From its launch in 2006 to the end of its production in 2013, Nintendo's motion-control-based Wii console sold a staggering 101.63 million hardware units worldwide. And whether you partied with Wii Sports or adventured with Super Mario Galaxy, there’s a pretty good chance you or someone you know bought one of the 917.85 million pieces of software the sleek little phenomenon sold.
Years after Wii Fit, your Wii sits in a closet, its friendly blue notification light blinking no more. It had its run as the family friendly party console, but was eventually succeeded by the ill-fated Wii U and the trendy Nintendo Switch, the latter of which ditched the Wii brand altogether. But outside of party games and kids’ fare, the Wii still has a secret that makes it worth dusting off: All this time, it was a treasure trove for hardcore gamers, with a cornucopia of quirky titles that flew just under the radar. And even better, with a little scouring on eBay, those games are dirt cheap nowadays.
1. MadWorld (SEGA, 2009)
Price: As low as $9
From Mario Kart to Just Dance, the Wii had a rep for E-rated fare. One look at MadWorld – which immediately catches the eye with its stylized black-and-white visuals, punctuated only with spatters of bright-red blood – and you’ll know you’re in for something different. This violently satiric action romp earns every bit of its “M” rating. Fun fact: MadWorld was an early effort from Platinum Games, who would go on to catch gamers' hearts with games like Bayonetta, Vanquish, and NieR: Automata.
2. Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Nintendo, 2010)
Price: About $10
The unflappably cheery pink puff known as Kirby is kind of hard not to love, but it’s the bold aesthetic of Nintendo's own Kirby’s Epic Yarn that makes it downright irresistible. The entire game world of Epic Yarn is, true to the title, crafted from photo-realistic strings, cotton puffs, felts, and other fabrics, including the titular hero himself – even in our post-HD era, the visuals still hold up. This co-op romp goes light on the difficulty (but heavy on content), making it just as accessible as it is charming.
3. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Capcom, 2007)
Price: As low as $6
Since its GameCube debut, Resident Evil 4 has visited every platform from the PS4 to the iPhone. What made this all-time classic, uber-cinematic, horror-action so special on the Wii, though, was its accurate and satisfying motion controls. The Official Nintendo Magazine UK called it “The most intense gaming experience on Wii,” warning that, “It will consume you.” Much like a zombie – unless you shoot it with your Wii Remote first.
4. LostWinds (Frontier Developments, 2008)
Though Nintendo shut down the bulk of the Wii’s online services in 2013, the Wii Shop Channel is still ticking, as of 2017 (and, like the disc-based games, you can still play your WiiWare software on a Wii U, if you happen to have one). Among the numerous hidden gems on the indie-friendly service is LostWinds, a charming, two-player platformer with a whimsical atmosphere and plenty of puzzles to solve. The twist? You control the wind itself with your Wii Remote to guide wind spirit Enril through the land of Mistralis.
And don’t forget, the Wii’s Virtual Console titles are also still available digitally, providing hundreds of classics from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Nintendo 64 for $5 to $10. But those hidden gems would require a whole other list entirely.
5. Mega Man 9 (Capcom, 2008)
Also available via WiiWare, Capcom made the dreams of ‘80s and ‘90s kids come true by releasing a straight-up sequel to the classic 8-bit Mega Man series, picking up right where they left off as though the 21st century never happened. Mega Man 9 proudly sports the old-school aesthetic and tight game design fans love, but be warned: It also sports the hard-as-nails difficulty level. Get your nostalgia fix, but be careful not to throw your controller across the room.
6. A Boy and His Blob (Majesco, 2009)
Price: As low as $14
Like Mega Man 9, A Boy and His Blob is a throwback to the 8-bit days. In contrast, though, Blob modernizes its look with a richly detailed, smoothly animated art direction that looks downright hand-painted. This puzzle-platformer encourages outside-of-the-box thinking, tasking you with using your shape-shifting blob friend as everything from a trampoline to a parachute. If you’re not sold yet, how about this: The game has a dedicated hug button. And everyone knows you can’t put a price on blob hugs.
7. Cursed Mountain (Deep Silver, 2009)
Price: As low as $10
Cursed Mountain isn’t perfect, but it certainly stands out. Not only is it an M-rated adventure with graphics that strive toward realism – something that the Wii’s competing consoles were more known for – it’s a cerebral, spooky, story-based romp through the Himalayas. As you search for your lost brother, you’ll encounter everything from Buddhist monks to shadowy wraiths, but the scares are often psychological rather than jumpy. Champions of the games, like those at GameCritics.com, praised Cursed Mountain as a “welcome detour from the well-worn survival horror path that so many developers seem only too happy to tread.”
8. Geometry Was Galaxies (Sierra Entertainment, 2007)
Price: About $8
Geometry Wars started as a downloadable hit, putting you in control of a tiny neon spaceship blasting away at endless waves of geometric hordes, which explode in colorful bursts of fireworks. The disc-based Wii version not only adds super smooth Wii Remote controls, it packs in more single-player levels than ever, throws multiplayer action into the mix, and even includes the full version of the original Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, to boot.
9. Okami (Capcom, 2008)
Price: About $14
If you’re a fan of the Legend of Zelda series, you owe it to yourself to check out Okami. Now available on numerous platforms, the Wii’s control setup is a perfect fit for Okami’s calligraphy-based gameplay elements, but Okami truly shines no matter how you play it. A lengthy exploratory adventure, Capcom's modern classic hands you control of a wolf-like Japanese sun god out to save the world, which is portrayed in a striking watercolor style that appears to be painted on beautifully crinkled rice paper. In their review of the folklore-inspired game, IGN wrote, “If you have never played Okami before, you are in for an amazingly beautiful and awe-inspiringly epic adventure that simply must not be missed on Nintendo’s console.”
10. BIT.TRIP RUNNER (Aksys Games, 2010)
The last of our WiiWare fare, BIT.TRIP RUNNER epitomizes what made Nintendo’s early online storefront a worthwhile experiment, and an interesting forerunner to our modern App Stores and eShops – it was a place where game developers could get weird. Case in point, the cult classic RUNNER wouldn’t look out of place in a pop art installation, with its striking combination of retro and 3D aesthetics perfectly accented by unforgettable chiptune music. That music is key, as you’ll be jumping, sliding, and collecting gold all in rhythm with its catchy ear-worms. If you can spring more a little extra money, go with the disc version of BIT.TRIP Complete to score the entire trippy series (pun intended).
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