Oh WiiWare, how I could count your virtues. To my couch-dwelling self you offer polished gaming experiences– each and every one licensed and approved by Nintendo– at a fraction of the forbidding price tags commonly seen on retailers’ shelves. What’s more, in an era of games that demand hours of investment, yours are concise experiences that I can enjoy with whatever time I have. In a nutshell, your games often combine the wondrous simplicity of gaming’s early days with a welcome upgrade in the visual and aural departments; the game topping Nintendojo’s best WiiWare games of 2011 is a hearty nod to the fact. You had a good year, WiiWare, but tell us about the cream of the crop.
BEST WIIWARE GAME
escapeVektor: Chapter 1
Sure thing, Nintendojo. Coming in first place is escapeVektor: Chapter 1, a game that plays out like Pac-man, only here you stick to the lines rather than filling the spaces between them. Australian developers Nnooo kept the yellow wedge’s trademarks– tenacious enemies and a “travel-everywhere-to-win” objective– and threw in a few spices: boosting and attacking upgrades for our angular protagonist, as well as a soundtrack (courtesy of Beat Therapy) of an electronica soothing one moment and stressful the next. (Did somebody mention BIT.TRIP? We’ll get into that later.) The foundation remains a devious set of challenges with an aesthetic as minimal yet defining as punctuation. At 500 Nintendo points, it’s easy to see how escapeVektor: Chapter 1 makes a beeline to the top– with players struggling to catch up as they escape the grip of a nefarious AI.
BEST WIIWARE GAME RUNNERS-UP
Grabbing the second place is MotoHeroz, a side-scrolling racer with bouncy physics and local support for up to four players. RedLynx is the same studio behind Trials HD, and their pioneering experience in the genre shows. Giving depth to 2D mechanics are smooth backdrops covering all the elemental bases: lush jungles, snowy peaks, rocky mountains, etc. Your attention is usually kept front and center though, as MotoHeroz is a game that rewards those keeping an eye out for far ahead obstacles, adjusting the weight of their careening buggy accordingly. Despite a rather dull soundtrack and disjointed fiction, MotoHeroz‘s excessively fun multiplayer component make the game a worthy silver medalist.
CommanderVideo is of course very much well-known to us here at Nintendojo, having starred in the BIT.TRIP series ever since that fateful day BIT.TRIP BEAT came out on WiiWare. And in his final adventure, the series comes full circle: though perhaps BIT.TRIP FLUX may seem not quite as difficult as BIT.TRIP BEAT, with its new mid-level checkpoints and crazy new power-ups, that’s one mistake to regret. BIT.TRIP FLUX provides an almost ridiculously hefty challenge that’s apparent even on the first level, with new beats that players are to avoid rather than hit, or beats that seem to disappear when they get close to the paddle. There’s even beats that just decide they want to shapeshift, all but guaranteeing a couple of Wiimote-throwing tantrums. (Full-screen paddle power-ups only help you so far!) To make the pain feel a little better, Gaijin Games brings back Bit Shifter, the New York City-based chiptunes musician, whose sounds once again make BIT.TRIP FLUX the crowning jewel of just about all rhythmic, super-difficult, Pong-like retro games on WiiWare– which, admittedly, is kind of a niche genre.
BEST WIIWARE GAME HONORABLE MENTIONS
Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?
Tell us which of the above titles you’d pick as the winner, or if you think another game is more deserving, select “Other” and tell us in the comments!