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The Nintendo Wii has played host to some of the best-selling video games of all time. But for every hands-down success like Super Mario Galaxy, a few titles went almost unnoticed by the masses.
With this in mind, GamesBeat reached out to some key game industry figures to ask which Wii experiences they think deserved a wider audience. Presented below are their choices — a mixture of downloadable WiiWare and full retail releases — that all have one thing in common: You really ought to check them out.
Co-founder, 2D Boy (World of Goo)
In addition to co-creating the smash-hit World of Goo, Kyle Gabler is one of the brains behind Indie Fund, which recently supported the release of the critically acclaimed Dear Esther on PC.
Pick: Cave Story
“Cave Story is a game that’s magic in the way games were magic when I was a kid. On the surface, it’s almost easy to dismiss as another above-average indie platformer. But after spending a few minutes in the game’s world, hanging out with the characters (who are almost all rabbits!), and uncovering an adorable mystery filled with secrets and eggs and a floating island, it’s clear this was a labor of love.
“Made entirely by one guy, Daisuke ‘Pixel’ Amaya, over the course of five years, and first released back in 2004, this game inspired many in the recent wave of indie games, and it has become something of a legend in the indie community. The soundtrack alone is a classic and brings you right back into the world. Make sure to stick around and discover all three endings.”
Director, Product Marketing, Nintendo of America
A key member of the Nintendo of America team, Trinen had a hand in some of the company’s biggest-ever releases, including Super Mario Galaxy, Animal Crossing, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He also regularly acts as Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s translator at public events.
Picks: Boom Blox, ExciteBots, Rhythm Heaven Fever
“One of the Wii games I always come back to is Boom Blox. It’s so simple but so engaging. Not only do you want to keep playing, but you always feel like you can do better on the next go. I’m also a huge fan of unique concepts like ExciteBots and Rhythm Heaven Fever.”
Creative Director, Nnooo Games (Pop, EscapeVektor)
Pop was a launch-day title for Nintendo’s WiiWare service. Nnooo Games, based in Sydney, Australia, is now working to bring its critically acclaimed EscapeVektor to 3DS and PlayStation Vita.
Picks: Fire Emblem, Swords and Soldiers
“I have quite a few titles which I think have flown under the radar and are great. I think my favorite of the disc-based ones is Fire Emblem. I love how easy it is to pick up and play yet how strategic it can be. Leveling up each member of your army, seeing how their stories play out, working out the pairing of who to stand next to whom in battle — some characters receive a boost to damage when they fight next to a friend — and most importantly of all, the permanent deaths! If one of your characters dies in battle that’s it. You cannot use them again in any future battle.
“This makes the game super challenging — in a good way — as you develop bonds for each character and really don’t want anyone to die, particularly the ones you have spent so long leveling up!
“My favorite of the download titles is probably Swords and Soldiers. I love the art style and the fun, quirky gameplay. Again it is a kind of strategy title. However, it’s so much more arcadey and fast-paced. Each of your units moves from left to right and engages the enemy in battle. You can cast spells and add bonuses to them as they enter combat against whacky warriors from historic armies of the past. If I remember correctly, you start off playing Vikings and can later play as a whole host of different army types. It’s really simple to pick up and play but still really engaging.”
Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya
Independent game developer, Studio Pixel (Cave Story)
Amaya famously created the original PC version of Cave Story entirely in his spare time. He has more recently collaborated on DSi and 3DS versions of Cave Story and released Azarashi on iOS.
Pick: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
“I like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories on Wii. It does not have any gun action, asking you only to run away from monsters. Maybe people who enjoyed other Silent Hill games will not enjoy this game as much, but I like it, because I like getting lost in a frightening world.”
Co-founder, Gaijin Games (Bit. Trip series)
The Bit.Trip series, from Gaijin Games, has been a consistent highlight on the WiiWare service. The company is currently working on Bit.Trip Runner 2, which is due for release on PSN and Xbox Live in 2012.
Pick: Fluidity (a.k.a. Hydroventure)
“I was asked to write a short piece for the fine gentlemen at GamesBeat about little-known gems for the Nintendo Wii that I find enjoyable and worthwhile. After perusing my collection, I discovered many more than you might think. It was a tough internal debate, but the game I want to write about today is Fluidity for the WiiWare service.
“Fluidity has a zen-like calm while still employing unique and engaging gameplay. It’s not too hard, but it is definitely challenging enough. One of the best things about Fluidity is that it uses the unique functionality of the Wii Remote in a way that’s not gimmicky. Fluidity is but one of several unique titles on the WiiWare Service, a sadly overlooked corner of Nintendo’s Wii lineup.”
President, Mommy’s Best Games (Weapon of Choice)
Mommy’s Best Games is a boutique developer, founded in 2007 by industry veteran Nathan Fouts. Game highlights include the award-winning Weapon of Choice and Shoot 1UP.
Pick: ExciteBots: Trick Racing
“Any game which tasks you with making a sandwich while driving several hundred miles an hour immediately has my attention. ExciteBots, sequel to the Wii launch title Excite Truck and NES classic ExciteBike, is more fun and inventive than I ever expected. Players drive transformative ‘Bots which can glide for miles, perform tricks in mid-air, and boost like the Space Shuttle. In ExciteBots, if you’re touching ground for more than three seconds or traveling less than the speed of sound, you’re probably doing it wrong.
“While racing blindingly fast, seeking out secret paths, and attacking opponents, you’re constantly focused on getting a high score to unlock new, wild tracks. Fans of fun (and racing) games should have this in their library. Selfishly, I want more people to buy it, because they can’t go wrong with it but really so they’ll make a new version crammed full of more driving insanity.”
Senior Manager, Localization, Nintendo of America
Based at NOA’s localization division, Treehouse, Nate Bihldorff has been responsible for the North American versions of some of Nintendo’s most popular franchises including Metroid and The Legend of Zelda.
Picks: MotoHeroz, Wario Land: Shake It!, Monster Hunter Tri
“MotoHeroz for WiiWare is unbelievably deep. I think a lot of people perceived it as just a racing game, but it’s a brilliantly designed platformer as well and boasts some of the best single-screen multiplayer on the system.
“Wario Land: Shake It for Wii remains one of my favorite games on the system. The hand-drawn art style is truly timeless, and the platforming is pitch-perfect. Also, I’m surprised that Monster Hunter Tri isn’t more of a phenomenon in the States. It has a learning curve, but once the game gets its hooks into you, it offers incredibly fun online multiplayer.”
Managing Director, Spilt Milk Studios (Hard Lines)
Andrew Smith is a BAFTA-winning game designer, currently working on a new iOS title, Smash The Block.
Pick: Link’s Crossbow Training
“The most underrated Wii game has to be Link’s Crossbow Training. It has some smart controls, really well-developed challenges, and is one of the most polished, rewarding, and deep ‘light gun’ games I’ve ever played.”
Joost van Dongen
Co-founder, Ronimo Games (Swords and Soldiers)
Ronimo Games’ Swords and Soldiers started life on Wii and has since been ported to PS3, PC, and iOS. The team also created the original version of De Blob before selling the rights to THQ.
Pick: Excite Truck
“Excite Truck is one of the most fun racers I have ever played. It is fairly limited in its features, with no opponents in split-screen and few game modes, but the core racing is plain fantastic. It proved to me that tilt controls for a racing game can actually feel great. But most importantly, the star system in Excite Truck adds a great form of adrenaline and depth.
“In normal racing games, the goal is to finish first. Here the goal is to collect the most stars, and ending first is only one way to get stars. Other ways include drifting, jumping, and racing only just past trees. The beauty here is that getting more stars requires taking a lot more risk, so the player has to choose between certain mediocrity…or possible awesomeness. The adrenaline and depth this adds makes Excite Truck an absolutely fantastic racing game!”
Founder, Zeboyd Games (Cthulhu Saves the World)
Zeboyd Games brings a great retro-RPG sensibility, along with a neat sense of humor, to its games — the next of which will be Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3.
Pick: Trauma Team
“My favorite Wii game that no one seems to have played is Trauma Team. Previous Trauma games on the Wii were fun but Trauma Team takes the series to a whole new level, with an over-the-top story and much more gameplay variety.
“Each character in the game features a different form of gameplay, with my personal favorites being First Response, where you juggle the immediate needs of several patients simultaneously, and Forensics, which are puzzle-adventure sequences, reminiscent of the Ace Attorney series of games. The game is one of the best showcases for Wii controls, features great graphics and music, and is fairly long. In short, it belongs in every Wii owner’s library.”