Trapped WiiWare – What’s lost when the Wii Shop closes

At the end of the month, Nintendo is closing off the Nintendo Wii Shopping Channel and with it any official access to the original Virtual Console titles and WiiWare. You already can’t buy them if you don’t already have the credit.

These titles, which all had to be under 40mb were Nintendo’s first real endeavour into a digital storefront, and there was even great support from third parties. Games were small, but because of this enforced limit, it made for some cute and quirky games, games that you wouldn’t get anywhere else – and still haven’t.

This is a list of games posted without judgement, some of them are good, some of them are terrible – but what this list contains are games that from the end of the month will be locked away for the foreseeable future. They’ve never yet been re-released on another platform or had sequels. These games will die on the Wii Shop Channel, and we’re going to tell you about them.

I’m not sure what possessed me to buy Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, as I definitely wasn’t into Final Fantasy what-so-ever. But I’m glad I did, as I found a novel and charming game that gave plenty of reasons to keep coming back or play one more day. While, as the king, you don’t go out and adventure yourself, you recruit and train adventurers to do it for you as you use their spoils to rebuild a castle town in the image of what it once was.

In many ways, it resembles a mobile game, with a fairly hands off gameplay approach and plenty cooldown timers. But there aren’t any microtransactions here, along with a fairly linear set of goals and narrative to work towards. I think just about all of it would work incredibly well on Switch, but until then, My Life as a King is AWOL. – Troy

Castlevania is just one of those series that I’m constantly playing no matter what. The one and only Castlevania game on the WiiWare service, Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, was part of a larger series of ReBirth titles developed by Konami at the time. The ReBirth series also included a Contra and a Gradius game, but Castlevania was the one that I loved the most.

This Castlevania game was a reimagining of the Game Boy game of the same name. Players took on the role of Christopher Belmont, who much like his Belmont ancestors, must defeat a range of monsters in order to overcome The Demon King, Dracula. Despite being a WiiWare game that saw no other releases, this remains one of the finer 2D platformers in the entire series. – Brad

Bonsai Barber is a haircutting game, and like the title suggest you play the role of Barber whose job it is to hack away at the hair of… plants. You’ll use the Wii Remote to clip and chop all sorts of bonsai and hope to have a happy customer at the end of it.

The game itself is rather easy and doesn’t have a ton things to do except cut hair. It is a notable title as it was designed by Martin Hollis. If his name doesn’t ring a bell other games he’s worked on might – Killer Instinct, Goldeneye 007 and of course Perfect Dark.

We looked around and haven’t found anything else Hollis has worked on since, so if you’re after the complete ex-Rare staff collection, this is one for the shelf. – Vook

Picture this, a thief has stolen your friend’s tub of protein powder. It’s up to you and your bodybuilding cohorts to chase the thief down and take what’s rightfully theirs. This is the basic premise of Muscle March. This is one of those games that has been the butt of many jokes, but deep down it’s actually a pretty fun title.

The thief that your bodybuilding gang are chasing crashes through a number of walls. In doing this, creates a hole in each wall in the shape of a bodybuilding pose. Using the Wiimote and Nunchuk, you need to strike the same pose in order to get through the wall without slowing down, eventually catching up to the thief. It’s an insanely wacky, short, arcade game, one which I’ll be very sad to see disappear. Did I mention you can play as a Norwegian Polar Bear? Please bring this one back Namco Bandai! – Brad 

WiiWare was the perfect place for developers to try out something new with classic franchises. Star Soldier R was another one from Hudson Soft that a run that might not have anywhere else. However, like a lot of WiiWare games, this one was rather short, and expensive compared to other games the shop. There hasn’t been another Star Soldier game since this one a decade ago, and there might never be. But the series has seen previous games released elsewhere since. This specific version, however, like a lot of the other R games from Hudson will probably remain here for the time being. – Vook

You, Me, and the Cubes had a bit of hype around it when it released back in 2009. Designed by Kenji Eno, who is probably best known for his work Enemy Zero and D it was his first game in quite some time. Sadly Kenji Eno passed away in 2013 from a heart attack and this was his last game.

You, Me, and the Cubes is a minimalist puzzler that uses both balance and physics to solve. The difference with this game is that the solution would change as you work through the puzzle. It’s a shame such a unique and different puzzler is now locked away, hopefully, somehow we can see it re-released somewhere else. – Vook

Another one from Hudson Soft that’s a remake slash sequel to an original title from the 80s. Alien Crush Returns updates the original pinball game with full 3D graphics, online leaderboards and it even had DLC. Just like the other Hudson Games, and a lot of WiiWare games the game was pretty barebones with only three tables playable with the initial purchase. To get the most out of it you had to spend a lot more to get your money’s worth. – Vook

The Excite “series”, if you can call it that only has a handful of games, the original game has been released two hundred times, but among its follow-ups only one has never been re-released – and now Excitebike: World Rally is going to go away too.

Unlike 64, Truck and Bots, this is a traditional Excitebike game in the vein of the original. It’s essentially a modern refresh to the original title, and with online play – which of course doesn’t work anymore either. Like a lot of WiiWare titles, there’s not a lot to it, it’s Excitebike with a new spin on it. Excitebike: World Rally was developed by Monster Games who also worked on the Bots and Truck games. This isn’t one we’re probably going to miss that much, you can still play the original NES game and get the same effect, but it doesn’t point to a time where Nintendo was really excited about Excite-everything. Maybe it can happen again. – Vook

This isn’t the entire list of games that won’t live on after the end of the month. But the ones we thought of sharing. If you have a WiiWare memory, why not share it with us in the comments?

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