Since the last E3, the hardcore gamers who make up Nintendo's loyal fan base have been feeling left out of the party. Awash in new customers won through ingenious marketing campaigns, Nintendo's focus has been firmly on the new, more casual audience flocking to Wii in droves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, gamers who don't dream of calling their girlfriends to go shopping in Animal Crossing or playing Nintendogs on Carrie Underwood's tour bus are beginning to feel like their money might have been better spent elsewhere.
However, as is usually the case, perception differs from reality. While there's no doubt the Wii is drowning in a deluge of terrible party games, there is still a good number of honest-to-goodness, well-made games available for the system. If you're a Wii gamer looking for something a little meatier than Wii Sports, here is our Hardcore Gamer's Guide to the Wii. Study up, and then get ready to steal the Wii remote back from your little sister.
The Heavy Hitters
While this might sound like stating the obvious we're still surprised by how many Wii owners we've talked to still haven't played some of the biggest and best games available eon the system. These aren't cult hits, either -- we're talking Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. These franchises made Nintendo a legendary company, and the most recent editions are just as fantastic as you'd expect. Quit simply, they are some of the best gaming has to offer on any system. Don't forget Super Paper Mario, an amazing action/RPG that will bring back fond memories to anyone reared in the 8 or 16-bit eras. It's a funny and phenomenal Nintendo first-party title that's often overlooked.
Better software support gives the Wii a fairly diverse lineup, and hardcore gamers know variety is the spice of any gaming life. Start off your Wii collection with a couple of casual games that stand up to scrutiny, yet appeal to casual gamers. The best of these is EA and Stephen Spielberg's Boom Blox, a fantastic amalgam of Jenga and Tetris that made it one of 2008's most entertaining titles. The Rayman Raving Rabbids series also distinguishes itself from the deluge of bad casual titles by providing fun and genuinely funny fast-action minigames. oh, and you might want to check out a couple of under-the-radar cult hits in the music genre, Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour. Ever heard of them?
If RPG's are your bag, your options are fairly limited. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of a New World is the only traditional RPG available for the system. However, EA's My Sims can be a great outlet for your desire to guide the life of a virtual avatar, and Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure emulates the graphical style and environment puzzle solving of the genre.
For more esoteric fare, we recommend the sleeper hit Kororinpa Marble Mania, an odd update of the classic arcade game Marble Madness. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you might even want to brave the strange and ultra-violent No More Heroes. The GI review crew was not fond of it, but it's anime-style craziness has won a very rabid cult following. Finally, Geometry Wars: Galaxies nicely updates classic arcade space shooting for a new generation of gamers.
While critics have knocked Nintendo for failing to provide a robust online service like XBox Live, the company's WiiWare retail channel is a growing outlet for both classic and new downloadable titles. A lot of these have come from new generation of start-up developers creating innovating and ingenious games that differ from the usual fare provided by mainstream publishers. Foremost among these is the physics-based puzzle game World of Goo, which won awards as a prototype at the Independent Games Festival. Another standout is the bucolic platformer Lost Winds, which melds a traditional 2D platforming design with unique motion-control wind mechanics and a gorgeous art style. For those looking for more well-known franchises, check out the excellent Tetris Party or Final Fantasy: My Life as a King, which refocuses the RPG universe as a city building strategy game. On the lighter side, nerds the world over will revel int eh funny (although sometimes less than polished) downloadable episodes of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People.
The success of the Wii translates into the best third-party support that Nintendo has seen on any system since the days of the SNES. Unfortunately, much of that has been in the form of quickly made casual games. Still, there are a number of third-party ports and original titles that you may have missed The first place to start is with three ports of some classic PS2-era titles: Capcom's Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition and Okami, and Rockstar's great Bully: Scholarship Edition. Whether its Okami's graceful visuals, RE 4's white-knuckle terror, or Bully's sassy sandbox gameplay, you can really sink your teeth into these games, providing hours of fun for your gaming dollar.
While the sports genre -- a staple on most consoles -- has disappointed on the Wii (see EA's dumbed down "All Play" versions of its games), there are a couple of highlights for the hardcore -- Konami's Pro Evo Soccer series and Skate It!, both of which feature complex and challenging gameplay that uses the Wii remote in interesting ways.
Finally, a couple of adapted versions of the two recent high-profile releases, Tomb Raider Underworld (although watch for a bug in the Thailand level that Eidos has apologized for) and Call of Duty: World at War, provide that developers are getting better at adapting current-generation blockbusters to the less graphically intensive confines of the Wii.
Copied from Game Informer Issue 190, pages 12 and 13.
Apologizes for any typos, I did run a spell check at least.