The 30 best Wii games

This is the fifth in my ’30 Best’ series of articles in which I discuss my favourite games ever on a system-by-system basis for the first time. In case you missed them, I’ve already covered the 30 best Amiga games30 best DS games30 best GameCube games and 30 best Dreamcast games.

As before, because this is my own personal list and not a collaborative effort for a magazine or website, there will be some glaring omissions of games I simply didn’t play or didn’t like. So don’t lose your shit if Trauma Center isn’t on here – it’s just not one of my personal favourites.

If one of your own recommendations isn’t on the list, feel free to give it a shoutout in the comments below (politely though, mind) and tell everyone what it meant to you.

wiiThere are a number of so-called ‘gamers’ who are keen on rewriting history and suggesting the Wii was the console that single-handedly ruined ‘gaming’ for everyone.

In reality, the Wii was the most important console since the original PlayStation, in that it opened up gaming to an entirely new audience. But of course, you don’t need me to tell you that: you’re a lovely smart person.

To some this expansion of the audience 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.

These people suggest that, one or two games aside, the Wii was swimming in casual titles and was sorely lacking in ‘proper’ games. These people are idiots.

ONM issue 5, the first I appeared in
ONM issue 5, the first I appeared in

I joined Official Nintendo Magazine in May 2006, six months before the Wii launched. I moved to Nintendo Gamer in 2012 and was still there when the Wii U was released. For the entirety of the Wii’s life, I was working on Nintendo-only publications.

That means, chances are, I played more Wii games during that time than the vast majority of other games journalists. I played a lot of shite, yes. But I played countless gems too. Essentially, this is a long-winded way of arrogantly saying that when it comes all the ‘best Wii games’ lists online, you should at least be reassured that I definitely know my shit here.

Below is a list of 30 games (plus 15 honourable mentions) that any self-respecting gamer with an open mind and an acceptance of all genres would happily have in their collection. There are umpteen more, but let’s go with these for now.

Also, this isn’t counting the brilliant digital-only games released through the WiiWare service. I’ll be covering Nintendo’s eShop titles in general in a future list.

The annoying notes bit which is pretty much copied and pasted from my DS list

This list is in alphabetical order. Much like it’s pretty pointless deciding whether a game’s getting a score of 72% or 73%, it doesn’t really matter if Donkey Kong Country Returns is my 23rd or 24th favourite Wii game. Everything in this list was deemed good enough to make the cut, so I recommend them all with similar enthusiasm.

ONM issue 83, my final issue at the mag as a staff member (not couning freelance stuff I did later)
ONM issue 83, my final issue at the mag as a full staff member (not counting freelance stuff I did later)

Also, where possible, I have included links to buy these on Amazon UK if you’re interested in a particular game. I won’t bullshit you: these are affiliate links.

This means if my list has tempted you to buy a game, if you do it through Amazon by clicking my link then I get a few pence (literally) of Amazon’s revenue for referring you to them. It doesn’t cost you any extra, so it’s a win-win situation. Be sure to check the New & Used sections after clicking the link though: often the main price shown is some indie store charging silly money. In the New & Used section you’ll often find it far cheaper.

A warning, though: many of these games will now be more expensive than they used to be. We’re past the point where shops were selling Wii games off at dirt cheap prices to clear stock in preparation for the Wii U: now we’re at a point where everything is out of print and therefore costs a little more. Don’t be surprised, then, to see some Wii games still going for around £20 or more despite their age.

As I said above, this list only counts retail titles. There’ll be a special list for WiiWare and other eShop titles later.

And remember, all these games work on the Wii U too.

The List

1) Animal Crossing: Let’s Go To The City

Animal Crossing City FolkWhat it is: The third game in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing life sim series. Well, the fourth if you want to get all wanky and count the Japan-only N64 one.

Why it was chosen: No, it may not be the best version of Animal Crossing any more now that the 3DS one’s 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.)

Buy it: Here’s the standard version and here’s the Nintendo Selects version, though both are pretty much the same price these days.

2) Another Code: R – A Journey Into Lost Memories

Another Code RWhat 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 was chosen: I’m a big fan of now-defunct developer CiNG and its adventure games, most notably Hotel Dusk and its sequel Last Window (both on my 30 Best DS Games list).

Its other handheld adventure Another Code and its Wii sequel are less often discussed, possibly because the latter was never released in 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, a well-rounded female lead who isn’t all smoulder and jiggly bits.

Buy it: Another Code R: A Journey Into Lost Memories

3) Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise

Beat The Beat Rhythm ParadiseWhat 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 was chosen: I’m a sucker 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 funnest 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 I 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 bloody love it, that’s what if.

Buy it: Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise

4) Bit.Trip Complete

Bit Trip CompleteWhat 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 was chosen: I 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, I 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’ve learned on your five-game journey so far.

As each was released I remember thinking each time: “It’s a shame these are on WiiWare, because no bastard will buy them. If only they would get a physical release.”
Then they did. And no bastard bought them. So do yourself a favour and change that.

Buy it: Bit.Trip Complete

5) Boom Blox & Boom Blox: Bash Party

Boom BloxWhat 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 were chosen: At first glance Boom Blox looks like nothing more than another candidate to be chucked onto the pile of nondescript party shite 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 shat out over a series of uninspired lunch breaks by a poorly-paid dev team for a publisher trying to make a quick opportunistic 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.

Buy them: Here’s Boom Blox and here’s Boom Blox Bash Party.

6) DJ Hero 1 & 2

DJ Hero 2What it is: 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 it was chosen: As I write this there’s a lot of hype surrounding the recently-released Guitar Hero Live, and rightly so because it’s brilliant. One of the reasons it feels so fresh is because the dev team put in charge of rebooting the series, Freestyle Games, is made up of geniuses.

Freestyle was the studio responsible for DJ Hero, an attempt 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.

Buy it: DJ Hero, DJ Hero 2 (with turntable), DJ Hero 2 (standalone)

7) Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Country ReturnsWhat it is: The long-awaited fourth game in the Donkey Kong Country series, coming a mere 14 years after the third one.

Why it was chosen: Back when I helped start off the Official Nintendo Magazine podcast (now no longer on iTunes, tragically – thanks, Future Publishing), there was a running joke that any time a big games conference like E3 rolled around we always wanted to see Donkey Kong Country 4.

It was a joke because, frankly, none of us really expected it. Donkey Kong may have been Nintendo’s property but the Country games were Rare’s baby and Rare was now living with its foster parent, 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 ONM podcast joke 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.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version – if you have a Wii U it’s also available to buy and download from the Wii U eShop (only in Europe and Japan though, not the US).

8) Excite Truck & Excitebots

ExcitebotsWhat it is: 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 it was chosen: Excite Truck was one of the earliest Wii games and as such it suffered a great deal of rejection from gamers 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 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 counting 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 wee racers there.

Buy it: Here’s Excite Truck. Sadly, Excitebots was never released in the UK, which is criminal if you ask me.

9) Go Vacation

Go VacationWhat it is: A mini-game compilation with… hey, come on. You trust me, don’t you? Look, just hear me out. Remember, I’ve actually played all the shovelware shite that was released on Wii so I know what I’m talking about.

Why it was chosen: I realise this is the point at which more narrow-minded types will call bullshit on this entire list and close the window, but I’m being completely sincere when I say Go Vacation is a cracking wee game.

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 countless other mini-game offerings on Wii, however, is that Go Vacation‘s games are by and large pretty bloody 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.

I know what you’re thinking. I thought it too when the review disc first came into the office. But again, at the risk of sounding like an arsehole, I’ve played it: have you?

Buy it: Go Vacation

10) House Of The Dead: Overkill

House Of The Dead OverkillWhat it is: A surprisingly adult reboot of Sega’s cheesy lightgun shooter series. Designed in the style of a ’70s grindhouse movie, it’s got some of the most outrageous dialogue and cutscenes you’lll ever see in a game.

Why it was chosen: If there’s one thing the Wii was great for, it was lightgun 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 lightgun 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 gym teacher at fat camp.

It’s also home to what is without a doubt the most disturbing ending you’ll ever see in a video game. I refuse to go into more detail but suffice to say that PEGI 18 certificate on the case is there for a bloody fantastic reason.

Buy it: House Of The Dead: Overkill

11) Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Kirby's Epic YarnWhat 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 testicle tries to collect seven pieces of magic yarn to stitch together Patch Land.

Why it was chosen: 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 give a seventeenth of a shit about that.

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.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version – if you have a Wii U, you can also buy and download it from the Wii U eShop (only in Europe, not the US or Japan).

12) Klonoa

KlonoaWhat it is: A remake of Namco’s cult PlayStation game, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile.

Why it was chosen: If some knife-wielding maniac was ever to hold his blade to my throat and demand I pick a single gaming genre to be my favourite, I’d say “platformers” then knee him in the balls and throw his knife into the sea because I’m a fucking ninja.

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 you long for simpler times.

Buy it: Klonoa

13) The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess & Skyward Sword

Zelda Skyward SwordWhat they are: Two of the finest Zelda games ever made. 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 were chosen: In the nine 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 these pricks to make their bloody minds up, I recommend you track it down if you haven’t already, something that’ll be much easier now there’s an HD remake on the way.

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. Now, how about an HD version of that too, Nintendo?

Buy them: Here’s Twilight Princess, and here’s Skyward Sword, which is oddly expensive these days.

14) Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart WiiWhat it is: The sixth game in the Mario Kart series, or the eighth if you want to be one of those insufferable wanks who count the arcade ones. Like I do.

Why it was chosen: Although it sort of goes without saying that it’s been overtaken (ahem) by Mario Kart 8 on Wii U, 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 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.

Buy it: Mario Kart Wii

15) Metroid Prime Trilogy

Metroid Prime TrilogyWhat 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 was chosen: 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 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 your Wii U and not worry about that.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version but it was released in strictly limited numbers and is ridiculously expensive these days. If you have a Wii U you can buy and download it from the Wii U eShop for a fraction of the cost.

16) NBA Jam

NBA JamWhat it is: EA’s attempt to bring back the greatest ’90s arcade sporting series of all time, digitised player faces and all.

Why it was chosen: I make no bones about the fact that NBA Jam (specially the Tournament Edition on Mega Drive) was one of my favourite games of the ’90s, so when EA announced it was resurrecting the series in 2010 I got nervous since it had been tried before in 2003 and was a bit pish.

Thankfully, this Wii version is an absolute joy and plays just like the original did: rule-free shove-fests, ridiculous dunks 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.

Buy it: NBA Jam

17) No More Heroes 1 & 2

No More Heroes 2What 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 were chosen: I’ve been a big fan of Goichi Suda (Suda51)’s work for the longest time, and the No More Heroes games are a perfect example of his unique style.
He’s similar to Hideo Kojima in that his games are riddled with little quirks and personal touches that are unmistakably results of their 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 to make Travis seemingly wank power into it), disembowel a singing Native American 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 mental. A warning, though: the first game is censored in the west in that the blood has been taken out. Given how gratuitous the blood is, that’s actually a bigger deal than you’d think.

Buy them: No More Heroes and No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle

18) Punch-Out!!

Punch-OutWhat 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 was chosen: 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.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version – if you have a Wii U you can buy and download it from the Wii U eShop.

19) Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles & The Darkside Chronicles

Resident Evil Darkside ChroniclesWhat they are: A pair of lightgun games based on the events of the Resident Evil series.

Why they were chosen: It’s no secret that lightgun 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 cracking 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.

Buy them: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

20) Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

Resident Evil 4What it is: The best version of one of the best survival horror games ever.

Why it was chosen: There’s been plenty of praise showered over Resi 4 in the 11 years since it was first released, so I’m 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.

Buy it: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

21) Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Silent Hill Shattered MemoriesWhat it is: The seventh game in the Silent Hill series, and its final high point before Konami went mental and started burning more bridges than a troll hunter.

Why it was chosen: I don’t often score games ‘wrong’ when I review them (after all, it’s my opinion) but one of my greatest regrets when I was at Official Nintendo Magazine was that I gave Silent Hill: Shattered Memories a mere 86%.

After I finished it, it lingered with me for weeks, then months, then years. I 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 – and I just became obsessed with it.

I may never have been able to change its score but I can at least add it to this list and strongly advise you track it down.

Expect a more detailed review on this site some time in the future. It deserves it.

Buy it: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

22) Sin & Punishment: Successor Of The Skies

Sin & Punishment 2What it is: An on-rails sequel to the cult N64 game we never got to play.

Why it was chosen: 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 in the west, letting us 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.)

Buy it: Here’s the physical version – if you have a Wii U you can buy and download it from the Wii U eShop

23) New Super Mario Bros Wii

New Super Mario Bros WiiWhat it is: Side-scrolling splendor in the first 2D home console Mario platformer since Yoshi’s Story 12 years prior.

Why it was chosen: 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 Star Wars: The Force Awakens as “just another Star Wars” 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 just 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.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version – if you have a Wii U you can also buy and download it from the Wii U eShop (Europe only, not US or Japan).

24) Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2

Super Mario GalaxyWhat it is: Two of the greatest games ever made. As simple as that.

Why it was chosen: I know I said this list was alphabetical and not in order of merit but I’ll be honest with you: if I was ranking them then Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 would be number one without a shadow of a doubt.

In fact, if I was listing my favourite games of all time on any system I’d undoubtedly have them as a single entry somewhere in my top three.

The reason I’d count 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.

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 intuiton, 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.

Buy it: Here’s the physical versions of Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2. If you have a Wii U you can buy and download both games from the Wii U eShop.

25) Super Paper Mario

Super Paper MarioWhat it is: The third game in Nintendo’s Paper Mario series, which has developed something of a cult following over the years.

Why it was chosen: 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.

Buy it: Super Paper Mario

26) Super Smash Bros Brawl

Super Smash Bros BrawlWhat it is: The third Smash Bros game and (come at me, haters) the best.

Why it was chosen: Look, I 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.

And I 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.

But there’s two things Super Smash Bros Brawl has that no other Smash Bros game has. It’s got the Subspace Emissary mode (specifically, its amazing cutscenes, created by Final Fantasy writer Kazushige Nojima).

It’s also got Solid Snake, who brings with him one of the greatest and most detailed easter eggs in gaming history.

Buy it: Super Smash Bros Brawl

27) Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Tatsunoko vs CapcomWhat 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 was chosen: 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 gamers 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. It’s mental, and I love it.

Buy it: Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

28) Wii Sports & Wii Sports Resort

Wii Sports ResortWhat it is: The game that changed the entire demographics of gaming, and the sequel that gave the Wii the motion controls it deserved.

Why it was chosen: 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.

My own belief is that Wii Sports‘ impact was a tremendous thing for the gaming industry and helped 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 I still enjoy a wee go of it to this day: yes, us experts 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 fella 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 addictive sports 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 me.

Buy it: Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort

29) Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade ChroniclesWhat it is: Monolith Soft’s enormous RPG which pushed the Wii to its limits.

Why it was chosen: The Wii U may have the sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X now, but to be completely honest I still prefer the simplicity (well, comparatively speaking) of its Wii predecessor.

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 some of the best worst voice acting ever (“WHAT A BUNCH OF JOKERS”).

But it never completely overwhelms you like X has a tendency to, and for that reason I think it’s the better game.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version but it’s pricey – if you have a Wii U you can buy and download it from the Wii U eShop (Europe only, not US or Japan) for much cheaper.

30) Zack & Wiki

Zack and WikiWhat 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 was chosen: Capcom’s puzzler about a young wannabe pirate and his monkey sidekick is both one of the loveliest games of the last generation and one of the most head-scratchingly tricky.

Sadly though, despite being widely praised by critics around the world, the game sold the best part of fuck all, shifting a little over 300,000 copies worldwide.

The good news, then, is that there’s a bloody good chance you haven’t discovered it yet. And even better, it was recently added to the Wii U eShop, meaning you’ve got no excuse of not being able to find a copy.

Buy it: Here’s the physical version – if you have a Wii U you can buy and download it from the Wii U eShop (Europe and US, not Japan).

Honourable mentions

Thirty isn’t good enough, I hear you say? Well, technically I didn’t hear you say anything, because I wrote this before you got to read it and subsequently react. But I’m assuming that if you’re still reading at this point then it’s because you may think thirty isn’t good enough. Look, I don’t know. Either way, here’s 15 more that didn’t make it into the list but are also well worth a shot.

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 3DS fan favourite Fire Emblem Awakening.

Ghost Squad
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.

Pandora’s Tower
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
I genuinely enjoyed the first Red Steel, but let’s not go there: let’s just say if you resented buying it based on the ONM quote on the box I can only apologise. 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
Look, shush. I know Sonic Unleashed was shite on PS3 and Xbox 360 because of the horrendous Werehog levels. But the Wii version has a completely different engine and is actually much better. Meanwhile, Sonic Colours is Sega’s attempt at Super Mario Galaxy and is a solid Sonic platformer, which in this day and age is a big deal.

WarioWare: Smooth Moves
If you somehow managed to avoid buying a Wii last generation and are now realising what a massive mistake you made, this mental 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.

Still not done reading? Craving more? You maniac. Here’s my other articles covering the 30 best Amiga games30 best DS games30 best GameCube games and 30 best Dreamcast games.


  1. A long-ass post deserves a long-ass comment:

    1. I’m surprised to see Another Code R on here. Don’t get me wrong, though. I enjoyed it for what it was and Ashley was a very likable protagonist.

    2. I remember really wanting to play Excitebots when it came out. Finding out it would never be released in Europe upset me greatly.

    3. Man, I wish Klonoa sold well because it might’ve led to Namco actually making Klonoa 3. That or remaking Klonoa 2, one of my favourite games ever.

    4. I probably wouldn’t have put Skyward Sword on a Top 30 list. I loved the characters and visuals but I had too many issues with the MotionPlus thing to truly enjoy it.

    5. I will always love Mario Kart Wii for being one of the few games I had that my non-gamer friends would happily play (though Mario Kart 8 has now taken over).

    6. While I think the Wii U Smash Bros is better, Brawl was the one I played for hours on end. I remember playing it into the early hours of the morning when I got it. I honestly loved the Subspace Emissary mode and I really wished they put in a similar mode for Smash 4, as opposed to the rather underwhelming Smash Run and Smash Tour stuff.

    7. Xenoblade Chronicles is my favourite game ever and I will fight anybody who says the voice acting is terrible. I’d quote that game all day.


    OK I’ll stop now

  2. What a great list of games, especially Zack & Wiki, that game deserves all the praise it gets. One game that’s not on the list that I like is Epic Mickey. Back when it was released I thought it was a really fun game with lots of nice nods to Disney movies and Disney Land. Plus the ability to be either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ gave it a nice bit of replay value. Might have not aged that well though, I haven’t played it in a couple of years.

  3. Glad to see Boom Blox was given a mention. That was a great game which deserves recognition. Also, Tatsunoko vs Capcom was damn amazing, definitely a truly fantastic fighting game for me. Surprised at the lack of Guitar Hero in the list, though, seems a little criminal if you ask me.

  4. Glad to see Boom Blox was given a mention. That was a great game which deserves recognition. Also, Tatsunoko vs Capcom was damn amazing, definitely a truly fantastic fighting game for me. Surprised at the lack of Guitar Hero in the list, though, seems a little criminal if you ask me.

    – Reuben

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Great list! I have most of the games and a lot of the ‘honourable mentions’. Was quite surprised to see Little King’s Story not in the top 30, one of the more criminally under rates gems I’ve found! I’m going to have to create a mental ’30 best…’ list of my own now I think 😄

  6. I loved your list. It’s nice to see the shout out for Punch-Out!! That game got totally overlooked by everyone I know, and yet they all continue to love and talk about the original NES Punch-Out!

    The only game I would’ve like to see added was Mario Strikers Charged. I got a shitload of play out of that game.

  7. I’ve just bought Another Code: R and Bit Trip Complete based on this list. Another Code was always on my list after buying the DS version years back but for whatever reason it slipped my mind.

    I’m surprised a boy and his blob was absent from this list, I think it’s up there for me as one of the best Wii games.

  8. I’m purchasing a Wii soon and will be using this list as a guide to what decent games I’ll also be getting.


  9. That comparison between Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X is spot on. X is an absolutely fantastic game, but suffers from just dumping way too much content and systems on the player without much in the way of structure or explanation, still a fantastic game mind.

  10. I loved Red Steel! It was far from the greatest FPS ever (Perfect Dark) but it had some great corridor duelling, never threw waves of enemies at you for a laugh and the split-screen multiplayer is an undiscovered gem.
    Getting 2-player local multiplayer to work on a shooter is difficult because levels are normally built for online play of large teams. Red Steel had really small levels built for cat and mouse duels. My friend used to come around every week to play it with me. We had a fierce rivalry.

  11. I’m glad Okami made the honourable mentions but it should be on the list! It is in my top 3 games of all time. (Along with Zelda and Bioshock if anyone was wondering!)

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