The best and worst third-party Wii publishers

Third parties, I’d like to apologize.

I have been pretty scathing toward you lately. In fact, Jack and I have both been throwing rotten tomatoes at you vigorously over the last year or so, and although our chuckling behind the bushes may suggest otherwise, I feel pretty bad about it. After all, some of you are releasing really good Wii games, and it would be wrong to not recognize your successes on the same level we have pointed out your failures.

I would like to make it up to you, or at least, to those of you who aren’t infuriating me with Wii ineptitude. We have examined the Wii software library and considered a few preeminent titles on the horizon to chisel down a list of the three best third-party Wii publishers.

Of course, some bitterness remains, and since I’m fresh out of tomatoes, I have also compiled the three worst. So if any readers have rotten tomatoes on hand, stand by for some severe pelting.

03. Konami

Konami had a great start on Wii with Elebits, a sleeper hit impressive not only for its addictive gameplay, fun multiplayer and clever uses of the Wii Remote, but for being the first Wii game to utilize WiiConnect24 online functionality.

Konami hasn’t excited Wii owners on a scale comparable to Elebits since, but the company has published two of Wii’s best sports games, offering the system’s deepest baseball experience with MLB Power Pros and providing one of most innovative examples of Wii Remote usage yet with the outstanding Pro Evolution Soccer 2008.

Unfortunately, the enjoyable Dewy’s Adventure fell just short of expectations, and Deca Sports, Konami’s stab at the Wii Sports market, was universally slammed by critics. But with Castlevania: Judgment and an Elebits sequel on the way, as well as more projects to come, Wii owners should expect good things from Konami.

02. Electronic Arts

I can imagine some of the comments that will be posted to the contrary, but Electronic Arts has been a solid Wii supporter, and by the end of the year, that status will have been secured beyond argument.

The controversial gaming juggernaut already has a sizable portfolio of Wii releases, highlighted by the critically acclaimed Boom Blox and Medal of Honor: Heroes 2, which instantly became the unrivaled standard for first-person shooters on Wii.

Like Konami, Electronic Arts has had some Wii disappointments; games like MySims and Boogie failed to meet critical expectations, but that they were exclusive, original Wii efforts speaks volumes about Electronic Art’s commitment to supporting the platform.

Moving forward, the upcoming new Wii entries in the company’s Madden and Tiger Woods franchises look extremely promising, boasting improved graphics and motion controls. Electronic Arts is also working on more original IP for Wii, according to IGN, something that simply cannot be said for most other developers.

01. Capcom

Complain about ports and rehashes all you want, but the reality is simple; some of the best games available on Wii boast the Capcom logo on the front of the box.

Compared to those of competing third parties, Capcom’s Wii portfolio is a downright star-studded affair led by the charming puzzler Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, which set the Internet ablaze and earned high marks from just about every credible reviewer in the medium.

Despite being ports, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is the best version of one of the greatest video games ever made, and the stylish and epic Okami has been realized on Wii the way it couldn’t be on the PS2.

The years-in-the-making, inevitably delicious Mega Man 9 has been confirmed for WiiWare, and more “secret” projects are sure to be announced at E3. Given that, and the nature of Capcom’s efforts thus far, I imagine we haven’t even seen the beginning of what Capcom has in store for Wii owners. Just wait until they really start trying.

03. Square Enix

Square Enix is unique among the publishers we’re listing in contempt; its Wii efforts haven’t been terrible, by any means. But Square Enix’s Wii performance has been egregious because, quite simply, there hasn’t really been any Wii performance from Square Enix to speak of.

Of course, that’s not literally true. Square Enix released Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors this February and also launched My Life as a King, a SimCity-like game with a Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles facade, as a launch title for Nintendo’s WiiWare service.

You want a literal statement? How about this one; those average titles are the only two games Square Enix has released for Wii.

Square Enix hasn’t really been releasing any Wii games at all, and aside from one or two projects on the horizon, the publisher has chosen to essentially ignore the industry’s leading games platform.

02. Ubisoft

Ah, Ubisoft. Where do we begin?

Our relationship seemed promising at first. You launched two original, exclusive Wii games alongside the system, and even though one was awful and the other was, while enjoyable, a shallow minigame collection, I appreciated the effort.

Maybe it was my late nights at work. Maybe we grew apart somehow, as my attention shifted to a certain galactic platformer and interstellar bounty hunting, but things just haven’t been the same. Maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s me.

Then again, it could be that you haven’t released a single Wii game worth playing since Rayman Raving Rabbids, meanwhile you’re out showing off sexy lingerie to other consoles. And don’t even try to claim No More Heroes; you may have published it, but you certainly didn’t develop it. We settled that in the divorce, remember?

No, in terms of your own Wii games, you’ve been content to simply release some of the most god-awful stuff available for the system. So consider our relationship terminated, effective immediately.

And no, you won’t be allowed to see the kids…z.

01. Conspiracy Entertainment

Each time I walk into my local games boutique, I notice a shiny new piece of obvious shovelware. To humor myself, I almost always pick up the box and assess the situation.

Once it was Ninjabread Man. Anubis II came a little later, an apparent sequel to a game I’ve never known to actually exist. I laughed at both, then I noticed they were the same game with different aesthetics, and I laughed even harder.

And the beat has gone uninterrupted since. Monster Trux Arenas was the subject of my ridicule last week, not to be confused with Monster Trux Offroad. I’m sure that one is much better, after all.

The only “conspiracy” afoot here seems to be that this company’s logo adorns the boxes of each of these petrified pieces of dinosaur vomit. I wonder if the alien in said logo is using some extraterrestrial body language to tell Earthling consumers to piss off and die.

I may throw rotten tomatoes, but at least I don’t sell them. And for that…nanu nanu, Conspiracy Entertainment. You win this list. And sadly, I seriously cannot wait to see what you come out with next.

Agree? Disagree? Share your own list in the comments.