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Wii Entertainment Games

Are Third-Party Wii Games Finally Coming Into Their Own? 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the insert-generic-wii-pun-here dept.
Gravy Monkey writes "It's not too difficult to criticize the quality of many third-party Wii games — whether they're unique titles, bad licenses or lazy ports to the new system. However, will this change as more quality third-party games appear on the Wii? Recently, Wiiware title 'Lost Winds' picked up some great reviews, as did the Blastworks game. The recent review of a new game called Order Up on IGN caught my attention because they praised it as the way all casual games should be made. Is this the beginning of a new era for Wii games where quality casual games from third parties manage to grab the attention of both mainstream and hardcore gamers alike, instead of being a console where only first-party titles sell?"
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Are Third-Party Wii Games Finally Coming Into Their Own?

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  • Yes! I didn't even Steven Spielberg could make games, though the combination of him and EA was remarkable.

    Creative gameplay, excellent controls, and terrific physics, it alone has given me hope for third party titles.
    • .. maybe there should have been some Spielberg themed levels.. chucking balls at sharks or flattening Nazis with blocks would have helped boost sales.
    • by cephah (1244770)
      Excellent controls, eh? The game had horrible problems when using the IR sensor, half the time when doing the 'remove a block' game types, it isn't able to determine where you're pointing, so the cursor will flicker erratically across the screen. That's my experience with the game, anyway.

      Other than that though, the game was quite innovative and entertaining, and I think it's an excellent game for kids as they'll learn to analyze situations and see physics in action.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) *

        half the time when doing the 'remove a block' game types, it isn't able to determine where you're pointing, so the cursor will flicker erratically across the screen.

        It sounds like you have a problem with your sensor bar. There are two common issues/fixes:

        1. The sensor bar is too far back on the television. When you move the remote in certain directions, it can no longer "see" the IR LEDs. Try moving the sensor bar such that the black "glass" (for lack of a better term) is protruding over the edge of your TV

        • by cephah (1244770)
          At first I thought it was a problem with the distance, because that can in fact cause a similar type of behaviour. But when sitting at the same distance from the Wii (2 meters), I have no problems with any other game that uses the IR sensor except for Boom Blox, so I'm assuming that they made a mistake in their sensor code somewhere. A way to fix the problem is to point the wii mote away from the sensor bar for a short moment and then slowly aiming it at the sensor bar again. It's a problem that's easily re
          • I've had a similar problem before and found that there were surfaces which were reflecting the signal. CD jewel cases and glass facing for various things like pictures or clocks can do this. Not being an IR technology expert this may in fact be ridiculous but this sure seemed to be the culprit in our case. And not to say there isn't necessarily a problem with your specific wiimote or the game itself, but I can tell you we didn't have those problems playing BB. I've found that not all Wiimote pointing enviro
    • Good games for the Wii have been around for a while. They just don't get a lot of attention. Certainly, there are the first party games, but -- while they are high quality -- I actually find them to be less interesting than some of the third party titles.

      Let me pull a few examples from my shelf/drive:

      • Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection
      • Zack and Wiki
      • Toki Tori
      • Wild West Guns
      • Geometry Wars Galaxies
      • Ghost Squad
      • Metal Slug Anthology
      • Guitar Hero III
      • Defend Your Castle
      • Star Soldier R
      • Lost Winds
      • Red Steel (Yeah, I liked this, hated Raving Rabbids. Go figure.)

      That's just what I can remember off the top of my head. If you include second part titles, you can also throw in some great games like Excite Truck, Super Paper Mario, and several other strong contenders. A few other third party titles I'm excited about that I haven't gotten yet include:

      • Elebits
      • Blast Works
      • Boom Blox (of course)

      Though one interesting problem I've noticed is that third parties tend to price their games WAY too high. Games that cost $20 or less on the PS2 (e.g. The Star Trek game) cost $30 on the Wii. Almost no one values such budget titles that highly. I honestly think that's what happened to Boom Blox as well. Great game, but overpriced for the market. Everyone wants it, no one shells out the dough.

      That's probably why Majesco (smartly) slashed prices on Blast Works [wiimedia.com] and Taito decided to make Space Invaders: Get Even only 500 points [wiimedia.com]. Of course, the latter is actually a ripoff in disguise, so I imagine the market will get cautious and not buy even the good titles once they're affordable. (Thanks a lump, Taito.)

      • by grumbel (592662)

        They just don't get a lot of attention.

        Which might be explained with them getting very low ratings, half the games you mention score in the lower 60-70/100 region and that region happens to be one that most people avoid because the games in there are junk. Not that there aren't exceptions, every now and then there are games that are great and that the press just doesn't get, but a bunch of 60-70 rated games being the better parts of games for a console isn't exactly a good sign.

      • Resident Evil 4 is quite good too. Having played a few ports of older games that I enjoyed on other systems, like the Prince of Persia title that was ported, I've found the wii-interpreted control scheme fun, if buggy at times, but not necessarily a huge improvement on the core gameplay. With RE4 however, that game really comes into its own with the wiimote. It's just a better game for it. In fact it kind of bums me out that I can't play the new RE5, which looks fun and quite pretty, with the wiimote. It's
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by omnicron13 (993744)
      If you look at metacritic [metacritic.com] 5 of the top 10 games are third party, as are 13 of the top 20. While Nintendo has the plurality of the top games, they don't have a majority.
  • Give them some time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @12:06PM (#24626821) Homepage
    I would say that any company who tries to put in an honest effort has the ability to release a good game. The problem is, is that a lot of companies would rather just do a quick and dirty job and cash in on the vast numbers of people who bought the Wii. However, there's one reason I have only ever owned a Nintendo console. The games that are good, are really good. Nintendo, and other third party publishers most of the time can throw together a good number of really great games. For any of their consoles, there have probably been about 15 really great games. Which is more games than I've ever owned for any one console. I don't care if there's 938 games for my console, if 930 of them are complete crap, or even just mediocre.
    • by alvinrod (889928) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @02:05PM (#24627647)
      It's fairly true, actually. If we look at the sales of games like Boom Blox and Zack & Wiki, both of which have been said to be good games that make use of the Wii's capabilities, they really aren't all that great.

      VGChartz lists .41 million in sales for Boom Blox [vgchartz.com] and almost the exact same number for Zack & Wiki [vgchartz.com].

      Of course if you can make a quick mini-game compilation and get nearly 2 million in sales [vgchartz.com] or port a game from the last generation of consoles and get around 1.5 million sales [vgchartz.com] why bother actually creating anything new and original?

      It's not that companies wouldn't like to make great groundbreaking games, but if you can turn twice as many sales at half the cost on a collection of mini-games or porting your hot IP from last generation, why bother with anything else?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Because a really great game can get you recognized forever. Think about Square, most of the games they made flopped. It only took one good game (Final Fantasy) to become a hit for Square to be the legendary game publisher it is known as today. If Square just did some more really crappy games that sold decently but no one really liked, I doubt they would have the fanbase that they do today.
        • by alvinrod (889928)

          That still doesn't necessarily make them a commercial success. If you look at Okami, which is generally regarded as a wonderful piece of art, let alone a damn good game. Unfortunately the game wasn't a big seller and Clover Studios has since ceased to exist. Of course in an alternate reality they could've been big sellers and we'd have sequels thrown at us and eventually people would stop caring. I've honestly stopped being excited about Final Fantasy years ago. Recognition is fine, but it doesn't mean that

          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            Unless you had read about Okami or Viewtiful Joe the odds are you wouldn't pick either of them up on an impulse buy, but you can be pretty sure what the new Mario game is going to be like and the last few were good enough so why not pick it up.

            Mario didn't magically get into that position, the name is recognized due to a long line of high quality games (and frequent innovation). Of course there's also marketing needed, a game doesn't sell just by being out there, something must convince people to buy it and

      • That seems to be more a problem with the industry in general, or its consumer base really. People just buy games with familiar IP. That's why almost every game at recent E3s has been a sequel.

        I've been thinking about this lately, about how most companies don't really make games. They make characters and IP. Then they sit on that and develop it for years. As someone who has thought about being in that industry it just sounds depressing that you'd be working on the same material for your whole career. That
  • Why spend the time to make them better if people will buy the crap anyway? There will always be the occasional good 3rd party game from a real company like capcom and stuff. The rest will be for the idiots.
  • Lost Winds... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @12:17PM (#24626891)

    Lost Winds was fantastic, I can't wait for the sequels.

    If you haven't seen it, it makes great use of the Wii "wand," it's one of those games that'll only work on the Wii until the other companies start copying that functionality. I highly recommend it.

    It's was very short, but then that makes it a manageable download, and it was only $10.

    • by AsnFkr (545033)
      If you like Lost Winds on the Wii, check out "Soul Bubbles" for the DS. It's very close in design, simplicity and has a wind based control scheme that you control with the stylus. It's very relaxing.
      • Thanks for the recommendation--that totally slipped under my radar and it looks like a lot of fun. The video alone has secured it a top 3 spot on my DS must-have list.

    • Not to just be contrary, but I didn't much like that one. It was just too slow. I realize this was a concious part of the design, but I really thing it would have benefitted from a quicker more responsive character. A more Mario approach. That said, it was the best original Wiiware title I've come across. Which isn't saying too much unfortunately.
  • by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @12:18PM (#24626899)
    If you have to make a post asking about whether or not third-party games are finally coming into their own... that's a pretty good pointer that you have a problem with third-party games. I don't recall anyone ever asking, "Are the Atari Jaguar third-party games finally coming into their own?!"
    • People still play the Jaguar? Was there as many Jaguars in use as the Wii is now?

      I say you're comparing apples to mangosteens*. The market and positioning of Atari and Nintendo then and now is very different. Atari's scenario is a quickly-fading pioneer of the video game industry struggling against the dominant SNES and Genesis, so if there was a problem with 3rd-party titles for the Jag, I doubt anyone other than Jag fans would even bat an eye.

      Contrast with the current generation. The Nintendo Wii is at le

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      It only shows that there is a percieved problem, not necessarily a real one.

    • I do recall people complaining that the Dreamcast had pretty dismal third-party support. In fact Midway was the only other company from whom I remember owning a great deal of DC titles. Maybe a few Capcom titles as well. Which was fitting really, as between those two and SEGA, the Dreamcast was basically an arcade in your home.

      Still maybe it wouldn't have died so soon if it had had a more expansive and diversified software library. Will we be saying the same about the Wii in a year?
  • The headline for this ars article [arstechnica.com] focuses on the ps3 gaining ground, but what is amazing is how dominant nintendo has become. It just doesn't make sense for any developer to ignore what is going on and I think we are going to see some phenomenal developments for the wii in every aspect.

    • The PS3 will overtake the Wii in total sales, but not until after Nintendo puts their next console out. MS will continue to place 3rd.
      • The problem with the PS3 is twofold, first off it is aimed at the HD market when a lot of people simply A) don't have an HD TV and don't care or B) don't care that the game looks better than on the 360. Secondly, there aren't many exclusive titles for it, Final Fantasy XIII looked like it could be a killer title... But it is coming to the 360 too. The Wii has Mario, Zelda, Super Smash Bros, etc. The 360 has Halo, the PS3 has...?
        • The Wii is innovative, the PS3 is definately not.

          But most importantly one is 270$ and all your friends have it, the other is 400$ for a console that can't even play last generation's games, or 700$+ for one that can (80GB PS3 is worthless).

          And it can work just fine with component. And it does 480p just fine, too. Only one of my TVs does 720p/1080i. The other is still 480i (at least I haven't noticed any component connectors in the back).

      • I dont think so, the PS3 was too ambitious to gain a "1st place". Before anyone accuses me of being a Microsoft of Nintendo fanboy, full disclosure: I have no allies, own all 3 consoles and I was a Sega fanboy back in the day.

        First of all, more powerful console doesn't automatically mean the games will always look better. Most multiplatform titles actually look better on the 360 than the PS3. This is due to the 360 is cheaper to develop on, developers usually make the game on the 360 and port it over, no
  • Third party games can be great on the Wii, but most (read as 95%) seem to think that in order to make a good game on the Wii they have to make everything motion controlled. Look at one of Nintendo's best games for the Wii, Super Smash Bros Brawl, it didn't use the motion sensor hardly at all, yet I think it is much more enjoyable than mindlessly waving the Wii remote around like most third party games make you do.
  • What happened was that most companies saw the Wii as an "also ran" once again. The XBox barely beat out the Gamecube lastgen (both getting their asses handed to them by the PS2). So, when Nintendo said "less power more immersive", the developers scratched their heads then "ooh"ed and "aah"ed over PS3 and 360 graphics. As with most of the market, they were thinking only of the core market (14-25 males) and what they would bring.

    (It should be noted that the DS was only coming into its own right leading up to the Wii's launch, so the whole "it prints money" thing hadn't connected yet.)

    Fast forward a year after release. 360's numbers are still looking alright, but Sony can't give away PS3 consoles (which were free with any HDTV purchase above a grand at many stores for a while). Wii, in the mean time, either has already surpassed the 360 in sales or is set to do so in a month or two's time, despite having a year's handicap. Suddenly, developers are going "oh shit" and want to jump on the money train. They see the success of games like Wii Sports (duh, as it's packaged with the Wii), Wii Play, and Rayman Raving Rabbids (which is quite fun) and think "We an pump out a bunch of minigame games". So we get isles of shovelware for Wii Year 2. In this time we get a bunch of good games as well, but it's starting to suffer the same way the PS2 did.

    But we're coming up on Year 3 and it seems that a lot of companies are announcing original properties or new titles for the console. We have MadWorld [sega.com], Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of a New World [wikipedia.org], The Conduit [ign.com], and Fatal Frame (4): Mask of the Lunar Eclipse [ign.com]. For the casuals, there are plenty of other enticing options, such as Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party [gamespot.com], Wii Music [nintendo.com] (along with other Nintendo Wii titles), and Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 2 [gamespot.com]. At the same time, the Wii is becoming more than an afterthought. For instance, Rock Band 2 will not be crippled [wired.com] like the original Rock Band Wii was.

    I think, though, that Year 3 will not be the year of casuals, as that's more of an over-arching thing, partly because casual gamers are far more likely to buy older titles they haven't played or only rented/borrowed before, whereas "core" gamers are much more likely to stick with new releases. Instead, a trend that I see developing for late Year 3/early Year 4 is ports, either straight or enhanced. We've had Resident Evil 4 and Okami, as well as other titles like House of the Dead (2 & 3). Capcom has announced Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop [gamespot.com] and Sega has Samba de Amigo [gamespot.com]. Only two titles, sure, but as Wii sales continue on their steady pace (and stores continue to sell out), more and more developers are going to reach into their catalog of PS2, XBox, and Dreamcast games and grab some of the more popular titles to bring to the Wii. Because the expectations lower, they won't need to spend much time ramping up graphics, and by this point many studios have gotten good with applying the Wii controls. Throw in a bit of extra content here and there, price it at $30 or $40, and you have an easy seller.

    Nintendo did have a bad E3 (I mean, wow), but this allows 3rd parties to step up not just for casual gaming, but for the core market as well. Over time some of those casuals will come over to the dark side, spurring "core"

    • Of course E3 was bad. It's no secret that since last year E3 is just aimed at the press and investors. Worthwhile announcements have been moved to other events like Tokyo Game Show.

      • by RyoShin (610051)

        I know it's been changed around to focus on press/investors (and subsequently a bunch of developers/producers no longer care), but that doesn't mean you have to have a bad show. Both Sony and Microsoft had decent shows--nothing to get excited over, but they were alright and dropped some nice tidbits (though Microsoft's new Live interface made me laugh a lot, it looks horrible).

        Nintendo's was downright bad, though. They could have shown 15 seconds of any one franchise and it would have been tremendous, but

        • You dont have to forget that Nintendo has churned out a load of games the first 1 1/2 years of Wii alsmost every big franchies got a new game. Now only a handful of franchises are left and the development houses need a lot of time to produce even one game for a big franchise. Nintendo never was strong to introduce a new franchise most of theirs are still from the NES days. So yes there is a gap, but it is way worse on the DS due to the developer resources being bound by the WII, and yet under a ton of sh
  • by alvinrod (889928) on Saturday August 16, 2008 @01:48PM (#24627505)
    I think developers are still learning how to work with the Wii. Let's not forget that almost all of them were caught with their pants down (hell, even Nintendo didn't expect the success that they've enjoyed) when it came to having content ready for the Wii. At the system launch the only third party that had anything that could be considered a worth-while showing was Ubisoft, and most of those games weren't all that great in my opinion.

    Once Wii sales took off for the stratosphere, everyone wanted to get in on the action. The only problem is that a lot of teams had no experience working with the new control system, so this presented a learning curve. It would also take over a year in order to put out something fresh, so old games were ported over to the platform to cash in on its new found success.

    Now that developers have had time to see how much of a success the Wii has turned out to be along with becoming accustomed to working with the new controller, I think we'll start to see better games trickle out. Square Enix is still working on the new Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicals [wikipedia.org] game, which has been in the pipes for a while. I've also been interested in seeing what will come of MadWorld [wikipedia.org], a game by Sega of all developers that has an interesting art style [google.com] to say the least. Note that the linked video contains graphic violence and is probably NSFW, which if nothing else probably ensures that the game will do good among the eighteen-and-under and ultra-violence-lover crowds.

    A few other posters have already pointed out how Wii-ware games can be quite excellent as well and I think that it Nintendo more aggressively pursued developers as both Microsoft and Sony have, they could acquire more top-notch indie games on their platform as well. Some of the $10 games that you can find on Xbox Live and Sony's PSN (PlayStation Network) provide more fun and enjoyment than some of the $60 boxed games for the systems. The virtual console is also another potential marketplace where we can relive and enjoy older games, but I wish they'd release more of the games that I wanted to play.
    • by grumbel (592662)

      I think developers are still learning how to work with the Wii.

      I have some doubt about that, because there really is not that much to be learned. The Wiimote is pretty limited and not really that complicated and much of the reason why you don't really see anything exciting being done with it, is because it just can't do it.

      If you need further proof look no further then Nintendo itself, who will release MotionPlus, another little sensor to stick into your Wiimote that will bring it a little closer to what people expected from it in its original form already.

      There certai

      • by alvinrod (889928)

        I suppose I could have phrased things slightly better. I don't really believe it's the technical hurdle that's causing problems for developers, but really learning to design a game around the controller that's causing problems. Developers were too busy trying to figure out how to make the new controller work with their old games rather than asking what type of game would really go well with the new controller.

        Take, for example, a series such as Grand Theft Auto. It works well enough on the more traditional

        • by grumbel (592662)

          In terms of point&click there is Zack&Wiki, Strong Bad and Sam'n Max is supposed to be coming soon too, there are also games like Nancy Drew. In terms of lightgun shooter there is Ghost Squad, House of Dead and quite a few other ones [wikipedia.org]. So there really isn't a total lack of the later kind.

          However overall I have to agree, while the Wiimote does have its weaks points, it also does some things quite well and while porting old mouse/lightgun driven stuff over is a nice thing, the Wiimote could be used for

        • by tepples (727027)

          There's also been what seems to me as a complete lack of rail shooters.

          Screw rails. Play Corruption. There's a reason that the Wii comes with a Nunchuk accessory.

        • by captjc (453680)

          The Phoenix Wright series has done quite well on the DS, but I can't understand why someone hasn't bothered to put that kind of experience on the Wii.

          Actually, Capcom has released Harvey Birdman for the Wii which is basically Phoenix Wright with the Adult Swim Characters instead. However, it is much easier, more comedy-centric, and only about 2-3 Hours of play. But if you can get it for cheap (or rent) I highly recommend it.

          IGN Review http://wii.ign.com/articles/817/817567p1.html [ign.com]

    • by brkello (642429)

      I think developers are still learning how to work with the Wii. Let's not forget that almost all of them were caught with their pants down (hell, even Nintendo didn't expect the success that they've enjoyed) when it came to having content ready for the Wii. At the system launch the only third party that had anything that could be considered a worth-while showing was Ubisoft, and most of those games weren't all that great in my opinion. Once Wii sales took off for the stratosphere, everyone wanted to get in on the action. The only problem is that a lot of teams had no experience working with the new control system, so this presented a learning curve. It would also take over a year in order to put out something fresh, so old games were ported over to the platform to cash in on its new found success. Now that developers have had time to see how much of a success the Wii has turned out to be along with becoming accustomed to working with the new controller, I think we'll start to see better games trickle out.

      Except everyone was saying the same thing right when it came out...give it a year. And then the year after, and still now. It seems the Wii is repeating its Gamecube performance with an important change. Despite selling an overwhelming number of consoles this round, it still suffers from poor third party sales and poor third party quality. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep up their amazing sales. All of my friends with Wii's don't play them anymore (anecdotal evidence, I know). But I expect

  • Focus on quality
    It's simple. The developers need to stop hacking together horseshit and make quality games, but there's also a few things Nintendo needs to do.

    If you go casual, just add quality.
    I'd be down for some good "casual" games as well. For example, it's been a while since I've seen a Jeopardy game. The Wii is perfect for it and with DLC becoming all the craze, we can now ensure that the content stays fresh. The market is out there! Casual can be fun, but it still requires effort from develo

  • Lost Winds is a nice game but not that great, it has easy puzzles requiring minimal thought* and is way too short (they really should've put an "Episode One" label on it). Its major advantage is that it has some of the prettiest graphics on the WiiWare system. IMO the best game currently on WiiWare is Toki Tori, it's a puzzle game too but it actually has puzzles that require thinking rather than just using the obvious objects with each other and it has a decent length. It merely lacks the hype and graphics

  • A few years ago, a /. user posted a link to a site with a hardcore, unbiased user that independently reviews games and slashes them if they deserve so.
    I noticed I agreed on most of his opinions so I use him as a reference anytime I'm looking for new games

    Here's the link:
    http://www.videogamecritic.net/ [videogamecritic.net]

    Wii Reviews sorted by grades:

    http://www.videogamecritic.net/wii_g.htm [videogamecritic.net]

    From that list, I personally recommend RE4, No More Heroes, Bloom Box, and Bully:SE (if you enjoyed GTA).

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