5 Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox360) — 3.29 million
Finally a non-Wii title, and the first in the violent franchise to appear on a 7th generation console. While bottoming this list, the game is the holder of several “Game of the Year” awards and broke first day sale records upon its April release. What’s more, it joined the exclusive group of popular video games that may have had an impact on box office sales. But the most important aspect of Grand Theft Auto IV is how much it pissed off finger-waggers. Groups like MAAD and policy buff Hilary Clinton criticized the installment’s drunk driving feature pointing to some one-off crime kooks who chose to cite GTA as an inspiration. As usual, such notoriety only added to GTA’s charms and a bad ass time was had by all.
4 Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) — 4.17 million
A “smashing” success in the Smash Bros. franchise, Brawl souped-up just about everything in this third installment by adding even more playable characters (going outside Nintendo familiars). Also present is the option of online play and an Adventure Mode with all sorts of cutscenes and level bosses, plus the ability to use four different types of controllers, for those die-hard Gamecubers and old school Nintendo enthusiasts. So yeah, this one basically is a lot of fun for groups and chances are parents felt okay enough about the cartoon violence to let junior indulge in brawls until his eyes dried to dust. Also, Snake from Metal Gear!
3 Wii Fit w/ balance board (Wii) — 4.53 million
Definitely not a title aimed at sedentary gamers, but a popular one nonetheless. Wii Fit comes equipped with the Wii Balance Board, a white platform looking device that accommodates all sorts of yoga and strength training activities. Disciplined pose-holding with names like “The Elephant’s Recline” and vigorous repetition are a huge part of Fit, and its success might very well be attributed to a mass desire for private exercise. Luckily Nintendo ditched the original working title: “Get Up, Fat Ass!”
2 Mario Kart Wii w/wheel (Wii) — 5.00 million
Okay, Mario Kart is, and always will be, legendary. So it would stand that an update to a new console AND the ability to handle an actual steering wheel landed Mario Kart in the pole position of gaming. Plus Mario does the smart thing and includes 16 of the best tracks from previous franchise installations. But perhaps the most beloved feature is the ability to play online against up to 12 competitors, from Delaware to Istanbul. Toss in extra characters, new items like the Mega Mushroom, and it’s easy to see why this title is not only the 2nd best-selling game of 2008, but also the best-selling racing game of all time (sorry Gran Turismo).
1 Wii Play w/remote (Wii) — 5.28 million
Yes, this title was also one of the best-sellers from 2007, only with one HUGE difference. The 2008 version came bundled with a remote control. Okay, maybe not that huge. But hey that two-player mode ain’t going to play itself. Wii Play gives gamers the chance to shed the tethers of reality and participate in fun mini-games like shooting ranges and fishing, both pastimes of father and son bonding. Somewhere in a dark Nintendo corporate meeting room, a stealth think tank’s still toasting the success of finally replacing parents with video games. Now the machine uprising is nigh at hand!
That’s that gang: a real honest-to-numbers look at what sold like hot cakes in 2008. Sure these titles raked in the most moola, but do you think the financial success was deserved? What accounted for this uptick in Wii dominance? Why not go ahead and slap together your own list of how things might have sold in an alternate, Nintendo-less, universe?