The holidays are coming, and that means it's time for you to start thinking about what sorts of gifts you want to give and get this year.
This year's slate of Wii releases saw plenty of reliable performers and familiar brands in the console's strongest genres. But it also featured a few games in the shooter and action field, sports, and one surprise that's difficult to classify.
For a serious Wii gamer, or for a Wii household that could stand to try something new, here's our take on the ten best Wii games to give and get for 2010. Hope you enjoy the list. Feel free to add your own recommendations in comments.
Kirby's Epic Yarn
Rating: T Genre: Platformer Ideal Player: All ages; kids will especially love it, adults will love its rich visual style even if Kirby's sugary cuteness makes them self-conscious. What's It About? Kirby seeks seven pieces of magic yarn in this delightful and mostly easy romp through Patch Land, along the way transforming into a number of helpful, grin-inducing apparatuses. The arts-and-craft motif is among the best visual execution you'll see in a game all year, which is saying something for the Wii. Bang For Your Buck: You get the standard singleplayer and cooperative local multiplayer mode familiar to the Nintendo platform genre. While its ease of play makes it suitable for kids, it will be mostly satisfying to hardcore gamers who appreciate design and aesthetics. Read our review here.
Rating: T Genre: First-Person Shooter Ideal Player: Anyone with a Wii and a love for the Nintendo 64 original. Those in a Wii household looking for more grown-up action, and FPS fans intrigued by motion control outside of a rails-shooter format. What's It About? GoldenEye 007 reimagines the 1995 film, placing Daniel Craig in the superspy's role and reassembling the story to fit both his Bond persona and modern times. It's a highly polished shooter for a console that sees very few of them. Bang For Your Buck: You get a solid singleplayer campaign that indulges those who just want to finish the game as well as others looking to explore every inch of the map. GoldenEye honours its ancestor's strong multiplayer heritage with all of the local multiplayer options and characters of the original, plus one of the best online multiplayer games for the Wii, still going strong as of this writing. Read our review here.
Rating: E Genre: Sports Ideal Player: Arcade junkies, sports fans, hypercompetitive kids, anyone looking for a good time. What's It About? EA Sports has rebooted the mainstay of 1990s arcades and rec rooms, bringing forth a game that takes advantage of modern console capabilities while staying true to its original presentation. The result is a fantastically nostalgic experience and late-late-late night replayability Bang For Your Buck: If you're buying for someone who also has an Xbox 360 or a PS3, you will probably want to give them the version for that console, as it costs the same and includes all of the Wii's content, plus online multiplayer. Otherwise, the game's Remix Tour supplies a meaty 20 hours of funky basketball play on top of the regular run-and-gun campaign. And it packs simple, well-designed motion controls that are a delight for such a physically expressive game. Read our review here.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Rating: E Genre: Platformer Ideal Player: Veteran rescuers of distressed princesses. What's It About? Super Mario Galaxy 2 picks up where its 2007 predecessor left off, namely, in outer space and on alien worlds whose surreal visuals well outdo the original's. New powers, a return of Yoshi and a level design attenuated to longtime Mario players' sensibilities make this a winner. Bang For Your Buck: Super Mario Galaxy 2 knew what to pad and what to cut, adding more galaxies and quests but reducing the number of core missions that advance the game's story. Unburdened of the hopes of launching a new console, it's free to be a purely good time, and it delivers. Read our review here.
Rating: E Genre: Sports Ideal Player: A hockey fan in a Wii household where there won't be too much fighting over the controller. What's It About? NHL Slapshot's calling card is its mini-hockey stick, housing the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. It and some shrewd design choices make the game much more simple to manage for younger or more casual fans of the sport. With it, players use motions to check and fire off shots, and may even pop out the Nunchuk for goalie-specific glove-and-stick motions. Bang For Your Buck: Though you get a fully licensed NHL game with meat-and-potatoes features like a seasonlong mode, Slapshot's strength is in the Peewee to Pros singleplayer career, through which you'll play at four different levels of player development. There is no online multiplayer, and the game only comes packaged with one hockey stick. Keep that in mind, because everyone will want to play with it.
Monster Hunter Tri
Rating: T Genre: Action RPG Ideal Player: Action fiends and fantasy/RPG buffs who can play well with others. Someone who can handle a strong challenge and a bit of repetition on a console not known for its rigour. What's It About? Getting its first dedicated title on the Wii, Monster Hunter remains true to its hardcore roots - stalk the epic beast, hack it to pieces (or capture it), then bring back your bounty to collect upgraded weapons and items. This game runs heavy on the multiplayer and the team effort necessary to bring down your prey. Bang For Your Buck: This edition went heavy with multiplayer. The deep online questing system offers a ton of content and gameplay, far beyond the offline modes. It's a core game, so bring a classic controller, but those who loved the PS2 original will find a more-than-fulfilling sequel here.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
Rating: E10+ Genre: Action-adventure Ideal Player:A Harry Potter fan will get the most of this, but Traveller's Tales' LEGO games have long served kids and adults alike, with whimsy and wry humour. What's It About? You're the boy wizard - or his minifig representation anyway - gallivanting around a LEGO rendering of the first four books and films in the Harry Potter series. The m.o. remains the same: Roam every inch, collect items and solve puzzles. Characters aren't rigidly limited to special abilities and may learn spells as they progress through the four books' saga, and some free building aspects have been introduced. Bang For Your Buck: In many cases, the Lego environments are at greater liberty to explore the Harry Potter world than seen in the books or the films. There's no online multiplayer, but the singleplayer is deep enough. We called this "the best LEGO game to date". Read our review here.
Red Steel 2
Rating: T Genre: First-Person Shooter Ideal Player: What's It About? A Wild-West-Meets-Ninjas action flick, Red Steel 2 is a do-over of the 2006 Wii launch title that was a commercial success but a critical disappointment. This time Ubisoft gets the sword controls right, pairing them with trusty firearms in a cel-shaded wasteland. Bang For Your Buck: It's a singleplayer-only game with about a 10-hour campaign, but this reboot atones for the shortcomings of the first game. We called Red Steel 2 a must-play, so serious gamers with a Wii should find plenty to enjoy. Read our review here.
Rating: T Genre: Puzzle Ideal Player: Fans of procedural TV dramas - of course medical, but also legal or law enforcement shows - will find plenty that is familiar and enjoyable in Trauma Team What's It About? In Trauma Team, you play as one of several different medical specialists - a surgeon, orthopedist, first responder, medical examiner, etc. - each with their own plot thread in a larger story, and different abilities to solve puzzle-like challenges. The game's non-linear storytelling delivers an ensemble drama more resembling one seen on television than in a video game. Bang For Your Buck: Trauma Team, the fifth instalment of Atlus' Trauma centre series, was a very pleasant surprise and one of our favourite Wii games this year. Multiplayer modes include a very engaging cooperative surgery mode. Read our review here.
Rating: E Genre: Party/Casual Ideal Player: Families and casual gamers, whose friends are always coming over to play the Wii. What's It About? More than 80 mini-games make up this surefire conversation-starter and boredom-killer for extended family visits and gatherings of diverse sets of friends. Playing on your own - eh, skip it. As a gift for a family, especially one with young kids, you can do no wrong. Bang For Your Buck: The deep mini-game catalogue means some will be duds and others will be go-to favourites, but all offer a wide variety of gameplay, lasting anywhere from five minutes to an hour. Read our review here.