With the Wii U out today in North America (November 18) and in Europe later this month (November 30), it's the perfect time to look back at the system that came before it. After all, the Wii is one of the best-selling game consoles of all time, and if Nintendo wants to duplicate that success there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the Wii's motion-controlled gaming library.
Thankfully, one of the nicer features about the Wii U is that it is backwards compatible with all Wii games. So whether you're looking to complete a Wii collection, or hoping to use the new system to catch up on games you missed, Digital Spy rounds up its favourite Wii titles for more quality games than you can shake a Wii remote at.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
With Metroid Prime, Retro Studios made a bold move by shifting the classic side-scrolling action and exploration series into a first-person perspective. The result was a masterpiece, with a lush atmospheric world full of danger and discoveries. With each sequel the formula expanded, introducing parallel worlds and, finally with number three, motion controls on the Wii.
Using the Wii remote to aim makes it hard to imagine going back to analogue sticks or even a mouse for first-person games, making Metroid Prime 3 a must-have for any Wii owner. The fact that Metroid Prime Trilogy also includes the first two Prime games refitted with the excellent Wii remote controls makes it possibly one of the best gaming discs available on any system in the last five years, not just the Wii.
> Retro Corner: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Also recommended: Red Steel 2, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Conduit 2.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
With Super Mario Galaxy 2, Nintendo built on the already impressive planet-hopping gameplay of the first game. Nintendo was more confident in its level designs for the sequel, resulting in some platforming challenges that use Mario's simple running and jumping in creative new ways.
And let's not forget Yoshi's triumphant return and the prettiest visuals the Wii has to offer. It's hard to imagine how Nintendo will top it with the next inevitable 3D Mario game on Wii U, but many thought the same thing after the first Super Mario Galaxy and Nintendo pulled it off.
Also recommended: Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros Wii, Super Paper Mario, Flip's Twisted World, De Blob
Boom Blox: Bash Party
Though you might expect director Steven Spielberg to create an intensely story-driven game, when given the role of lead designer he instead came up with the unapologetically silly Boom Blox and its sequel Boom Blox: Bash Party. The goal is simply to wreck increasingly elaborate block structures by chucking balls at them with the Wii remote, and it is every bit as fun and satisfying as it sounds.
The sequel expanded the multiplayer offerings, including a brilliant mode where players took turns building their own towers while trying to destroy everyone else's. Add to that a level editor with the option to share your creations with other players, and there was virtually no end to the cathartic block destruction players could unleash.
Also recommended: Boom Blox, Dokapon Kingdom, Mario Party 9.
Mario Kart Wii
As with every other Nintendo system, Mario Kart sped onto Nintendo's console adding motion controls, motorbikes and a new stunt system to the already winning kart racer formula.
It's also one of the few Wii games to actually use the system's online capabilities with an expansive global matchmaking system. While the console game is often outshined by the DS and 3DS entries in the series, Mario Kart Wii is still one of the best console racing games around, especially with friends.
Also recommended: Excitebots: Trick Racing, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, MotoHeroz
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
What would the Wii be without Nintendo's seminal mascot fighting game? It gathered an all-star roster of Nintendo's greatest characters, along with guest appearances by Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake, for an accessible yet challenging brawl with up to four players. For the Wii entry, Hal Labs introduced a full single-player story mode to flesh out the experience with a nostalgic trip through Nintendo's long gaming history.
It also featured a level editor to create and share custom arenas, and more multiplayer mode customization options than anyone would ever need. It was also the first Wii game with online multiplayer, though admittedly that first status included more than its fair share of lag and connection issues as well. Super Smash Bros Brawl is still the de-facto game to grab when a few friends are around, with something to please every type of Nintendo fan.
Also recommended: Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Donkey Kong Country Returns
The Wii had no shortage of side-scrolling platformers, but Donkey Kong Country Returns stood out among the pack. Though Retro Studios stayed true to the classic Donkey Kong Country games, it also made the series feel fresh again thanks to a plethora of secrets to uncover and creative level designs that had Donkey and Diddy Kong scampering and climbing more fluidly than ever before.
It also featured strong co-operative play for two players, which came in especially handy as the game ramps up in difficulty. It may have been passed over by some Nintendo fans for looking too similar to past Donkey Kong games, but there is a lot more new in Donkey Kong Country Returns than Nintendo's other Wii side-scroller that has 'New' in the title.
Also recommended: Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Rayman Origins, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
With a massive world, engaging story and satisfying combat, Xenoblade Chronicles quickly became the new standard for role-playing games on the Wii. The interesting and personable cast of characters pulls you in for an adventure that can easily span 100 or more hours to see everything the game has to offer.
It may not be the prettiest Wii game out there, but Xenoblade Chronicles made up for it with the absolutely stunning scope as players traversed a nearly seamless world free of load times.
Enemies that were visible right on the map and a real-time combat system just added to the sense of immersion, bringing the world of Xenoblade Chronicles to life like few other Japanese role-playing games. It's a shame that Xenoblade Chronicles didn't arrive until near the end of the Wii's life cycle, but sometimes the best really is saved for last.
> Read our review of Xenoblade Chronicles
Also recommended: The Last Story, Monster Hunter Tri, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Arc Rise Fantasia
It's pretty safe to say that the Wii would have never been the runaway success that it became without Wii Sports. The pack-in title was the perfect introduction to the system's motion controls, giving gamers - and indeed, non-gamers - everywhere that first "aha" moment for what Nintendo's odd one-handed controller could do.
Sure, it didn't provide 1:1 accuracy for your movements, but whether you were swinging a racket in tennis or rolling a strike in bowling it always managed to feel right. Even now at the end of the Wii's lifecycle, Wii Sports is still one of the most satisfying uses of motion controls on the system.
Also recommended: Wii Sports Resort, Zack and Wiki, Rhythm Heaven Fever, Animal Crossing: City Folk
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
The Silent Hill series was always at its best when delving into the twisted psyche of its protagonists, as each scare takes on a deeper personal meaning for the character. Shattered Memories takes that idea and runs with it, as players point the Wii remote to illuminate the creepy town of Silent Hill with their flashlight.
The game keeps track of seemingly incidental details, such as which items you look at and even how long you look at them, and molds the story around your play style. Stop to look at a risqué pin-up calendar a little too long? Congratulations, now some unresolved sexual frustration is going to show up later on in the story. By psychoanalyzing the player, the game accomplishes a uniquely creepy and personal experience, without needing to resort to combat for its scares.
Also recommended: No More Heroes 2, Deadly Creatures, Epic Mickey, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Though the Wii launched with Twilight Princess, it was Skyward Sword that met the full potential of the system's motion controls. Using Wii Remote Plus for added accuracy, the game could accurately depict the direction and speed of every sword swing.
This became an integral part of both combat and puzzles, with enemies that would block from certain angles or objects that had to be cut a certain way.
The new-found sword control blended well with the steady stream of new items accumulated throughout the adventure, offering new dungeons to explore. It was also one of the most story-heavy entries in the series, introducing a cast of colorful characters while telling the origin story of Link's legendary Master Sword.
> Read our review of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Also recommended: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Okami, Murumasa: The Demon Blade
What are your favourite Wii games? Post a comment below!