Hidden Gems for the Nintendo Wii

With innovations in motion control and co-operative gameplay at the forefront of their efforts, Nintendo's technical strides in the last decade or so have kinda overshadowed the actual games that tech was created to fuel. Since the launch of the Nintendo Wii in November of 2006, there have been over 1500 different game titles released for the system (including a healthy 21 titles released on the console's launch day). And with that many games at your disposal over the years, it's easy to understand how you might have missed a few. (We're not even counting the 661 backwards-compatible titles from the Nintendo GameCube, the Wii's predecessor).

Whether you're a fan of the console for its optical sensor or its extensive library of game titles (or even just want a heaping dose of nostalgia), here's a handful of our favorite hidden gems on the Nintendo Wii to help catch you up to speed.

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes

The original Dragon Quest — or Dragon Warrior as it was known in the States — was a cornerstone of the early NES life cycle. Thanks to a well-timed Nintendo Power promotion, almost every kid with a Nintendo Entertainment System owned a copy of the 8-bit JRPG classic. It should come as no surprise, then, to see this lineage reclaim some prominence in Nintendo's latter-day lifecycle.

However, despite eleven awesome entries in the main series and a number of solid spinoffs, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed additions to the franchise remains unavailable for an English-speaking audience. Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes has never been released outside of Japan. This highly lauded MMORPG from developer Armor Project and publisher Square Enix was originally released in August 2012 on the Wii, along with a free supplementary app for the Nintendo 3DS. Sales were relatively low compared to other Dragon Quest titles in Japan, but the game's early issues with crowded servers were a sure sign of success when it came to the fans.

Support for the Wii version ended in 2017, but the Quest lives on via the Wii U, the Nintendo Switch, PC and PS4. Every couple of years, Square Enix threatens to release Dragon Quest X outside of Japan; fingers crossed, they'll make good on that threat in the not-too-distant future.

A Boy and His Blob

With the advent of its Virtual Console feature, the Nintendo Wii was well poised to bridge the gap between modern and retro gaming sensibilities. Enter: A Boy and His Blob in autumn of 2009 from WayForward Technologies and Majesco Entertainment, a "re-imagining" of the 1989 NES original (A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia) and an unsung hero from the Wii's deep catalogue of hits.

The premise of this single-player puzzle platformer is simple: allied with an extraterrestrial hero with an appetite for jelly beans, you must thwart the threat of an evil, amorphous emperor from a distant world. From a gameplay perspective, you'll feed your alien friend — the blob — different flavored jelly beans to transform him into 15 unique "amazing objects" that you'll use to defeat enemies and solve a wide array of 2D puzzles on your way to Blobolonia. It's a heartwarming story of two unlikely heroes that streamlines the gameplay mechanics of the original NES title in favor of a more forgiving experience that could be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels — with gorgeous hand-drawn visuals to boot.

Although critical reviews of A Boy and His Blob were favorable, it didn't quite climb the "Licorice Ladder" to financial success. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most visually arresting and instantly compelling titles in the Wii lineup.

Dead Space: Extraction

This 2009 prequel to EA's sci-fi horror masterpiece is a must-have for Wii enthusiasts. Tailor made for the console by Dead Space developer Visceral Games and UK partner Eurocom, Dead Space: Extraction is a first-person on-rails shooter that puts players right in the middle of the first necromorph invasion.

Dead Space was originally released in October 2008, and introduced a decidedly high-tech twist to the survival horror genre: players control engineer Isaac Clarke, who encounters an endless horde of DNA-recombined, reanimated corpses (known as "necromorphs") during his investigation of a derelict space vessel. Extraction tells the untold story of the Aegis VII Colony at 'ground zero' that led to the events of Dead Space. If this sounds like a lot of plot to swallow, fear not — the original game was expertly penned by acclaimed comic book scribes Warren Ellis, Rick Remender, and Antony Johnston. Johnston returned to write the script for Dead Space: Extraction, and the result is an intricate in-game narrative that feels as engaging as the on-screen action.

The unique weaponry, strategic dismemberment, and zero-g effects that made the original Dead Space a stand-out are on full display in this first-person spin-off; and the Wii Remote is an excellent stand-in for the franchise's trademark Plasma Cutter. But Dead Space: Extraction was just too radical for its time (and writer Antony Johnston is on-record blaming everything from the "M" rating to the kid-friendly console itself).

Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame

Licensed games have been a mixed bag throughout video game history — especially those based on our most beloved comic book characters. Despite flying under the radar like its eponymous Caped Crusader, Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame does not disappoint.

This side-scrolling, beat 'em up platformer from WayForward Technologies and Warner Bros. Interactive was largely overlooked in 2010 because of its simplified, cartoon stylings (when, in fact, the decision to embrace the show's animated look and feel was actually its saving grace). With an epic cast of supporting characters voiced by your favorite actors from the show, a killer soundtrack from chiptune wizard Jake Kaufman & Co., and a belt full of Batman's trademark gadgets at your fingertips, The Brave and the Bold takes its place as one of the more lustrous entries in the Wii's extensive library.

One thing for Batfans to keep in mind: Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame is as tongue-in-cheek as its narrative namesake. Here you'll find a more comedic and lighthearted Dark Knight than the one fans of Batman: The Animated Series may remember. But that, friends, is part of the charm. In fact, Pee-wee Herman fans will be delighted to know that you can play as the Paul Reubens-voiced Bat-Mite if you connect your Nintendo DS version of the game to your copy on the Wii. "Holy peripherals, Batman!" — that's one hilarious team-up.

Dragon's Lair Trilogy

From a television cartoon series in the mid '80s to a cameo in Stranger Things 2, Don Bluth & Co.'s Dragon's Lair franchise has been a staple of gamer and geek culture since the laserdisc original hit arcades in 1983. The Dragon's Lair Trilogy compilation from Destineer (a family-friendly publisher affiliated with MacSoft, Atomic Games, and more) unites three classic arcade titles under one banner: Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, and Dragon's Lair 2: Time Warp.

This "arcade authentic" collection of favorites boasts an array of features, including the original arcade gameplay, remastered Don Bluth animation, standard and widescreen editions, move guides for beginners, and a "Watch Mode" that allows you to enjoy the narrative of this cartoon classic without the actual gameplay. The best part? It was only 30 bucks.

Dragon's Lair remains one of the most notorious games ever released in the arcade era; driven by a "fail and learn" philosophy, these arcade cabinets were infamously unforgiving quarter-eating machines. You'd probably have spent an excess of 30 dollars (two quarters at a time) before ever reaching the titular Lair and the welcome arms of Princess Daphne. As such, the Dragon's Lair Trilogy – complete with sequel and Space Ace spin-off — is one collection for the ages.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

This 2007 sequel to Xbox Arcade darling Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was a collaboration between original Geometry Wars developer Bizarre Creations and British developer Kuju Entertainment. And while Retro Evolved introduced a wildly successful hybrid of vintage arcade aesthetics and modern twitch gameplay, Geometry Wars: Galaxies would refine those retro stylings and present a variety of multiplayer game modes for the arcade-hungry Nintendo crowd to sink their teeth into.

At its core, the addictive Geometry Wars gameplay that was pioneered in Retro Evolved didn't change all too much with this update. Your objectives: stay alive by dodging frenetic enemies, wipe the screen as necessary by blasting enemies with bombs, and rack up the points and collectibles that remain. Nintendo Wii players would be treated to additional multiplayer game modes in Galaxies that not only made good on the Wii's long-standing promises of increased player connectivity but managed to take the adrenaline-fueled, chaotic gameplay of Retro Evolved and turn it up to 11. For a franchise that earned its wings on the successes of the Xbox 360 era, Geometry Wars seemed to finally come into its own when Geometry Wars: Galaxies invaded the console space.

MadWorld

Before Bayonetta, Japanese developer PlatinumGames made its name on an unassuming hack-and-slash action title called MadWorld. Released in the Spring of 2009, this hyper-violent beat 'em up from Sega was one of the first games to really push the limits of the Wii Remote's motion-control functionality — and it certainly tested the bounds of tasteful carnage.

At a glance, MadWorld's striking black and white (and red) visuals are aggressively similar to the industrial-noir look and tone of Frank Miller's Sin City (whose silver screen adaptation was a hit a few years earlier in 2005). But MadWorld's combination of cartoon action and irreverent humor seemed to diffuse the game's questionable appetite for violence.

With Cowboy Bebop's Steve Blum in the lead role and a supporting cast voiced by an array of heavy hitters like John DiMaggio, Nolan North, and Robin Atkin Downes, MadWorld presents an extremely stylized, multi-layered, multimedia work of postmodern art (if you can enjoy the dismemberment, disembowelment and general dis-ease on display, that is). Early gameplay trailers for MadWorld even touted disclaimers, warning fans against the very "extreme violence" they were (in fact) so desperate to find on Nintendo's family friendly console. One thing's hard to deny: the game's responsive controls are extremely satisfying — if the game doesn't turn your stomach.

Bully: Scholarship Edition

Rockstar Games is a publisher that earned its desirably offbeat reputation by providing a string of successful titles for PlayStation gamers with a penchant for adult humor and violent in-game antics. It came as a bit of a surprise then, in 2008, when Nintendo decided to release Bully in its remastered Scholarship Edition from Mad Doc Software to the family-friendly Nintendo Wii (as well as the Xbox 360).

Bully tells the story of young Jimmy Hopkins, who (following expulsion from 15 previous schools) is back in action at Bullworth Academy, a private boarding school full of Bullies, Nerds, Preppies, Greasers, and Jocks. The name of the game: navigating the social nuances of these cliques while uniting them under your own thuggish rule.

Despite the controversy surrounding the game's content (it was banned in Brazil and by some UK retail outlets), it found a welcome home on Nintendo's fan-favorite console. Unsurprisingly, the Wii Remote was a perfect fit for Bully's slapstick "slingshot," "stink bomb" and "spud cannon" gameplay — and the mature content was a welcome addition to the relatively wholesome Nintendo landscape the Wii had laid out before it. To this day, Bully entertains a new generation of fans with an updated Anniversary Edition on Android and iOS; but nothing compares to the Wiimote when it comes to slinging marbles and tossing firecrackers at your fellow school yard scoundrels.

Metal Slug Anthology

Every Metal Slug title ever released on a single disc at one low-low price — playable from the comfort of your own home? Yes, please! In case you missed it, the Metal Slug franchise has been a staple of the SNK Neo-Geo arcade system since its release in 1996. This series of run-and-gun action platformers grew to popularity as the entries became more and more outlandish throughout the years — and fans were happy to keep pumping quarter after quarter into high fidelity SNK cabinets for their video game drug of choice.

A decade after the first Metal Slug title hit arcades, the geniuses at SNK Playmore USA had the idea of bringing this powerhouse series together for a single release, and developer Terminal Reality facilitated this request with flying colors. Metal Slug Anthology features the 5 Metal Slug titles originally released for the Neo-Geo, as well as the remastered Metal Slug X and Metal Slug 6 (originally released on the Sammy Atomiswave arcade system).

Combining 2D platforming and bullet-hell sensibilities, the Metal Slug games represent a high water mark for turn-of-the-century arcade titles. Each game is lovingly recreated here, with games 1-5 done via emulation; die hards can sleep easy knowing Metal Slug 6 is a true arcade port. The only real downside to this 2006 release was the lack of support for Nintendo's Classic Controller, which remains a drag to many outspoken critics of the collection.

Tron Evolution: Battle Grids

Sometimes, a video game comes along that reminds you why you fell in love with video games in the first place. Point in case: Tron Evolution: Battle Grids, a deceptively simple and effortlessly fun action adventure game from Disney Interactive Studios and developer n-Space.

A sequel to Disney's 1982 feature film Tron, Tron Evolution: Battle Grids is set during the late 1980s, when the citizens of The Grid were living in a veritable utopia. Lead designer James Toghill and team sought to create a game that's very much a social, multiplayer experience with a fun, "pick up and play" game style. The result is a hybrid of solo and multiplayer gameplay that does a great job of replicating the adventurous sci-fi vibes of the original movie and its sequel, Tron: Legacy.

Battle Grids boasts 3 distinct modes: Story Mode, Championship Mode, and the "Grid Games" — a collection of game modes from Tron lore, including the Light Cycle Arena, Light Cycle Races, Disc Arena, Light Runner Arena, Light Runner Races, HyperBall, and Tanks. And while each of these modes exhibits its own strengths and weaknesses, the highlights of this suite of four-player minigames are the Light Cycle Arena and Light Cycle Races. The wizards at n-Space managed to develop an intuitive control system that seamlessly utilizes the Wii Remote to incredible effect — with the first-person view active, you'll almost swear your racing that Light Cycle yourself.