation. But, like those very geriatrics who embraced it, the Wii is in its twilight years. And while it might be a little early to strap a catheter to it and wait for the inheritance money to pour in, a bunch of half-assed ports of EA Sports franchises and Wipeout: The Game 3 aren't much to look forward to. Especially not with the release of its replacement, the even more unfortunately titled Wii U, looming large on the horizon.

Rather than dwell on the Wii's gradual descent into irrelevance, though, we're here to celebrate what made it so great: the games. What better way to do so than by remembering some of the greatest and most influential games that got us swinging, waggling, and smacking people in the face in the name of 21st century family entertainment.

Just Dance

No, I haven't gone mental. Just Dance may not be the first great game you think of for the WIi, but its significance is undeniable. Released in time for Christmas 2009, Just Dance became an absolute phenomenon, selling over 2 million copies in its first few months on sale, which more than doubled to 4.3 million just a year later. And while reviews weren't exactly kind, the lack of objectives and the impreciseness of the controls didn't matter to the casual audience who embraced its accessibility and wonderfully ludicrous routines that were perfect for parties. Its sequel, Just Dance 2, remains the fastest selling third-party Wii game of all time, and its influence on Microsoft and Sony is clear--Dance Central and Dance Star Party both emerged from the aftermath of Ubisoft's juggernaut.

Wii Sports

Every great system needs its killer app, and for the Wii that was Wii Sports. This unassuming collection of minigames introduced the world to the concept of motion controls in gaming, and captured the hearts and minds of people the world over. The beauty of it was its simplicity. You swung the Wii remote like a racket to play tennis, punched the air to box, and swung your arm to throw a bowling ball. Even people who had never touched a games console in their life could play Wii Sports, and that accessibility meant it was adopted by families worldwide. It also marked the first truly successful attempt to get people off the sofa and actually put some physical effort into playing video games--a concept that would be taken to its logical conclusion with this next hugely successful Nintendo release.

Wii Fit

A fitness game for Wii that requires a £99 accessory? That'll never catch on! Or so we thought. Wii Fit and the accompanying Balance Board accessory were a huge success, and it currently ranks as the third best-selling console game in history (excluding box-ins like Wii Sports), selling over 22 million copies to date. Its combination of yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance exercises struck a chord with the Wii's audience, who were eager to shed some pounds in the comfort of their own homes. Though there's been some debate over the benefits of Wii Fit's exercises, not to mention its somewhat aggressive BMI monitoring, there's no denying it got plenty of workout-averse folks off the sofa and exercising.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade Chronicles took everyone at the GameSpot office by surprise. At first glance, it looked like nothing more than your standard JRPG. This was a genre on the verge of stagnating, and it didn't seem like the Wii of all things was going to change that. But boy, did it ever. Xenoblade redefined what a great JRPG was, and the scale, scope, and vast expanse of its game world were something to behold. A killer soundtrack, engrossing narrative, sublime battle system, and beautiful visuals were just some of the fantastic elements that sucked you into Xenoblade's world, which drew upon classic JRPG tropes while bringing them kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Along with the similarly excellent The Last Story, Xenoblade marks a turning point for the JRPG genre, and is arguably the Wii's last great release.

Mario Galaxy

After the disappointing Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube, fans were eager for a return to form for their favourite portly plumber. Nintendo ended up not just delivering a great Mario game, but one of the best platformers ever made. Mario Galaxy was all things to all men: a gorgeous, accessible, fun game for casual players, and an incredibly challenging and addictive platformer for the hardcore. That's largely thanks to its genius level design, which took what Mario 64 started and pushed it to new extremes by bending the laws of physics around small planetoids. Each of them was a treasure trove of puzzles and platforming challenges that were so joyful, so fun to play, no-one could fail to be taken in by its charms. Its sequel Mario Galaxy 2 was somehow even better, earning a rare 10 out of 10 from our very own Tom McShea.

Resident Evil 4

Though Resident Evil 4 was originally a GameCube release, an elegantly reworked control system made the Wii version the one to pick up. Featuring nail-biting action, gargantuan bosses, top-notch production values, and a long, suspenseful story, Resident Evil 4 was a landmark for the series. It combined action and traditional survival horror tropes in a way no Resident Evil game has truly mastered since. To the naysayers who argued the Wii was no more than a console for kids, this was the game that showed Nintendo knew a thing or two about blood and guts as well as shoving plumbers down pipes.

World Of Goo

Nintendo hasn't been at the bleeding edge of online technology for games consoles. We still have to put up with the horror that is the Friend Code, after all. Its download store WiiWare, though, has spawned some surprisingly brilliant games. The indie-developed World Of Goo was one of the first to hit the store back in 2008, when it launched to unanimous critical acclaim. Its brilliant design and varied levels elevated the physics-based puzzle game to new levels of brilliance, while its surreal sense of humor and atmospheric soundtrack charmed the pants off the Nintendo faithful. World Of Goo still ranks as one of the highest rated Wii games of all time on Metacritic, and sparked a wave of brilliant WiiWare releases, including Fluidity, Swords & Soldiers, and Lostwinds: Winter Of The Melodias.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Second only to Mario's first appearance on the Wii, Zelda's debut was highly anticipated, even if it was only to be a rejigged GameCube title. When Twilight Princess arrived in 2006, fans were falling over themselves to declare it "the next Ocarina of Time". While that might be a little off, Twilight Princess was still a fabulously grand adventure, full of the classic Zelda moments we all craved: compelling characters, an outstanding game world, clever puzzle design, a great art style, horses, fairies, turning into a big, fluffy wolf… the list goes on. Demand for the game wasn't just based on its strong critical showing, though. It turned out Twilight Princess was vulnerable to a buffer overflow attack, known as the Twilight Hack, which allowed the execution of custom code--that is, homebrew from a SD card, making it an essential purchase for hackers as well as would-be adventurers.

Okami

If Zelda wasn't enough to satisfy your adventurer's wanderlust, you could always turn to Okami. Originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2007, Okami took the classic Zelda formula and gave it the once-over with beautiful visuals and an engrossing narrative that placed you in the shoes of the Japanese sun goddess, a white wolf named Amaterasu. What made the game such a great fit for the Wii were Amaterasu's powers, which let you paint directly over the vast game world to solve puzzles by swiping across the screen with the Wii Remote. You could slash clean through stone and other objects, rejuvenate plants, change night into day, create lily pad platforms in water, and summon gusts of wind to push the boats of villagers. It was this novel and intuitive use of the Wii's technology that made Okami such a joy to play, and one of the best adventure games on any platform.

Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies

When the Wii first launched, the immediately obvious application for its pointer technology was the classic light gun game. Though the Wii has had more than its fair share of greats, such as The House Of Dead: Overkill and Dead Space Extraction, it was Japanese developer Treasure and the fantastic Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies that would perfect the formula. It told the story of two kids called Isa and Kachi as they did battle with military types, mechs, and outlandish animals in a future Japan. The Wii's motion controls were a perfect fit for the fast-paced, action-packed gameplay and epic boss battles. Plus, its neat high scoring system made for addictive, pleasingly frustrating bids for a spot at the top of the online leaderboards.

No More Heroes

Suda 51's irreverent, somewhat controversial style is well known in gaming circles. So there was understandable excitement back in 2008 when it was revealed his next game would appear exclusively on the Wii. It didn't disappoint. No More Heroes was the kind of action game one would expect to see on a Sony console, not this usually family-friendly Nintendo machine. The highly stylised action was as satisfying to perform as it was to watch, as it thankfully avoided an overuse of waggle, and instead concentrated on keeping the action as fast-paced and as gruesome as possible. Spleens, limbs, and an eruption of blood and coins would spill from each downed enemy, after which you could finish them off with an satisfyingly brutal execution move. A truly bizarre yet compelling story was just the icing on No More Heroes' outrageously blood-soaked cake. Yummy.

Little King's Story

As our own Alex Coby put it, "first impressions can be misleading". In the case of Little King's Story, what appears to be a cutesy, simplistic kids game is in fact an incredibly deep and engaging RTS-RPG hybrid, wrapped up in some gorgeous visuals. You play as the titular tiny king Corobo, who is on a quest to expand his kingdom. To do so, you must gather resources, build new structures, and defend your patch of earth by commanding your loyal followers, with that activity combined with RPG-style quests and exploration. It's a unique combination that works brilliantly, and thanks to some witty writing and an undeniable sense of charm, it's guaranteed to raise a smile too.

Metroid Prime Trilogy

Sure, this is a compilation, but boy, what a compilation. Metroid Prime Trilogy brought together the GameCube titles Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, and the Wii-only title Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and gave the latter's superior motion controls to the whole set. At first glance, it's easy to mistake Metroid for just another first-person shooter, but nothing could be further from the truth. These games were all about exploration, discovery, and the solving of some brilliantly designed puzzles. The vast, detailed game worlds were something to behold and a pleasure to explore, while epic boss battles that required brains as well as brawn kept your trigger finger busy too.

Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart is the definitive weapons-based racer. Released to critical acclaim in 2008, Mario Kart Wii took the best bits from its predecessors such as Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, and Mario Kart Double Dash and combined them with motion controls for an incredibly exciting and fun experience. Nothing was more satisfying than nailing someone with a Blue Shell just as they were about to cross the finish line, which resulted in more expletives than strictly suitable in such a family-friendly game. The addition of online modes meant you could challenge people outside of your living room for the first time too, while motorcycles provided a neat alternative to the ubiquitous go-kart. Mario Kart Wii remains the second best-selling Wii game of all time after Wii Sports, with over 31 million copies sold--which also just happens to make it the best selling racing game of all time, regardless of platform.

Have we missed anything? Let us know how wrong we are by telling us about your favourite Wii games in the comments below.

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0 comments
realimbored668
realimbored668

You forgot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, among many others.

bruno_fmenedes
bruno_fmenedes

"Though Resident Evil 4 was originally a GameCube release, an elegantly reworked control system made the Wii version the one to pick up. Featuring nail-biting action, gargantuan bosses, top-notch production values, and a long, suspenseful story, Resident Evil 4 was a landmark for the series. It combined action and traditional survival horror tropes in a way no Resident Evil game has truly mastered since. To the naysayers who argued the Wii was no more than a console for kids, this was the game that showed Nintendo knew a thing or two about blood and guts as well as shoving plumbers down pipes."
- I 
completely agree.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Monster Hunter Tri? It might be a great game but you really need a good narrative and a good reason to play that kind of game. Xenoblade Chronicles is a preferable choice. You won't need to worry about what weapons, armour and likelyhood of a story that makes you want to play on end. RPG's on the Wii might be the exception to the rule if done right. I'm sure gamers favourite is not purely one note.

azumabob
azumabob

No Monster Hunter Tri?! For shame, its far and away the best game ever released on the Wii IMO, AND you weren't forced to play with motion controls unless you wanted to.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

I don't mind Skyward Sword being apart of the top list but because of the formula getting stale, troubled motionplus controls and padding, it's hard to recommend compare to Twilight Princess. Honestly, on Twilight, if you don't like the fairy cursor and the need to hold the button, go to the options and switch those two and it would work like the Gamecube. Lastly, imagine what the console war be like if Nintendo decided "Let's ditch what we do best and focus on being button laiden, overpowering and third party madness to win over hardcore gamers". Other words? Ditch motion controls for more traditional button/analog design and a powerful console to be like Sony and Microsoft? I'm sure in the end, gamers will get tired of the same trend that's already been done before. Also ditching motion controls means we'll never see Kinect and Move ever happen and you'll just see people sitting on their couches playing games like that all day. Imagine that.

Preijnst
Preijnst

I agree with rushiosan that Skyward Sword should take Twilight Princess' place. Gamespot is just about the only reviewer who didn't appreciate what it did to motion control.

Padrepride
Padrepride

gotta love that little king's story is getting its due praise

Magician679
Magician679

I like all the trash talk about the graphics powers of the Wii when all the ps3 and 360 owners graphics compared to the PC are about the same difference. They are both weak sauce. I own a ps3, Wii, and 360 and have not used any of them for anything but netflix in over a year.

tgwolf
tgwolf

Hmm, I don't see many good ones up there...

tgwolf
tgwolf

'Legacy of the Wii--14 games which arguably could have been considered something other than a waste of money and an embarrassment to Nintendo.'

BloodMist
BloodMist

Indeed, if you knew where to look and actually did research, any Wii owner would have a multitude of great games to enjoy and, oh, shocker, not all were made by Nintendo.Deadly Creatures immediately springs to mind as one that didn't make it on this list, perhaps the most overlooked gem on the system.If you have to ask, yes, it did even make use of well done motion control.

rushiosan
rushiosan

Zelda Skyward Sword redefined the way you play motion-controlled games, but Gamespot (specially Tom McShea) is just too dumb to comprehend its greatness at full potential. Twilight Princess is just a mere port, a Game Cube re-release as a launch title for the Wii. It's a way better game if played on a Game Cube with a regular controller, because a fairy pointer and a swing-swing sword doesn't add much to the original experience.

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

I like the Wii, it may be an underpowered console, but a few of it's games were fun.  I love Harvest Moon:  Tree Of Tranquility and I'll be trying Muramasa: The Demon Blade very soon, which looks and sounds like it might be fun.

 

While the COD/Halo kiddies hated it for not having an overabundance of male lead only shooters, like the 360 has suffered from for so long, it was a good console with some fun games to play.

The motion control was a tad hit and miss, it required a good amount of room to make the most of it and not everyone has some giant living room with that kind of space.

 

It had a few games that were a lot more refreshing than the usual shooter rehash nonsense that is churned out all the time, games like Mario Kart Wii, Mario Galaxy and Tree Of Tranquility were a lot more enjoyable than some run and gun army game.

 

Hopefully Nintendo will have learned from the mistakes of the Wii with the Wii-U - like all that shovel ware, the awkward motion control that needed a lot of room to make the most of, the short battery life span for the remote and it's public image of stereotypes behaving to some marketing analysts wet dream and misguided ideal of gamers.

 

And maybe they should consider a better name that doesn't sound like a body waste management name. 

sdcazares1980
sdcazares1980

Had the Wii been as powerful as the Xbox 360 and PS3, it would've been a lot more respected than what it has right now. The Wii had some good games and uses, but the lack of powerful hardware was opportunity lost.

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

either way this article is dumb for the rpg generalizations and general lack of knowledge mark portrays

Indyskater
Indyskater

I'm not one to complain about the Wii because I own all the systems. Out of all the systems I play the 360 the least. I first bought the 360, played it a lot, but once I got my PS3, it pretty much took over the 360. As for the Wii, l still play it to this day! It has some great games people overlook simply because it's not HD.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

In all honesty, despite its major weaknesses, there are games worth enjoying. There is Goldeneye with the multiple controls, Disaster Day of Crisis which uses a lot of motion control minigames, Mario and Sonic Olympic series that allows you to enjoy the worlds clashing together, The Conduit and the sequel that shows high quality graphics and sharp controls, Red Steel and the sequel which uses unusual graphics that helped compliment the shooting games, Excite Truck and Endless Ocean, the only games that use the mp3 playback via SD card and Sakura Wars So Long My Love that allows multiple dialogue choices and battling robots which is fun.

fionnghuala99
fionnghuala99

The Last Story was one of my favorites as well as Metroid Other M

UndertheArchway
UndertheArchway

Having read through the comments on here I must admit to being rather ashamed to a gamer, how can there be so much derision for the leading console, in sales terms, of its generation? Of course it is sadly easy to understand the barely disguised contempt for the Wii from some quarters because it based a large chunk of its market model in opening gaming up to new market sectors which provoked a dog in the manger style response from the so called "True Gamers". How dare Nintendo attempt to break gaming free of its stereotypical audience they demand feverously and the simple riposte has to be grow up you have no divine mandate over the medium and it is wonderful to see the gaming medium mature into almost mainstream recognition.

 

Of course this gradual expansion of the demographic is not simply isolated to the Wii, games are no longer nerdy, to use a terrible cliche, nor are they niche anymore the very fact we have so called triple A games is testament to this and one day in the distant future people will wake up to this. Of course it would be a gross exaggeration to place this evolution solely at the feet of the Wii when we can add in many factors such as the natural aging of the demographic as well as the industry gradually growing up as a whole but the Wii was indeed a significant part of this process and throughout its lifecycle it has been a joy to see industry commentators scratch their heads as they try and explain its phenomenal success and we are eventually seeing a begrudging backpedalling from these so called experts finally.

 

Yes the Wii had a lot of rubbish games but then so does any system, maybe the Wii had a higher percentage of these though that is arguable compared with say the PC market but what cannot be denied is the monumental success the console has found and that’s the Wii's legacy regardless of how many people try and deny it.

 

Will the Wii U live up to the success of the Wii? Who knows but credit where it is due to Nintendo.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

Am I the only one who finds it funny that the Wii is the only console to be called a bad console with a lot of shovelware and yet, no one got on NES, SNES, PS1 or PS2 for that.

 

Seriously, how does a lot of shovelware make such a s*** system when there can be enough good games (which I have found) to out match them easy?

loom1215
loom1215

This article just makes me wish Nintendo would die. And I've always felt fondly toward Nintendo :(

AndCarlsen
AndCarlsen

I understand his choices, even though I might not agree with them. Resident Evil 4 (Wii Edition) was a port from a gamecube game, but it did create whole new mechanics for the wii, which paved the way for other shooters on the platform, as rare as they may be. I don' t really get how Okami and Sin and Punishment were so influential though.    I don't understand  how games like Red Steel, which was one of the first to really push the motion controls (to the point where they didn't work, but at least they tried), and Zelda Skyward Sword, the game that best utilizes that kind of control, were left out of the list, but I do get why New Super Mario Bros. Wii, DK Country Returns, Punch-Out and others didn't make it. As amazing as they may be, they weren't so innovative or influential to be considered part of the Wii legacy. Lastly, never say Super Mario Sunshine was disappointing, it is one of the best Mario games ever made.

splinter10
splinter10

I find this guy so pretentious it hurts.

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

"unfortunately titled Wii U" not unfortunate.

 

The 3ds has a silimar name to ds and its 1 in the world. This site sinks lower and lower

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

"Mark currently spends his days trying to overcome his small (large) obsession with  mobile games"

 

Alright, this makes sense why your article is so terrible and so poorly full of generalizations and nonsense

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

"This was a genre on the verge of stagnating,"

 

Must be a joke

kbaily
kbaily

Funny GS and internet.  You spend the last few years bashing the Wii and how it "ruined gaming" by making games for audiences other than 15-35 year old males but now suddenly it's "influencial?"  Talk about 20/20 hindsight.

lightning_kf
lightning_kf

I'm surprised Kirby's Return To Dreamland and Punch-Out!! aren't on here, especially Punch-Out!!, but the list isn't so bad.

amaan4ever
amaan4ever

Where is super smash bros brawl??. That the only game I play on. The wii

Mifflinite45
Mifflinite45

 @sdcazares1980

 I dont understand what you mean by "opportunity lost." You do know how successful the console was right? Im sure it was greatly respected by the millions of casual gamers out there who never even played an xbox 360 or ps3.

BloodMist
BloodMist

 @UndertheArchway It's nice to see a post filled with rationality and intelligence like this on an article where you know the replies are going to be so bereft of it. 

FeedMe2daForest
FeedMe2daForest

 @splinter10

Maybe if he stopped jizzing over his thesaurus and started playing games he would be able to write good articles

penpusher
penpusher

 @Stealth_Knight_ Actually I have to agree that wii U is an awful name. Aside from the fact that its just an awful name generally, whats up with "wii 2"? can you imagine the confusion it'll cause on the market? 3DS is selling well but it took quite a while for it to sink into peoples minds that the 3DS is actually a new console and not just a DS with a 3D screen. Infact some people still dont get it.

 

The Wii U will be the same except at least with the 3DS people knew what its name was getting at. What the hell does Wii U even mean? :s Its awful.

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

Jrpgs are just about the only genre that does innovate anymore, read kotakus article on that

 

Of course I wouldnt expect gamespot to get rpgs. 

penpusher
penpusher

 @kbaily I dont recall them ever saying the Wii ruined gaming :S

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

 @amaan4ever They really should have Brawl on there since it is one of the most popular games. Considering the number of people that bought a Wii to play it and many also only own Brawl for Wii.

sdcazares1980
sdcazares1980

 @Mifflinite45 Opportunity to appeal to the traditional gamers. I'm very well aware that it is the most sold console, but I also believe it is the one that is collecting the most dust.

splinter10
splinter10

 @BloodMist lol what truth? I just find this guys Articles and reviews so painful to read or watch.

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

 @penpusher systems sell on content, not name........

 

it took 1 month........literally............

elozl
elozl

 @sdcazares1980 Monster Hunter Tri, Mario Kart, Xenoblade, Muramasa, etc. its not just one!

BloodMist
BloodMist

 @sdcazares1980 Tell that to all the Smash Bros. fans who still play the game religiously to this day.

Stealth_Knight_
Stealth_Knight_

 @Gazz64 That isnt really true at all, there are no "contracts" devs buy the kits and thats it

Gazz64
Gazz64

 @Stealth_Knight_

 Sony sold the PS3 on name, if the PS2 didn't do so well Sony wouldn't have been able to get contracts signed for PS3 devs.

reaver-x
reaver-x

 @BloodMist did u even read the article above?? Xenoblade already did those things

BloodMist
BloodMist

 @Stealth_Knight_ Yeah well give me one tiny example of a JRPG doing anything dramatically different with game mechanics that wasn't borrowed from action RPG's or MMO's in oh, 20 years.Just one.