As a celebration of the Wii’s strong third-party support, here is the second part of the series that takes a look at some of the system’s best exclusive non-Nintendo efforts.
Up until the release of Xenoblade Chronicles, which came on the tail-end of the console’s life, Monster Hunter 3 was likely the Wii’s grandest adventure. It is certainly not a game for everybody, considering how demanding and time-consuming its grinding nature can be. However, those who are able to get into its unique structure are not shy to rightfully proclaim its status as one of the Wii’s finest hours. Its musical score is fittingly epic; the hunting grounds it presents are big, varied, and immersive; its tree of equipment and upgrades is nearly infinite; and the monsters, the game’s undeniable stars, are fierce and terrifying.
There is the seemingly unbeatable Barroth, the flying majesty that is the Rathalos, the fiery furnace unleashed by the Uragaan, the poisonous menace of the Gigginox, and many other gargantuan beasts. Defeating each of the game’s sixteen main monsters is an uphill battle. It starts as an apparently impossible task, and – only after many hour-long attempts – it becomes possible to visualize a victorious outcome. The game’s greatest prowess is, perhaps, the fact that all main missions of its quest can be experienced both online and offline, leaving it wide open for players to choose if they want to be lone hunters or tackle the impressive creatures with the aid of other players.
Hack and slash games are not for everyone, but to those that do enjoy the genre, Muramasa is a dream come true. A full-fledged adventure set on a ridiculously vast open world of astonishing sidescrolling beauty, the title is both frantic and beautiful. Massive hordes of enemies await at every bit of scenario, and the multi-layered beauty of the settings is a poem to Japanese art and the country’s gorgeous countryside landscapes.
Perhaps realizing that one trip through its world would not be enough for aficionados to that gameplay style, the game features not one, but two distinct playable characters with storylines of their own. The plots unravel and eventually bump into each other creating a solid storytelling knot that gives life to both the eye-candy that is Muramasa’s main land and to the characters that inhabit it. In a system pleasantly field with numerous 2-D platformers, Muramasa is a satisfying variation of the traditional sidescrolling progression.
No More Heroes, and its improved sequel Desperate Struggle, are extravagant celebrations of everything that is borderline outlaw, excessively gory, and spectacularly gross. Travis Touchdown is the Wii’s ultimate antihero, and his two quests to climb all the way to the top of the United Assassins Association rank are the system’s finest M-rated moments. It is a playable Tarantino movie that references the weirdest elements of pop culture and pairs them up with general otaku obsessions.
As a well-done antihero saga, the game does a wonderful job in building its cast of enemies. They do not steal the show, mostly due to Travis’ gargantuan presence, but they are able to match his greatness and share the spotlight, which is as good as it gets. The lines between what is right and wrong are blurred in every single one of the games’ epic duels, leaving players confused as to what side exactly they are fighting for. But one thing is for sure: slashing those pesky assassins sure feels great.
The last half of the Wii’s life saw the advent of Nintendo’s second generation of motion controls, the WiiMotion Plus. While the Big N did a great job in exploring the device’s functionalities in both Wii Sports Resort and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, it was Ubisoft who led that charge among third-parties. Red Steel 2 is a beautiful oddity: it blends cowboys with samurai warriors, and throws them into a Wild West setting with touches of modernity and Japanese culture. That outrageous mix is tied up by very well-done cell-shaded visuals.
Red Steel 2 is a blast to play through. Fighting enemies armed with fire-weapons by using a sword is – in down-to-earth terms – absolutely ridiculous, and so is being able to block bullets with the blade. However, slashing through layers of foes – or combining both gun and katana in glorious combos – is such a rush of adrenaline that instead of drowning in its over-the-top ways the game thrives in them. It might not be the best overall game to feature motion controls, but – as far as sheer excitement goes – it trumps them all.
One of the first major third-party efforts to hit the Wii, Zack & Wiki still stands tall as one of the best and most original games to be produced for the console. In beautiful and small-scope scenarios, players are put in situations in which they must navigate through a series of puzzles and traps in order to reach treasure chests. The twist is that, to do so, gamers must make use of a range of objects and tools that require either the use of the pointer or motion controls.
As good as the implementation of the Wiimote is, the game’s greatest highlight is – by a landslide – its puzzle design. Little to no direct clues are given to the pair of explorers. Therefore, they must rely on their instincts and low-key visual cues in order to figure out what to do. Consequently, the game is incredibly challenging, and some riddles – even when restricted to a single room – can take over 30 minutes to be solved. The solutions are frequently brilliant and often mind-blowing, making Zack & Wiki one of the console’s most rewarding experiences.