Back in 2006, Nintendo released a games console. There was nothing particularly unusual about this. Nintendo had released a few consoles before, and some of them had been quite popular. But what marked the Wii out was the way it unhitched itself from the technological race of the the console wars and delivered something truly unique.
While Sony and Microsoft vied to produce ever-more-powerful PlayStations and Xboxes, Nintendo revolutionised the way we interact with a console instead. It’s not that the Wii wasn’t powerful. It was just powerful in its own way.
The Wii presented gamers with a controller they already knew how to use, a TV remote with a motion sensing system. With games built around the controllers capabilities, the Wii proved to be unstoppable. While Nintendo went on to strike gold once again with the Nintendo Switch, we still hold fond memories of the Wii. After all, you buy a Nintendo console to play Nintendo games, and the Wii brought us some quite literal game-changers.
Wii Sports (2006)
The pack-in game for many Wii purchases, Wii Sports, is likely the first game most people would name when thinking about the groundbreaking console.
It introduced players to the motion-sensing Wii remote controller. This broke down the barrier between player and game, and introduced video games to people who maybe thought that the digital world wasn’t for them. It also underlined the importance of the remote’s wrist strap, which prevented controllers impacting heavily with TV screens during enthusiastic bowling sessions.
The follow-up, Wii Sports Resort, refined the concept and added extra sports. The series lives on across Wii U and Switch, but the tennis, baseball, boxing, golf and bowling games in the original release were many people’s first brush with video gaming. Today, it remains the best-selling Wii title.
Super Mario Galaxy (2007)
GameCube’s Super Mario Sunshine was a genuinely excellent game, but it didn’t quite hit the same lofty heights as Super Mario 64, Nintendo needed a hit, and attempted to redefine the 3D platformer with a game that takes the open world concept to the galaxies.
That was Super Mario Galaxy, a title that took Mario to the stars. Planetoids and other structures Mario runs across in the game each had their own gravitational force, a mechanic that made for endless fun and platform possibilities. Mario could run all the way around spheres, all while riding on turtle shells, float in bubbles, swim in seas and slide around on ice levels. A sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, provided more of the same, which is not a bad thing when the original product is this good.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came late in the Wii’s life, just a year before the Wii U arrived. But it’s as characteristic a Wii game as you’re going to get.
The game is set before many of the existing Zelda games, and sees a demon king searching for the magical Triforce, which can grant wishes. Survivors of his rampage live in Skyloft, a floating island, and venture back to the surface below to destroy the king and reclaim their kingdom. While the general Zelda story remained largely unchanged, the game made great use of the motion-sensing controller for sword sweeps and shield blocks.
Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition (2007)
It’s the game that, much like some of its enemy characters, just won’t die. The recently remade game started life on the GameCube in 2005 as part of the Capcom 5, before spreading to other consoles. The Wii Edition, however, showed Capcom was more than ready to grapple with Nintendo’s unusual console.
It’s the same game as we’d already played, but massively enhanced with motion controls. The ability to point the Wii remote at the screen and use it to move a shooting reticle that replaces Leon’s laser sight made the fights more intense, and the use of the Nunchuck add-on for gesture-based finishing moves topped things off nicely.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007)
Appearing on a new platform can be a bit of a problem for any game, never mind the third in a trilogy. Not so for Metroid Prime 3, which utilised the console’s features to great effect, introducing Metroid’s first-person shooting and exploration onto the Wii in the process.
Like Resi 4, Corruption added remote-aimed shooting, while also allowing players to lock onto enemies and circle-strafe around them. Otherwise it contains loads of the non-linear exploration we expect from a Metroid game, as bounty hunter Samus Aran takes on the Space Pirates and the corrupting influence of strange element Phazon.
Red Steel 2 (2010)
The first thing many people do when they pick up a Wii remote is to swish it like a lightsaber, but in the absence of a Star Wars slash-em-up on the platform, this is the next best thing. Red Steel is a series of first-person sword-fighting games that make use of the Wii remote’s motion sensing. The first hands you a virtual katana and places you in the streets of Los Angeles and Japan. Red Steel 2, though, is the best of them in our opinion.
The cowboy-meets-samurai setting in Red Steel 2 transports the player into a slashable spaghetti western. It provides plenty of opportunities for combat along the way, with motion-controlled finishing moves being a particularly satisfying way of disposing of an enemy.
Mario Kart Wii (2008)
The sixth Mario Kart title is the second-best seller in the series. It’s a notable addition, mostly as shipped with a plastic steering wheel into which you slot your Wii remote. Armed with your trusty plastic wheel, it was the closest one could get to the full Mario Kart experience without hitting a local race course in a silly outfit.
It’s also a pretty good Mario Kart game too. In true Mario Kart fashion, races frequently descended into complete chaos, but the steering wheel added extra energy (and a few elbows) into the mix.
The Punch-Out!! boxing series has been on Nintendo consoles since 1987. As Little Mac, an aspiring prize fighter, you battle your way up the professional circuit against a series of increasingly powerful opponents, made up of both hilarious caricatures and beefed up baddies.
While the Wii remote and nunchuck make for obvious boxing gloves, the Wii balance board could be used to duck and weave around an opponents punches in real time. A spin-off, Doc Louis’s Punch-Out!!, was later made available for the Wii, but 2009’s Punch-Out!! is the last time we saw Little Mac enter the ring (if we’re discounting Smash Bros., that is).
Super Paper Mario (2007)
The Mario RPG, or Paper Mario, series is a strangely delightful spin-off that placed importance on puzzles an a truly interactive and unique way.
As he travels through the familiar Mushroom Kingdom, Mario can flip between 2D and 3D perspectives. You can also switch between playable characters such as Peach and Luigi, who each have their own skills. Along the way, he picks up extra abilities by using companions known as Pixls, which help Mario and co. navigate yet another straightforward attempt to rescue Peach. The greater appeal to Super Paper Mario though was how Nintendo once again reinvented the wheel, breathing new life in a franchise that continues to innovate.
Xenoblade Chronicles (2010)
A rather lovely Japanese ARPG that shows just what the Wii is capable of when pushed hard, Xenoblade Chronicles is an open-world game with interconnected environments, a day/night cycle, and realtime battles that eventually see characters chaining multiple attacks together and alerting their teammates to incoming attacks before they happen.
It’s a long and complicated game with a rather wonderful score by multiple composers. For its efforts, the game also (rightfully) won many Best Wii Game awards in 2011 and 2012. A remastered version for the Nintendo Switch is also available, and it easily holds its own against today’s evolved gaming standards. But while not exactly ‘retro’, the original Xenoblade Chronicles is the best way of experiencing this truly beautiful game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
The Smash Bros series is a uniquely Nintendo invention. This interdimensional brawler brings together gaming heroes and villains from across platforms and consoles in a bid to ask the eternal question, would Solid Snake beat Jigglypuff in a fight?
On the surface, Super Smash Bros. Brawl didn’t differ much from the series. Sure, we got a bunch of new playable characters and an adventure mode, but its gaming mechanics set it apart from anything that had come before it. It changed the pace and focused more on tactical hits. Of course, there were also gameplay quirks to exploit in online battles. Yes, Super Smash Bros. Brawl had online play. While Super Smash Bros. Brawl may not be the definitive Smash title, it is arguably the most accessible in the series – yet another Wii win.