Top Pick for
Nintendo Wii game overall
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Back when it launched, absolutely nobody saw how huge a hit the Nintendo Wii was going to be. Mocked widely for its name and the use of motion controls, there wasn't much hope for Nintendo's low-power, low-cost machine… until people started playing the games. With a stroke – or a waggle, really – Nintendo brought gaming to the wider masses, selling millions of consoles and games over the Wii's six-year lifespan before it was replaced with the markedly less successful Nintendo Wii U.
The Wii had an incredibly wide library, but to be blunt, it was also home to a lot of really awful shovelware games, so sifting out the gems can be a little trickier than with many retro platforms. Here's our pick of the absolute must-own games for the Nintendo Wii.
This list was created using our own extensive knowledge of the platform, compared and contrasted against user and professional reviews, as well as sites such as Metacritic that gather up review scores in a comparative way.
Any "best" list – just as with any games or other media review – will have a natural level of subjectivity to it as a matter of course, and we're not going to shy away from that. However, given decades of experience in games writing, we're also quite confident in the quality of our picks of the best Nintendo Wii games.
Mario is like Nintendo's not-at-all-secret weapon. You know for a given Nintendo console that there will be Mario games, and most of them will be pretty good at worst. Super Mario Galaxy 2 goes beyond that, delivering some of the best 3D Mario action ever written into code. If you've never played it, the Wii remains the one place you can play it – its predecessor is on the Switch Mario 35th collection but Mario Galaxy 2 isn't – and even if you played it back in the day, it's a title that's well worth a revisit.
The Nintendo Wii was of course going to be home to a plentiful supply of Mario games to sate your action itch, although we came very close to awarding the excellent port of Capcom's Resident Evil IV the gong for this category. Still, the polish in Super Mario Galaxy 2 can't be ignored. It's the equal highest-rated Wii game on Metacritic along with its predecessor, but unlike that game, it's not available as part of the Mario 35th collection, making it slightly rarer and more desirable. There's just so much to uncover in this game, with the planetary exploration gimmick from the original Super Mario Galaxy amped up in all sorts of wacky and creative ways.
Really, could it be any other title? Well, yes, it could – the criminally overlooked Excite Truck deserves a place in your collection – but we can't overlook the sheer fun of Nintendo's oft-refined kart racing series. Throw away the tacky plastic wheel remote and get yourself some decent controls, and you'll find Mario Kart Wii still stands up well today. It's even possible to hack your way into online play if you're keen enough.
Despite its lower power relative to its rivals, there's quite a wide choice of RPGs for the Wii to pick from. Many will gravitate naturally to Zelda – either Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword but never Crossbow Training – but for our money, it's worth spending the extra on a copy of the lesser known but far more complex Xenoblade Chronicles. It's a game that goes well beyond the usual "sole hero saving the world" with a huge endgame that's dripping with extra content and storyline hooks to keep you enthralled all the way along.
The Wii is not blessed with a lot of great fighting games, sadly. Tatsunoku Vs Capcom is kind of cool if you're into anime, but the less said about the terrible WWE games of the era, the better. Thankfully you can wash all of that away with the sublime Super Smash Bros Brawl, still often cited as one of the best entries in the series, with an expanded roster that goes beyond the traditional Nintendo fare to add a certain well-known box-dwelling mercenary. Add in an incredibly lengthy campaign mode, and even if you're just playing Brawl on your own, there's always plenty to do – or in this case, smash.
Think Nintendo Wii sports games and you almost inevitably think Wii Sports, the pack-in game that everyone has. It's an incredible launch title, and it's rather sad to think that there's really not a lot that beats Nintendo's deliberately simple sports title for the Wii (although a hell of a lot the shovelware titles developed for the system certainly gave it a good old go.) Nintendo's own update to its classic arcade title, Punch-Out! is the rare exception to this rule, delivering an entertaining take on hitting another cartoon gentleman as hard as possible while rhythmically counter-dodging their blows.
While the Wii sold on its wide family gaming appeal, puzzle games weren't a strong focus for most developers. There's some solid titles, such as Mercury Meltdown, Drawn to Life and, at a stretch the Rock Band games if you want to count their action as puzzle-based. Then there's Boom Blox, a game which really does take the Wii's motion controls into consideration when building its puzzle elements. It's best described as Jenga with explosives, although your aim in any given level might be more than just removing blocks to avoid catastrophe.
What makes Boom Blox really stand out is its use of the motion controller to force you to grab blocks in each level and adjust them according to each level's puzzle parameters. There's even a passable multiplayer setup in here, although some puzzles don't work that well with many players on hand.
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