I'll admit it – I hated the Wii when it first came out. As a next-generation fanboy, anything without an HDMI port was the enemy. But upon finding a Wii for about £20 at my local Cash Converters sometime later, I realised exactly what I had actually been: an arse. I’d missed out on a catalogue of absolute classics from Super Mario Galaxy to WarioWare, and Skyward Sword to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. There was a lot of catching up to do.
Soon after, I became obsessed with another section of the catalogue: the Wii's wonderfully weird and exclusive ports. While underpowered compared to the PS3 and 360, the Wii was in more homes than your uncle serving 20 years for undisclosed crimes – so it was getting those AAA titles whether it liked it or not.
What we ended up with were these fascinating little side projects; usually from smaller developers who were tasked with adapting HD behemoths into ambitious SD counterparts. Sometimes we got the same game, but worse. Other times we got a whole new experience entirely – maybe even (whisper it) better than its bigger brothers.
So here’s a small selection of some of those titles – games that were punching well above their weight and are more than worth the £2.50 you can get them for at your local CEX.
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop
The success of Resident Evil 4 for the Wii made Capcom look at its stable of titles and go, “What else can we stick waggle controls in and have on shop shelves within 6 months?” The answer to that question was Dead Rising, the cult classic 2006 Xbox 360 exclusive.
What was ultimately released was a fascinating experiment. Out goes the photography, free-roam elements, time management, hoards of zombies, and – most importantly – fun. But in comes shooting controls stolen wholesale from Resi 4, as well as poodles and parrots you can bludgeon with blunt objects.
It’s a completely different game, but sadly not one that actually works. It captures neither the fun of the original Dead Rising nor the pitch-perfect action of Resi 4; sitting awkwardly as a frustrating middle child that pleases no one (as middle children often do).
But even so, it’s an admirable attempt to try and maximise on what made the Wii unique while wrestling with the scale of a 360 classic; a fun 30 minutes for fans of Resi 4, Dead Rising, and video game car crashes in general.
Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
Remember when Disney thought they could get away with giving Jake Gyllenhaal a tan and casting him as a Persian prince? We're surprised Taylor Swift didn’t bring that up in 'All Too Well'.
Well, to capitalise on the film’s release, Ubisoft decided to resurrect the franchise by (ironically) travelling back in time to squeeze a standalone adventure between the much-loved Sands of Time and the much-not-loved Warrior Within. (That’s unfair. There are people out there who like Warrior Within. But they’re the same people who went to see Joker at the cinema twice.)
Whereas most other Wii ports are adaptations of their HD siblings, Forgotten Sands on the Wii is a completely new game from top to bottom. The HD Forgotten Sands focuses on the Prince visiting his brother’s kingdom and trying to reseal the Sands of Time back into the Hourglass of Time, a device with the structural integrity of Tupperware.
But the Wii Forgotten Sands is all about the Prince trying to track down the lost city of Izdahar, along with his new sidekick, who’s a wee genie or something. Aww. I miss the days of Nintendo insisting the onscreen pointer had to be personified as a pain in the arse.
It’s no classic by any means, but as a Prince of Persia fan, this really does feel like a lost album. It’s got the fast-paced, platforming magic we all know and love – and better still, not a single Jake Gyllenhaal in sight.