Index – Wii Retrospective

  1. Best Wii Platformer Games
  2. Best Wii RPGs
  3. Best Wii Adventure Games
  4. Best Wii Action Games
  5. Best Wii FPS Games
  6. Best Wii Puzzle Games
  7. Miscellaneous Genres
  8. Best WiiWare Games

Welcome to yet another edition of the Wii Retrospective!  This time, we will be looking at the Wii’s lineup of puzzle games.  While they are more common in downloadable form these days — Wiiware will get its own section in this series — than retail release, the Wii still had some great puzzle games on disc.  There are many types, so I will be dividing them up by whether they are character-driven or a more traditional set of sequential puzzles.  There are great Wii games in both categories, so let’s dive in!

Character-Driven Puzzle Games
One of the major cult classics on the Wii is Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure.  A game that, on the surface, seems like a point-and-click adventure game, Zack and Wiki used the Wii Remote in every conceivable way for a wide variety of puzzles.  While there were some parts that were too ambitious — namely, the terrible sword-fighting controls near the end — the game had dozens of levels that were thickly layered with clever and imaginative puzzles.

You can do so much by shaking a bell

You can do so much by shaking a bell

Managing to pull off quality boss fights with the game’s interface was no easy task, but somehow, it does.  With likable characters and a great-looking cel-shaded world, Zack and Wiki is one of the best uses of the Wii’s controller and worthy of the praise it gets for being an overlooked gem.

One of my personal favorite is the underappreciated A Boy and His Blob.  A re-imagining to the semi-obscure NES game, A Boy and His Blob makes some significant changes.  Removing the non-linear connected world and resource management is sure to make some people assume the game has been dumbed down, but I think these changes were definitely for the best.  The game is now a puzzle platformer where you play as the titular “boy” and make your way through eighty levels with the help of the blob.

The characters are pretty likable considering neither one has a name

The characters are pretty likable considering neither one has a name

The blob can transform into a wide variety of useful items that make the gameplay incredibly dynamic.  Tricking enemies into falling into blob-created holes, riding around on a rocket, parachuting down enemy-filled obstacle courses, and many more transformations are utilized.  Any Wii owner who likes puzzle games or platformers needs to give A Boy and His Blob a chance.

One of the earliest Wii games is the nearly indescribable Elebits.  The story of a world where electricity comes from tiny and numerous creatures, you play as a lonely boy whose parents seem to care more about the titular creatures than him.  The levels take place in realistic, modern settings that you have to thoroughly ransack to acquire enough elebits to complete the stage.  The game controls like a first-person shooter, with the device that captures elebits and moves objects functioning like a gun.  The puzzle element comes from the fact that you need more elebits to move bigger objects.  While Wii controls hadn’t quite been perfected when Elebits was released, which can cause frustration in the timed levels, Elebits is a very unique game with some well-executed ideas.

Exploring a kitchen has never been more fun

Exploring a kitchen has never been more fun

Traditional Puzzle Games
If you don’t want a playable character getting between you and your puzzles, there are still Wii games for you.  One pair of games that I really want to focus on is the Boom Blox series.  Boom Blox and Boom Blox Bash Party — which is a full sequel, despite the name — are some of the most misunderstood and underrated games on the Wii.  Often dismissed as shallow party games, the Boom Blox games are actually very long and deceptively deep puzzle games with a huge amount of variety.  The only thing linking all the game types together is the presence of blocks with an advanced physics engine governing them.

There's a lot of knocking over blocks, but the game is much deeper than that

There’s a lot of knocking over blocks, but the game is much deeper than that

You might need to knock down structures, build them, create a path for an animal, launch blocks into targets, or shoot them with a laser, among several other game types.  With a double-digit amount of game types and hundreds of levels in both games, they will keep puzzle fans interested for a long time — and that’s before getting into the multiplayer modes and level editor.  Between the two games, I’d say Bash Party is superior, due to removing a few game modes from the original that just didn’t work as reliably as the strict medal requirements required.  Both games, however, are easily worth picking up and deserve far more attention than they are given.

Brain-training games were a big trend in the seventh generation, with Nintendo’s Brain Age series being the most prominent.  As expected, the series made it to the Wii in Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree.  While not considered an exceptional entry in the series, it was praised for making good use of the Wii controller for its mental fitness mini-games.

Now you can train your brain from the comfort of your couch

Now you can train your brain from the comfort of your couch

One sub-genre of puzzle games made an unexpected return in the sixth generation: the navigation type most associated with Marble Madness and the Super Monkey Ball series.  While the Wii’s Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz and Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll are not considered strong games in the series, the Wii had some solid genre representatives.

Kororinpa: Marble Mania and its sequel Marble Saga: Kororinpa were traditional maze games that used the Wii Remote’s motion capabilities for navigation.  The original Kororinpa was criticized for its short length, but Marble Saga was much longer and refined the motion controls, earning it a place among the Wii’s cult classics.

If you can think of a simpler way to transport marbles, I'd like to hear it

If you can think of a simpler way to transport marbles, I’d like to hear it

Mercury Meltdown Revolution is a less straightforward maze game.  You guide a mass of mercury through levels while changing its size and properties to solve puzzles and get past obstacles.  There are also obstacles that can directly kill you instead of just pushing you off the edge, which is rare for this type of game.  With the option to use the Classic Controller, it is a good choice for gamers who don’t want to rely on motion controls for such precise movement.

Conclusion
While the Wii wasn’t overloaded with retail puzzle games, it had several standouts and was probably the best choice for them among the seventh generation home consoles.  Games like Zack and Wiki, A Boy and His Blob, and the Boom Blox games are overlooked gems that deserved far more attention than they received.  The Wii’s unique controller lent itself to the creative puzzle games and, while those attempts weren’t always successful, it was a great experience when they were.

That’s all for this time, but make sure to stay tuned for the next installment of the Wii Retrospective.  It’s going to be a big one!

Written by kevtron