10. Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Certainly not what we expected out of the first Wii Kirby title but Kirby’s Epic Yarn is just that: a charming, fun, tale exploding with glee. The game is just so damn nice to look at, with flowing rivers made by waves of string of yarn, buildings that are tightly knitted bundles, and enemies composed of – you guessed it – YARN. All of this gives Kirby’s Epic Yarn a unique sense of flare. Anyone can see it and recognize it as “that yarn game.”
The gameplay, while easy, is insanely fun. Goring enemies with Kirby’s yarn whip is satisfying, and flinging their unraveled carcasses at their friends is equally so (and a little darker than I remember). Exploring the yarny worlds is enjoyable, as every nook and cranny have cute, little details to swoon over. Kirby himself is also head-throbbingly adorable. Instead of the dash found in the earlier games, he turns into a little car that bumps his head into stuff and melts your heart. He can also turn into a parachute to softly glide down with a big smile, or a submarine to go underwater to discover little treasures, and even a penguin to surf his way down a mountain, having fun the entire way.
This game is cute, which might be a little obvious at this point. It’s easy to grab a friend, sit down, and beat the entire journey in one sitting – a sitting filled with lots of “awww”s, “sooo cute”s, and a startling loss of man points. (Ricardo Rodriguez)
9. Wii Sports
The game that time forgot, Wii Sports was a paragon of motion control gaming disregarded by virtue of its obviousness. What more could possibly capitalize upon the Wii’s motion control and couch-competitive-friendly atmosphere than “Tennis”, a game in which players thrashed their Wiimotes around as quickly as possible while their bumbling bobble-head avatars hurled across the pitch until one of them collapsed? Brawl might have been the public’s competitive Wii game of choice, but the game still had you play as if you were using just another controller. Wii Sports made you play with motion control better than anyone – and it was free. (Liam Hevey)
8. Mario Kart Wii
As with every Nintendo console, the Wii ushered in a new era of Mario Kart. It’s been happening since the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in 1991, and there has been a continuous stream of great karting games ever since.
Mario Kart Wii was a highly anticipated title, as it was set to carry on the legacy of Mario Kart onto a brand new platform, one that was revolutionary in its own right, as it brought forth an innovative new motion control mechanic that had never been experienced in a home console before. People all over the world were anxious to see how this new motion control would affect the nature of Mario Kart, with longtime fans of the Mario Kart series in turmoil, tainted by uncertain feelings about the role motion controls would play in this brand new installation.
Luckily, Nintendo handled Mario Kart Wii just right. The motion controls are present, but not a decisive factor in playing the game, and Nintendo fans still have the opportunity to go about their Mario Kart business as always, despite still being faced with the sense of innovation that Nintendo made their name from. No matter what new gimmick the console came with, the components that make up Mario Kart are still very much intact. The maps are fun to play, and some of them, like Maple Treeway and Coconut Mall, are in fact some of my favorite maps to date. The characters we know from the previous games are still present and playable, alongside a large variety of new additions to the roster. In conclusion, Mario Kart Wii manages to stay true to the previous installations of the series, whilst overcoming the controversy that followed the console and its features. (Johnny Pedersen)
7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Through New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Nintendo managed to bring a beloved reinvention of a beloved game back to the big screen. The original Super Mario Bros. released for the NES has achieved legendary status because of how it managed to redefine the 2D side-scrolling platformer, eventually spawning a few direct sequels and a plethora of games that chose to make use of the formula the game had brought to the scene. Then, in 2006, Nintendo completely revamped the game and released it for the DS, having it brandish new 3D-graphics, improved design, and new levels and entities. The game instantly became a classic, managing to reach a huge number of players due to its immersive gameplay and availability.
Nintendo must have figured this game was worth betting on because only a short while later they released another version of the game, this time for the Nintendo Wii. The graphics were further improved, new levels were designed, and new game mechanics were included, having the players make use of the motion controller that came with the console. The main factor that helped catapult the game into a spot within the Wii Hall of Fame, however, was the multiplayer function. NSMBW can be played cooperatively with great ease, players dropping in and out without any hardship, the entirety able to be played to completion regardless of how many players partaking in the action. This makes New Super Mario Bros. Wii a classic reinvention of a classic reinvention of a classic game. (Johnny Pedersen)
6. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
After Super Smash Bros. Melee proved itself a massive success following its release on the Nintendo GameCube, fans worldwide were curious as to how Nintendo was going to follow it up. The Super Smash Bros. series itself had grown to become a favorite amongst both casual Nintendo gamers and avid followers of the company, and tensions were high when it became clear that Nintendo was making an installation for the Nintendo Wii.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl builds upon the foundations of its predecessors in many ways. It improves upon the game mechanics in general, making sure the formula of the gameplay remains perpetually relevant and playable, while also expanding the roster of characters, adding a lot of new opportunities to the game, and providing a more immersive experience overall.
All of this aside, the most prominent feature of Super Smash Bros. Brawl is how it builds upon the universe of the game itself. There had been a vague sort of storyline present in the two previous installations of the series, but Brawl manages to expand this feature massively. The game features a story unlike anything the Super Smash Bros. franchise had ever seen in the past, making use of the coalition of franchises included in the series and expanding upon it, creating a plethora of lore, boss battles, and character development – all of it playable in the new game mode, titled “The Subspace Emissary”.
Say what you want about The Subspace Emissary, but Nintendo once again took initiative and displayed their incredible sense of innovation by creating new aspects and improving upon aspects already in place in one of their most famous game series to date. Because of this, Brawl turned out to be one of the most memorable Wii titles to date. (Johnny Pedersen)
5. Xenoblade Chronicles
By 2012 the JRPG genre was in steep decline. Intensely rebuking Final Fantasy XIII, fans of the genre looked for a new series to become the standard by which other JRPGs were judged. After an intense localization battle that saw Nintendo recognize consumer demand for Xenoblade Chronicles in North America, the JRPG fanbase was given that chance.
Despite launching while the Wii was being not-so-quietly put out to pasture, Xenoblade Chronicles was a critical hit (pun intended) that shattered expectations and put unknown second party developer Monolith Soft on the map. Headed by famed Japanese game developer Tetsuya Takahashi, Xenoblade Chronicles manages to take Takahashi’s famed talent with exposition and control it, producing one of gaming’s most finely crafted stories in the process.
Whereas Takahashi’s previous titles such as Xenogears and Xenosaga completely embrace the traditional nature of previous JRPGs, Xenoblade took emphasis from Western MMOs, added a finely tuned story, and integrated what ranks as one of gaming’s greatest soundtracks into a hundred hour long epic, refocusing the entire JRPG industry in the process.
From its impressive setting upon the bodies of two deceased titans to its impressive art direction and its expressive characters, Xenoblade Chronicles is a masterpiece that needs to be savored from beginning to end and is well worth the time it takes to uncover its mysteries. (Izsak Barnette)
4. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Fans had to know that Nintendo was up to something truly special when they announced that Skyward Sword would officially become the first game in the Legend of Zelda timeline. Fortunately, Nintendo delivered on all of those expectations and more with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
A game that took the revolutionary/gimmicky motion controls of the Wii to their fullest extent, Skyward Sword is almost worth playing as much as a proof of concept as it is for its breathtaking adventure and wholly original take on the Zelda mythos.
Set among a series of floating islands that eventually give way to a shattered world below, Skyward Sword both echoes the world design of one of the best Zelda titles in history in the form of The Wind Waker and calls to mind the scale of the Final Fantasy series in equal measure.
Throw in some gorgeous art design and one of the most concise plots in the franchise and you’re left with a truly underrated classic, easily one of the best games in the series. (Mike Worby)
3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess is great, which is unsurprising considering its heritage, but much like any other Zelda, it’s great because of what makes it different from the rest of the series. Majora’s Mask is dark. Really dark. Twilight Princess is also dark but in a different way. It’s one of the most adult games in the franchise due to its in-your-face ambiance and surprisingly spooky locations. The dreary settings really help immerse the player into this startlingly depressing world. A poisoned forest, frozen lake, and haunted prison are just a few of these absolutely haunting locations. The game’s soundtrack also adds to its atmosphere. There are a few beautiful songs, but most are just as unsettling as the places they surround.
The enemies are equally as disturbing. They look surprisingly realistic, despite their obviously fantastical designs. There are gross, warty goblins, humongous frogs, fish hybrids, and even Ganon joins the in on the unnerving fun. His pig form is actually pretty horrifying in Twilight Princess, in contrast to his more cartoony looks in the previous Zeldas.
The story in Twilight Princess is quite a hallmark for the rest of the series. Out of all the previous games, including The Wind Waker, its characters feel the most human. They’re acutely aware of the horrible circumstances around them and react accordingly. Terror, sadness, and just plain depression are emotions expressed exceedingly well by all of the characters. For all of these reasons, Twilight Princess is a game that’s hard to forget. (Ricardo Rodriguez)
2. Super Mario Galaxy 2
Few sequels can quite capture the brilliance of their predecessors. Many thought that Nintendo had caught lightning in a bottle when they released the original Super Mario Galaxy in 2007, but 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2 set a new bar of excellence for the plumber’s adventures.
By incorporating classic elements such as Yoshi and by creatively imagining new elements, such as the Cloud Flower, Nintendo breathed life into the Galaxy series while also maintaining the quality present in the original.
In many ways, Super Mario Galaxy 2 surpasses the original Galaxy. The levels are more creative, the power-ups are more interesting, and the introduction of Yoshi adds creative flair to the level design. The music is equally stunning, matched only by the original Galaxy in its brilliance. Mahito Yokota, Ryo Nagamatsu, and Koji Kondo’s soundtrack embodies the wonder and thrill of space while incorporating classic Super Mario themes excellently.
While some may call it nothing more than DLC for the original, Super Mario Galaxy 2 improves on the first game dramatically while also adding enough inventive, fresh content to make this game the definitive Galaxy experience. (Izsak Barnette)
1. Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy is not only the best title on the Nintendo Wii, it is the single greatest example of what the entertainment medium of gaming has to offer. It is the definition of a masterpiece: unprecedented level design, an endless stream of imaginative and creative ideas, and (most importantly) a rock-solid gameplay system that stands head and shoulders above every other 3D title, period. Galaxy is the culmination of everything Nintendo EAD Tokyo has learned from years of game development. The awe-inspiring orchestral soundtrack and second-to-none visuals create an experience that simply does not age. All of this is backed by a staggering amount of content in the form of collectible stars that are represented as completely unique challenges. Nintendo has once again succeeded in highlighting the best of what games have to offer. There is no over-reliance on narrative, no over-complicated gimmick that tries too hard to be unique; it is the quintessential gameplay experience, perfected. (Zack Rezak)