The Wii at 1: Mario joins the party

The game lineup has never been so strong.



A year after its introduction, Nintendo’s Wii console still isn’t easy to find.

In spot checks of retailers (Target, Best Buy, GameStop) last weekend, I was able to find plenty of Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3s, but not a single Wii.

While the Wii has outsold its competitors, there have only been a few great games — “Super Paper Mario,” “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption” — for the system. That will certainly change as other publishers devote more resources to Wii games and Nintendo brings more of its franchise characters to the console. And Nintendo has enlisted the biggest video-game star of all to celebrate the Wii’s first birthday:

U“Super Mario Galaxy” (Nintendo, for the Wii, $49.99): The cleanup hitter in Nintendo’s lineup is, of course, Mario, and “Galaxy” is the first adventure in his flagship “Super Mario” franchise in five years. Once again, the pudgy plumber is on a mission to rescue Princess Peach, who has been abducted into outer space. Our hero’s journey takes him from planet to planet, searching for stars that open the paths to faraway galaxies.

Mario also has some nifty new power-ups, including a bee costume (which lets him fly) and a Boo suit (which lets him float through walls). “Super Mario Galaxy” is filled with goofy jokes, but I found myself giggling more often at the sheer ingenuity on display whenever I landed on a new planet. It’s absolutely essential for any Wii owner. Four stars out of four.

U“Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure” (Capcom, for the Wii, $39.99): “Zack & Wiki” may challenge the record for most creative uses of the Wii remote held by “WarioWare: Smooth Moves.” Here, you use Nintendo’s magic wand to ring bells, saw wood, open locks, play a piccolo and pull off dozens of other moves.

And you’ll need all those moves to solve the devious puzzles here. Most often, you need to ring the bell to turn an animal into an object — say, a bat into an umbrella — that you use in a different part of the puzzle. Each level consists of one tightly constructed brainteaser in which you’re given an assortment of animals, objects and obstacles and have to figure out how to combine them to open a treasure chest. Three-and-a-half stars.

U“Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn” (Nintendo, for the Wii, $49.99): “Radiant Dawn” is the first Wii installment of Nintendo’s turn-based strategy series, but it could just as easily have been published on the GameCube, since it makes no use whatsoever of the Wii remote’s motion-sensing capabilities. Two-and-a-half stars.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.