Though it may receive a higher number of low-quality games than the other services, WiiWare provided a number of original and updated gems for its fans in 2009. In fact, there were so many quality games on WiiWare that we didn’t have the time to thoroughly play well-received offerings like NyxQuest and the Bit.Trip series. Read More...
1. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord (Square Enix - 1000 Wii Points - ESRB: E10) - This unique take on tower defense proved to be just as addictive as it’s good-natured city building predecessor, this time putting you in charge of building a tower to withstand an onslaught of adventurers.
There are a number of different floors that can be constructed. The floors can be offensive or defensive in nature and each type can house a certain number of monsters. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord has a rock-paper-scissors style affinity system in place, so choosing the right floor and monsters for the job is paramount to success, especially late in the eight-to-ten hour game.
2. Excitebike: World Rally (Monster Games - 1000 Wii Points - ESRB: E) - Monster Games got just about everything right in this update to the 1985 NES classic. Excitebike: World Rally features 16 tracks to master, terrain deformation, a level editor that allows you to save your work and lag-free online play.
This challenging and rewarding take on slot car racing also provides players with three distinct control options, though all are controlled exclusively with the Wii Remote. Read our Review…
3. LIT (WayForward Technologies - 1000 Wii Points - ESRB: E10) - This dark puzzle game has a great atmosphere that draws you into the world of a haunted high school. You must harness the power of various light sources to illuminate your path and hold evil spirits at bay.
LIT takes a similar approach as Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure in that there is essentially one solution to each puzzle that you will generally find through trial-and-error. You will turn on TV sets, smash windows with a slingshot, answer otherworldly phone calls and repel ghostly bosses in what may be one of the most overlooked games of 2009.
4. Crystal Defenders R1 & R2 (Square Enix - 800 Wii Points - ESRB: E) - Technically, this is two games that were released about a month apart, but Crystal Defenders R1 & R2 together comprise the definitive version the Square Enix tower defense game that saw previous releases on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform and Xbox LIVE Arcade.
The games utilize art assets and job classes from Final Fantasy Tactics A2. These versions of Crystal Defenders feature more maps and a more cohesive progression though them than previous versions. They also boast a much improved frame rate, which helps them both look and perform better than ever.
5. You, Me and the Cubes (FYTO - 1000 Wii Points - ESRB: E) - Every time I launched this game I was taken to a serene, empty world that kept me enthralled, if not a bit confused. This puzzle game is ruled by balance and played by “throwing” characters called Fallos at your TV onto a floating cube, or an object made of several.
If Fallos are thrown properly they will balance the object and remain still. Otherwise, they will mill about aimlessly and risk falling off the edge into nothingness as the floating object tilts and turns. Occasionally a rogue Fallo will apear and must be dispatched before he can bully the regular Fallos. You, Me and the Cubes isn’t much to look at or listen to, but it is engaging and challenging.
6. Pokemon Rumble (Ambrella - 1500 Wii Points - ESRB: E10) - I have never been what you would call a Pokemon fan, but I genuinely enjoyed my time with Pokemon Rumble. This game is part dungeon-crawler, part beat-em-up and will probably keep you playing in an effort to catch ‘em all.
The twist here is that you are controlling toy Pokemon, so they do not gain levels or evolve. Instead, you are continually defeating and capturing stronger toy Pokemon as you proceed through the game. After clearing a number of levels at a given rank, you must test your mettle in an all-out Battle Royale to move on. Pokemon Rumble can be played using a variety of control methods, including the Classic Controller and GameCube Controller.
7. Contra Rebirth (M2 - 1000 Wii Points - ESRB: E10) - Contra Rebirth is not a full-fledged sequel to Contra 4, nor is it a wholesale remake of the 1989 NES classic from Konami. It is however, a testosterone-laden, chest hair-inducing romp through the high stakes world of alien destruction.
Contra Rebirth is certainly less difficult than Contra 4 and the music isn’t quite right, but casual fans that grew up in the 80s and 90s will find a very fun, albeit brief action game that they can play with a buddy on the couch just like they used to.
8. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (Square Enix - 800 Wii Points - ESRB: E) - This bite-sized, episodic role-playing game is set 17 years after the original and was for all intents and purposes a new 16-bit game produced in 2009. It was previously released as a mobile phone game and saw a number of graphical enhancements for the WiiWare release.
The main episode lasts about five hours, but should players wish to continue the story another 30-35 hours of optional content is available for purchase. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is basically a full game being offered in nine pieces at full retail price, however the initial instalment offered enough to satisfy my retro RPG fix this year and I did not feel cheated by it.
As we approach 2010, downloadable games are becoming more common and more accepted by consumers as being capable of quality entertainment on par with retail games. All three console services have their weaknesses, but all three are also capable of delivering a wide variety of experiences, from bite-sized to expansive. Game Forward will continue to lean heavily towards coverage of downloadable games in 2010 and we hope that you will continue to return and read what we have to say about them.
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