Can Wii gamers be excited for 2009?

Seven key titles poised to make or break Nintendo's new year

What’s got us so motivated? Why, a series of console-exclusive games that could finally convince us to reintroduce the Wii into our regular gaming habits. Trouble is, are they enough? Will seven amazing, Wii-exclusive games be enough to spur further development that isn’t baby-wrangling or horseshoe tossing? And what if some of them are duds, nothing but a lot of promises and hype that ultimately amount to yet another so-so attempt? Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that, and that the following titles live up to the desperate, lofty goals we’ve set for them.

The game:
Muramasa: The Demon Blade

What is it?
A side-scrolling hack-and-slasher drenched in Japanese mythology.

Why you should care:
Developer Vanillaware is responsible for two of the decade’s most visually stunning games, Odin Sphereand GrimGrimoire. Despite the limitations of PS2 hardware, they cranked out lavish backgrounds and towering enemy sprites that had GR editors stopping in their tracks just to watch them flow across the screen. If those two games looked that good in 2006, we assume a 2009 release will be even more impressive.

Why it might fizzle:
Highly intelligent readers such as yourself probably know about Odin Sphere or Grim, but do you think the typical Wii owner cares about painstakingly crafted sprites or reinterpretations of Japanese lore? Maybe if they called it Demon Bladez…

What about motion controls?
The waggle plague seems to have missed Murasama, as the SNES-standard Classic Controller setup takes center stage any time the game’s on display – a damn welcome option.

The game:
Fatal Frame 4: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

What is it?
Another unsettling, creepy-as-shit horrorfest starring weak teenage girls and their magical camera.

Why you should care:
Fatal Frame has always been a lingering shadow trapped behind Resident Evil and Silent Hill, yet all three previous entries are highly ranked and consistently deliver shocking, menacing gameplay. Not sure if part four will live up to the pedigree? Japanese mega-magazine Weekly Famitsu rated it 34/40, declaring it to be every bit as terrifying as its predecessors.

Why it might fizzle:
Survival horror is, ironically, barely surviving on Wii. Aside from an RE4 port, Obscure II and the frankly insulting Escape from Bug Island, nothing comes to mind at all. Who’s to say the audience interested in this franchise migrated to Wii in the first place? Will new users be willing to hop into the third sequel of a (relatively) unknown series? The lack of a US release date doesn’t bode well either…

What about motion control?
The girls use the Camera Obscura to battle evil spirits – point the camera with the remote and snap away. As long as the rest of the experience plays down motion, things should be fine.

We recommend