published Wednesday, Jan 20th
2009 came and went all too quickly for Wii owners, with a distinct lack of big titles from Nintendo themselves and third-party efforts that kept hitting the good-but-not-quite-great mark. 2010 promises to be infinitely better for the Wii, just like the other formats, with the return of three of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, plus a wealth of other promising games from the likes of Capcom, Ubisoft and Rising Star Games.
You already know the score with the three big titles from Nintendo. Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M and (if we’re lucky) the next Zelda are obviously going to be massive titles, and have quite rightly secured spots in every ‘top 5 to look forward to in 2010’ out there. Though not this one.
“Why is that?” we hear you cry at the back. It’s not because we don’t think they are worthy enough, but more that we feel you’ll probably buy them anyway, whatever we have to say. No, dear reader, instead we’d like to point you in the direction of five games we think will prove to be great stop-gaps between Nintendo’s trinity of juggernauts.
Monster Hunter Tri
This is quite possibly the biggest ‘core’ third-party release on the Wii this year. It’s hard to imagine just how big the Monster Hunter franchise has become in Japan; sales of the PSP versions have rivaled recent Pokemon and Final Fantasy releases. Nintendo has recognised this is a key title, especially after the furore surrounding SquareEnix’s decision to move its development from the PS3 to the Wii, and have really gotten behind the title in Japan. At the time of writing, sales sit just shy of a million units – the biggest selling third-party title so far in Japan. So what kind of game is it? Well, as the title suggests, you hunt and kill monsters in a massive fantasy world, a bit like an online Pokemon. Capcom have gone all out to produce the best looking Wii game ever (prompting Nintendo to announce they are aiming to match or beat Capcom’s title with the next Zelda), and have promised to let western Wii gamers play online completely free. There probably won’t be a better way to spend 200+ hours on the Wii next year.
Endless Ocean 2
Sometimes gamers need a change of pace; a way to escape those alternative virtual careers as space soldiers, medieval warriors or Italian plumbers. Endless Ocean was a great game to play when you needed a relaxing break, but it was a bit too laid back for its own good. It also lacked variety, although the tropical setting was incredibly beautiful all the same. Both criticisms have been fixed for the sequel, with a more structured single player experience and six different environments waiting to be explored. There’s also an added sense of danger, as the fish you come across could turn on you at any moment, hence the addition of a pulsar gun to keep them at bay. If you need to unwind, look no further than this game.
Red Steel 2
We’ve already managed to get a promising hands-on with Ubisoft’s sequel to their biggest launch title. If the rest of the game plays as well as the demo we tried then they could be on to a winner here. Red Steel 2 mixes samurai sword-fighting with a wild west setting, something that immediately marks it out of the crowd. Following complaints about the original, Ubisoft have focused on refining the sword play elements and put a lot more effort into the presentation side of things. Now the Metroid series has returned to its third-person roots, this will undoubtedly be the biggest FPS on the Wii next year.
Tatsunoko vs Capcom
Sadly, Wii owners never got the chance to sample the delights of Street Fighter IV. But being the pleasant chaps they are, Capcom did their best to provide a decent alternative. The biggest surprise surrounding this game isn’t the fact Capcom chose to release it on a format not known for die-hard fighting games, or that it turned out to be almost as good as SF IV. No, the fact it is getting a western release at all, given the high contingent of obscure anime characters, has been a pleasant surprise to even the most hardcore beat-em-up fan. As with Monster Hunter Tri, Capcom have done a fair amount of extra work for the western version, with a slew of extra characters and arenas, and a more refined fighting engine.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
No More Heroes is pretty much the only mature third-party title on the Wii that can be called a must-have. This quirky game riffed on gaming conventions and was absolutely dripping with references to film and gaming culture. The combat wasn’t half bad either, Travis’ battles against each of the Santa Destroy’s eleven rival assassins are among the most entertaining collection of boss battles in any action title. But probably the best thing to come out of the game was main hero Travis Touchdown, possibly the coolest otaku with a light-sabre the gaming world has ever seen. Part two follows Travis’ rise through the national assassins ranks and promises more action, more outrageous bosses and more coconut collecting mini-games.