2008 was not the strongest year for Wii. The second half of the year was practically a barren wasteland when it came to first party games (that means games developed by Nintendo, for those who aren’t huge video game geeks). But there were still some very good games and I was able to put together a list of nine games (sadly, not ten) that I really enjoyed.
1. Guitar Hero: World Tour: Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Never having played Rock Band, I don’t see the flaws in GH:WT that others seem to. While I do have issues with some of the song selections ( acoustic “About a Girl” from Nirvana doesn’t scream Guitar Hero like “Heart-Shaped Box” or “Rape Me” would’ve), but, overall, I find the game incredibly addictive. Plus it’s the first game that allows you to save downloadable content to an SD card. With the Wii’s severely limited storage capacity, that’s a huge deal. Since the game was released in November, I’ve already downloaded at least ten songs, including ones from Blind Melon, the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., and Nirvana.
2. No More Heroes: No game is more fun for the first two hours than No More Heroes. NMH oozes style with it’s hilariously cheesy cut-scenes, over-the-top violence, pixelated blood, and retro-gaming menus. It does get repetitive after a while, but all beat-’em-ups do.
3. Wii Fit: I had a tough time placing Wii Fit on my list here. It was always going to make the list, but where to put it? It’s not really much of a game. It’s more of a workout tool. That being said, for someone who rarely exercised before Wii Fit, this game made exercising fun. At least, for a few months anyway. And even when you get bored with the exercises, it’s still useful to check your weight and see how much you’ve lost or gained.
4. de Blob: If you eliminate the controls from the equation, de Blob might be my favorite game of the year. It’s graphical style is perfectly suited for Wii. The presentation is top-notch. The concept and gameplay is quite original. And the game has a great sense of humor. In de Blob, you control a blob of color who’s tasked with painting the town red, blue, green, or any other color really. You jump from building to building bringing color back to a currently black and white world. You have to transform landmarks like the “Church of Inktology” back to their original designs (often art galleries, radio stations, etc.). The problem with all of this is the developer decided to map the most crucial control in the game to a waggle. That’s right, to JUMP you shake the Wii remote. It’s idiotic, completely unintuitive, and for some players, it will be a deal breaker. It’s such a shame. But if you can get past that one moronic control choice, the game is a ton of fun.
5. Okami: Released on PS2 a couple years ago, Okami made perfect sense as a Wii port. The gameplay involves painting attacks with a brush. Controlling the brush with the Wii remote feels very intuitive (much more so than controlling it with an analog stick). The game borrows heavily from the Legend of Zelda franchise, but brings enough original ideas to check it out. Plus, if you’re going to be a clone of any game, being a Zelda clone ain’t a bad thing. The game does have a few false endings which will make you scream, “Wait! There’s more?!” Graphically, the cel-shading is beautiful and ideal for Wii.
6. Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Nintendo’s first venture into the online arena, SSBB was almost everything you’d want in a sequel: more characters, more stages, more modes, more items, more of everything really. The biggest problem with the game is the online mode. SSBB is a game that requires some precision and it’s online mode is a lagfest. Nintendo tried to minimize this issue by allowing gamers to see the connection speed of their competitors and let the gamer decide if they wanted to join a match with someone with a questionable connection speed. But even when you had 4 players with perfect connections, there was still a lag of a half-second of so. This being said, there are very few games with more fun local multiplayer modes. So invite your friends over to play, but don’t fight your battles online.
7. Lego Batman: If you like Legos and you like Batman, you will like this game. If you don’t, I don’t want to know you. Lego Batman is not revolutionary in any way. The developers really haven’t improved the formula much from the Lego Star Wars games. And it’s ludicrous there’s no online co-op mode. But it’s still Lego Batman. And that just makes it inherently awesome.
8. Mario Kart Wii: While Smash Bros. was Nintendo first online game for Wii, Mario Kart was Nintendo’s first successful one. Mario Kart Wii does nothing to try and reinvent the franchise and the battle mode is a little weak. But its online mode is very well done. The interface is nice, the way the players are introduced with the spinning globe is very cool, and the gameplay never lags. The reason the game isn’t higher on my list is simple: the blue shell. Those who’ve played any Mario Kart know what I’m talking about. In Mario Kart, blue shells are the cheapest of cheap items and in Mario Kart Wii they come up way too much. So much so, you almost don’t want to even try for first place until the final lap (blue shells hit the racer in first place and cannot be blocked or avoided). And the inclusion of blue shells in coin battles was just an insanely stupid idea.
9. Boom Blox: Created by EA and Steven Spielberg, Boom Blox is like a game of reverse Jenga. Instead of trying to build the tower up, you try and knock as many blocks off as you can. If you’ve finally tired of Wii Sports and you’re looking for a good casual game, this is it.