With this generation of console gaming winding down, I thought I’d look back and reminisce on the lifespan of the Wii and the PS3 (I do not own an Xbox 360). I’ll be listing what I think are the top 10 best games for those systems. These are the must-own, best titles to have if you own these systems. I’ll be starting with the Nintendo Wii, as both the 360 and PS3 still have big games coming out this fall.
10. Wii Sports Resort
The sequel to what kicked-off the motion control craze, Wii Sports Resort features 12 exciting sports for you to take part in. Included is the Wii Motion Plus accessory, enhancing the motion control, and making each of the games feel precise and on-point. The island setting makes each game unique, and some of the games are a blast with friends, such as canoeing and swordfighting.
9. Mario Kart Wii
The Mario Kart franchise is a staple for each Nintendo console, and the Wii version totes exciting new features such as motorbikes and trick ramps. It also comes bundled with the Wii Wheel, a plastic shell to hold your Wiimote and make it feel more like a steering wheel. The Mario Kart formula hasn’t been tampered with, and MK Wii has some of the most outrageous courses and karts. While the AI can be insanely frustrating at times, Mario Kart Wii lets you take your game online, and race with 11 other players around the globe. I’ve logged many hours into the online play, as it’s the most fleshed-out online mode you’ll find in any Wii game.
Next Level Games surprised everyone when they put out a new title in the Punch-Out!! series, aptly titled Punch-Out!! You play as Little Mac, rising the ranks of the worldwide boxing tournament taking down many fighters to become the champion. More than just a boxing game, Punch-Out!! is a puzzle game at heart, requiring quick reactions and pattern recognition to take down your foes. Very difficult and rewarding, Punch-Out!! is a treat for fans of the original, and new players looking to get in on the fun.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Although initially a Gamecube release, Twilight Princess made the switch to the Wii as well, being one of the system’s launch titles. In this adventure, Link is aided by shadowy imp Midna, as he must navigate the shadowy world of Hyrule that has been taken over by Zant and the Twilli. Along the way you’ll meet crazy companions, solve big environmental puzzles, and explore many dungeons in traditional Zelda fashion. Although I wasn’t crazy about the game initially, it has the best overworld in any Zelda game, and features an emotional story and a lot to do after the main quest. If you like lengthly adventure games, Twilight Princess is for you.
6. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Although today, the New Super Mario Bros series isn’t as groundbreaking as it used to be, NSMB Wii was the best of the New series, adding new power ups and new modes that make the traditional platforming as fun as ever. The 8 worlds have well-scaled difficulty, and are never infuriatingly hard. The four-player co-op is a welcome addition, allowing four players to play through any of the game’s levels as Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad, and Yellow Toad. It allows for some awesome cooperative play, or some uncooperative play if you enjoy that. It’s great for beginners or young players, and something that every Wii owner should have on their shelf.
5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
The hugely anticipated fighting series is in very high regard today, and as we anticipate every bit of news on the fourth entry on 3Ds and Wii U, it’s easy to look back on Brawl and dismiss it as not as good as its predecessor, Melee. Although that may be true, Super Smash Bros Brawl is an exciting addition to the franchise, featuring a surprisingly deep story mode titled Subspace Emissary. The game’s 40-some characters are all unique, and there are some wild cards here, like Solid Snake or R.O.B. The levels, items, and mechanics are as tight as ever, and although the online mode is one of the worst in recent memory, Brawl is still a fun game to come back to and play with friends late at night.
4. Donkey Kong Country Returns
The Donkey Kong Country series returns in the best side-scrolling platformer on the Wii. Once again, DK’s banana stash has been stolen, prompting him and Diddy Kong to spring into action and get them back. Navigating the game’s 8 worlds is very rewarding, as DKCR is one of the hardest platformers I’ve played. People say games are getting easier, but then I point them towards DKCR and they cower in fear. The tight platforming can be brutal at times, and the Mine Cart and new Rocket Barrel levels can be punishing. No game comes close to producing that kind of frustration, and even I haven’t found every K-O-N-G letter or puzzle piece. If you like challenging 2D platformers, DKCR is a must-have.
3. Super Mario Galaxy
Mario is back, this time in space, in one the best Mario games ever made. Bowser takes Peach into space, and Mario gives chase, coming across an observatory, where he meets Rosalina, a mysterious space queen, and her band of Lumas. The hub world isn’t as cool as Delfino Plaza, but Galaxy’s level design is astounding. The gravity defying worlds all feature crazy mechanics that we’ve never seen before, like fling stars or a Bee Suit. The varied gameplay never lets up, and even towards the end you’re still experiencing new things. If Super Mario Galaxy isn’t regarded as having some of the best-designed levels in gaming history, then I don’t know what is.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
I had a hard time deciding between these next two games for the top spot. Both are some of the best modern games today, but ultimately it came down to this: Skyward Sword is the Wii’s last hurrah. It reimagines motion controls, and with the Wii Motion Plus accessory, your sword swings become Link’s sword swings. Every Zelda game from now in will feel inferior without motion controls. They are that good. Besides that, Skyward Sword features a story of epic proportions, as Link, a citizen of the sky city Skyloft, must spring into action and save Zelda, who has been kidnapped by a mysterious man Ghirahim and taken to the world below the clouds. No other Nintendo game features a story this captivating. Skyward Sword also changes around the Zelda formula for the better. Twilight Princess was fun, but a lot of the time I was wandering around wasting time. Skyward Sword changes that, as dungeons aren’t as restricted as they used to be. The overworld is huge, yet linear, but this allows for new puzzles and challenging dungeon-like locations, even before you step into an actual “temple.” In addition, the items this time around are great at changing how we play Zelda, with new mechanics like the Beetle and rolling bombs. Visually, Skyward Sword is astounding, featuring the best visual style I’ve ever seen in a Zelda game.
1. Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an achievement in 3D Mario. More than just a sequel to an already-fantastic game, Super Mario Galaxy 2 ditches what was bad about the first game (HUB world, cheeky story), adds more platforming perfection, and changes things for the better. New power-ups include Rock Mario and Cloud Mario, and even Yoshi gets in on the fun. SMG 2 is fun yet challenging, but never to the point of frustration. Like other platforming games like Portal 2 or Super Meat Boy, Galaxy 2 is very, very rewarding. You never feel like your deaths were cheap or due to bad design, but it’s all on you. The tight controls make navigating the new galaxies work like a charm. Like Galaxy 1, there is new stuff around every corner. One would have thought that Nintendo exhausted their platforming ideas in the first game, but they’d be wrong. Galaxy 2’s level design is brilliant, allowing for a lot of fun exploration. After the main game, there are 120 more Green Stars to collect, and these are great, as they make you look at the levels in ways you hadn’t before, because they are scattered throughout the galaxies in crazy locations. Galaxy 2’s soundtrack should also be noted, as Koji Kondo took some of the best tunes from the first game, and added to that some beautiful new pieces that all fit the atmosphere perfectly. The best game for Wii, the best 3D Mario game, and one of Nintendo’s best games ever made, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the pinnacle of Mario platforming, and I can’t recommend it enough.