It's easy to point to Nintendo's motion-controlled little-console-that-could as a graphically inferior box, rife with games that look aged even by 2006's standards, let alone 2019's. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, given that the Wii's hardware hidden away inside that slick, glossy white case was basically comparable to the GameCube.
While it's true that many of the console's games can look all kinds of primitive to gamers today, some have managed to hold up rather well - especially games with more colorful and/or stylized visuals. Needless to say, that's Nintendo's preferred aesthetic, and some of the big first- party Wii releases still look quite nice. With that said,then, let's take a trip back to the mid-2000s, as we examine five Wii games that still look great, as well as five that are starting to show their age more than ever before.
10 Still Looks Great: Madworld
You didn't see many hack 'n' slash titles featuring a chainsaw-wielding anti-hero on the Wii. This zany gore-fest from PlatinumGames and Sega was in a class of its own.
Visually, this little-known gem has managed to hold up extremely well, thanks to its super-stylized Film Noir aesthetics of silhouetted black and white. As in Sin City, this is punctuated by deep red hues for the blood - and make no mistake, there is a ton of it. Despite the flat and gritty black and white exterior, the setting of Varrigan City is brimming with nuance, and the game contains some fluid, detailed animation that makes it feel like you're playing through an ultra-violent comic strip.
9 Shows Its Age: Mario Kart Wii
Don't get us wrong, Mario Kart Wii features some super colorful and fun landscapes - though there's a prominent lack of crispness or polish to the graphics. These less-than-ideal visuals are also compounded by a fairly dicey frame rate dip when playing busy local multiplayer races.
There's a sort of muddled look about even some of the more vibrant stages, as well as a flat blockiness to many elements in the game. This is especially apparent to Wii U and Switch racer-lovers who have revisited MKW after being spoiled by the gorgeous, fluid Mario Kart 8.
8 Still Looks Great: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Both of the mainline Super Mario titles for the Wii stand as two of the sleekest-looking games on the console. Yet, the 2010 sequel, in particular, fleshed out the visuals further by introducing more expansive environments, smoother animation, and some impressive lighting and particle effects.
The game also provides a myriad of pretty cutscenes at key points and to introduce bosses, which hold their own against some of the more spruced-up Pixar films. The setting of the dark vastness of outer space allows the rich, colorful environments to come to the forefront and shine. Even after Nintendo raised the bar with the truly fantastic Mario Odyssey, its predecessors on Wii still have their distinct charm and hold their own today.
7 Shows Its Age: Animal Crossing: City Folk
Let's face it - Animal Crossing was never about the visuals, as is made clear by this Wii successor to the original GameCube hit from 2001. The cutesy graphics are meant to look inviting for even the most casual of players to get drawn into, which complements the laid-back, passive gameplay. Given that City Folk is a marginal leap from the original - which actually launched on the N64 in Japan - there should be a degree of leniency.
Still, being a sequel on a newer console, the simplicity of the toybox aesthetic leaves something to be desired.
6 Still Looks Great: Kirby's Epic Yarn
The idea that the beloved Kirby series would undergo a visual transformation that resembled a cartoon for toddlers gave some gamers pause. While Epic Yarn's gameplay itself can feel watered down and overly-simple, the graphics and art style still convey a charming knitted aesthetic that holds up today.
The flat, 2D plane gives the Wii's hardware room to flesh out detail for the colorful cloth/textile backgrounds and yarn models. This not only looks pleasing from a visual standpoint, but it allows for some unique animation elements, thanks to the versatility that the yarn concept allows for.
5 Shows Its Age: The Conduit
It's ironic that The Conduit makes our list as one of the more graphically-aged Wii titles, as developers High Voltage Software hyped this shooter based on its juiced-up engine, Quantum3. This engine was supposed to push the Wii hardware to its limits and provide some stunning visuals, through its resourcefulness and innovative functions like bump-mapping. Effects like this produced trickery that was supposed to make the models smoother and "pop" more.
Unfortunately, the bland and blocky environments negate much of this impact, and even the character models managed to age pretty quickly. At the end of the day, The Conduit looks like little more than a slightly enhanced Perfect Dark.
4 Still Looks Great: Metroid Prime 3
Taking nearly 3 years to develop, Retro Studios pulled out all the stops for this highly anticipated third entry in the Metroid Prime trilogy, and it shows. This game came out relatively early in the console's life, but remains one of its better-looking titles.
This atmospheric adventure isn't just rich when it comes to the expansive environments and satisfying mechanics, but it was also one of the sleekest looking games to hit a Nintendo console at the time. The outer space void of the backgrounds and often tight corridors allows for some tremendously detailed and slick environments. You've also got some impressive particle and lighting glitz, in addition to the polished, smooth character model of Samus.
3 Shows Its Age: Manhunt 2
Shifting gears from some of the most child-friendly Wii titles to one of the darkest and most adult-themed, we have Manhunt 2. This was a stealth-based thriller where you perform some rather grotesque finishing moves on your enemies. Being essentially a glorified port of a PlayStation 2 game, it might be a bit unfair to critique this Rockstar romp too much on its aesthetics.
Yet, for a console launched in 2006, this game looks painfully aged and artistically dull. The fact that the environments succumb to the 2000s trend of gritty, bland browns and greys do it no favors.
2 Still Looks Great: Muramasa: The Demon Blade
This criminally underrated action romp for the Wii is similarly under-appreciated when it comes to its pretty art style. Muramasa: The Demon Blade features unique Japanese-inspired themes, which mesh terrifically with the colorful anime-esque visuals.
While everything resides in a pretty flat 2D space, the detail of the hand-drawn models and environments is truly a sight to behold. The game transcends aging with its extremely stylistic imagery and rich atmosphere inspired by feudal Japan. It really feels as if you're hacking and slashing your way through a graphic novel.
1 Shows Its Age: Ninjabread Man
To make a rather obscure comparison, this quirky platformer resembles a 3D re-imagining of the SNES sidescroller Zool, with its colorful candy-themed environments. While that game at least holds up visually with its colorful 2D backdrops, this just comes across as both dull and cheap. The cheekily named Ninjabread Man both feels and looks rushed, with its crude polygons, clunky animation, and empty environments.
This looks like a platformer that could have been done on the N64, and it probably wouldn't have taxed that wonderful old console much either.