Can Wii gamers be excited for 2009?

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

The game:
Sin and Punishment 2

What is it?
Sequel to an action-soaked N64 shooter that never saw wide release.

Why should you care?
Treasure knows how to build intense gameplay, so even an on-rails shooter can elicit excitement if it’s constructed by the masters. It’s a little pricey, but the original is now on Virtual Console in all its missile-dodging, laser-blasting glory. The enthusiastic, vocal fanbase is stoked at the prospect of playing a non-fuzzy sequel, so for the time being we’re piqued too.

Why it might fizzle:
In-the-know gamers will buy this for its historical relevance and (probably) excellent blasting, but a Wii game labeled “Sin and Punishment” puts it right in between “The Sims 2: Pets” and “Six Flags Fun Park” on the sales rack. Sigh…

What about motion controls?
We know next to nothing about S&P2, so there’s no telling. Part of us hopes Treasure sticks to its guns and goes for Classic Controller first and cramp-inducing aiming only under duress.

The game:

What is it?
Nintendo’s “here you go” game of the first quarter, developed by the guys behind the Mario Strikers series.

Why you should care:
Never played the series before? It’s kind of the best boxing game ever, the immaculate template that Black and Bruised, Facebreaker and Ready to Rumble failed to follow. Beating the hugely stereotyped, grossly oversized pugilists is more about pattern memorization and lightning quick counterattacks than a deep knowledge of the sport. In essence, a “hardcore casual” game that could bridge this software gap quite easily.

Why it might fizzle:
We loved Prime 3, Galaxy and Brawl, but Mario Kart Wii and Animal Crossing: City Folk left us thinking Nintendo spends more time flexing its Wii Fit/Sports/Music muscles than developing “gamer” games. Also, developer Next Level Games brought us Spider-Man Friend or Foe, not the brightest momentin comic book crossovers.

What about motion controls?
Details are anemic at this point (go Nintendo!), though it’s fair to assume it’ll be something like Wii Boxing with a bit more variation. We’re also holding out hope for the assumed Balance Board support – this is the one game where we want to lean, juke and stretch to win. Motion controls warmly accepted.

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