The grim reaper slides another bead across on the abacus that is counting down to when she takes me, and you, and everyone else, and time continues to fly and oh god the Nintendo Wii is fifteen years old today.
Originally released on November 19th, 2006, the Wii was a momentous moment in video game history. It opened games up to a whole new audience, and while its successor flopped and not everything it did stuck, it also has a towering legacy and definitely changed video games forever.
As it gets older, the best of the Wii catalogue becomes more difficult to play without tracking down original hardware, or dragging it out from the garage or attic and finding or buying cables that can connect it to modern displays. But are we really missing out on that much? Well, I think so. So… for the Wii’s 15th birthday, here’s a list of 15 Wii games that deserve ports or sequels.
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Sin & Punishment was a beloved Japan-only N64 classic; the sort of game you’d see constantly referred to by the Western gaming community as a holy grail, a travesty that it never came West. That much is true, by the way: Sin & Punishment is one of the best games on the N64.
The original game was finally released in the West via the Wii Virtual Console, which itself was a promotional exercise to stoke hype for the sequel, which arrived on the Wii to much hardcore fanfare. Perhaps predictably, this bullet hell rail shooter was sublime but didn’t find the greatest amount of success - but it remains one of the best titles on the Wii. The emulated N64 original and Wii sequel could perhaps be packaged together in one definitive shooting experience - the game even has non Wii remote control methods built-in already!
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King / Darklord
What is the best Final Fantasy spin-off? Final Fantasy Tactics, some of you will say. Mystic Quest, the elderly among you might suggest. The truly cultured player might wryly answer ‘SaGa’, but not stipulate which one. But allow me to make another suggestion: My Life as a King.
If you’ve never even heard of this, I wouldn’t be surprised. It was a download-only Wii title on the ‘WiiWare’ service, and it’s basically a city management simulation game set in the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles universe. You’re cast as the King and must upgrade and protect your kingdom, while sending out parties of adventurers - the parties you’d usually play as in Final Fantasy games - to defeat monsters and pillage dungeons.
My Life as a King is genuinely excellent, and it’s now abandonware: there’s no way to buy it, and the only way to play it is either to have a Wii with it already purchased and downloaded or to engage in, y’know, naughty stuff. As a download exclusive, you can’t even buy a second-hand disc. It deserves to be played; it deserves to be ported. It can be bundled together with its not-quite-as-good sequel My Life as a Darklord, which instead casts players as a villain set on defeating heroes and terrorizing the world.
Mario Strikers Charged
The Mario Strikers games remain two of the most characterful and fun sports spin-offs that Nintendo’s mascot has ever produced - and that’s saying something, since Mario has starred in a lot of sports spin-offs.
Developer Next Level Games obviously impressed Nintendo to some degree. After the two Mario Strikers games on GameCube and Wii, the developer was handed the keys to Punch-Out, then Luigi’s Mansion. They just delivered their first Switch game in Luigi’s Mansion 3, and now thoughts turn to what the developer might do next. Might we suggest an enhanced port or pseudo-sequel to Mario’s soccer outing?
No joke: this is one of the best football games ever made. It’s fun, stupid, and has all that sort of brilliant competitive-but-a-bit-broken energy that a lot of the best arcade sports games have. Back in the nineties there was never a show-stopping football game in the vein of NBA Jam or NFL Blitz - but Mario Strikers Charged might be the closest thing we have to that. It deserves another run out.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
This one is obvious, isn’t it? While people’s feelings about the trilogy as a whole does vary, the Wii is the only platform where you can play all three entries in the Metroid Prime saga so far - and at least one of these games is a stone-cold, all-time classic that deserves to be replayed by folks before they hop into Metroid Prime 4… whenever that arrives.
Don’t forget, Metroid Prime is very much its own sub-series within Metroid. While it’s sandwiched in between a couple of the stories in the Japanese-developed Metroid saga that just concluded with Dread, Prime has its own unique plot threads carried throughout it. The Prime Trilogy package was one of the best-value games on Wii - and it deserves to be reissued on Switch, with the third game given traditional, non-pointer control options.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
Who knows if the ill-fated Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite severely damaged the relationship between Capcom and Marvel, but even if that’s the case, the Versus series need not end. TvC is of course a more exciting cross-over if you live in Japan or are steeped in Japanese pop culture - the Tatsunoko cast of characters are generally not so well-known in the West. With that said, it’s a truly fine fighter, with chaotic and thrilling tag-based battles.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is largely forgotten, in part because it was released on a platform where hooking up an arcade stick was a pain in the arse. But it is brilliant, and it’s also a great little time capsule of its era, featuring characters from Lost Planet and Onimusha.
The Last Story
While we don’t know for sure, The Last Story might end up particularly significant, since as it currently stands it is the final major console game led by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy. While Sakaguchi has continued to direct games, he’s turned his attention to mobile-based projects - and who knows if he’ll ever return to triple-A gaming again.
That alone is enough to make this game a historical curiosity, but it’s also just a pretty damn strong action RPG. The Last Story was almost the victim of a frustrating shift in direction at Nintendo of America, and was one of the games that region of the company elected to leave behind, despite it already being translated into English for the UK and Australian market. Only a fan pressure campaign saw it published in the US - but unlike the other game with that fate, Xenoblade, it never really found a huge enough market or fanbase for a sequel. It might do better on Switch, which has become a haven for great Japanese RPGs.
Disaster: Day of Crisis
Speaking of games that Nintendo of America decided to pass on and Xenoblade, how about a game that NOA skipped from the developer of Nintendo’s new RPG darling? Before Xenoblade, MonolithSoft created Disaster: Day of Crisis, a bizarre action-adventure game that is part disaster movie, part Metal Gear Solid, and clearly at least partially inspired by the frenetic non-stop pacing of TV show 24.
Don’t get me wrong: Disaster is camp and dumb as hell, and it’s easy to see how NOA would’ve looked at it and thought it had no Western market. But I unabashedly love this game, from its totally Japanese-minded depiction of Western life to how it frantically flips through different game modes - third-person shooting, first-person driving, stealth, platforming puzzles, QTEs, rail shooting, and even performing CPR with motion controls.
It's total schlock, and yet I also believe that if this game had been developed by Hideo Kojima with a moderately inflated budget people would’ve been calling it a masterwork. I love it, and it was severely misunderstood by then NOA president Reggie Fils-Aime, who called it “laughable”. I did laugh at the game - but I felt like I was laughing with it, not at it. It’s dumb, a little bit broken, and janky as hell - but it’s one of my favourite Wii games. I’d seriously take a port of this over one of Xenoblade X.
One thing about the Wii’s expanding audience is that it encouraged a lot of developer experimentation, searching for new types of game that might appeal to that new, less hardcore gamer. That led to a lot of tepid Carnival Games waggle rubbish, but it also led to some unique ideas getting a better chance to shine.
One great example of this is Endless Ocean, an adventure game built around Scuba Diving. Developer Arika had tried this before on PS2 with terrible results - but Endless Ocean is a lovely, relaxing, and often exciting game where you can just enjoy the water and the sight of many different creatures.
When I look at Endless Ocean and its sequel now, I imagine they’d do very well as VR games. In that sense, they were arguably ahead of their time. But whatever the platform, I’d love to play this sort of thing again - especially with higher fidelity visuals.
We’ve talked about The Last Story already, and we’ve mentioned the huge, surprising success of Xenoblade - so it’s only right that we give a nod to the last of Nintendo’s Japanese RPG trilogy - released late in the Wii’s lifespan, and dropped from a North American release. Enter Pandora’s Tower.
Another action RPG, it sees you cast as a character that’s tearing through a huge fortress on a mission to cure his lover of a terrible curse. Like a lot of the late-gen Wii games, it features both traditional and motion-based controls, so it’s not entirely reliant on the Wii Remote. There’s battles, puzzles, a decent amount of customization, and multiple endings based on your choices during the game. It had a surprisingly dark edge to its story for a Nintendo game - and that sinister undertone is arguably what sets it apart. It tonally reminds me of some of the PS2’s best off-beat RPG and horror games in that sense - and that makes it memorable enough to make this list.
Rhythm Heaven Fever
Okay, so, this one is a bit of a cheat: much of this game was already ported to another platform, the Nintendo 3DS, with Rhythm Heaven Megamix. But the 3DS is also now a dormant, dead platform, and the point is: we need Rhythm Heaven on the Switch.
After seeing a few Rhythm Heaven characters make a cameo in the new WarioWare: Get It Together, I am now hungry for this series to return. And it’s brilliant enough that I’d be more than happy to see it return with a simple enhanced port - but a sequel would be welcome, too. Just… more, please. Hopefully this can be what the WarioWare team do next.
Excite Bots & Excite Truck
Just how left-field was it when Nintendo resurrected the ‘Excite’ series for the Wii? And how unexpected was it when these reimaginings of an NES classic were actually… good?
The thing about Excite Bots and Excite Truck is that they very cleverly don’t exactly directly adapt the games that came before - they’re too old and too simple. But what it does is clearly look to how those games felt to play - and then takes a solid swing at recreating that feeling at any and all costs. As it happens, the result is pretty fantastic. This, again, would make a good double pack port… or, y’know, I’d take another. Excite… what next?
Another Code R
Perhaps one of the stranger choices and reactions to the Wii’s mainstream appeal was that to put Another Code R on Wii rather than DS. The first Another Code was a DS point-and-click adventure, capitalizing on the same audience as Ace Attorney and Professor Layton. The developers chose to go big for the sequel - onto a bigger screen, one befitting its ambitions.
It’s a great point-and-click adventure, and fairly unique on the platform. Its developer, Cing, has now sadly gone bankrupt - so it’s unlikely we’ll ever get another. Nintendo published the game in Japan and Europe, however - and so might have access to the rights. Nintendo certainly hasn’t forgotten the series - protagonist Ashley appears as a spirit in Smash Bros Ultimate.
Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn
Three hundred pounds. That’s how much the most recent copy of Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn sold on ebay went for at the time of writing. You can get it for less if it’s been opened, obviously - but it’s still a game that sells for more now than it did when it was new - largely because back then Fire Emblem was niche, but after its popularity explosion on 3DS and Switch, people want to play the old ones.
Radiant Dawn forms a duology with the GameCube title Path of Radiance, which sells for over £200 even for open versions with scuffed discs. The two would make a fine two-in-one bundle rerelease deal - and it’d save newer Fire Emblem fans some pain and cash.
Zack & Wiki
For my money, the 360/PS3/Wii generation was something of a creative high for Capcom. As well as having series like Street Fighter and Resident Evil doing well, the company was delivering a bunch of all-new stuff too. Some hits, some misses - there’s Dead Rising and then there’s Lost Planet - but among all of those titles there’s a cute little puzzle adventure that’s been largely forgotten since.
Zack & Wiki is just a lovely piece of gaming comfort food - colourful, fun, and brain-teasing in all of the right ways. It’s perhaps a more complicated game to adapt to modern hardware thanks to its point-and-click interface that was a perfect fit for the Wii Remote - but with Joy-Cons and a touch screen, it’s far from impossible - and this is exactly the sort of game that shouldn’t be resigned to history.
Mario Galaxy 2
Well, duh. Obviously. Why this wasn’t included in the Mario 3D All-Stars package when the original Galaxy is just running on a Wii emulator is baffling - but I suppose it’s so they can get more money out of us later.
Bonus Round: Wii Sports
While the Wii console brand was thoroughly bludgeoned to death by the face planting of the WiiU, I sort of can’t believe Nintendo hasn’t yet elected to bring back Wii Sports, and Wuhu Island, on the Switch. The Switch Joy-Cons are more than good enough at motion control to allow for a Wii Sports ‘greatest hits’ package to return on the Switch, and it’d inevitably sell bucket loads. How many young adults now have huge amounts of nostalgia for Wii Sports bowling and tennis? The more I think about how this hasn’t happened, the more baffled I am. It's been fifteen years! Wii Fit has a worthy successor in Ring Fit Adventure; maybe it's time for the sporting action to get a follow-up, too.