The Nintendo Wii. Originally released in 2006, this motion control-enabled console was soon infiltrating living rooms the world over
The Nintendo Wii. Originally released in 2006, this motion control-enabled console was soon infiltrating living rooms the world over. Suddenly, grannies were playing video games, Wii-motes were being flung through brand new TV screens, and mums were queueing for hours to get hold of a bloody balance board.
The identity of gaming was changed forever, everyone was dancing, and Nintendo were drowning in money.
Depending on your outlook, the Wii represents either a huge step forward for gaming in the public eye, or a side-step into the realms of cheap fads, game-ruining motion controls,
and endless shovelware. Either way, most Wiis
nowadays are packed away under beds or in attics,
but if yours is still on display,
the likelihood is it’s used for
Mario Kart Wii, Super Mario Galaxy,
or something else with Mario in it.
We’re not interested in those today,
though! Even No More Heroes and Zack & Wicki
are too mainstream for us. We’re delving deep
into the pit of Wii obscurity to try and find
some gems that rarely see the light of day.
Wow, there really are a lot
of games to dig through down
here. I’m going to need a bigger shovel…
I’m Ashton from TripleJump, and here
are 10 Hidden Gems for the Nintendo Wii.
10. Centipede: Infestation
The bugs are invading in our first hidden gem.
Created by Shantae developers, WayForward,
Centipede: Infestation reimagines the world
created by the original Centipede back in
1981. In the original arcade hit, the aim of
the game was to blast a centipede that was
advancing through a field of mushrooms.
As segments of the centipede are hit,
it would split up and move faster, steadily
advancing on our bug-blasting protagonist.
Centipede: Infestation keeps the same
idea, and even hangs onto the mushrooms,
but adds tower defence elements and applies
3D graphics to the whole thing. Like the Wii
port of Geometry Wars, players can either use
the Nunchuck to move and the Remote to aim,
or can plug in a classic controller and play
it like a stick shooter. The game also has
various weapon options and even a co-op mode,
so you don’t have to face the giant bugs alone.
Centipede: Infestation even adds a plot to the
classic formula. It tells a story of a world
devastated by war and beset by giant, mutant
insects, where a young man named Max the Bug
Slayer and a gardener named Maisy Chambers are
attempting to heal the world by planting seeds.
It’s always nice to add meaning
to frenzied insect annihilation.
Kororinpa, known as Kororinpa: Marble Mania in
America, was a launch game for the Wii in Japan,
but failed to match the likes of The
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
or Red Steel in sales. Still, those
who did pick up this marble-rolling
curio were sure to be won over by its
jaunty tunes and charming visual style.
The object of Kororinpa is to roll marbles towards
the goal, tilting the levels with the Wii Remote
in gameplay that is quite reminiscent of Sega’s
Monkey Ball series. Incidentally, Super Monkey
Ball: Banana Blitz was also in the Wii’s launch
line-up, which couldn’t have helped Kororinpa’s
cause much, considering it was up against an
established franchise with very similar gameplay.
After all, who would choose a plain old ball
when you can choose a ball with a monkey in it?
The Japanese and European cover
for Kororinpa was super-adorable,
with a handmade feel and some delightfully round
animals given centre stage. The American cover,
by contrast, was super-generic, but at least
got the whole marble thing across more clearly.
The sequel, Marble Saga: Kororinpa, added
a plot to the marble-based action that
concerned an ant named Anthony on
a quest for a golden sunflower. It
also added marble customisation. Hmm,
I wonder if you can put a monkey in it.
8. The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces
Based on a 2008 Japanese animated war film,
The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces depicts air
combat in a world where groups of ace
fighter pilots take part in battles on
behalf of private corporations. The film
was a cult classic among animation fans,
and scooped up quite a few awards at various
fancy-pants film festivals around the world, and
developers Project Aces and Access Games decided
that it was ripe for a video game adaptation.
Releasing for the Wii in 2008, The Sky Crawlers:
Innocent Aces had plenty of airborne competition.
Blazing Angels, Heatseeker, and Tom Clancy’s HAWX
2 all offered safer, more traditional piloting
experiences for flight fans to consider, but The
Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces beat them on quality.
The game takes visual inspiration from
the movie to create a very aesthetically
pleasing experience, allowing players
to lose themselves in the open sky,
taking part in intense dogfights and feeling
like a cool anime pilot the entire time.
It also tried an interesting control method
where the Nunchuck was held in the dominant
hand like a flight stick, and the Wii Remote was
treated as a throttle lever. Don’t worry though,
if even the thought of all that non-standard
controller trickery gets you in a nose-dive,
you can just stick a pad in and
play it like any other shooter.
7. Muramasa: The Demon Blade
If a game is seen as the quintessential
hidden gem on a platform,
then is it really a hidden gem? Such
existential questions are beyond me,
but we’re putting Muramasa: The Demon Blade
on our list anyway because it looks so pretty!
Coming from Vanillaware, the developers
responsible for the likes of Odin Sphere
and Dragon’s Crown, Muramasa: The
Demon Blade takes us to ancient Japan,
and a world filled with creatures and figures
of folklore. Players step into the shoes of a
princess named Momohime and a runaway ninja named
Kisuke , and quest to bring peace to the land.
An action RPG draped in Vanillaware’s
signature, gorgeous art-style, Muramasa:
The Demon Blade was rightly praised
for its great music, gripping combat,
and stunning visuals, and won many
fans with its story and characters,
but never became more than a shiny curio for
especially adventurous Wii owners to try.
Like any of the gems on our hidden gems lists,
it did have its flaws, with a fair bit of
backtracking being highlighted as something
that might put off potential buyers. Still,
when everything looks this good, do we really mind
going back over the same places over and over?
Well, yes, because we’re modern gamers
who demand constant stimulation,
but give Muramasa: The Demon
Blade a try anyway, yeah?
6. FAST Racing League
FAST Racing League is a German-developed WiiWare
title that bears more than a passing resemblance
to Wipeout and F-Zero, but offers its
own phase-shifting spin on that very
specific “super-quick futuristic racing in
levitating, wedge-shaped vehicles” genre.
In the game, players take on the role of
a pilot in the titular FAST Racing League,
and compete in tournaments in such
locations as Shima, Siberia. and Sunahara,
jostling for pole position with opposing
racers and skimming over boost pads.
So far, so Wipeout, but the aforementioned
unique spin comes in the form of a phase-shifting
mechanic, where pilots shift their vehicle between
light and dark phases to interact with the boost
pads laid out around the tracks. Activate the
correct phase as you hit the corresponding pad
and you’ll gain some speed or launch yourself into
the air, but time it wrong and your progress will
grind to an undignified halt. This phase-shifting
adds a layer of strategy to the break-neck racing,
and gives players plenty to keep them
occupied across multiple racing classes.
Unfortunately, even though the “FAST” in FAST
Racing League is stylised in capital letters,
it doesn’t appear to actually stand
for anything. We’d have gone with
Floaty Automobile Speedy Time. Yeah, that works.
5. Disaster: Day of Crisis
This varied and set-piece filled
adventure game has quite the tumultuous past.
Created by Monolith Soft, Disaster: Day of Crisis
was only released in Europe and Japan, and gained
quite a cult following despite its low sales.
It depicted a world in crisis, hit by multiple
natural disasters and destabilised by a rogue
military organisation known as SURGE.
Players step into the shoes of Ray,
a former rescue worker haunted by past tragedies,
and must traverse dangerous environments,
rescuing civilians and fighting off SURGE
soldiers who are making matters worse.
Gameplay switches between driving, climbing,
lightgun-style rail shooter sections,
and more as the adventure progresses. In
fact, Disaster: Day of Crisis featured
so many different gameplay approaches that
some critics claimed it was scatter-brained
and unfocused, despite many players being
won over by the eclectic mix of styles.
The game never made it to the US due to
its low sales in other territories. Also,
former Nintendo of America President, Reggie
Fils-Aime, apparently didn’t like it very much,
and was reported to have called it “laughable and
overpriced”. I hope that the Monolith Soft team,
since responsible for the mightily
successful Xenoblade Chronicles
series, now give him smug looks
whenever they see him at parties.
4. Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy
It’s time to take to the air once again, but
this time we’re viewing things in side-on 2D,
all of the aeroplanes appear to be
made of wood, and you can effortlessly
attach downed enemy craft to your own,
eventually forming a vast, bullet-spewing,
flying fortress of doom. It’s a unique concept
that makes for a fascinating experience.
In Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy
(or Build, Fuse, and Destroy if you want
to get needless-European-name-change about
this) once something sticks to your craft,
it’ll stay there and keep firing.
Soon enough you’ll find yourself
controlling an ungodly contraption that’s
blistering with weaponry pointed in all
directions. Laugh as you unleash
bullet hell upon your hapless foes,
themselves destined to become just another part
of your unstoppable death machine. That is,
until all your bits get shot off and suddenly
you find yourself feeling a bit vulnerable.
Blast Works also comes with
some hefty editing tools,
allowing players to build their
own aircraft, bosses, and levels.
It’s a side-scrolling shooter with a
unique spin and loads of customisation,
and it deserves more plaudits than it ever
received. Just try not to think too much about
the science of aerodynamics while you’re
piloting a flying mass of jumbled bits.
3. The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth
Released in 2010, The Kore Gang:
Outvasion from Inner Earth was
originally intended to be exclusive
to Xbox, but ten years of development
hell and multiple publisher changes later,
it eventually found its home on the Wii.
In The Kore Gang (not to be confused with
Kool & the Gang), players switch between
controlling three protagonists; Pixie,
the girl, Mad Boy, the boy, and Rex,
the dog. Each character has various robo-suit
abilities that affect combat and progression,
resulting in some enjoyable and varied gameplay
in the same basic style as Banjo Kazooie or Spyro.
While reviews at the time were mixed, the game
was compared favourably to contemporary Wii
platformers, and critics and consumers alike
were won over by its humour and art direction.
Some did get a bit ticked off with the camera
controls, but hey, you can’t have everything.
The odd subtitle comes from the game’s
wacky story premise, in which a villainous,
subterranean trio called the Krank Brothers
are drilling towards the surface world in
an enormous drill-fortress known as the
Krank Tank. Said tank is large enough to
house several communities and most of
the game’s action takes place within.
It may be literally drilling through the earth,
but that tank is anything but bore-ing…
2. And Yet It Moves
Alright, listen up, it’s time for me
to learn you something. “And Yet It
Moves” is a phrase attributed to
Italian philosopher, physicist,
and mathematician Galileo. Some say he uttered
it upon being forced by the church to recant
his claims that the Earth moved around the Sun.
Interesting stuff, but we’re a gaming channel,
not a philosophy one. Luckily, then, And Yet It
Moves is also a hidden gem for the Nintendo Wii.
Originally released for the PC, the Wii version
of And Yet It Moves makes use of the Wii Remote
and takes away some control limitations,
resulting in an expanded experience. Players
control the nameless protagonist as he explores
a world made of torn paper, and the aim of the
game is to spin the world around, affecting our
nameless hero and upending obstacles and enemies
as you go. Be careful that your spinning
antics don’t make him fall into a trap,
though. You wouldn’t want to see him
literally torn to shreds, would you?
Originally designed as part of a computer science
project, And Yet It Moves evolved into one of the
foremost indie darlings on the WiiWare platform,
and got some high praise from the gaming press.
Still not really sure what it had to do with
Galileo being cheeky to the church, though…
You probably thought that the world’s electricity
supplies came from things like fossil fuels,
sun rays and wind, didn’t you? I too once
thought that, but the reality, according to
Konami’s Elebits, is far more adorable. Known
as Eledees (LEDs, get it?) in PAL territories,
this unusual take on the FPS genre puts forward
the idea that our electricity is generated by
tiny, electrical beings that like to hide
under our sofas and in our sock drawers.
In Elebits, players explore various locations,
manipulating objects to uncover the wayward
critters, and capturing them with a special
capture gun. The aim of all this activity
is to return the town’s power after the
blighters scarpered during a thunderstorm,
and emotional stakes are added by having
the protagonist, Kai, initially jealous
and antagonistic towards the Elebits. This
is thanks to his Elebit researcher parents
spending more time studying tiny electricity
men than raising their son. Relatable.
The game even has an Edit Mode, where you can
place furniture and items and then hide the
Elebits yourself. You can then sit back and watch
smugly as your companions attempt to locate them.
It’s an experience you can replicate in
real life by hiding family members’ phones,
wallets and other precious items
around the house. Go on, give it a try!