Best Wii Games
Image: Time Extension / Nintendo / Capcom

Released in 2006, the Nintendo Wii sold a staggering 101.63 million units and introduced an entire generation to the concept of motion control – but it's important to remember that, prior to launch, many people were highly sceptical about the console's chances of commercial success.

Following on from the GameCube – which had plenty of fans but came in third place behind the PS2 and Xbox – the Wii was a drastic change of strategy by Nintendo. No longer would it attempt to keep pace with its rivals in terms of pure processing power; instead, the aim was to create entirely new ways to play and grow the audience via accessible, groundbreaking experiences – a 'Blue Ocean' approach.

Despite the pessimism displayed by some sectors of the gaming press, the plan worked. In Wii Sports, the console had the ultimate killer app; the game communicated the benefits of the Wii's interface almost immediately and helped the console become a best-seller right out of the gate.

Over time, the Wii has gained a somewhat unfair reputation for only offering casual experiences lacking in depth, and while it's true that a great many of its games had motion control grafted on in the laziest way imaginable, there are plenty of must-play releases on the platform – as the following list proves.

Rather than present this list in any particular order, we've simply picked 20 releases we think you should experience if you're interested in seeing what makes Wii such an appealing system.

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Where Sunshine faltered, Super Mario Galaxy truly did shine. Taking Mario into space gave Nintendo the opportunity to play with gravity and give him a whole new (final) frontier of planetoid playgrounds to blast between, setting the stage for endlessly creative snippets of platforming perfection.

All that aside, there's also Rosalina and the Lumas' story to enjoy if you go looking for it; an affecting and underrated aspect of an utterly sublime game. It's available to play on Switch, and you really should — Super Mario Galaxy is an infectiously fun trip through the cosmos which begged the question: Where could the plumber possibly go next?

Sin and Punishment: Star Successor (Wii)

A sequel to Treasure's cult classic N64 rail shooter (which didn't make it to the West until it appeared on Wii's Virtual Console in 2007), this sequel improves on the experience and is arguably the better of the two games — yet another fantastic addition to a huge and impressively varied console library. We're thankful we didn't have to resort to importing this one back in the day.

Wii Sports (Wii)

You played it, your mum played it, your granddad played it; more to the point, you all enjoyed it. Drawing people in with a gimmick is relatively easy, but Wii Sports managed to genuinely entertain entire families and get them playing video games together for an extended period of time — perhaps for the first time ever.

This pack-in brought huge numbers of people together in silly Mii form and showcased the potential of motion controls to gamers from all generations. It's quite simply one of the most important video games ever made, and the most killer of apps.

Yes, Wii Sports Resort is arguably the better game, but this has more historical importance.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

The first 2D entry to come to a home console since Super Mario World in the early '90s, 2009's New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought chaotic four-player local multiplayer to the series for the first time and gave old-school fans yearning for a side-on Mushroom Kingdom adventure something to chew on, with plenty of clever nods to the past. Anyone put off by the New series' 'wah's and cuteness missed out on a real platforming treat.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Ground-breaking as it was in the '90s, the 3D Zelda formula was starting to look a little tired by the mid-2000s, so while Twilight Princess is a very fine game, it certainly lacked the impact of its predecessors. The additional 'waggle' implemented in the Wii version didn't live up to the ideas of 1:1 swordplay we'd imagined, either. Did the entire world really need mirroring just to make Link right-handed?

Still, at the time, this was the only way to play the game in 16:9, and it made for a satisfyingly meaty launch title in North America. Not one for the purists, perhaps — you'll want to track down an expensive copy of the GameCube version for the left-handed, canonical geography of Hyrule (or just play Twilight Princess HD on Wii U).

Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Following the online exploits of Mario Kart DS, it was almost a given that Mario Kart Wii would follow suit and include the ability to play against the world — thankfully, despite the console's rather anaemic online capabilities, the experience was nothing short of stunning.

From the outside, the Wii entry might have sacrificed some of the kart racing series' personality, but the online multiplayer with support for up to twelve players, optional motion controls (who could forget that plastic wheel accessory?), and additional vehicles and characters helped make it one of the most accessible entries in the series. Successful, too. It sold a staggering 37.14 million copies.

Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)

A gorgeous, low-stress game that transports Kirby into a world of fabric and thread, Kirby's Epic Yarn was the first of Good-Feel's material-based platformers and is arguably still the best. We adore it, and anyone who says it's lacking in challenge is correct... but missing the point entirely. Kirby's Epic Yarn is one of the most joyous and creative games on Wii, or indeed any platform.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Showcasing the sort of swordplay we'd hoped Twilight Princess would contain, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was a beautiful entry in the series which dared to try some new ideas, something the franchise desperately needed at the time.

It arguably didn't get everything right — and we're still confused as to why Nintendo ditched the beautifully accurate IR pointer in favour of a gyro alternative which required constant re-centering (especially when everyone already had the IR sensor hooked up anyway!) — but we found the MotionPlus swordplay itself excellent.

As the very first game in the Zelda timeline, it's pretty much required reading for series fans, and while it has its naysayers, we look back on our time with Skyward Sword very fondly.

Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii)

Collecting the original Prime trilogy in one handy package with new Wii controls, difficulty options, and other enhancements for the earlier GameCube entries (which received individual releases in Japan), Metroid Prime Trilogy is arguably one of the best compilation offerings in video games, ever. Purists may point to a handful of missing visual effects compared to the originals, but whichever way you look at it, this is a spectacular package — the best way to play these games, and a hardcore crown jewel on the most casual of consoles.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Xenoblade Chronicles is epic in scale and setting, and you'll spend many hours examining its incredible complexity, enhancing your abilities and exploring the world's ecosystem. Whether you play it on Wii, on New Nintendo 3DS, or on Switch in the sublime Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, it delivers a huge (and hugely enjoyable) JRPG experience that developer Monolith Soft would build on with its sequel and Xenoblade Chronicles X, although the original game was arguably never bettered.