When the Nintendo Wii was introduced in 2006, it was a literal game changer for the company for 7 years. As Nintendo’s seventh-generation console, it was the first Nintendo home console to introduce features such as internet capabilities and backward compatibility for a previous console. Personally, I’ve found the Wii to be the best Nintendo console for retro titles through its (now defunct) virtual console option - it’s what I use mine for almost on a daily basis.
The point is, the Wii opened a lot of doors for some pretty great games and proved to be one of the best game consoles of its era. There are plenty of these Wii games that are still worth revisiting today, but which ones deserve the most attention?
The following list will answer that question based on Wii games with the highest metascores from Metacritic, a site dedicated to aggregating reviews from top critics for different types of media. It will also list titles from lowest metascore to the highest.
Several gamers will recognize this franchise title right away. It brought out the inner musician in each player and created some of the best memories with friends and family back in the day. Rock Band 3 followed the pattern of gameplay found in its predecessors. Players attempt to sync the rhythm and timing of their “music playing” controls with on-screen prompts, which consist of scrolling color bars that represent different musical notes, in order to play the selected song as perfectly as possible.
This third installment in the franchise differed from previous installments in that it debuted “Pro mode” where the game would up the ante in specific actions expected to complete the song, such as matching fingering on strings and frets of a guitar or accurate and precise fingering on a keyboard - one would really have to quite familiar with real musical instruments to succeed in this mode of gameplay.
Next on the list is the Rayman franchise! Rayman Origins was a highly praised Wii game due to its art aesthetic, level design, and unique sense of humor. It follows Rayman, Globox, and Teensies as they attempt to save the Glade of Dreams from Darktoons and many other harmful creatures.
Its gameplay offers a variety of unique and bizarre challenges throughout the course of the story. Each level gives Rayman and his friends different abilities to use, like running up walls and changing size to access new areas of the level. Its challenge consisted of collecting hearts to avoid one-hit kills from enemies and yellow Lums needed for Electoons.
The game was nominated for several awards, winning GameSpot’s Best Platformer of 2011. Eventually, it received two sequels (not Wii games) with the release of Rayman Jungle Run and Rayman Legends.
Part of the highly praised action-RPG franchise, Xenoblade Chronicles is all about revenge as it follows protagonist Shulk and his friends as they go against the Mechon for attacking their home. One of the best things about the Xeno series is its fantastical environment and the freedom of exploration within it - I mean, characters journey across the backs of frozen titans, how much more fantastical can a setting get, really?
Exploration is essentially the core of this Wii game. If one chooses to pursue them, side quests and collectible items - for the “collectopaedia” - can determine the course of gameplay. Another important part of gameplay is relationships. Quests can affect the way characters think about each other and unlock other story components. There are also the different relationship “systems” that determine how well characters get along with each other and reveal the histories and personalities of the characters in question.
Xeno really is an excellent Wii game to revisit simply because each session of gameplay can take a drastically different direction.
Now we’re back to the Rock Band franchise. This series really stirred up the gaming scene back in the day, for sure. Rock Band 2 greatly improved the overall flow and features that the series had to offer. The gameplay is the same as other Rock Band titles and it was the first released to introduce “Drum Trainer” mode and “Battle of the Bands.”
Okay, so it was obvious that a Zelda game was going to show up on this list eventually. If fans of the series want to know the absolute beginning of the infinite conflict between the Triforce representatives, Link, Princess Zelda, and Ganon, then this game is certainly the best place to start. Not only that, but the story is one of the best ones in the franchise, in my personal opinion. Partly taking place on floating islands in the sky, players once again control everyone’s favorite pointy-eared protagonist as he sets out on a quest to save Princess Zelda after she becomes lost in the forbidden lands below.
Every Zelda installment brings its own unique flair and worldbuilding to the series, but Skyward Sword really went all out with it. As usual, players will find themselves traveling through forests, deserts, and volcanic lands as they track Zelda, but this time they are accompanied by Fi, the spirit of the Master Sword. There’s also the chance to complete side quests that will require Link to soar through the sky on the back of his Loftwing (a huge bird) to various locations.
The game is filled to the brim with personality, from eccentric characters and creatures to the story itself, which will have players facing all sorts of challenges and battles until the final moment when they face Ganon once more.
Skyward Sword recently received an HD remaster for the Nintendo Switch, so the Wii game version isn’t necessary to revisit the story. In the end, it doesn’t matter just as long as this masterpiece is given another well-deserved playthrough.
Serving as Metacritic’s 2008 Game of the Year, Super Smash Bros. Brawl continued the popular crossover fighting series. Players choose from a slate of classic Nintendo characters and choose an arena, often an environment based on different Nintendo franchises, where the selected characters can duke it out. The game also allows for players to create their own arenas (referred to as stages in-game) that can be saved for later use. There’s also a story mode to experience where players battle against the antagonists called Subspace Army, led by the Ancient Minister.
Other gameplay features include the Vault, where players collect trophies of different characters and video game artwork. There are also minigames that can be found in Stadium mode, with some making a comeback from previous Super Smash Bros. entries.
The goal of this Wii game is relatively simple. Players build things out of goo to progress through each chapter. However, there’s somewhat of a twist. There is a required number of goo balls that need to make it into a pipe (the official exit of the level) before players can progress to the next level. There are different types of goo players can collect and use to create structures needed to complete the chapter. Some goo has to be combined with other types to achieve different goals.
That’s not all the game has to offer, however. Among all the goo, there’s a story to unravel, so there is more to the game than simply mixing and matching pieces of goo and sending them down a pipe. The unique style of gameplay and mixture of story are what make this game worth revisiting.
So who thought that another Zelda title would make the list? Let’s be honest, everyone did, and for good reason. I personally would have been immensely confused if Twilight Princess didn’t make this list eventually. It’s great to see that it earned a top spot.
The story follows Link as he travels back and forth between the real world and a parallel dimension, known as the Twilight realm, in an attempt to keep Hyrule from becoming corrupt by evil forces (Ganon and his minions again) and the dark power that has taken over the Twilight realm. Did I mention that Link transforms into a wolf when surrounded by Twilight? It’s a neat gameplay touch.
Once again, this Wii game relies heavily on motion controls. Players use the nunchuck and Wii remote to control both human and wolf versions of Link. The game also follows a similar pattern as previous titles, with players having to complete dungeon puzzles to progress through the story.
The game was highly praised upon release and was the highest-rated game of 2006 on the Metacritic website. It went on to win several awards from organizations like the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and Game Critics Awards.
Twilight Princess is still considered to be one of the best games of all time.
Super Mario Galaxy is one of those Mario series that continues to stand the test of time. Building on the success of the first Wii game, Super Mario Galaxy 2 allows players to, once again, visit a variety of themed galaxies and complete physics-based challenges - to track down and defeat everybody’s favorite Koopa King after he kidnapped Princess Peach.
Its gameplay involves the usual platform-style expectations from the Mario series, but there are some new power-ups and environments to enjoy and explore. Oh, and Yoshi is part of the adventure this time, helping Mario with different obstacles. Another big plus for this game (that can also be found in the original) is the music. I always liked that the music sometimes matches what happens in the environment. It’s the little things that have the biggest effect at times.
We’re finally at number one. I can personally vouch for this Wii game too. It follows the same pattern as Super Mario Galaxy 2 as far as gameplay and overall goal are concerned. But I can definitely see how it would rank as number one on Metacritic due to it serving as the introduction to the iconic Mario series. It’s the game’s original creativity mixed with the usual Super Mario platformer style that keeps gamers coming back to Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. Hopefully, in the near future, Nintendo will bring these titles to the Nintendo Switch.
There are a lot of Wii games that are worth checking out, obviously. When the console was introduced, it felt like it was the official turning point for how Nintendo approached creating their games and the overall gaming experiences they strived to provide for gamers of all types. It’s great to see that a lot of these games are still actively played today.