The 30 best Wii games you need to revisit
On its 15th anniversary, these are the best Wii games you need to play
To celebrate its 15th birthday today, we’re running down the 30 best Wii games.
Wii was arguably the most important console since the original PlayStation, in that it introduced video games to an entirely new audience.
To some this expansion of players was a bad thing – there are those who will tell you the Wii introduced the concept of ‘casual’ gaming which started with party games and eventually led to mobile free-to-play mania.
Despite the narrative that the Wii was swimming in casual titles and was sorely lacking in ‘proper’ games, Nintendo‘s motion-controlled marvel actually had a healthy collection of brilliant games, many of which were exclusive to the system.
To celebrate its underrated and often ignored library of fantastic titles, here – on its 15th birthday – is our list of the 30 best Wii games ever.
Best Wii Games: #30 – 26
Sin & Punishment: Successor Of The Skies
What it is: An on-rails sequel to the cult N64 game the west ‘never got’.
Why it’s essential: The first Sin & Punishment was only released on the N64 in Japan, but Nintendo surprised us all when it released the Wii Virtual Console version globally, letting players in the west buy it for the first time.
It soon became clear why: it was priming us for this sequel, which featured masterful use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk for flying and aiming.
Immensely difficult but visually impressive, you really should play this. And judging by the sales figures, there’s a bloody good chance you haven’t.
(This game is known as Sin & Punishment: Star Successor in the US.)
What it is: A mini-game compilation with… hey, come on. Trust us.
Why it’s essential: We appreciate that a number of people dismissed the Wii for its countless awful mini-game collections, but Go Vacation is very much the exception.
Essentially, it’s a collection of mini-games – specifically, over 50 mini-games loosely themed around things you might do on holiday.
The difference between this and the other mini-game offerings on Wii, however, is that Go Vacation‘s games are by and large pretty strong. There are very few stinkers here: each mini-game has been put together with real care and attention, which is a rare thing in what’s usually a genre associated with cynical cash-ins.
The highlight is a watergun fight mini-game which is actually one of the strongest examples of third-person shooter gameplay on the Wii. Other events include off-road racing, skating and snowboarding.
We know what you’re thinking. But this was a genuinely fun game, and was even good enough to get a Switch port so you can play it in HD these days if you prefer.
Animal Crossing: Let’s Go To The City
What it is: The third game in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing life sim series. Well, the fourth if you want to get all pretentious and count the Japan-only N64 one.
Why it’s essential: No, it may not be the best version of Animal Crossing any more now that New Horizons is out.
No, it isn’t massively different to the versions that came before it. And yes, this sort of thing is better suited to handheld gaming.
But despite all that going against it (not to mention the frankly ignored WiiSpeak peripheral it came with), such is the strength of Animal Crossing that this is still a charming, funny game with potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay tucked away.
(This is known as Animal Crossing: City Folk in the US.)
What it is: A collection of the six WiiWare games that made up the Bit.Trip series: Beat, Core, Void, Runner, Fate and Flux. All six have wildly different gameplay mechanics but all feature an effective minimalist style, a brilliant electronic soundtrack and punishing difficulty.
Why it’s essential: We remember when Bit.Trip Beat was first released on WiiWare (the Wii’s digital download service). A sort of cross between Pong, Breakout and a rhythm action game, many fell in love with it.
Over the next couple of years developer Gaijin Games released five more games in the series, each special in their own way: Core‘s interesting risk/reward system, Void‘s multidirectional action, Runner‘s ‘perfect run’ mechanic, Fate‘s on-rails fluidity and the way Flux successfully brings everything full circle by mixing together everything you’d learned on your five-game journey.
As each was released we would think: “It’s a shame these are on WiiWare, because nobody will buy them. If only they would get a physical release.”
Then they did. And nobody bought it. So do yourself a favour and change that. All six games are on Switch too, if you prefer.
Boom Blox & Boom Blox: Bash Party
What they are: A couple of EA physics-based puzzlers said to be produced by Stephen Spielberg. But don’t get too caught up in that marketing bumwash, just focus on the fact that they’re great games.
Why they’re essential: At first glance Boom Blox looks like nothing more than another candidate to be chucked onto the pile of nondescript party nonsense that plagued the Wii’s library and led to those inaccurate but constant suggestions that the console was all shovelware and nothing else.
The sequel even had the word ‘party’ in the name: usually a sure-fire sign of a compilation of mini-games tossed out over a series of uninspired months by a poorly-paid dev team for a publisher trying to make a quick buck.
And yet Boom Blox is none of these things. It’s a simple but brilliant physics-based puzzler that feels a bit like what Angry Birds would be (wait, come back) if you threw your missiles instead of catapulting them.
There are few things more satisfying than lining up the perfect throw (you can hold a button down to freeze your crosshair and make sure your shaky hand doesn’t interfere) and throwing the ball that brings an entire structure crashing down. Both it and its sequel are brilliant fun.
Best Wii Games: #25 – 21
Kirby’s Epic Yarn
What it is: The predecessor to Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby’s Epic Yarn offers a similar fabric-based visual style as everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic blob tries to collect seven pieces of magic yarn to stitch together Patch Land.
Why it’s essential: Nintendo fans know what they’re getting when they buy a Kirby game: something that’s unlikely to challenge them but will be charming enough that they won’t care.
Epic Yarn is that concept on steroids. It’s one of the easiest games you’re ever likely to play but also one of the most adorable.
This is the game you play when you’ve come home from work, are stressed out and just want to relax. This is the game you play when your kids are starting to play up and you want to settle them down.
Most of all though, this is the game you play when you want to see more creative ideas in one level than are offered in many full games.
DJ Hero 1 & 2
What they are: A fantastic attempt to breathe new life into the dying Guitar Hero series, which perhaps came a little too late in the day to save it.
Why they’re essential: DJ Hero tried to widen the Guitar Hero fanbase by making a spin-off that would cater to a different audience (like the pop-based Band Hero before it).
Instead of a plastic guitar, you used a plastic turntable, pressing buttons and spinning it in time with the on-screen prompts. This wasn’t nothing new: much like Guitar Hero was ‘inspired’ by Konami’s Guitar Freaks, so too does DJ Hero borrow liberally from Konami’s Beatmania arcade games.
What is new, though, is its soundtrack. Consisting of more than 80 mash-ups made just for the game by the likes of Daft Punk, DJ Shadow and Grandmaster Flash, DJ Hero has far and away the greatest soundtrack in any rhythm action game to date. Every song feels special, and as a result you feel special when you pull it off.
Its sequel offered more of the same, though its soundtrack perhaps suffered a little for focusing on lengthier mixes than individual mash-ups. That’s just down to personal taste, though: be assured that both games are masterpieces of the rhythm action genre.
Excite Truck & Excitebots
What they are: A pair of racing games ‘inspired by’ (i.e. hardly anything to do with) the classic NES racer Excitebike.
Excite Truck puts you behind the wheel of, as Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime put it at E3 2006, “a big damn truck”, while Excitebots is more weird and wonderful, letting you race in bizarre transforming robot vehicles.
Why they’re essential: Excite Truck was one of the earliest Wii games and as such it suffered a great deal of rejection from players still reeling from the personal insult that was a console with SD graphics.
It’s a shame, because if more people bothered to put some time into it they’d have discovered a unique racer that specialised in ridiculous over-the-top jumps and an interesting points-based gameplay mechanic.
In Excite Truck finishing first wasn’t enough to win the race: you also had to rack up points doing other things like performing stunts, ploughing through enemies and staying airborne for as long as possible.
Its sequel Excitebots (which was sadly never released in Europe) took this further to a silly degree, featuring all manner of set-pieces that turned up as you raced. Darts could be thrown at targets, balls could be kicked into goals and bowling pins could be knocked over, all adding to your score as you still tried to finish in a good position.
Both games are ugly as hell and their cheesy rock soundtracks are likely to cause bleeding of the ears, but put up with this and there are a couple of inventive racers there.
Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise
What it is: The third game in Nintendo’s bizarre comedy rhythm action series, consisting of numerous odd mini-games played to a funky beat.
Why it’s essential: We’re suckers for rhythm action games no matter how well they play, but Beat The Beat (also known as Rhythm Heaven Fever in the US) is easily one of the funniest examples of the genre.
Like its predecessors, it offers a selection of short mini-games in which you have to perform basic actions to the beat of the music.
This might sound a bit boring but what if we told you these mini-games involved such strange tasks as playing badminton across two biplanes, hitting golf balls set up by a monkey caddy, and interviewing a wrestler?
You’d love it, that’s what if.
What it is: A remake of Namco’s cult PlayStation game, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile.
Why it’s essential: Back in the days of the original PlayStation, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile was a sorely underrated gem.
It arrived at a time when developers were cutting their teeth on 3D platformers, leaving 2D platformers like Klonoa roundly ignored.
Sadly, when this unexpected Wii remake launched in 2009, the same thing happened and this lovely wee cat mascot once again missed out on fame and fortune.
It’s a shame because anyone who’s into 2D platforming will love Klonoa. It’s slow-paced but has a satisfying ‘chunky’ feel to it, and the music and environments are just lovely. It’s unashamedly retro and makes us long for simpler times.
Best Wii Games: #20 – 16
No More Heroes 1 & 2
What they are: Suda51’s silly, offensive, glorious action-adventure series in which wrestling fan Travis Touchdown fights his way up a leaderboard of assassins.
Why they’s essential: The No More Heroes games are a perfect example of Suda 51’s unique style.
Suda is similar to Hideo Kojima in that his games are riddled with little quirks and personal touches that are unmistakably results of his direct influence.
What would in other hands be a straightforward action series, then, becomes one in which you use a lightsaber (which has to constantly be recharged by waggling the Remote in a suggestive manner), disembowel a singer in a baseball stadium, and fight a killer American footballer and his evil cheerleading troupe in a giant mech called Glastonbury.
Both games are gloriously crazy. A warning, though: the first game is censored in the west, with its blood taken out. Given how gratuitous the blood is, that’s actually a bigger deal than you’d think.
Both games are also now available on the Switch, and look even better in HD.
House Of The Dead: Overkill
What it is: A surprisingly adult reboot of Sega’s cheesy light gun shooter series. Designed in the style of a ’70s grindhouse movie, it’s got some of the most outrageous dialogue and cutscenes you’ll ever see in a game.
Why it’s essential: If there’s one thing the Wii was great for, it was light gun games. Even if you chose not to opt for the Wii Zapper – a plastic gun-shaped shell that genuinely made shooters feel more satisfying – the Wii Remote on its own was still a fantastic controller because of its infra-red pointing capabilities.
House Of The Dead: Overkill is one of the better light gun games on Wii. Part of this is down to its clever scoring system in which headshots and consecutive kills build up a combo meter.
Most of it, though, is down to its grindhouse-inspired storyline and its hilarious dialogue, which chucks around more F’s than a malfunctioning robot at an alphabet soup factory.
It’s also home to what is without a doubt the most disturbing ending you’ll ever see in a video game. We refuse to go into more detail but suffice to say that the PEGI 18 certificate on the case is there for a reason.
What it is: EA’s attempt to bring back the greatest ’90s arcade sporting series of all time, digitised player faces and all.
Why it’s essential: NBA Jam was one of the best sports games (and must financially lucrative arcade games) of the ’90s, so when EA announced it was resurrecting the series in 2010 some got nervous.
Thankfully, this Wii version is an absolute joy and plays just like the original did: rule-free shove-fests, ridiculous dunks, “he’s on fire” and all.
It also continues the NBA Jam tradition of jamming in a wealth of hidden characters, this time including the likes of the Beastie Boys, classic players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, a load of team mascots and even the Democrats and Republicans of the US political system.
This is without a doubt the only game that lets you make Hilary Clinton throw up a pass to Barack Obama, then leap over George Bush’s head to dunk.
What it is: The latest entry in Nintendo’s cult boxing series and a pseudo-remake of the NES version, seeing Little Mac take on the likes of Mr Sandman, King Hippo and Soda Popinski.
Why it’s essential: At its core, Punch-Out!! has extremely basic gameplay. It’s essentially a series of boss fights, pitting you against a bunch of eccentric boxers and asking you to find the quirks and habits in their fighting style that expose their weak spots.
All you can do is dodge and punch, and as you work your way up the ranks the weak spots become less obvious while the damage they do becomes more punishing. And that’s it.
But by keeping the gameplay so basic, developer Next Level Games was able to perfectly refine it and make Punch-Out!! a fun, brilliantly animated game.
If you’ve never played the series before, try out the NES and SNES versions on Switch Online. If you enjoy this, this is more of the same but looks a million times better.
Super Paper Mario
What it is: The third game in Nintendo’s Paper Mario series, which has developed something of a cult following over the years.
Why it’s essential: It’s a widely held belief that the second Paper Mario game (The Thousand Year Door on GameCube) is the best in the series, and Super Paper Mario does nothing to change this.
But that’s not to say it isn’t still an entertaining game with some clever tricks up its sleeve and a great sense of humour.
Its main mechanic is Mario’s ability to flip the game from 2D to 3D, revealing hidden passageways and the like. Later on, you also get to play as Luigi, Peach and Bowser, each bringing their own abilities to the table.
The dialogue gets a little too wordy at times, but as long as you don’t mind a bit of reading (and if you’ve come this far in this article you clearly don’t), you’ll have fun with this one.
Best Wii Games: #15 – 11
Another Code: R – A Journey Into Lost Memories
What it is: The sequel to DS launch game Another Code (or Trace Memory, as it was known in America). 16-year-old Ashley receives an invitation from her estranged father to go on a camping weekend with him to Lake Juliet.
But when she gets there she starts getting the feeling she’s been there before, just before the death of her mother.
Why it’s essential: Now-defunct developer CiNG was well-known for its fantastic adventure games, most notably Hotel Dusk and its sequel Last Window.
Its other handheld adventure Another Code (known as Trace Memory in North America) and its Wii sequel are less often discussed, possibly because the latter was never even released in North America.
It’s a shame because they’re both cracking games, particularly the Wii one, which does a great job building Ashley’s character and making her that rarest of beasts at the time, a well-rounded female lead who wasn’t all smoulder and sex appeal.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles & The Darkside Chronicles
What they are: A pair of light gun games based on the events of the Resident Evil series.
Why they’re essential: It’s no secret that light gun games are usually light on content, especially since most of the good ones are ports of arcade titles designed for short bursts of gameplay.
Both Chronicles games flick a middle finger at this notion, offering decent chunks of gameplay that essentially retell the stories of each Resi game (1, 3 and Zero in Umbrella Chronicles, 2 and Code: Veronica in Darkside Chronicles).
Both are great games in either solo or co-op play, and fans of Resident Evil lore will love the alternate takes of iconic moments in the series’ history.
What it is: Monolith Soft’s enormous RPG which pushed the Wii to its limits.
Why it’s essential: There may be a number of Xenoblade games out now, but we still prefer the simplicity (comparatively speaking) of the Wii title.
There’s still a wealth of things to see and do here, and it’s still got a perfectly streamlined battle system where you can pick and choose your enemies while grinding and seamlessly jump in and out of battle.
It’s still got an incredible soundtrack and still has some of the best worst voice acting ever (“WHAT A BUNCH OF JOKERS”).
But it never completely overwhelms you like Wii U title Xenoblade Chronicles X has a tendency to, and for that reason we think it’s the better game.
It also has a Definitive Edition remaster on Switch, so it’s easy to get hold of.
New Super Mario Bros Wii
What it is: Side-scrolling splendour in the first 2D home console Mario platformer since Yoshi’s Story 12 years prior.
Why it’s essential: There are a lot of people who dismiss New Super Mario Bros Wii as “just another 2D Mario game”.
But these are the same people who dismiss Forza Horizon as “just another racing game” and the Subway Italian BMT as “just another sandwich”.
You can’t have too much of a good thing, so instead of moaning about it get stuck into 2D platformer level design at its finest.
Besides, there aren’t many other Mario games that feature the sheer glory that is the Penguin Suit and its lovely belly-slide move.
Zack & Wiki
What it is: Take the point-and-click adventure genre, add motion controls, throw in a dash of Japanese charm and the result is Zack & Wiki, a game that somehow manages to be better than that sounds.
Why it’s essential: Capcom’s puzzler about a young wannabe pirate and his monkey sidekick is both one of the loveliest games of the Wii generation and one of the most head-scratchingly tricky ones.
Sadly though, despite being widely praised by critics around the world, the game sold the best part of sod all, shifting a little over 300,000 copies worldwide.
The good news, then, is that there’s a strong chance you haven’t discovered it yet. And even better, it’s also on the Wii U eShop, meaning you can easily play it if you own that other thing nobody bought.
Best Wii Games: #10 – 6
Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
What it is: A 2D fighting game in the Marvel vs Capcom style, with some of the publisher’s finest taking on characters from Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko Production.
Why it’s essential: One of the big criticisms directed at the Wii over its life was that it never had any truly fantastic fighting games. It had a couple of half-decent Mortal Kombats and its Virtual Console offered some Neo-Geo goodness, but it didn’t have a new title to call its own.
Anyone who continues to believe this obviously never played Tatsunoko vs Capcom. It’s similar to Marvel vs Capcom (and uses the same engine as the third game in that series) in that it’s about tag-team battles and ridiculous screen-filling special moves.
It’s got a massive roster too, with 26 characters taking part. Japanese anime fans will enjoy getting to play as the likes of Yatterman and the crew from Battle Of The Planets.
But video game fans will get more of a kick out of the selection of Capcom characters on offer, including Mega Man, Viewtiful Joe and Frank West from Dead Rising.
It’s extremely easy to get into if you’re a newcomer to fighting games, and if you’re a pro there’s plenty here to get stuck into.
The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess & Skyward Sword
What they are: Two brilliant entries in the Zelda series. Twilight Princess came close to challenging Majora’s Mask as the darkest Zelda game, while Skyward Sword finally showed – as the Wii neared the end of its life – just how motion controls could drastically improve ‘core’ titles.
Why they’re essential: In the 15 years since Twilight Princess was released it’s enjoyed something of an odd reputational rollercoaster. Right after it launched it was roundly praised, but for some reason (maybe the general negativity aimed at the Wii) this praise died down over the years and many started stepping forward to declare it overrated.
And yet, in recent times those detractors have started getting quieter and once again the general consensus seems to be that Twilight Princess was a brilliant game after all. Rather than wait for everyone to make their minds up, we recommend you track it down if you haven’t already, something made a little easier by its HD remaster on Wii U.
As for Skyward Sword, the only Zelda game designed with the Wii in mind (Twilight Princess was originally meant for GameCube), there’s a reason it won plenty of Game Of The Year 2011 awards.
It’s a beautiful game with fantastic locations, great dungeons and a refreshing new Wii MotionPlus control system that feels both familiar and innovative at the same time. And it’s even better in HD on the Switch.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
What it is: The seventh game in the Silent Hill series, and its final high point before Konami went crazy and started burning more bridges than a troll hunter.
Why it’s essential: The Silent Hill series has seen plenty of ups and downs, and it’s a shame that one of its best entries was barely played by anyone.
Its release on the Wii (which had been abandoned by many ‘core’ gamers by that point), the PS2 (which was all but dead) and the PSP (ditto) resulted in a perfect trinity of disinterest.
And yet, anyone who played it fell in love with its atmospheric environments, its touching storyline and its fantastic soundtrack (it was the last game to be scored by Akira Yamaoka before he left Konami).
After we first finished it, it lingered with us for weeks, then months, then years. We kept going back to it and playing it in different ways – the characters’ appearances and personalities evolve depending on how you interact with the environment.
It’s not a difficult game by any means (there’s actually no combat in it at all), but it’s a game that will have an impact regardless.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
What it is: The long-awaited fourth game in the Donkey Kong Country series, coming a mere 14 years after the third one.
Why it’s essential: By the time the Wii era rolled around, nobody really expected a fourth Donkey Kong Country game. Donkey Kong may have been Nintendo’s property but the Country games were Rare’s baby and Rare was now living with its new parents at Microsoft.
Part of us didn’t really want it either. There was a fear that if anyone other than Rare tried to make a new Donkey Kong Country they wouldn’t be able to replicate that indescribable magic Rare was effortlessly able to apply with every game.
Then, at E3 2010, Nintendo dropped the bombshell and the unthinkable became a reality: Donkey Kong Country 4 was happening, and it was being handled by Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios. And Retro nailed it.
The character design, the beautiful artistic style, the soundtrack, the unforgiving 16-bit era difficulty… it was all smashing, and all was well in the world.
Wii Sports & Wii Sports Resort
What they are: The game that changed the entire demographics of gaming, and the sequel that gave the Wii the motion controls it deserved.
Why they’re essential: Love it or hate it, there are few games more influential than Wii Sports. It was almost entirely responsible for the ‘core vs casual’ debate as over-protective ‘gamers’ got annoyed at its ability to get people interested in their hobby for the first time.
Wii Sports‘ impact was a tremendously important one for the gaming industry, helping give gaming a legitimacy that was for the most part lacking among older generations.
That isn’t why it’s on the list, mind. It’s on the list because we still enjoy a shot of it to this day. Yes, many of us quickly figured out that in Tennis you only need to flick your wrist instead of making big swings, but considering gaming is all about escaping from reality there’s no fun in that.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more depth to it, Wii Sports Resort is the game for you. Introducing the Wii MotionPlus add-on, it finally delivered the true 1:1 motion control people were expecting when the Wii originally launched and did so through a bunch of brilliant sporting mini-games.
Still don’t think they count as real games? Try to get all the achievement-style ‘stamps’ in Wii Sports Resort and then come back to us.
Best Wii Games: #5 – 1
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
What it is: One of the best versions of one of the best survival horror games ever.
Why it’s essential: There’s been plenty of praise showered over Resident Evil 4 in the 16 years since it was first released, so we’re not going to bore you by reminding you for the umpteenth time why its revolutionary enemy AI resulted in previously unknown levels of action and genuine moments of terror.
What’s been less frequently discussed is how brilliant the Wii version is, thanks to the simple addition of a Wii Remote aiming system.
Using the Remote’s pointer control to aim your weapon massively enhances the immersion and adds an extra challenge as you try to keep your nerve and steady your hand.
The newer HD versions on other consoles may look shinier but this is still the most satisfying version to play. And that includes the Switch version, which annoyingly didn’t replicate the Wii version’s pointer controls.
Super Smash Bros Brawl
What it is: The third Smash Bros game and (sorry, haters) one of the best.
Why it’s essential: We know that in the world of competitive fighting games, the GameCube’s Super Smash Bros Melee is considered the best game in the Smash Bros series because it’s the most well-balanced.
We also know the subsequent Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS had even more characters and a bunch of DLC bringing the likes of Final Fantasy, Bayonetta and Street Fighter II into the mix. And, of course, we all know the phenomenon that was Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
But there’s one thing Super Smash Bros Brawl has that no other Smash Bros game has – a single-player story mode, called the Subspace Emissary, which featured a bunch of amazing cutscenes created by Final Fantasy writer Kazushige Nojima.
It also marked the Smash Bros debut of Solid Snake, leading to one of the greatest and most detailed easter eggs in gaming history.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
What it is: All three Metroid Prime games on one disc, with the first two games (originally on GameCube) given the Wii treatment with pointer controls, upgraded textures and a widescreen aspect ratio.
Why it’s essential: The first Metroid Prime wasn’t just a first-person shooter, it created its own genre: the first-person adventure. With shooting bits. It quickly gained critical acclaim as one of the finest games ever made, and rightly so.
Its sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, maintained the level of high quality set by the first game and introduced the likes of the Screw Attack (no sniggering), wall jumping and the mysterious Dark Samus.
The third and (so far) final game, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, introduced Wii Remote controls into the mix, making exploring the likes of Norion, Bryyo and Elysia a real joy.
Metroid Prime Trilogy takes three of the finest adventure games ever and bundles them all on a disc that was so packed it didn’t run on more well-used Wiis because their lasers were too worn out to handle its rare dual-layer disc.
Thankfully, these days you can just download it on the Wii U and not worry about that. And who knows, maybe one day Nintendo might finally get around to that Switch version.
Mario Kart Wii
What it is: The sixth game in the Mario Kart series, or the eighth if you want to be one of those insufferable types who count the arcade ones. Like we do.
Why it’s essential: Although it sort of goes without saying that it’s been overtaken (ahem) by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch, Mario Kart Wii is still a brilliant racer, hence its ridiculous sales of over 35 million copies.
It added a couple of new features to the series: some great, others divisive. It’s fair to say the addition of motorbikes split opinion down the middle – with some loving them and others adamant they ruined the series – but it’s hard to argue with the stunt-based boost system, which added a new tactical element to each race.
It was also the best example of online gaming on the Wii, which frankly wasn’t something you’d hear often during the console’s life.
Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
What they are: Two of the greatest games ever made, simply put.
Why they’re essential: You can shuffle the games elsewhere on this list to whatever configuration suits your personal tastes, but the vast majority of players would surely agree that Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are number one by some distance.
Not only are they the best Wii games, they’ve appeared near the top of numerous Game of the Generation lists alongside Xbox 360 and PS3 titles, and also sit snugly in the single-digits in most Best Games of All Time lists.
The reason we’re counting them as a single entity is because, essentially, that’s what they feel like. The first Galaxy is a work of absolute beauty, a piece that transformed the platforming genre all over again like Super Mario 64 did before it, but this time doing so in such a revolutionary way that nobody’s been able to even try imitating it since.
The second could have easily been called Super Mario Galaxy: More Ideas, because that’s what it amounts to – an incredible further collection of beautiful, individually wrapped concepts, mechanics and designs, breathlessly delivered to you one at a time until you’re swimming in intuition, yet never so much that you’re in danger of drowning in it.
You need to have these games in your life if you haven’t already.
Call Of Duty 3, 4, World At War, Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3
They may have obviously looked better on Xbox 360 and PS3, and the multiplayer may have been DOA on Wii, but the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controls meant the single-player campaigns of Wii CODs were fantastic.
The Conduit & The Conduit 2
High Voltage and Sega’s FPS series was ever so slightly overrated, but both games pushed the Wii to its limits visually and controlled like a dream.
Fatal Frame: Mask Of The Lunar Eclipse
This fantastic Japanese horror was only released in Japan but there’s an unofficial fan translation that lets you turn your legally imported Japanese copy into an English language one through some SD card skullduggery. It’s worth it too: it’s ace.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
The tenth entry in Intelligent Systems’ amazing strategy RPG series is a cel-shaded delight but be wary: it’s much more difficult than the recent 3DS and Switch Fire Emblem titles.
At first glance this is just a port of a Sega arcade light fun game that takes around 20 minutes to beat, but it’s packed with replay value including alternative routes, unlockable weapons and bizarre secret costumes.
Guitar Hero series & Rock Band 3
Both classic rhythm action series were just as entertaining on Wii as they were on HD systems. The only exception is the first Rock Band, which was severely limited on Wii.
Kirby’s Adventure Wii
A lovely four-player side-scrolling platformer that was roundly ignored by most because the Wii was on its arse by the time it came out. You can download it on the Wii U eShop. Known as Kirby’s Return To Dream Land in the US.
A lovely wee Hudson Soft game in which you tilt the Wii Remote to guide a marble through a series of mazes. It’s simple enough but the level design is lovely and unlockable ball types (including an oinking pig) keep things interesting.
The Last Story
A hefty RPG directed and co-written by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. It’s got a great combat system and a load of side-quests to keep you busy.
Little King’s Story
Part life sim, part RTS, Little King’s Story has you taking over a village while also heading out for fights with your villagers in tow. Charming and challenging in equal measure.
A Wii-make of Capcom’s beautiful PS2 game, with the added loveliness of using the Wii Remote to draw out the paintbrush-style commands that summon special powers throughout. Dripping with style. Now available in HD on all modern formats.
It’s just your typical ‘boy meets girl, girl starts to transform into a hideous beast, boy must travel through towers and slay monsters to get their meat so he can feed them to girl to cure her, girl is also vegetarian so that’s a bit shit for her’ story.
Red Steel 2
The first Red Steel was a divisive title, but the sequel was more widely accepted as a great game, with MotionPlus swordplay and its Wild West setting winning doubters over.
Sonic Unleashed & Sonic Colours
Sonic Unleashed was poor on PS3 and Xbox 360 but the Wii version has a completely different engine and is actually much better. Meanwhile, Sonic Colours was a solid Sonic platformer, which in this day and age is a big deal. The latter recently got an HD remaster.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
If you somehow managed to avoid buying a Wii over the past 15 years and are now realising what a massive mistake you made, this madcap collection of mini-games is the best introduction to the Wii Remote you could ask for. Also, it has a Starwing mini-game in which you have to destroy a ROB with a Zapper, and not enough games have that.