The 17 Best Core Games for the Wii

The Wii is a Haven for Casual Games, but There's Plenty for the Serious Gamer

The Wii has been justifiably criticized as a dumping ground for shovelware and casual games that fail to serve hardcore gamers. Yet, those players who want epic games with original ideas, challenging gameplay and engaging stories can find all of that on the Wii if they know where to look. While some core Wii titles have fallen short of greatness, there are still some that any serious gamer would love.

Forgotten Sands is a throwback to the days when game publishers would release entirely different games under the same title for different platforms. The game is distinct from the Forgotten Sands on everything else, with Wii-specific elements. While the story is terrible, the platforming is terrific and the combat is more tolerable than in the earlier games. 

With a unique and ingenious control scheme and exciting missions, this flight combat game is tremendous fun if you can ignore its inane story.

GoldenEye is a rarity on the Wii, a fun, slickly made FPS that doesn't have "Call of Duty" in the title. With a nice mix of action and stealth and great levels for its online multiplayer, this is a terrific game once you've tweaked the controls to make it play like a Call of Duty game.

With over-the-top violence, a weird sense of humor, striking visuals, and huge doses of crazy, the No More Heroes games are unlike anything else on the Wii. The sequel took out the worst parts of the original game and left the intense combat and the general nuttiness; the result is a must-have for fans of out-there games.

The Wii is the only game console that can rival the personal computer as a platform for point-and-click adventure games, and no game shows that off better than Sam & Max, a hilarious game full of smart puzzles and sharp dialogue. One of the few adventure games to be just as enjoyable on a game console as it is on a PC.

The Wii Call of Duty games World at War, Modern Warfare 3, and Black Ops are all excellent , but it seems silly to give all three a slot in this list, because they are so similar.  The series showed a respect for core Wii gamers often lacking from other developers, terrific gesture-based controls, exciting campaign missions, and first-rate multiplayer. If you like one, play them all; Black Ops is my top pick due to a superior story in the same way MW3 is my least favorite because its story sucks.

With its jittery camera and involving story, Dead Space: Extraction is a rail shooter that feels freer and edgier than its peers. Easily the best rail shooter on the Wii.

A high-concept take on exploitation movies, this rail shooter turns soulful songs, stylish graphics, purposely moronic dialogue and slack-jawed zombies into a stylish and irresistible piece of entertainment.

A remarkable action game in which the player alternately takes the role of a spider and a scorpion as they make their way through the desert. The slight story is fascinating, the graphics show what can be done by Wii game designers who know what they’re doing, and the action is fast and furious. You will never look at a spider in quite the same way again.

One of the best 2D platformers ever made, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a beautifully crafted game, so good that I can forgive it's brutal difficulty.

The first entirely successful 3D Sonic the Hedgehog reinvigorates the series and offers some of the most exhilarating gameplay you can find on the Wii. With a surprisingly entertaining story and clever gameplay ideas like the use of colored aliens to acquire special abilities, Sonic achieves a mix of lightning speed and smart platform puzzling that ranks with the best of the series.

The platformer De Blob is everything a Wii game should be. It uses the unique capabilities of the Wii in a natural, intuitive way. It offers unique, creative gameplay, has colorful, engaging graphics and tells a simple but entertaining story. It is kid-friendly yet equally entertaining for adults. In an ideal world, this would be one of the Wii’s best selling titles, and I will never understand why it is not.

The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most reliable in all of gaming, offering a well-worked formula while always makes it seem fresh. In this case, much of that freshness comes from use of the Wii remote. This was one of Nintendo’s first Wii games, and it showed exactly what could be done with the game. If only other designers - including Nintendo’s own - had used it as a guideline for how to proceed.

With its intriguing story, colorful visuals and unique gameplay mechanism, in which you can destroy a cartoon world with paint thinner or restore it with paint, Disney Epic Mickey is an interesting variation on a Legend of Zelda-style platformer. In spite of some camera and control issues, this is my all-time favorite Wii game.

There weren't a lot of RPGs released for the Wii, but it does have two of the best JRPGs ever released on any console. The Last Story, directed by the guy who created the Final Fantasy series, offers exciting, action-oriented combat and a predictable but engaging story. It's short as JRPGs go, but tremendously fun.

Vast, sweeping, and complex, Xenoblade Chronicles is insanely elaborate, tremendously long, and vastly detailed, with exciting, hectic combat, involving side quests, and endless exploration. It's a game you can lose yourself in, and I recommend you do so as soon as possible.

My all-time favorite Zelda game is somewhat controversial - some people hate the motions controls - but for me the controls are perfect and the game itself is a beautifully crafted action adventure and the best thing produced for the Wii.