Top 3rd Party Wii Titles

It’s a fact that most people who own Nintendo consoles buy Nintendo-branded titles, like Zelda or Mario. This seemingly great position that Nintendo has put itself in is actually one of its biggest problems. Ever since the N64, 3rd parties have reduced the amount of games they release on Nintendo platforms. This then shifted the consumer populace to competing consoles like Playstation and Xbox.

Lately, Nintendo has become more attractive to many 3rd parties, with the DS and Wii becoming break-out hits. But that’s just the first step. The second one is getting consumers to actually purchase the 3rd party titles. If no one buys them, third parties will soon lose interest in Nintendo again. So to help reduce the likelihood of the N64/GameCube days from happening again, I have compiled a short list of the best 3rd party Wii titles that are now available.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion
Although this game is a “wii-port” of the now-great DS game, Second Opinion was definitely one of the best titles to hit the Wii at launch. In many respects, it was the best 3rd party title at the time.

For the uninitiated, the Trauma Center series is the video game version of Operation, the kid-doctor game we all grew up with. You star as Derek Stiles, the newest doctor to come off his residency at Hope Hospital, and it’s your duty to make sure everyone comes out of surgery alive.

The tools you have at your disposal range from scalpels for sowing up any major cuts, to defibrillators to keep patients out of Death’s hands. It was fun on the DS, but with the wii-mote as your instrument, the game steps up to the next level of interactivity. In many ways, it is actually better than the stylus-driven DS version, and having the nun-chuk act as your nurse makes switching instruments far more intuitive.

I hate when I get glass in my heart.

Unfortunately, the cut-scenes are still silent, just like the DS version, and if you already played Under the Knife, you won’t see anything new. But if you’ve never tried TC before, you should definitely check out Second Opinion.

For more info, check vl’s review.

Rayman Raving Rabbids
Helmed by the same man who brought us Beyond Good and Evil and the original Rayman titles, Rayman Raving Rabbids is the Ubisoft version of WarioWare. Our plucky armless hero Rayman has been captured by the malevolent Rabbids, the craziest little bunnies you’ll ever see in a video game, and it’s your job to help Rayman escape.

Which means playing a whole mess of zany minigames. Although not everyone is a complete winner, there are enough to make any gamer have a great night. One minigame has you shooting carrot juice at snorkel-wearing rabbids in a light-gun style game, while another has you swinging a cow like an Olympic hammer to see how far you can throw it. And Ubisoft has done a good job incorporating the motion sensitive controls with Raving.

Once you unlock some of the minigames, you get to play them with a friend or two, which is crucial for any party game. Not every one works perfectly in multiplayer, but the ones that do add a lot of fun to the package.

If you’ve already played WarioWare to death and are still looking for a good Wii party title, Rayman Raving Rabbids should be your next purchase. None of the other games, like Super Monkey Ball or Tamagotchi Party On!, have come close to what either Rayman or WarioWare have done. Definitely recommended.

Godfather: Blackhand Edition
EA’s Godfather has the award for being the first GTA-ripoff to come to the Wii, but it’s actually a good one, so don’t be too upset about it.

In The Godfather you star as a young gangster working his way up the food chain for a chance to avenge his father’s death. You’ll go on missions to get money from local businesses that employ your “services,” as well as others that will test how good you are at running the streets. It all plays out in a very GTA-ish style, but that’s not necessarily bad.

The cool thing about the Blackhand Edition is the wii-mote controls, especially the hand-to-hand combat. It’s basically a simplified version of Wii Sports Boxing, but it definitely has a higher success rate. To punch you just swing your wii-mote and nun-chuk like you would in real life. You can also grab a guy’s collar and pick them up, just don’t put your wii-mote through the ceiling. It’s cool in theory and practice, as EA has done a good job with the motion sensing controls.

Mmm, cannoli.

If you like GTA games (and who doesn’t), then you should be looking in Godfather’s direction. It has all the right gameplay mechanics that we’re used to from the last generation, and it adds a bit of “new” with the wii-mote controls. The graphics aren’t the greatest, but you already knew that when you bought the Wii. However, that still doesn’t detract from the fun you will have slamming someone’s face in with your fists.

Check out Christian’s review.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07
Although EA didn’t release as many games as Ubisoft in Wii’s first few months, the ones they put out were of a much higher caliber. The next EA title to make our list is Tiger Woods. After having the golf game on Wii set with Wii Sports Golf, Tiger Woods had a lot to live up to. For the most part, EA hit the nail on the head.

The tried and true Tiger Woods formula is back, but what makes this game so cool is the wii-mote controls. You basically swing your virtual club as you would in real life. Have a propensity to slice or fade? Yeah, you will probably see it happen in Tiger Woods. A few have cited concerns over the putting, but it’s not something practice can’t cure.

Although they took out online match play (Nintendo’s fault on this one actually), EA has supplied a plethora of modes to try out, easily making Tiger Woods worth the $50 price tag. Again, the graphics do suck in this game, but I can’t imagine a golf game needing per pixel shading.

If you got a hankering for a good Golf game and you thought Wii Sports was just a tad shallow, then Tiger Woods is your answer. Super Swing Golf was a disappointment, but thankfully EA took up the reins and delivered the goods.

The guys here at videolamer have differing feelings on Konami’s Elebits. Some think it’s too simplistic, making it seem more like a tech demo than anything else. I, however, have probably had the greatest time with Elebits. In my mind, it is hands-down the best 3rd party title for the Wii right now.

In Elebits, you star as a young boy trying to figure out why the world has lost all of its energy. Apparently humans coexist with “living entities” called Elebits that generate the power we need to run our appliances. Something has spooked them, and it’s your job to get them back in line.

And to do this you have to hunt for them. Elebits like to hide under things, and because you are a young kid, you’ll need some help lifting those couches. In comes the Capture Gun, Konami’s version of Half-Life 2’s Gravity Gun. With this handy tool you get to pick up small objects that Elebits hide under. After you find more Elebits, electronic appliances start turning on. Turn the electronics on or use them in innovative ways, and Power Elebits show up, giving you the ability to pick up heavier objects. Soon you will be picking up sofas, beds, and even whole houses.

It all plays out great. The physics engine that Konami developed is the best I’ve seen on the Wii, and it’s just so much fun to throw items all over the place. The game wouldn’t be too complex with just that, but with the added twist of finding the Elebits, Konami has created a fairly robust physics-based hunting game.

The only problem is the time-based gameplay. You only have a certain amount of time to find the requisite number of Elebits, though at some points you won’t want to stop playing. It’s just like what Nintendo did with Pikmin, and its night/day system. You’ll want to mess around with the environment more, and I would have preferred it if Konami let you run wild in the house without time constraints.

This may be bad for the inhabitants of the house.

But, with the added ability to edit your own rooms and a pretty enjoyable musical score, Elebits is one of the best 3rd party experiences you can find on the Wii. At least for me, anyway. Like I mentioned, some people in the vl office think a little differently, so I’ll advise you to give it a rental first.

Honorable Mentions:

These games aren’t awesome, but they still deserve some praises for giving users an enjoyable, although somewhat problematic, experience.

Madden Football ’07
Although this game was basically the same as the previous Madden games, EA did a very honorable thing by putting fairly intuitive controls into the tired Madden formula. Many people that never played football games gave the game a chance after hearing how cool the controls were. Stick your hand out for some stiff-arm action, and hold your hands up high to catch that bomb. It’s a good game, but doesn’t necessarily stand out as much as Tiger Woods or Godfather. Still worth a footballer’s time, though.

SSX Blur
Man, EA is on one hell of a winning streak with the Wii, isn’t it? Now we have the SSX series making a small splash on the Wii. This one was a hard choice, as many cited a lot of problems with the wii controls. You either heard it was the best thing since sliced bread or the worse thing since Far Cry Vengeance. And because of that, we decided to give it an honorable mention. If there are people that liked it a lot, it still deserves to be tried out at least once.

The game’s got a great sense of style, and has an awesome soundtrack from one of electronica’s best, Junkie XL. Just give it some time to hit those Uber Moves and you may get a lot of enjoyment from SSX Blur.

Metal Slug Anthology
Although many people state the PS2 version is better than the Wii one, especially concerning the controls, there are some people that don’t have a PS2. Can’t imagine who these people are and what they do with their time, but it’s still one of the better games on the Wii, and I decided to include it here.

If you never had a chance to play the old Metal Slug Neo Geo arcade games, getting this game would be a great way to experience them in one place. Metal Slug Anthology has all six Metal Slug games, featuring arcade-perfect ports for all of them.

Christian reviewed the game earlier, and although he had a good time with it, he stated problems with incessant load times and mysterious control issues, both of which were not featured in the PS2 version. But still, it’s only $40, which means less for used. Give it a try, but don’t expect the world.

For more info, check Christian’s review.

Sonic and the Secret Rings
This is another game that fellow vl journalists disagree on, but it’s not as cut and dry as Elebits. Although the game didn’t have any real major problems with it, if you’ve played the old Sonic games, there are certain aspects that basically change what we all know and love about the franchise.

SEGA, for this iteration, decided to make Sonic a small RPG affair. And we all know what it feels like to play an RPG at the beginning: boring. Sonic doesn’t run as fast, he turns like a Mack truck, and he continually gets caught by walls. It’s all very un-Sonic-like.

Once you get farther into the game, however, Sonic shows his speed. It’s like SEGA tried to give Sonic a facelift, but made it hard for veteran fans to enjoy what makes the series so fun. But if you’ve never played the 3D Sonics before, you will have a lot more fun than the rest of us.

Sonic and the Secret Rings is a good game; it’s just not what we were expecting. Still worthy of a rental.

For more info, check out Christian’s review.

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