Helping Hands – Part I

wiiA lie that is repeated a hundred times over and eventually propagated to a large group of people is bound to become an accepted truth. Last generation, when the Nintendo Wii took the gaming market by storm, a common label that quickly got attached to the console was that it lacked third-party support. Although most avid Wii gamers did not fall for such claims, since they experienced first-hand the content those companies were delivering, many did buy into that reality.

While it is a fact the console did not receive many of the big-shot titles produced by third-parties, which explains why most outsiders believed the console lacked in that area, it got a good number of fully exclusive software that took advantage of the system’s hardware, some of which were up-to-par with what was offered on both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.

Given that – sometimes – we only learn the true value of something after we lose it, the state of the Wii U’s landscape in relation to non-Nintendo titles, which is unquestionably bleak, makes its predecessor’s lineup of games much brighter. Therefore, there is no better time to take an opportunity to look back on some of the Wii’s finest third-party moments and celebrate them.

a_boy_and_his_blobA Boy and his Blob

A Boy and his Blob follows a pattern used by many of the Wii’s best games: sidescrolling action coated in gorgeous hand-drawn animation. The brand of platforming explored here is, however, very unique. The title is basically a giant puzzle gauntlet that takes places in mesmerizing locations on which the titular human must use the different powers of his cuddly friend in order to traverse many dangers. The progression is unquestionably slow-paced, and the visuals move with uncanny smoothness.

The stages and bosses are brilliantly built around the vast array of abilities of the flexible blob. By feeding him distinct beans, he can turn into a balloon, a hole, an anvil, a ladder, a rocket, and many other objects. The game’s core flaw is the fact that it is a bit excessive on its hand-holding, as it basically tells players what transformations must be used to get by nicely designed conundrums. However, that does not stop the game from succeeding and providing a heartwarming tale of unlikely friendship that is a blast to play through.

boom_bloxBoom Blox

If the generally trustworthy Mario Party series failed to deliver a solid family experience until late into the console’s lifetime, Boom Blox and its sequel filled that void masterfully from the get go. It is not, by no means, an exaggeration to dub it the life of any party centered around videogames. The game manages to bring together both expert gamers and casual players into a balanced playing field full of laugh-out-loud moments, which – in a way – turns out to be the perfect translation of the concept that drove the Nintendo Wii.

The title achieves such a feat due to three factors. Firstly, there is the simplicity of the Wiimote. Secondly, there is the fact the game only requires simple and intuitive motions in order to be played. And, finally, its varied modes involve activities – such as bringing down towers of blocks, shooting moving targets, and carefully dismantling grand structures – that are purely straightforward. Boom Blox hits that recipe out of the park and cooks up the Wii’s most accessible and potentially hilarious multiplayer experience.

de_blobDe Blob

A dictatorship that pushes a literally black-and-white ideology on a world that was once full of color paves the way to the creation of a rebel group that plans to paint life back into the land. Taking control of the leader of the association, it is up to players to infuse themselves with ink and lead a polychromatic uprising. The psychedelic coup d’état is as fun as it sounds. The different blank scenarios are a canvas on which players must wreak vibrant havoc to free citizens from the dull slavery under which they have been placed and bring life back to the streets.

It is an indescribable joy to slowly color the town and watch it turn from a white landscape into one beautiful and lively location. The music gets progressively louder and groovier, people slowly fill the streets, state propaganda is replaced by works of art, and major buildings that were once enemy headquarters turn into impressive sights. It is hard to find, whether it is on the Wii or on any other platform, a game that produces a feeling as good as the one found on De Blob and its sequel once, after an hour of exploration, you look at a once dead scene and see an effervescent setting.

little_king_storyLittle King’s Story

Little King’s Story might as well be the Wii’s best third-party game. Its visuals – a perfect fit for a game centered around the life of a child who wakes up to find himself crowned as king of an unknown land – give off a whimsical air. That fairytale vibe, however, is punctuated by moments of considerable darkness. What looks like a playful quest to conquer some wacky kingdoms and become ruler of the world presents some serious undertones as the game explores some possibly polemic grounds, such as authoritarianism, and the brutality of war, while also touching upon religion and hinting at polygamy.

The game is certainly bold, but that is far from its greatest quality. Little King’s Story is, ultimately, fun, deep, engaging, challenging, and lengthy. The classes of citizens that can be created are varied and useful; the social fabric and decisions that power most of the game are satisfyingly complex; the options for kingdom upgrades are numerous and resource-demanding; dangerous and creative boss battles lurk at every corner; and an amazing cast of funny characters is nicely developed through an adventure that extends for over forty hours. Little King’s Story is the finest example of an unfairly overlooked gem that would have garnered much more praise and attention had it been released for any other console.

winter_of_the_melodiasLostWinds: Winter of the Melodias

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias is one of those little treasures that would not have existed if Nintendo had not opted to build a system around the concept of the Wiimote. Toku, a simple boy with no special skills, is aided by Enril, a wind spirit, in his quest to find his lost mother. The game matches up Metroid-like free exploration with smart puzzle solving that orbits the pointer-controlled gusts of wind.

What really takes Winter of the Melodies to another level, and makes it the system’s best exclusive downloadable game, is its attention to detail. In its relatively small scope, LostWinds does everything remarkably well. Its world and atmosphere are impressively immersive and the adventure is accompanied by a feeling of danger and loneliness that captures all gamers, creating a tale that is both visually mesmerizing and gripping.


8 thoughts on “Helping Hands – Part I

  1. Nintendo has always stood on their own with titles that show the worth in a console, with third party jumping in afterwards. They get development kits for a new console far before its release and rarely make anything fantastic till after Nintendo lays the groundwork.

    1. That’s true. I believe that issue has its roots on the fact third-parties are terribly afraid to compete head-to-head with Nintendo’s first-party software.

      It makes sense, in a way, because there are not many companies out there (probably 0) that can produce games like Nintendo does.

        1. Wow, I really appreciate you want to read all of them. It makes me happy! Thanks a lot!

          And no worries about being slow, they aren’t exactly short reads. =P

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