VGB 2007 Holiday Gift Guide – Nintendo Edition Part 1

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Nintendo has every right to be smiling right now. The Wii is THE in-demand game console (and has been since its launch) thanks to an incredible amount of people who don’t care about system specs or high-definition this and that. Gaming has been and always shall be about the games, and right from the start the Wii has had a wide range of titles to choose from. Granted, they may not all be for hardcore tastes, but all you need to do is flip the dial on your TV, listen to the radio, or read a newspaper or magazine to realize that Nintendo’s audience is the world… and the world plays pretty much everything.

As for the DS, what else is there to say except if you don’t have one, you’re missing out on some great games and a rapidly-growing library of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection compatible titles. This selection of games easily makes for our biggest guide entry yet simply because, well, there’s a TON of stellar first and third party Nintendo games on store shelves to choose from. So get ready to do a lot of reading, as our two-part Nintendo gift guide commences!

SuperMarioGalaxy.jpgSuper Mario Galaxy (E) – Should you buy Super Mario Galaxy? Ummmm… duh! You bet your Italian plumber-lovin’, star-collecting, Nintendo fanboy butt you should! This is Mario we’re talking about here folks, do I really need to try and convince you of its worthiness. Every Wii owner and projected giftee of Nintendo’s selling-like-hotcakes-console this X-Mas should be clamoring to snap up this brilliantly conceived bit of 3D platforming goodness. Do whatever you have to do to make sure this sucker is wrapped up under the tree for your gaming loved one this holiday season, or else…

WiiZapper.jpgWii Zapper/Link’s Crossbow Training (E) – Simply a hunk of plastic that holds the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in the shape of a gun, the necessity of the Wii Zapper is debatable. For shooting games, though, it certainly makes holding the controllers in the proper position a bit easier and more comfortable, especially over long stretches of play. But ultimately it makes no difference whether you find the Zapper of use, because the reason to get one is to get the pack-in copy of Link’s Crossbow Training, a swell tech demo type of target practice game that highlights the advantages of the Zapper – basically, it is to the Wii what Duck Hunt was for the NES all those years ago. Oh yeah, and the game and accessory together are a mere 20 bucks (watch out because some stores are duping customers into paying $25 for it), so if you own a Wii or are getting one for Christmas, this bundle should be a must on your wish list. Only problem? It may be almost as hard to find as a Wii console itself, so if you see one all lonely on a store shelf or tucked away behind glass, don’t hesitate picking it up before some rabid shopper beats you to it.

MercuryMeltdownRevolution.jpgMercury Meltdown Revolution (E) – OK, cheapskate, here’s a deal even YOU can’t pass up: twenty bucks gets you a superb, near flawless puzzle game that’s tough enough for a manly man who only plays games where stuff blows up every three seconds. Carefully guide blob(s) of mercury around different levels while avoiding enemies and manipulating obstacles. The game is a perfect fit for the Wii controller and you’ll really learn how to use it here with all that careful tilting. In fact, this might actually help you master other games on the console! Oh yeah, the ladies will love it too, even if they think you’re a bum for getting them a “cheap” puzzle game.

NamcoMuseumRemix.jpgNamco Museum Remix (E) – Definitely NOT a simple port of previous Namco collections, this set of 14 classics and custom Wii-makes are a ton of fun whether played alone or with friends. Sure, you younger gamers might not have heard of some of the older titles (Galpus and Cutie-Q, anyone?), but grab a bunch of friends, plop them in front of the TV and watch the fun begin once those Wii controllers get swingin’ in Gator Panic Remix, Pac-Motos or New Rally-X. Naturally, Pac-Man’s assorted appearances are a total riot in this collection, so be prepared to spend a huge chunk of time with a big grin on your mug. Then again, the bright, colorful graphics and non-stop fun will make any grump lighten up, so grab this one before it’s gobbled up at your favorite game shop!

MarioAndSonic.jpgMario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (E) – The gamer’s dream team-up is a golden gift from Sega and Nintendo and while it’s a mostly great multiplayer game, it’s still not the killer platformer many of us are dying to see. Nevertheless, the visuals are top-notch and there are plenty of controller shakin’ events to partake in with the 16 playable characters (plus the ability to use your Miis as players). Some of the events are a wee bit too quirky for non gamers more used to the ease of Wii Sports, but for those folks that want a piece of gaming history, this one is definitely a keeper.

TombRaiderAnniversary.jpgTomb Raider Anniversary (T) – Far from a port with Wiimote support tossed in, Crystal Dynamics has gone the extra mile and a half, actually adding Wii-specific puzzles throughout the game. Combined with the excellent retelling of the original 1996 game and the reasonable price point, this is an absolute must if you’re a Lara fan. In addition, the game looks fantastic (minor graphical issues aside) and sounds spectacular. Like any Wii game, it takes a bit of finesse to nail the controls and game camera, but it’s truly worth the effort to do so, as you’ll enjoy the ride all the way from beginning to end.

medal of honor heroes 2.JPGMedal of Honor Heroes 2 (T) – A family-friendly shooter? Who’da thunk it? EA does it again with this greatly improved sequel that features pulse-pounding WWII first-person action and a great Wii Zapper arcade game that’s good enough to sell the new peripheral as well as Link’s Crossbow Training. In addition to the much better FPS controls this time out (the best on the system right now) and lightning fast gameplay, the fact that the game not only has a 32-player online mode (on the Wii!!!) but runs as fast as the single-player mode with no issues whatsoever makes it a bit of a technical achievement. A total surprise, even though some of the AI can be a bit wacky. Pick this one up and prepare to be blown away (throw the grenade back next time, silly).

RaymanRavingRabbids2.jpgRayman Raving Rabbids 2 (E) – Not quite as insanely creative as the original but still chock full of laugh out loud moments, this sequel to the weird Wii launch smash packs 50 mini-games with a more multiplayer-centric approach that’s perfect for casual players. Some of the games are pure gems while others are best suited for riotous parties where quantity is better than quality, but overall, this is a winning formula that should please the entire family. Now how about a true Rayman platformer next time? This is one character that’s too well-designed to get stuck in a loop of party games year after year, no matter how much fun they are.

DragonBlade.jpgDragon Blade: Wrath of Fire (T) – Land Ho’s first Wii effort might not be a classic, but it’s well done enough for a Wii hack & slash to be fun despite some issues. You’ll definitely get a workout with all the sword-swinging going on, the special effects light up the somewhat basic environments and those boss battles are pretty slick. Reception to this otherwise cool fantasy action game has been critically lukewarm, meaning the price has dropped a bit since its September release. That’s too bad, as what’s here ends up good enough to be worthy of a sequel (with a bit of extra polish, of course).

SoulCaliburLegends.jpgSoul Calibur Legends (T) – Shock # 1: Namco Bandai’s stellar 3D fighting franchise comes to the Wii, but (Shock # 2) – this one’s a wickedly fast-paced action game with platfoming elements and a ton of enemies to eliminate, including some massive bosses. The game looks great on the Wii, plays well (despite a few minor motion control issues) and offers up a pretty deep storyline (although it’s delivered a bit too much in text form). Hardcore fans might moan about wanting a pure fighter on a system that can push more polygons, but what’s here works more than well enough in my book. Fans of the Tales RPG series should look for a nice surprise of a hidden character too.

PuzzleQuest.jpgPuzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (E) – D3’s super sleeper hit of 2007 is back and even if you’ve played it to death before, it’ll still knock you for a loop with its blend of addictive puzzle and RPG elements that guarantee dozens of hours of play. Yeah, yeah, the Wii version doesn’t ship ’til after this guide is out, however, I’ll lay money of developer Viscious Cycle NOT messing much with that winning formula. Expect some nice 2D artwork, a fitting musical score throughout and maybe even the voice acting found on the recently released PS2 version.

bust a move bash.JPGBust-A-Move BASH! (E) – Taito’s classic bubble-popping arcade puzzler gets a Wii-enhanced blast with this colorful, crazy addictive single or multiplayer game. You and seven of your friends can go on for days with enough chips and soda once you’re hooked into the versus modes and those hundreds of puzzles in single player are no slouch either. As this one came out early in the year, it might be hard to find since shelf space is at a premium in game stores. Try poking around online and you’ll get luckier.

StarTrek.jpgStar Trek Conquest (E) – Following up on the underappreciated Star Trek Encounters, Developer 4J Studios blends turn-based tactical maps with real time space combat, Trek-style in this tough, excellent single player affair. Although the game is rated E, if you’re not willing to put time into learning the game’s real time combat controls, you might be swearing like a sailor on a few occasions. However, you can choose to play the game like a tabletop war game and let the computer battle for you or you can issue commands sort of like a simulation game. Six different Trek races to play, a nicely-sized map and some cool bonuses to unlock mean you’ll be in this universe for a while.

ResidentEvil4.jpgResident Evil 4 Wii Edition (M) – For anyone who already owns the GameCube version of RE4 (which can be played on the Wii as it is), get ready to trade or sell your old copy to make room for this updated Wii edition. The newly implemented motion controls make cappin’ enemies and blastin’ off heads even more fluid and precise, while the remainder of the game continues to hold strong as one of the all-time great videogame experiences. This time out, Nintendo fans also finally get the awesome bonus content Capcom omitted from the Cube original and gave exclusively to the PS2. With all the added content, pinpoint control upgrade and a cheap sub-$30 price tag, this is THE definitive version of THE definitive Resident Evil (until RE5 comes out, that is…).

ResidentEvilUmbrellaChronicles.jpgResident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (M) – Should you decide to get a Wii Zapper and would like to pick up another game to go with it, Umbrella Chronicles is an excellent choice. This light-gun style Resident Evil shooter travels back in time to relive key scenarios from games past and tie them all together with new events focusing on the return of Wesker and the demise of the Umbrella Corporation. An absolute must for RE fans, with or without a Zapper, and a fun point-and-shoot action game all around.

ZackAndWiki.jpgZack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure (E) – Charming as a great Saturday morning cartoon, Zack & Wiki turns in an underdog Game of the Year caliber romp. This beauty of a game brings the classic point-and-click adventure genre to the Wii with astounding results. Quirky characters, endearing visuals, clever puzzles and inventive uses of the Wii-mote put this gem stride for stride with Super Mario Galaxy as one of the top games to hit the console yet. Don’t let the too-cute style turn you away, this game absolutely rocks and deserves everyone’s attention.

SmartyPants.jpgSmarty Pants (E) – It seems like every other console has a trivia game, so why not the Wii too, right? EA has come to the rescue for trivia nuts with Smarty Pants, a fun, family-oriented party game brimming with tough trivia questions tailored to the player age entered into the system. Mode count is a bit thin, so I’m still up in the air on the longevity, but overall this is an excellent casual title to begin your Wii collection with and a fun venue for parents to play with their kids while being active and actually learning in the process.

TraumaCenter.jpgTrauma Center: New Blood (T) – Talk about a match made in heaven. Atlus USA’s Trauma Center series has proven to be one of the most unique and innovative showcases of both the touch-screen and motion-based controls of the DS and Wii thus far, and the latest entry, New Blood, only continues to drive the franchise forward. There’s a new campaign chock full of new characters to meet (and hear now that there’s voice acting) and operations to perform using the Wii Remote as your surgical toolkit, but honestly, the two-player co-op mode is the star of this anime-style medical drama. You’ll be glad to have a buddy to pair up with in the virtual O.R. of Montgomery Memorial Hospital too, because this game sure turns pretty damn brutal in terms of difficulty, especially if this is you’re a first time Trauma Center surgeon.

Naruto.jpgNaruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution (T) – Yet another winner from D3! Everyone’s favorite orange jump suited, yellow-haired shape-shifting ninja is back and with eight game modes and three Wiimote-specific mini-games, there’s a load of fun here for up to four players. The game looks fantastic and plays great once you get the controls down. Younger kids or those who aren’t used to the Wii control setup yet can opt to use a Game Cube controller, but it’s worth the extra effort to twirl out powerful punches, kicks and jutsu against the CPU or live fighters.

BrunswickProBowling.jpgBrunswick Pro Bowling (E) – Even if you’ve played the insanely fun Wii Sports’ Bowling to death, in my opinion this more realistic-looking simulation does a better job of making you feel like a pro bowler thanks to the control setup and visuals. Definitely a sleeper, but not one of those games you’ll see collecting dust in a closet once you get a few like-minded friends together. Hell, you might just want to skip real bowling’s smelly rental shoes and sticky old balls just to kick back at home with this gem of a game!

GeometryWars.jpgGeometry Wars: Galaxies (E) – Much, much more than a simple port of the Xbox Live Arcade smash (that version is actually included on the disc), this Wii version beefs up the GW landscape significantly, offering new levels, challenges and gameplay to the already winning formula. Sure, there’s no true online play and initially, the dual controller setup is really tricky to use. However, if you’ve a Wii classic controller handy, you’ll be in shooter heaven right from the start in this deep, always fun arcade blast. If you happen to have the DS version handy, then guess what? You’ll be able to unlock a special level here as well as in the handheld game.

MLBPowerPros.jpgMLB Power Pros (E) – Even if you hate baseball, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for this game. Konami’s huge Japanese hit Power Pro Baseball hit’s the US with the MLB license and 2K Sports tagging along for good measure and from the cute SD characters to the deep, always fun gameplay, it’s possibly the best sports game this year. It’s too bad you can’t update the rosters, but folks who could care less will find a game they’ll play with the kids over and over. Dunno what the print run was on this, but it’s one of those fun games you’ll go back to again and again once you find a copy.

Petz.jpgPetz: Horsez 2 (E) – If your kid wants a pony for the holidays… get her some Horsez instead! For a game geared toward the younger set (primarily girls) the lovely vistas and smooth horse riding controls do pretty well on the Wii (in other words, this definitely isn’t Barbie Horse Adventure). There’s the usual raising and basic care to tackle, but the riding events, dress-up and trading options should keep the kids busy for a bit. Actually, if you’re a smart virtual per consumer, Ubisoft’s entire Petz lineup should do as gifts for those kids who want a kitty (Catz 2) or puppy (Dogz 2)!

CarnivalGames.jpgCarnival Games (E) – As straightforward and bland as the title may sound, Carnival Games has actually turned into one of my surprise sleeper hits of the year, at least for me. This over 25-strong mini-game compilation from budget publisher Global Star brings the ticket-collecting, stuffed animal-winning thrills of your favorite carnival games straight into your very living room, so you can have fun without risking close contact with any crazy carny folk. There are some duds in here, but games like Alley Ball, Balloon Darts, Shooting Gallery, Clown Splash and Day at the Races truly stand out and are sure to keep you pumping in virtual tickets time and time again. Shoot, the infamous Prize Claw is even in here too, only now you don’t have to feel guilty about wasting money on prizes you’ll NEVER be able to snag…

MetroidPrime3.jpgMetroid Prime 3: Corruption (T) – To the disappointment of some and to the joy of others, Retro Studios refrained from making any drastic innovations to the third and final chapter in the Metroid Prime universe. Virtually everything in Corruption has been seen and done before in the previous two titles, so there is a sense of “been there, done that” that takes hold early on for returning Prime players and limits that “wow!” factor the series began with. But you know what? Originality or not, Corruption is the best game in the series and a clear cut Wii killer-app thanks to point-and-shoot controls that set the benchmark for first-person shooters on the Wii. Best of all, you don’t really need to have any experience with the earlier titles to know what’s going on here, so Metroid Prime newcomers are welcomed and sure to be blown away.

AlienSyndrome.jpgAlien Syndrome (T) – While not flawless, this update to the classici Sega arcade game should fill that need for a sci-fi dungeon crawler, should you crave something along those lines. Tons of cool weapons, upgrades and lots of aliens to blast are highlights of this game, also available on the PSP. The Wii controls work great in terms of aiming/shooting, but it takes a sturdy hand to make sure you don’t send the camera rotating like a merry-go-round. Once you compensate for that, the game takes on an almost Diablo II level of depth as you collect and tweak gear galore. It would be nice to see Totally Games and Sega beef this up a bit and bring it to other consoles or even the PC, but we’ll see what happens…

BattalionWars2.jpgBattalion Wars 2 (T) – Cutesy, colorful characters and tactical warfare may sound like somewhat of an odd mix, but like the GameCube original, BWii (that’s the clever abbreviation Nintendo has given Battalion Wars 2) brings the two together in perfect harmony. Thanks to the advent of the motion controls, commanding your army of adorable soldiers and taking aim against opposing armies is that much more intuitive this time around too. Better yet, the single-player campaign has been beefed up considerably and, by popular demand, Kuju has added the one key feature the first game lacked: multiplayer! That’s right, fellow Battalion Wars generals around the globe can now go head-to-head online or ally up for some friendly co-op play.

FireEmblem.jpgFire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (E 10+) – To be completely honest, if you haven’t played a Fire Emblem game before, Radiant Dawn isn’t the best place to start. For one, it’s a direct sequel to Path of Radiance from the GameCube, so playing that first, while not required, will give you better understanding to what’s going on and who the characters are. And secondly, the difficulty has been taken up another notch, cementing this title as a niche release only for diehard fans of the series and hardcore turn-based strategy veterans. If you fall into that audience, you’ll go absolutely gaga over the strategic depth, stiff challenge and lengthy campaign Radiant Dawn presents.

Our top DS holiday picks to come in Part 2 later tonight, stay tuned…

– Guide co-written by Matt Litten and Greg Wilcox

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!