Proper Wii games

, With the WiiU now launching, perhaps now is a good time for a retrospective on the Wii. When it came out, the motion control promised us a whole new way to play video games. As it turned out, most of them simply used control systems we were already well familiar with, perhaps with a bit of light gun functionality tacked on – even a good chunk of Nintendo’s own games, especially towards the end of the console’s life.

Still, there are a number of games that really took advantage of motion control to deliver a whole new type of game. Now, I haven’t played anywhere near all the games on the Wii, and in fact I have one or two I haven’t even taken out of their boxes due to taking advantage of special offers. Still, of the games I have played, here is my selection for those that truly made use of the technology, in no particular order.

Wii Sports

Wii Sports was made to illustrate the motion control, and it shows. There is barely any button pressing in this game – it’s all about moving the controller. As a result, it simulates the experience of playing the real sports like never before.

This is a clear multiplayer-only game – there is no story and no real progression, so the only reason to play is to compete with your friends. This is no bad thing, as Nintendo were going for a game that would simply be a fun way to spend an hour or two in the company of friends and family, which is a good part of the reason the Wii took off in retirement homes.

Carnival

Another multiplayer-only game, Carnival copies the Wii Sports formula of offering a number of different minigames based around motion sensing with little if any button pressing. Where Wii Sports simulates sport, Carnival aims to reproduce the experienc of being at a funfair.

As with Wii Sports, there is no real progression. I seem to remember there being virtual prizes to win, but the real point of this game is simply to play against your friends and family in a light-hearted competition.

Red Steel

A launch title, and the first third-party game to be built around motion control. In Red Steel, you take control of a bodyguard out to save your fiancé from the Yakuza. It’s mostly a first-person shooter that uses the Wiimote as a  light gun, but there are also occasional swordfighting sections which use the Wiimote to control the katana and the nunchuk to control the dagger.

However, this game truly does try to exploit motion control to its fullest. As well as the aforementioned swordfighting, a wave of the nunchuk (rather than a button press) is used to pick up a new weapon, open doors, and flip over tables to provide cover; shaking the nunchuk also reloads the gun. Similarly, when using the Z-targeting system to aim carefully, moving the Wiimote forwards and backwards zooms in an out.

Reviews were mixed, with much criticism focusing on the somewhat sluggish and awkward control system. These complaints were not without merit, and the game would no doubt have been even better had Ubisoft foregone making it a launch title in favour of tweaking the input. Still, I liked it, and if you can find a second-hand copy, I would say it’s worth picking up.

Red Steel 2

Don’t let the name fool you – all this has to do with Red Steel is that the player character uses a gun and a sword. Plot, setting, characters, tone, art style, weapons, control system, and gameplay are all completely different.

Like Red Steel, this game uses the Wiimote to control the PC’s katana. However, this game requires the Wii Motion Plus – in fact, new copies came with a WMP free. This gives much finer control over the katana and allows for all sorts of cool new moves and possibilities.

There are also guns, but this time around the player can switch between guns and sword at any time, rather than only using the sword in specific battles as is the case in Red Steel. This is an exciting, fast-paced, and cool game in an interesting warped western setting, and I do reccomend it.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Wii launched with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which used motion control to make Link attack. However, this was really a port of a GameCube game, and the motion control was tacked on late in development.

With Skyward Sword, motion control came to the fore. Like Red Steel 2, Skyward Swordi required the Wii Motion +; upon release, it came bundled with a golden Wiimote that had the Motion + built in, and also a CD of orchestral music. Hence, it’s about the only Wii game I bought new.

Swordfighting works on the same principle as in Red Steel 2, in that the angle and direction of Link’s sword is determined by the position of the Wiimote. The angle and direction of attack is important, and you can do a special attack by holding the Wiimote (and, by extension, the sword) directly overhead.  Flicking the nunchuck activates the shield.

The Wiimote also controls other things. The bug-catching net works in a very similar manner to the sword. The beetle, a litttle flying probe robot, has its direction controlled by tilting the Wiimote around its Y axis to change altitude, and its X axis to change direction, mimicking how aeroplanes turn. When flying on a bird, direction is also controlled by tilting the Wiimote around the Y axis, and altitude is changed by quickly moving the Wiimote up and down, similating the flapping of wings.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion / New Blood

The Trauma Center games put you in control of surgeons who can occasionally call upon magic powers to help in their healing  Both start off with a few normal surgeries before a plot about bioterrorism kicks in.

It’s difficult to categorise these games. Mechanically, they most resemble point and click puzzle games, in that surgery mostly consists of using the Wiimote as a pointer to select things and move them around, but then there are weird parasites that make it more like a third-person shoot-em-up, except you can’t be hurt, but if you mess up too often you fail because your patient dies. In the end, I would say these games are in a genre of their own made possible by creativity and a willingness to take advantage of hardware.

The Wiimote works as a cursor to position your surgeon’s tools. However, these are no mere point and click games; in many cases, you will have to extract things like glass shards or shrapnel from a patient, and pulling at the wrong angle will cause damage. Furthermore, stitching up the incisiona at the end of an operation requires careful movement, otherwise the patient will suffer additional injury. There is also a defibrillator , which uses the Wiimore and nunchuk to simulate the paddles – you have to physically push them forwards to bring them into contact with the patient. Finally, there is healing touch, which you perform by making a star with the Wiimote, that grants special abilities for a short time.

Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre

Based on the popular, though unfortunately dated, 2000 AD strip Rogue Trooper, this game is a third-person shooter in which a genetically-engineered super soldier, accompanied by the digitised minds of three of his comrades attached to his equipment, seeks out the general who betrayed his own side and got all the other genetic infantry killed.

The control system is mostly generic – run around in third-person mode, using the Wiimote as a light gun. However, there are clever parts. Notably, when using the sniper rifle, zooming is accomplished by rotating the Wiimote around its Y axis, which imitates turning a dial. Also, throwing grenades is done by raising the nunchuck above your head and bringing it down in a swift arc, replicating the motion of priming and throwing a real grenade – though this can be annoying if, like me, you are in the habit of scratching your nose with that hand. This clever and immersive control system, coupled with innovative and versatile ways of using your equipment and a very flexible approach to comleting challenges, resulted in one of the best games ever to hit the Wii.

Cursed Mountain

An overlooked gem, Cursed Mountain is a deliberately slow-paced horror game which puts the emphasis on tone and atmosphere rather than shocks and gore.

For the most part, the control system is a slower version of that used in Resident Evil 4 – use the control stick to move Eric around, or press a button to enter combat mode that allowd you to aim. Combat consists of shooting your enemies with a magic pickaxe, as well as striking them with it. So far, so generic.

However, Deep Silver adds an interesting wrinkle to the combat mechanics. Your enemies are all ghosts, plus a couple of Buddhist demons as bosses. While they can be attacked into oblivion, it is also possible to perform a purification ritual that cleanses the anger in their souls, thus removing them more quickly and also regaining some health for the player. This ritual consists of waving the Wiimote and nunchuk in specific directions, which majorly sets the combat system apart from all other games which have nothing like this.

There are also some areas where Eric has to walk across a narroe beam; in these parts, it is necessary to rotate the Wiimote around its Y axis to maintain balance. A minor thing, but appreciated nonetheless.

And there you have it. My personal selection of games which make owning a Wii truly worth it.

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