Index – Wii Retrospective
- Best Wii Platformer Games
- Best Wii RPGs
- Best Wii Adventure Games
- Best Wii Action Games
- Best Wii FPS Games
- Best Wii Puzzle Games
- Miscellaneous Genres
- Best WiiWare Games
Hello and welcome to another installment of the Wii Retrospective! Throughout this series, I’ve always added the qualifier “retail” to any statements about Wii games, but it is finally time to address the sizable amount of downloadable games available on the Wii. This is specifically for WiiWare; Virtual Console has some great games on it, but you can’t really count them as Wii games. That still leaves plenty of games, so let’s get started!
The rise of downloadable games on consoles in the seventh generation gave a lot of long dormant series a chance to finally see a new installment and Wii received a good number of them. The best known are Mega Man 9 and 10 — and for good reason. After the Mega Man platformers getting increasingly convoluted in both gameplay and story — remember: this was before people would be relieved to see anything at all from Mega Man — the complete NES feel of Mega Man 9 was just what the series needed. Mega Man 9 is a solid entry in the series, if not the most inspired in terms of level design. The overlooked Mega Man 10 has much more creative level design, as well as the ability to play as a character with sliding and charging without paying extra. Both games are essential WiiWare purchases.
Konami gave WiiWare several revivals in the Rebirth series. Gradius Rebirth and Contra Rebirth were solid, if shorter than usual, 16-bit style entries in their series. Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth was also a 16-bit style, somewhat short, entry but it deserves special mention for its context. Ever since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night introduced the “Metroidvania” style to the series, the linear, 2D “Classicvania” style had been abandoned. Castlevania Rebirth is — aside from an unpopular Game Boy game from 1998 — the only Classicvania since Symphony of the Night, which makes it essential for fans of the series who miss its roots.
The multiple episodes of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years were the closest thing to a mainline Final Fantasy that any Nintendo console had seen since the SNES days. A direct sequel to Final Fantasy IV, it had a mixed reception, but many people welcomed it as a return to the classic Final Fantasy style; even having some fans is quite an accomplishment for a game that debuted in episodes on cellphones. Bomberman is another series with a rocky recent history that had a well received WiiWare release in the classically styled Bomberman Blast. Tetris Party is another classic multiplayer series that saw a solid Wii release, but the impending death of online play on the Wii makes it hard to recommend over more recent versions.
It wasn’t just the big classic series that got revivals on WiiWare. Star Soldier R took the overhead shooter in a new direction by basing its gameplay entirely around trying for a high score. There was even a warning on the game’s download page that, if you weren’t trying for a high score, the game would be over in a manner of minutes. Adventure Island: The Beginning was the first Adventure Island game released in generations, receiving a mixed reception but obviously being great for fans of the series. Blaster Master: Overdrive did a good job of reviving the NES classic, which until Overdrive was known for having disappointing sequels and revival attempts. Excitebike fans disappointed that other vehicles took the spotlight in Wii’s retail Excite games got Excitebike: World Rally, one of the few first party Nintendo series to get a WiiWare game.
WiiWare wasn’t just for bringing back old franchises; it had plenty of new series debut on it. The most numerous well known one is the Bit.Trip series. Bit.Trip Beat, Bit.Trip Core, Bit.Trip Void, Bit.Trip Runner, Bit.Trip Fate, and Bit.Trip Flux were all released on the Wii. Most of the games featured heavy use of the Wii’s unique controller and had very long levels modeled after retro arcade games, but much — as the name suggests — trippier. Bit.Trip Runner is an exception, with more conventional controls and a huge amount of short levels. Runner is actually the best game in the series, one of the deepest endless runner style games there is. The other Bit.Trip games are more of an acquired taste, but they definitely have their fans. The series was later compiled into a retail release that featured extra levels for all six games, which is a much better value if you want to play all the games in it.
World of Goo was one of the most praised WiiWare games and that praise is well deserved. A physics-based puzzle game that revolves around building structures from blobs of … well, goo, World of Goo is just fun to play. The sticky building tools you use are fun to just watch, but the game also has very clevel level design and a charming aesthetic and story. The IR pointer on the Wii controller combined with the unique physics makes for one of the standout puzzle games of the seventh generation, digital or retail.
Speaking of games that made good use of the Wii’s unique controller, WiiWare was a haven for them. One of the first WiiWare games, Lost Winds is an atmospheric sidescrolling puzzle game that makes heavy use of the Wii’s IR sensor. Unfortunately, it is now best known for being the only WiiWare game that can not be transferred to the Wii U, a problem which, at this point, will likely not be fixed. Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias continues the story of the original and is a longer experience.
NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits is another sidescroller that makes extensive use of the IR pointer, but it has a much larger emphasis on action and platforming. A Greek mythology themed puzzle-platformer, NyxQuest is definitely worth checking out. Art of Balance is a more conventional puzzle game, using the Wii’s controller to, well, balance stacks of oddly shaped objects. The complexity of the physics that govern the objects you are stacking is what makes it stand out. Nintendo’s own Fluidity is another physics-based WiiWare puzzle game where you use motion controls to guide a puddle of water through complex levels. Nintendo also published the Art Style series. The Art Style games combined a variety of simple gameplay concepts with surreal artistic settings and earned many fans.
The WiiWare library reflects the Wii’s library as a whole, often overlooked and underestimated. It was very easy for games on it to slip through the cracks and I apologize to the ones that I missed, which I think may be more than in the other articles. Feel free to suggest ones that didn’t get covered in the comments. In fact, feel free to do that for any genre, now that “I may not have covered the genre that I place your favorite game in yet” no longer applies. There’s one more installment of the Wii Retrospective left, a Retroception if you will, that will look over all the covered genres one last time. Until then, remember that now is probably the best time there will ever be to get cheap Wii games. Expand your library!