The Nintendo Wii was a runaway success that very few could have anticipated. Using motion technology, Nintendo was able to capture the imaginations of millions around the world, and in doing so, outselling both the Xbox 360 and PS3 quite handily. Many point to the Wii being a “novelty” without a great deal of high-quality core games, but there is more than enough to satisfy even the most outspoken gamer. They just need to like “cute.”
Family friendly to the end, Nintendo creates wholesome games that are simply fun to play. Nothing more and nothing less. Anyone who needs evidence of this, all you need to do is look to the plumber with a mustached. Mario has been an icon since first appearing in Donkey Kong, making him older than almost everyone who plays his games. No franchise has remained so popular for as long as Mario, as evidenced by the fact that Super Mario Galaxy is likely the most well-received title of the series, 30 years after it started.
To the right of Mario is the other famous Nintendo hero, Link (no, Zelda is the princess). From it’s top-down origin on the original NES, The Legend of Zelda extends far beyond gaming and has penetrated the popular culture of society. The most popular and critically acclaimed of the Wii Zelda titles is certainly The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In this darker look at the majestic world of Hyrule, Link must protect his home from being engulfed in a parallel dimension known as the Twilight Realm. To accomplish this mission, he must take the form of both a hylian and a wolf, adding a great deal of depth to the already stellar continuation of the series..
And to round out the first-party titles, what Nintendo system would be complete without Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Brawl? Both known as high quality multiplayer experiences, these two games are fun to play alone, but really shine when you invite some friends to take part. Mario Kart expertly implemented the driving peripheral that turned out to be a system seller for Nintendo, while Super Smash Brothers Brawl brought the already popular series into the next-gen, with improved visuals and depth of gameplay, along with a stellar soundtrack that includes the work of 38 highly-regarded game composers.
While Nintendo will always been known the their proprietary titles, the Wii also proved that it could churn out some excellent third-party offerings that resonated with a fan base who mainly bought the system to reacquaint themselves with Mario and Link. These games also helped bring variety to the endlessly colorful and whimsical nature of interactive entertainment Nintendo is traditionally known for, with one of the best examples of this outside influence being Xenoblade Chronicles. An open-world RPG in every sense, Xenoblade Chronicles transported gamers to a magical land nearly the size of the actual Japanese archipelago, filled with dangerous monsters and exciting quests. Innovative features like the ‘bonds’ system, where you can undertake various missions to help your ‘perception’ among the locals, makes the experience that much more immersive by making every action have long-lasting effects. Think of it as karma in a videogame (good thing we aren’t playing Grand Theft Auto!)
The other third-party standout released on the Wii is Okami, a relentlessly beautiful title that can truly be considered a work of art. Set in the classical Japan era, Okami uses the cultural mythology, legends and folklore of the ancient land to tell the story of the Shinto goddess Amaterasu, a deity with the ability to take the form of a white wolf. Masterfully using the console’s Remote and Nunchuk, Okami was not only one of prettiest games to grace the Wii, it was also one of the most ingenious.