A common sleight against the original Wii is that it lacked good games. However, while it’s true that the original Wii lacked almost all the big third party multi-platform games and that its broad popularity lead to huge amounts of bad third-party games, the fact is the machine played host to dozens of fantastic, must-play titles. And since the Wii U is fully backwards compatible, these games will play just fine on the new console.
But this is not simply a list of the top 15 Wii games, it’s a list of Wii games that should be in the collection of any Wii U owner. So what’s the difference? The top Wii games to play on Wii U need to have stood the test of time, they need to look great despite being displayed in standard definition, they need to steer clear of the more obscure or ridiculous Wii peripherals and above all they need to offer a unique and fun experience. Here’s our list of the top 15 Wii games that you should check out on your new Wii U console.
15. No More Heroes
You may be familiar with the work of developer Suda 51 from such psychedelic journeys as Killer 7, Flower, Sun and Rain or Lollipop Chainsaw, but on the Wii, Suda’s auteur mind brought us No More Heroes..
The game centers around otaku hitman Travis, who sprints and leaps between foes dealing bloody vengeance with a beam Katana like a Jedi on an overdose of mescaline. Mowing through fools to a rain of digitized blood and coins while hoping your next spin of the slot machine will transform you into a man-eating tiger is an experience you just can’t get in any other game.
A remake of the PSX original that was 2.5D before 2.5D was cool, Klonoa offers a still-fresh riff on the side-scrolling platform genre. While the more traditional jump / hover jump mechanic many are familiar with from other games is there, it’s built upon with the ability to grab enemies and throw them in any direction.
The extra height boost gained by tossing an enemy mid-air means every section of the nightmare-infected world you’re traversing becomes a challenge to figure out how to progress and grab all the jewels along the way. The game looks gorgeous on the Wii U and the music is absolutely stellar.
13. Another code: R – A Journey Into Lost Memories
An under-recognized gem, Journey Into Lost Memories is a direct sequel to one of my personal favourite DS games – Another Code: Two Memories. Ashley is having flashbacks to a mother she barely remembers and you’re tasked with uncovering the mystery of her past. The game has an incredible hand-drawn aesthetic, and throughout you’ll be exploring, looking for clues, progressing a convoluted story and using your Wii remote as an all purpose tool to interact with objects in the world.
12. Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
While its kiddy name and box art might have tricked many into passing it off as yet another Wii shovelware, don’t be fooled (you’re smarter than that!).
This Capcom adventure / puzzle game offers an amazingly unique mechanic — all the animals and enemies in the game can be transformed into useful puzzle-solving objects! Sneak up on a centipede and ring your bell and ‘boom!’ — it’s now a centisaw you can use to cut down a tree. The puzzles here get diabolical but it’s all offset by gorgeous anime-inspired art.
11. Xenoblade Chronicles
Wii hosted a decided lack of epic JRPGs, but the ones it had were mostly stunning. Xenoblade Chronicles from Monolith is epic in every sense of the word. The game takes place on the bodies of two enormous titans, and the player is able to traverse the massive world pretty much as they please.
There’s a lot more of an MMO feel to this game compared to traditional JRPGs (although it’s strictly single-player), and the smart combat system, arresting visuals and huge, varied environments make Xenoblade an ideal way to get your JRPG fix on Wii U.
10. Arc Rise Fantasia
If you’re looking for something (very) traditional and turn-based instead, Arc Rise Fantasia may be more up your alley. The game’s complex, gorgeous and just reeks of a SNES or PSX-era RPG, if a little more forgiving by design. The game was pretty divisive at launch — the localization is a little roughshod and if you tire quickly of Tales-style RPGs it may not be for you — but it’s also much beloved for its fresh battle system and simply for being a really solid JRPG on Wii.
9. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
The premier shoot-em-up on Wii, Star Successor delivers fast-paced action and the reliable crazy difficulty Treasure is known for. Do you like blowing stuff up and dying repeatedly in a hail of bullets in games like Ikaruga and Bangai-o? If so you’ll probably love Star Successor.
It’s a wild on-rails ride across some pretty amazing environments, set to pumping techno beats and punctuated by some of the craziest and hugest bosses in recent memory.
8. The Last Story
Hironubu Sakaguchi of Mistwalker Studios is the man responsible for creating the Final Fantasy series, so when he decides to bring an all-new adventure to Wii, you know it’s going to be something special.
Apart from having the most beautiful collector’s edition on the system, The Last Story boasts incredible music, a captivating world to explore, well-defined characters and a few refreshing takes on JRPG staples. This very much feels like an Ivalice Final Fantasy game, albeit with more of an action-RPG focus.
7. Metroid Prime Trilogy
This is three games rather than one (obviously) but the addition of the two GameCube originals Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to the Wii sequel Metroid Prime 3: Corruption makes for a package every Nintendo fan should have in their collection.
Every game offers a level of polish and precision usually reserved for top-tier first person shooters, but applied to the tried-and-true Metroid formula of exploration and re-exploration. If you can’t get your hands on the collection Prime 3 will do on its own, but you’ll be missing out on two amazing adventures.
6. Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Kirby games are known for their innovation, but Epic Yarn is the wackiest design of them all. Kirby gets sucked into a magical sock, turning his body into string and the world into patchwork, buttons, felt dinosaurs and more.
Kirby’s trademark sucking attack is gone, replaced with ability to grab and unravel enemies as well as transform into a car, a fire truck and a UFO among others. The imaginative use of the materials stays fresh throughout and this is probably the cutest game available on Wii.
5. Donkey Kong Country Returns
If you, like me, grew up with the stellar platforming and endlessly creative levels of the SNES Donkey Kong Country games (remember the low-gravity pipe level in DKC3?), this is a game you need to own.
Of course Retro is not Rare, but they bring their own style and flare to a gameplay system so familiar to DKC fans that it’s clear the guys who made the game love the series as much as we do. The levels get pretty punishing as they go but are incredibly rewarding and varied, from the silhouette visuals of Sunset Shore to the whale-riding ambience of Blowhole Bound.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
While this is the oldest game on this list and while the Wii hosted a much prettier Zelda adventure towards the end of its lifetime, Twilight Princess still looks, sounds and feels amazing on Wii U. The constant swishing of the Wii remote to attack is a little more jarring now than when it was a novelty, but the game still holds up as one of the greatest adventure titles ever created.
After all this time the prospect of a dark, gritty Hyrule adventure is still a damn enticing one, and this is still an amazing game.
3. Super Paper Mario
There was a point around halfway through Wii’s lifetime that Nintendo realised the true potential of controlling games simply with the controller turned sideways like an NES gamepad, rather than relying on analog sticks or motion control. Super Paper Mario was the proof that a complex, full-featured and incredibly fun game could not only get by with three buttons and a d-pad, but could be one of the most unique and charming games on the system.
The hook in this game is that the world exists as both a 2D sidescroller and a 3D platformer at once, and Mario can shift between the two perspectives to traverse the levels and find secrets. It’s perfectly balanced, boasts indescribable visual flair and in true Paper Mario style is completely hilarious.
2. Super Mario Galaxy 2
The original Super Mario Galaxy was an absolute revelation, but I haven’t included it on this list because if you’re only going to own one Wii 3D Mario platformer you better make it Galaxy 2. The sequel improved the original in every way: it cut the hub world out entirely, added a greater number of fresh exciting planets to explore with less objectives on each and added some truly delightful powerups including the cloud suit.
If it wasn’t for the lower resolution this game would look somehow right on par with the better looking games currently being released for Wii U, which is a testament to the care and effort EAD put into every aspect of Galaxy 2. The orchestrated soundtrack is amazing and the worlds are lush and filled with exciting, uniquely Mario secrets to uncover. If you own a Wii or Wii U and do not have this game you are committing a heinous crime. Correct it now.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
In many ways the timing of Skyward Sword‘s release was very unfortunate. The Wii was all but finished in the eyes of many and there were very few gamers left who hadn’t become disenchanted with the system after a long and desperate dry patch. The upside of the timing though is that Skyward Sword is the product of many years worth of discovering what did and did not work for the system. As a result the game’s graphics, controls, interface and structure are all finely tuned to fit the Wii absolutely.
No more swishing the remote to swing a sword or pointing your whole arm at the screen to select an item, Skyward Sword uses the Wii motion plus to deliver easy and intuitive control over everything in the game. Beyond that, this is a masterful Zelda game you can easily sink hours into. This game is the culmination of everything that came before it on Wii, and if you’re only going to try one Wii game on Wii U it should be this.
That’s our list of Wii games you should check out on the Wii U. Especially if you never owned a Wii console and you’re just getting into it with the Wii U.