The Wii is Nintendo’s best selling console to date, a testament to the appeal of gameplay over graphics. While it was even underpowered in its time and infamously couldn’t output HD graphics, the Wii’s innovative motion controls made it appealing to groups far beyond the typical gamer demographic. It wasn’t unheard of to hear stories of even grandparents enjoying the Wii.
That’s given the console something of a mixed reputation among more “hardcore” gamers, though. While there are some admittedly classic games on the console, like the Super Mario Galaxy titles and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Wii is equally known for being home to a large number of barely playable shovelware. Still, between those top tier games and the very bottom of the barrel, a few hidden gems do stand out on the console.
Here are 25 underrated Nintendo Wii games that made this platform a great place to play:
25. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
2009 | Konami
Shattered Memories was a “reimagining” of the first Silent Hill, keeping the same basic plot of Harry Mason searching for his missing daughter, but heavily tweaking the gameplay. There’s no combat, you just run from enemies in a frozen version of Silent Hill that pops up between your explorations. Enemy appearances change slightly based on the answers you give to a therapist between levels, adding a touch of personal horror to the game. Really, there are a lot of interesting ideas here that don’t always pan out, but the atmosphere remains top notch, and the puzzles make excellent use of the Wii-mote.
24. Endless Ocean: Blue World
2010 | Nintendo
Go out to the middle of the ocean, dive deep into the water, meet the marine wildlife, and search for treasure. That’s the gist of Endless Ocean: Blue World, one of the more relaxing titles released for the Wii. Some may prefer the more open-ended experience of its predecessor, but Blue World includes a solid story mode for those who prefer a more guided experience. It’s also one of the best looking games on the Wii, featuring hundreds of finely detailed fish that look great even in standard definition.
23. Overlord: Dark Legend
2009 | Climax Action
Overlord was a criminally underrated franchise from the late 2000s that featured the titular evil Overlord commanding dozens of minions to do his bidding, Pikmin-style. While many developers just slapped motion controls onto old titles and ported them onto the Wii for a quick buck, Climax Action actually crafted a brand new adventure that even added in the clever new ability to shake the Wii-mote and “charge” individual minions with the Overlord’s power.
While it may be a little more simplistic than the other two Overlord titles released for the Xbox 360 and PS3, Dark Legend remains a fun, solid example of what developers could accomplish when they put a little bit of extra effort into their Wii titles.
22. Zack & Wiki: The Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
2007 | Capcom
Zack & Wiki was one of the most ambitious original titles for the Wii. Developed by an all-star team at Capcom, it’s a modern update on traditional point-and-click adventures featuring a pirate boy and a monkey, who he can shake like a bell to solve puzzles. It’s a lot more charming than it sounds, and the numerous uses of the Wii-mote were especially innovative.
Unfortunately, the heyday of point-and-click games is long past, and the game sold abysmally. Capcom initially showed interest in a sequel, but the characters seem to be completely abandoned at this point. At least it’s easy to pick up a copy on the cheap.
21. Deadly Creatures
2009 | Rainbow Studios
While there was a lot of hype for the Wii’s 2006 release, its runaway success surprised most developers. Deadly Creatures was an attempt early in the Wii’s lifespan to create a new IP that went beyond the casual gamer demographic and sought an answer to the question, “What if you could use these new controls to play as a scorpion and a tarantula?”
The result was a pretty cool little experiment with surprisingly high production value for a third-party Wii game. Billy Bob Thornton and the late Dennis Hopper actually provide the voices of two humans who appear throughout the story. Unfortunately, even Hollywood talent wasn’t enough to buoy the game’s sales.
20. Shiren the Wanderer
2008 | Chunsoft
Shiren the Wanderer is a series of extremely difficult roguelike RPGs that have sporadically appeared in the West over the years. The Wii version was actually one of the first titles in the series to come to the U.S., and it’s honestly kind of a mixed bag. The graphics are on the poor side, yet the unique creature designs do have a certain charm to them. And while it remains a tough game, this version of Shiren is actually more forgiving than its predecessors. Shiren the Wanderer may not be for everyone, but for a certain subset of hardcore RPG gamers, it’s still worth tracking down a copy of this Wii gem.
19. Cursed Mountain
2009 | Sproing Interactive Media
At its core a survival horror title, Cursed Mountain immediately stands out for both its setting and gameplay. Heavily steeped in Buddhist and Tibetan folklore, it’s the story of a man searching for his brother in the Himalayas. The evil spirits you encounter aren’t dispatched with guns, but with gestures produced with the Wii-mote.
Like many of the underrated games on the Wii, the gameplay can feel a little clunky and the visuals are rough on the eyes, but if you can get past those things, Cursed Mountain offers a survival horror experience unlike any other.
2009 | PlatinumGames
As publishers filled the Wii library with kid-friendly licensed games, a handful of developers decided to explore what sort of mature titles could be produced using the system’s strengths. One of the more promising results was MadWorld, a super-violent brawler which lets you use motion controls for all sorts of death and dismemberment in the midst of an insane game show.
The most impressive part of MadWorld is the black and white noir-style graphics, which quickly become soaked in gallons of bright red blood as you cut your way through enemies. These graphics give the game its own unique identity, and smartly hide the Wii’s graphical weaknesses. Even now, this is a great looking game.
MadWorld didn’t quite sell well enough to warrant a sequel on the Wii, but a spiritual successor featuring protagonist Jack Cayman, Anarchy Reigns, did make its way to the Xbox 360 and PS3 a few years later.
17. Trauma Team
2010 | Atlus
Atlus’ Trauma Center series was a natural fit for the Wii, combining the drama of a visual novel with the opportunity to perform medical procedures using the Wii’s motion controls. This being the third game in the series on the Wii, it’s the most fleshed out, with six different protagonists, and an increased focus on diagnostics and forensics for a more well-rounded experience.
This is the last game in the series to date, but given how perfectly suited the Switch’s Joy-cons would be for another sequel or reboot, a sequel is long overdue.
16. Scarface: The World Is Yours
2007 | Radical Entertainment
A sequel to one of the most beloved gangster movies of all time where the lead dies at the end sounds like sacrilege on paper, but Scarface actually turned out to be a pretty good game. At its core, it’s a Grand Theft Auto clone with even more drug dealing and empire building, but it absolutely nails the Miami in the ‘80s feel of the movie, giving the game its own identity.
Publisher Vivendi actually hoped to turn Scarface into a multi-game franchise, which actually might have been a bit much, but the one and only game in the series remains a guilty pleasure for open-world fans. And since The World Is Yours never showed up on HD-capable consoles, the Wii port is arguably the definitive version of the game.
15. Dead Space: Extraction
2009 | Visceral Games
The Dead Space series produced several fantastic survival horror games that focused on dismemberment to stop hordes of undead Necromorphs. While ports of any of the original trilogy would have been welcome on the Wii, Visceral did one better with an all new story played as an on-rails shooter. It might not be the most exciting genre, but dammit it works here, especially with Dead Space’s emphasis on hacking off body parts.
Unfortunately, like most mature-themed Wii games, Dead: Space Extraction saw little success. It was eventually ported to the PlayStation 3, but now the entire series is sadly on hold.
14. Batman: The Brave and the Bold
2010 | Wayforward Technologies
The Brave and the Bold was an extremely underrated cartoon focusing on Batman’s team ups with other heroes in the DC universe, and the Wii game based on the show perfectly captures the fun tone and atmosphere of the show, wrapping it up in a basic yet enjoyable, two-player beat ‘em up. While the Arkham games might be the definitive take on the mature Batman most fans know and love now, The Brave and the Bold is actually the best version of the more fun-loving Batman younger fans are familiar with.
13. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
2010 | Ubisoft
One of the more annoying things developers did during the Wii era was release worse looking ports of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games on Nintendo’s console hoping to make a few extra bucks. Maybe they’d tack on motion controls too. Thankfully, The Forgotten Sands is one of the few titles that bucked this trend. Ubisoft actually created an entirely separate game and storyline for this title. It just happens to share a name with the HD title.
Where this version really excels is the unique ability to control sand to solve puzzles. There’s even a co-op mode if you’re so inclined. Prince of Persia on Wii may not quite exceed its big brother of the same name, but it comes very close.
12. Pandora’s Tower
2013 | Ganbarion
Unlike most Nintendo consoles, the Wii had a serious lack of quality RPGs. After an online campaign though, Nintendo begrudgingly brought this Wii-exclusive gem to the west. Pandora’s Tower is an action RPG telling the story of a hero Aeron, who must rescue his love, Elena, from the grips of a curse in a dark fantasy world.
The controls can be a little finnicky at times, and having to fight against the clock to save Elena can be annoying, but ultimately Pandora’s Tower is an amazing experience that only could only have been brought to life on the Wii.
2008 | Paon
Klonoa was already a well-regarded 2.5D platformer when it was originally released for the first PlayStation in 1998. The eponymous character had a fun design, and his ability to blow up enemies like a balloon and either throw them at other enemies or use them to jump higher has aged well. So for the Wii remake, not much was changed. The graphics were enhanced and cutscenes were re-done, making this a definitive version of the game for most fans. Sadly, despite strong reviews for the original, its PS2 sequel, and this remake, Klonoa has never been rewarded with the sales its deserved, and the franchise seems to be dead now.
10. Little King’s Story
2009 | Cing
It’s good to be the king. Little King’s Story is a little bit Pikmin, Animal Crossing, and deep RPG all mixed together into one of the Wii’s most addicting and unique games. What starts initially as a quest to build a town eventually spirals into dozens of hours of conquest across the game’s world. Don’t let the cutesy visuals fool you, this is one of the deepest life simulations around.
While a version of Little King’s Story eventually made its way to the Vita and PC, that version is generally considered to have poorer controls and a more boring visual style. The Wii version remains the one to check out.
9. Red Steel 2
2010 | Ubisoft
When the Wii was first announced, gamers immediately had visions of using its new controller as a sword to hack through hundreds of baddies. Ubisoft tried to capitalize on that idea with the launch title, Red Steel, which actually ended up being pretty bad. The developers just didn’t have a handle on the new controller yet (and it turned out that the Wii-mote maybe wasn’t as precise as we all first thought).
Flash forward four years later, and Nintendo had released a much-improved Wii Motion Plus peripheral that essentially allowed for 1:1 motion controls. Gamers finally had the chance to experience the motion controlled sword play they always dreamed of, along with the best first-person shooter on the console.
8. The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces
2010 | Project Aces
The Sky Crawlers is one of those games that you wouldn’t think would even be released in North America, but we’re glad that it was. Based on an obscure anime movie about genetically engineered pilots paid to perform combat missions by private corporations in a peaceful world, The Sky Crawlers is easily the best aerial combat sim on the Wii.
Unlike other licensed games, you can tell that some real effort went into the game’s missions, and there are even some new animated cinematics from the same team that worked on the film. Don’t overlook this one just because you’re not familiar with the source material.
7. A Boy and His Blob
2009 | Wayforward Technologies
The original A Boy and His Blob was an odd little NES platform-puzzle title about solving puzzles by feeding a pet blob jellybeans. It was an interesting, albeit frustrating game that gained a cult following in the years after its release.
The reimagining, first released exclusively for the Wii, made the game much more forgiving and accessible, while adding updated graphics and music that put it on par with some of the best animated movies out there. Plus, there’s a button dedicated exclusively to hugging your blob. It’s great.
6. Rune Factory Frontier
2009 | Neverland
Harvest Moon is a series of farm simulation games that has garnered a sizable cult following in the U.S. Understandably, one of the biggest criticisms of the series is that like real farming, it’s pretty slow.
Rune Factory is the answer for those who were always intrigued by Harvest Moon but could never deal with the slower pace. Yes, you’re still watering and planting crops, and charming people in town to marry you, but now you’re also dungeon diving and fighting monsters. Even for those without an interest in virtual farming, Rune Factory remains a fantastic action RPG worth checking out.
5. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
2009 | Treasure
The first Sin & Punishment was a wonderful bit of anime-inspired madness attached to an on-rails shooter that for whatever reason never made its way to America when it was first released on the N64. Thankfully, Nintendo didn’t make the same mistake twice and brought the sequel over upon release, where it was sadly ignored by most gamers. If you like giant bosses, nonstop action, and bullet hell, there’s no reason not to check out Star Successor though. Maybe one day we’ll even get a sequel or an HD remake.
4. Boom Blox Bash Party
2009 | EA
Way back in 2005, EA announced it was teaming up with Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg to create several revolutionary titles. Games journalists immediately speculated this would result in action-packed titles similar to Jurassic Park or emotional experiences like Saving Private Ryan. Instead, we got a couple of games about throwing stuff at block towers to knock them down.
But that’s okay! Boom Blox Bash Party is just plain fun to play, and the initially simple formula keeps throwing new things at you until the very end, revealing itself to be surprisingly deep. But for all that it expects you to do with the Wii-mote, it’s actually one of the easiest to control games on the system. Maybe we didn’t get the video game equivalent of Raiders of the Last Ark, but what we ended up with is still pretty good.
3. Excitebots: Trick Racing
2009 | Nintendo
A spiritual sequel to the beloved NES classic Excitebike (and the Wii launch title Excite Truck), Excitebots is a pure joy to play. Animal-themed robot vehicles race around tracks based on real world locations, doing tricks and catching as much air as possible. Holding the Wii-mote horizontally to use as a steering wheel works perfectly too.
Even though it’s one of the Wii’s best games, Nintendo seems almost embarrassed by Excitebots for some reason. The game received virtually no advertising upon release, and outside of North America, it only released in Japan two years later as a Club Nintendo exclusive. At least the beetle vehicle makes an appearance as a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
2. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
2010 | Capcom
The Tatsunoko characters may not have the same name recognition in North America that Marvel’s heroes do, but don’t let that scare you away from this entertaining tag-team fighter. The brand new cast of characters also ensured that Capcom had to come up with some interesting new moves and strategies for this fighting game. You haven’t really seen everything the genre has to offer until you’ve played a few rounds as a giant mech from Lost Planet.
If the mixed reception of the most recent Marvel vs. Capcom game turned you off to that series, check out Tatsunoko vs. Capcom instead. Just be forewarned that it’s going to require getting a Wii, as the complicated international license of the Tatsunoko characters almost guarantees this won’t see a re-release anytime soon.
1. Muramasa: The Demon Blade
2009 | Vanillaware
Vanillaware has been quietly toiling away on absolutely stunning 2D action RPGs for more than a decade now, and while Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown have received the most praise, Muramasa is arguably the developer’s finest work. Based heavily on Japanese folklore, every screen looks like a piece of fine art from the Edo period.
The swordplay is simple, yet satisfying, mixing in combos and subweapons like smoke bombs, and if you get really deep into the game’s systems, there are 108 different blades to unlock. Unlike a lot of games on this list, Muramasa doesn’t do anything special with the Wii’s motion controls, it’s just a finely crafted game that deserves far more attention.
What are your favorite hidden gems on the Nintendo Wii? Let us know in the comments!