As troubling as this statistic might be for our more millennial readers, the Nintendo Wii is 16 years old, having launched in the bygone era of 2006. That motion-controlled maverick of a console that had everyone from age 9 to 99 swing a TV remote to bowl and painstakingly recreating themselves as Miis, had its share of hits, but even so, some titles didn’t quite get their due.
Here are ten of the most underrated Wii games that called the system their home, and which deserve your time if you still have one of these artifacts lying around somewhere.
MadWorld is the most obligatory ‘underrated Wii gem,’ earning equal parts fame and infamy with its mix of grisly hyper-violence and monochrome comic book art style. When initially released in 2009, MadWorld’s bloody aesthetic helped it stick out from the more family-friendly Wii crowd, but its arcade style, high score-centric gameplay and non-stop thrills made it a cult hit.
MadWorld takes place in a city that’s been seized by violent terrorists and converted into a lethal gameshow called “DeathWatch,” wherein citizens battle to fight and kill each other in order to claim a vaccine for a deadly disease. Players control Jack, a mysterious man with a chainsaw attached to his arm, in case you thought this game would have any subtlety. The voice cast boasts heavy hitters like Steven Blum, John DiMaggio, and Greg Proops.
Sadly, this explosive debut did not manifest into a lasting legacy for the game, with no sequels ever developed on the Wii or any other Nintendo consoles. A legacy sequel, Anarchy Reigns, did come to Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2012.
Developer: GR3 Project, Playism
Publisher: Asterizm, EnjoyUp Games
La-Mulana is a side-scrolling platform adventure game wherein players raid tombs with the help of their trusty whip. The gameplay is a combination of Tomb Raider, Spelunky, and Castlevania, with a retro art style meant to evoke the look of vintage MSX games. Originally released for PC in 2007, La-Mulana got a remake and facelift for the Wii in 2011. In addition to a lighter difficulty curve, the Wii version brings new bosses, and new puzzles for an optimized experience.
Beyond the loving and specific parodying of the MSX system, La-Mulana sticks the landing with fun, fast, and surprising environmental gameplay. Secret traps and bizarre puzzles make every screen a treat in La-Mulana, providing a premium retro gaming experience (which is now, in a way, double-retro).
La-Mulana and its sequel, La-Mulana 2, are both available on the Nintendo Switch now, in a victory for game preservation.
8. And Yet It Moves
Developer: Broken Rules
Publisher: Broken Rules
Initially released for PC in 2009 and ported to the Wii with new motion controls, And Yet It Moves is a visually stunning puzzle platformer. In a world that looks like collage made from papercraft cut-outs, players use the Wii’s motion controls to spin the world around their character and open up new paths of exploration.
The motion control gimmick sometimes ran wild with Wii games, but in And Yet It Moves, the ability to spin the world is a tight, focused mechanic that never gets out of control or loses its way. Every environment is full of incredible detail that still looks mesmerizing by modern standards, and while the puzzles can naturally lead to some head-scratching and aimless experimentation, the journey is well worth any minor speedbumps you might experience.
There were plenty of other Wii games that wanted to bend your mind with motion controls and make manipulating the environment feel both trippy and intuitive, but And Yet It Moves actually managed to fulfill that promise.
7. Mercury Meltdown Revolution
Developer: Ignition Banbury
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
This entry is unique because it also qualifies for an underrated PSP game. In the original Mercury Meltdown, released on the PSP in 2006, you have a simple goal: navigate a blob of mercury through an increasingly complex series of obstacle courses and reach the finish line with at least some of your mercury intact. Different tracks may split your mercury apart, forcing you to keep track of the various different drops as you race to the finish line.
Mercury Meltdown Revolution, which slid onto the Wii in 2007, brought new tracks and, naturally, new motion controls onto Nintendo’s motion-control machine, and the result is a match made in motion control heaven. The races become hectic scrambles to the end as you try to keep your balance and keep your bearings on the track.
The lava-lamp inspired visuals make every track feel kinetic and enticing, elevating Revolution to a standout port on a console that had its fair share of ports, not all of which could manage to marry their gameplay with motion controls as beautifully as Mercury Meltdown did.
6. Endless Ocean
While underwater levels are often feared and reviled, the ocean has a beautiful serenity that the threat of drowning can sometimes obscure. Endless Ocean, released for the Wii in 2007, was a wonderfully mellow change of pace for games set underwater. Players control a scuba diver as they explore the South Pacific, diving into the alluring depths and examining all kinds of undersea life.
As players get up close and personal with all kinds of marine life, from dolphins and (non-lethal) sharks to enormous whales, they’ll learn more about how we interact with the deep ocean and the creatures that live in it. It may not be the most action-packed underrated Wii game on this list, but it is one of the most beautiful.
For players who want a game to help them unwind and witness a facsimile of nature, Endless Ocean is a lovely example of how games can be more than just making the high score numbers go up.
5. The Last Story
Developer: Mistwalker, AQ Interactive
Publisher: Nintendo, XSeed Interactive
The Last Story is a JRPG that plays to the strengths of the genre. It’s a high fantasy setting, a lovable cast of party members teaming together to discover the meaning of friendship and kill God, and a battle-system that seems simple but belies hidden depth and complexity.
Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy, directed and co-wrote The Last Story, with series mainstay Nobuo Uematsu composing music for The Last Story as well. All told, the title was in the best possible hands, and the game they created benefits from these credentials. Combat is tight and exhilarating, the settings and music feel like distinct versions of classic JRPG moments, and as a whole it feels like its own individual idea in a crowded field of competitors.
Released in Japan in 2011, the powers that be at Nintendo initially didn’t think there was any reason to localize The Last Story to the rest of the world. A fan campaign called Operation Rainfall urged Nintendo to reconsider, and as a consequence of such enormously vocal fan support, Nintendo gave in and localized The Last Story, along with fellow in-demand JRPGs Pandora’s Tower and a little title called Xenoblade Chronicles.
4. Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars
Developer: Red Fly Studio
Publisher: Gamecock Media Group
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars, along with its DS prequel Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi, bloomed in 2008, bringing a loopy sci-fi story of plants and fungi granted life by a strange meteor, and the turf wars that came about from all of these suddenly intelligent creatures.
Mushroom Men definitely feels like a product of its time, with all of the edgy humor and irreverence of a mid-00s title that traffics in jokes about mushrooms. In addition to these stonerific counterculture vibes, Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars has music from Les Claypool of the band Primus, giving everything a truly spacey, off-kilter energy unlike anything else in gaming at the time, or really anything since.
Still, the games’ stories of rapidly-emerging societies of mushrooms banding together and declaring war on each other as their world rapidly warps and mutates around them is thrilling stuff, and the eerie levels full of plant life gone awry are always a treat to behold. Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars had all of the makings of a true cult hit, with its solid gameplay fundamentals and kooky atmosphere, but for now it remains stuck in the memory hole of underrated Wii games.
3. The Conduit
Developer: High Voltage Software
Before Splatoon made blasting ink across the battlefield a ubiquitous experience for Nintendo fans, the House of Mario didn’t have many franchises that could appeal to the hardcore FPS fanbase. The Conduit, released on the Wii in 2008, made a valiant effort to change that opinion. Players were dropped into a high-octane sci-fi storyline, as they shoot their way through hordes of alien invaders called The Drudge.
The main draw of The Conduit is most certainly in its multiplayer. Voice chat was available via the rarely-utilized Wii Speak peripheral, and The Conduit boasted an impressive 13 bespoke multiplayer modes. Up to 12 players could play together online across seven different multiplayer maps. Visually, The Conduit holds up very well, especially for the Wii which often struggled to compete with its more graphically complex competitors.
The Conduit did get a sequel, The Conduit 2 in 2010, but the franchise hasn’t had any other development in over a decade, which is a real shame because there were some extremely strong bones here that could have flourished into more fresh FPS games on the Wii.
Of all the underrated Wii games featured on this list, Elebits, released in 2006, feels perhaps most like the one that should have resonated more with the Wii’s customer base.
It has cutesy, memorable mascot characters in its titular Elebits (little electric gremlins that live inside appliances), and it has a fun and intuitive use of the Wii’s motion controls, with players using their remote like a Gravity Gun to seize on objects in their environments and shake the Elebits out of them. Levels go from single rooms to full houses and sections of a street, as the scope and scale of Elebit-hunting balloons out into exciting and chaotic new heights. Collecting more Elebits brings more and more power to each area, leading to an organic way of measuring progress in seeing the levels come more and more back to life as you scour the landscape.
Elebits also had a robust level editor mode, allowing players to create their own sandboxes to toss around and hunt through. Players could upload their levels via the Wii’s online WiiConnect 24 service to download and play other players’ levels. While this sounds obvious by today’s standards, Nintendo was slow to get on the online train, and Elebits was there from the very beginning. In an alternate world, instead of Rabbids or Minions, those lovable Elebits took the world by storm.
1. Deadly Creatures
Developer: Rainbow Studios
The Nintendo Wii had a ton of imaginative adventures, from the gravity-defying Super Mario Galaxy to the motion-controlled swashbuckling of Skyward Sword. And yet, one underrated Wii game, a pinnacle of diamond-in-the-rough gaming, is the extremely grounded Deadly Creatures, released in 2009. Players alternate between controlling a scorpion and a tarantula, battling each other, evading a sinister rattlesnake, and interfering with the efforts of two unscrupulous treasure hunters, played by Dennis Hopper and Billy Bob Thornton.
The entire enterprise feels like a sleek B-movie, with two-bit crooks and creature feature scares that come from the bug’s-eye-view of the two protagonists. Gameplay is varied, with the tarantula taking a more stealth-oriented approach and the scorpion’s levels are more action-focused, so you never get too stuck doing the same thing before changing over to the other character.
The novel experience of controlling an arachnid as you crawl on walls and maneuver through layered environments never gets old, and it’s a true shame that more players didn’t take this wild ride when they had the chance.
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