Ready for WiiWare? Five Worthy Titles.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade and Sony's PlayStation Store comes Nintendo's WiiWare, offering original games specifically for the Wii. Here's a roundup of worthy titles. New games, which cost $5 to $15 to download, will be released through the Wii Shop Channel and can be stored on the Wii's Virtual Console.

Star Soldier R (Everyone; $8; Hudson Soft) For arcade fans who love shooting titles, and more specifically, those who love high scores, the latest game in the franchise is a must-have. There are only two levels, but the challenge is getting the highest score. Online leader boards allow you to track other players' exploits, and you can upload your own. The objective is to destroy as much stuff as possible in a two- or five-minute game. It sounds simple, but it's addictive.

LostWinds (Everyone; $10; Frontier Developments) With more than three hours of gameplay, this platform adventure title packs a visual punch with three-dimensional landscapes and an innovative gameplay element: Protagonist Toku can harness the wind. As you explore the island Mistralis, one player can use both controllers to steer Toku (the Wii nunchuk) and his wind spirit, Enril (the remote), or two can play. Toku's movements are traditional maneuvers, but Enril's wind powers allow Toku to jump to new heights, move flames and water, thrust objects through the air, defeat enemies with a vortex and even glide on a cape. The game's puzzles and platform action should appeal to veteran gamers and newbies alike. At $10, LostWinds is more fun than some more expensive Wii titles.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (Everyone; $15; Square Enix) This game, one of WiiWare's deepest titles, allows players to create a kingdom (think the Sims meets "The Tudors," minus the beheadings). You build your realm as you see fit, setting up everything from bakeries to armories. To expand the town's population and wealth, you send brave citizens on missions across the land. Every aspect is tracked, and the more battles won, the more your town can grow. Although there's not much action in this game, it has enough appeal to reach beyond the core Final Fantasy fans.

Critter Round-Up (Everyone; $10; Konami/Epicenter) Up to four players can join in this puzzle game, which focuses on corralling animals into a fenced area. You provide the fencing. Lions, elephants and a long list of other species roam freely together, which makes the game more challenging. (For example, lions eat anything, and elephants smash through your fences.) The game has 50 levels; the animals change, but the mission remains the same. The visuals give the family-oriented game, which is chock-full of humor, a cartoon feel. With multi-player options and a nice selection of game modes, this title offers more than your money's worth.

Pop (Everyone; $7; Nnooo) In this game, up to four players try to pop as many bubbles as possible to rack up high scores. Simply point the remote at a colored bubble and hit a button rapidly. You can also latch onto a bubble, shake the remote and take out all bubbles of the same color. This fun time-waster blends casual PC gaming with the Wii's cool controller.

-- John Gaudiosi

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