Wii Action-Adventure Games

We love adventure games that challenge the mind, and we love action games that challenge the reflexes, so how could we not love action-adventure games, whose combination of puzzles, exploration, and combat are enough to build immersive, challenging worlds? While the Wii has a shortage of pure action games, and while the best adventure games are primarily PC games from other decades, the console is a solid platform for the action-adventure genre. Here are the best of the lot.

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword


While Skyward Sword’s most notable achievement is its use of gesture controls, the wonderful controls would be meaningless without the equally wonderful adventuring. Combat and puzzle elements are intertwined so tightly that every small monster is a puzzle that must be solved. The only Wii game we’ve ever given 5 stars to.

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess poster


The other great Wii Zelda game, Twilight Princess offers a more primitive use of motion control but has a wonderful dual-natured Link and elegant, imaginative design. They say that nothing in life is certain but death and taxes, but games with Zelda in the title are a sure bet for fun.

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Disney Epic Mickey

Disney Epic Mickey poster


A grand adventure centered on a dystopian version of Disney World, Epic Mickey’s imaginative paint/thinner concept and colorful gameplay make up for its camera issues and an emergent design complacency. The game is flawed but so ambitious and ingenious that you can’t help but admire it.

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Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures

Skylanders Screen Shot
Skylanders is one of the prettiest games on the Wii. Activision

This charming, colorful kid’s game doesn’t add anything to the action-adventure genre, but its mix of easy battles and easy puzzles is surprisingly satisfying. The game is pricey, because it requires a peripheral and little toy figurines (which we thought were overpriced nonsense), but if you don’t mind the expense, this is a first-rate game and a great one for parents and kids to play in co-op mode. This was the first game in an unstoppable series, and it's still one of the best of the lot.

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Okami screenshot


This brilliant PS2 game’s Wii port wasn’t entirely successful; the game control issues display the reasons Nintendo had to create the MotionPlus technology. But even if the version is slightly less satisfactory than the original, it is still an utterly amazing game, combining “Legend of Zelda”-style gameplay with a unique, beautiful visual design that few games can match. If you haven’t played this game, you have missed something very special.

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Metroid Prime Trilogy

Metroid Prime Trilogy


While only the third game in the Metroid Prime series was made specifically for the Wii, Nintendo retrofitted the first two games with Wii controls and put the whole series out in one package. Ironically, the game created for the Wii is the weakest of the set, but the first two are so good that the trilogy as a whole is terrific.

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Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands screenshot


While this game has the worst storytelling in the entire POP series, it actually has some of the best gameplay. A Wii exclusive that has the same title--but not the same gameplay or story--as the PC/Xbox 360/PS3 version, Sands offers the great platformer-on-steroids derring-do, some of the least annoying combat in the series, and some ingenious, Wii-specific touches.

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Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars


Traveler’s Tales’ Lego movie adaptations are all pretty similar, but Clone Wars stands out as something a little more challenging and varied, even including some easy real-time strategy missions. The result is the most entertaining game in a very entertaining series and my number recommendation to anyone who wants to learn why the series is so successful. The downside of this game? Every other Lego game now falls in the category of “good, but not as good as ...”

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Lost in Shadow

Lost In Shadow screenshot


Lost in Shadow is a game we probably shouldn’t be as fond of as we are. A 2D platformer with a unique visual style in which your avatar is a shadow who walks on the shadows of surrounding objects, the game suffers from terrible combat and conventional level design.

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Tenchu: Shadow Assassins

Tenchu: Shadow Assassins screenshot


There are not many stealth games for the Nintendo Wii, which may be why we have a certain fondness for this very flawed but clever ninja title. One can argue whether a game primarily focused on stealth really counts as an action-adventure game, but it’s close enough for me.