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The explosive popularity of the Nintendo Wii has led to an inevitable deluge of crappy shovelware titles that claim to be fun uses of the Wii’s unique features but ultimately turn out to be nothing but vapid attempts at cashing in on the system’s success. Because of this malignant multitude (not all games can be as great as Wii Fit), it can be difficult for a value-conscious gamer to find budget games that are worth playing.
Fortunately, there are a few quality low-cost Wii gems out there to be found, gamers just need a filter to avoid the large number of crappy games out there.
Allow me to humbly present my personal picks for five great Wii titles that can all be purchased for less than twenty dollars. Prices according to Gamestop.
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Geometry Wars: Galaxies
It’s a sad fact of modern game design, but it seems developers no longer make awesome arcade-style shooters like they used to. Anyone who’s ever spent countless hours playing Asteroids on an old Atari or Gradius on the Super Nintendo knows what I’m talking about. Great games used to be about fast reflexes and upgradeable weapons, no story necessary, just wave after wave of countless enemies waiting to be expertly dispatched.
Geometry Wars: Galaxies could easily be the modern descendant of those great games. This twin-stick controlled shooter has you moving in one direction and shooting in another (Smash TV style) to eliminate multitudes of enemies that swarm toward you from all directions. The Wii version does have a minimal story element to it, but the fact is you spend most of your time in the thick of a swarming horde of enemies, and it’s a truly amazing experience.
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Lego Batman/Indiana Jones/Star Wars
Players control various characters two at a time (famous pairings like Indy and Short Round or Batman and Robin) and work their way through some basic 3D platforming action, solving puzzles and collecting items that unlock other items. There are some puzzles that can only be solved on a second playthrough, so the replay value on these games is definitely high.
Story usually loosely follows the plot of the film on which the game is based (with hilarious Lego twists) or, in the case of Batman, provides typical fare based on the history of the property. The Lego games are fantastic for the whole family, violence is minimal (enemies simply fall apart when dispatched) and there are no real penalties for dying, as lives are pretty much unlimited.
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Mercury Meltdown Revolution
One amazing thing about the Wii’s unique control scheme is its ability to adapt perfectly to many different types of games. Motion controls lend themselves quite well to certain types of puzzle games, and Mercury Meltdown Revolution is among the best.
Players tilt their Wiimote to maneuver a blob of mercury over, through, and around various obstacles in order to reach a goal. Yes, I realize it sounds weird and dumb, but it’s actually one of the most addicting puzzle games I’ve ever played.
Trying to tilt the Wiimote just enough to get past a thin ledge, then through a paint sprayer to open a door before splitting the blob in two, painting the two pieces, and then combining them to open a second door is one of the most frustrating and gratifying puzzle game experiences ever. Wait until you see how amazing the later levels become.
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Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
Resident Evil 4 was one of the best-reviewed games for the both the Gamecube and Playstation 2 consoles. The Wii version is the same core experience, just enhanced with Wii motion controls, making aiming and item management easier than ever before.
The action takes place from a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective. Players control Leon Kennedy as he attempts to track down the president’s daughter and stumbles into a genetic conspiracy with ties to the events of the first three Resident Evil Games.
Gameplay is a mixture of shooter and puzzle-game elements, players must balance the need to take down hordes of attackers while trying to solve puzzles and take on unbelievable bosses.
Resident Evil 4 is one of those great games that require multiple playthroughs to unlock everything, but with such great gameplay you actually look forward to it. That’s a lot of value for less than twenty dollars.
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Zack and Wiki: The Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Zack and Wiki is quickly shaping up to be one of those underappreciated gems like Beyond Good and Evil or Psychonauts. It received glowing reviews from pretty much every gaming publication, yet met with lackluster sales and is now available at a bargain price.
The developers’ loss is your gain, however, because now you can pick up this awesome title for less than twenty dollars.
One of the few games to make expert use of the Wii’s motion controls, Zack and Wiki is a cooperative puzzle game with platforming elements. Zack and Wiki are on a quest to assemble the skeleton of the legendary pirate Barbaros so that he can lead them to his treasure. Puzzles are solved through context-sensitive actions like pushing levers or turning keys.
The puzzles for the most part seem to hit that magic sweet spot in terms of difficulty, hard enough to provide a challenge but not so difficult that you’ll never figure them out. It’s a great game for families to play together, and the well-done cartoonish visuals should appeal to kids and adults alike.
Hopefully we’ve piqued your interest for a few of these great games. There are a lot of not-so-good Wii games to sort though out there, and gamers need all the help they can get. All of these great titles are sure to satisfy, and all are available for less than twenty dollars.