With the launch of Switch, Nintendo is retiring the underappreciated Wii U console. We can debate all day what went wrong with the Wii U, whether it was marketing or lack of 3rd party support or an unwanted GamePad, but it’s clear that the Wii U fell well short of the success that Nintendo was hoping for. While the system might have failed to hit the hardware success of the Wii, you could argue that it has one of the best 1st party lineups from Nintendo in years. With that said, let’s finish our Road to Switch coverage be counting down the best games for the Nintendo Wii U.
10) LEGO City Undercover
Released: March 2013 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: TT Fusion
TT games, formerly Traveller’s Tales, has been pumping out LEGO games since the original LEGO Star Wars game in 2006. Since then, the team has released dozens of licensed LEGO games for multiple platforms. LEGO City Undercover is actually the only original game that the team has released and it was a Wii U Exclusive.
LEGO City Undercover is a buddy cop game. You click into the pants of Chase McCain on a mission to stop the ruthless Rex from taking over the city. The game itself is an open world sandbox action game, similar to Grand Theft Auto. Only with less violence and iced coffee.
Chase drives vehicles and clobbers bad guys all over the giant open LEGO city. However, the highlight of the game is the writing. The game is hysterical, taking on 80’s and 90’s buddy cop tropes. It’s never quite a satire, but more of a love letter to the old buddy cop genre. LEGO City Undercover is one of the best 3rd parties games available on the Wii U.
09) Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Released: December 2014 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Super Mario 3D World is one of the highlights on the Wii U library (more on that shortly). A small part of 3D World were minigames where players would control Captain Toad on small maps collecting stars. These minigames were a surprising hit and spawned into a game of their own: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle platformer. The came is broken up into book chapters. Each chapter contains a full 3D diorama for Toad to explore. The player rotates the screen using the right stick and navigates Toad around the environment. The goal is to get the Star in each level, but as with all Mario games there are also Gems and Stamps to collect along the way. The additional collectable adds more variety and replayability to the game.
The game is gorgeous. It’s colorful and vibrant, just like it’s 3D World sibling. The game also allows you to play as Toadette which is a nice addition. It’s rare to see the high level of detail and amazing production value into a product that doesn’t star a flagship character, but it’s that amount of love that easily puts Captain Toad into the top 10.
08) NES Remix
Released: December 2013 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Nintendo released two NES Remix games digitally first and then released a retail version that collected both games. NES Remix is a collection of minigames based on classic NES games. Games like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Super Punch Out, and more. Minigames based on 24 NES classic in total.
Nintendo took the properties that players have been enjoying for years and formed unique challenges out of them. For example, one challenge has you beating a level in Super Mario Bros. where you couldn’t stop running or complete a lap in Excitebike full throttle without overheating. These were bite sized chunks of the games that was just enough to keep you coming back for more.
The greatest addition to NES Remix though, was the actual Remix. Outside of just the standard challenges, Nintendo added Remix challenges where you would play games that you in completely different ways. For example, one level has you playing in a haunted mansion from Super Mario Bros., however you are playing as Link. Another challenge has you saving Princess Peach with Princess Peach. The game was the perfect mix of fun and nostalgia and is one of the best experiences on the Wii U.
07) Yoshi’s Woolly World
Released: October 2015 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Good-Feel
Nintendo might rely heavily on their IPs, especially when it comes to Mario. However, Nintendo always finds a way to bring something new. This is clearly the case with Yoshi’s Woolly World. Woolly World is a 2D side scrolling platformer set on an island filled with Yarn Yoshis. You start the adventure with simple run and jump mechanics, but quickly evolve into systems like tossing yarn and literally unraveling the world around you.
You can’t mention Woolly World without talking about just how amazing the game looks. All of the Yoshi and the enemies and the stages are all made from digital yarn. It’s so clear and vivid that it pops off the screen as it if were real yarn. In an age where photo realism is the white whale to chase, I love that Nintendo will take one of its major properties and make a game out of yarn.
Yoshi’s Woolly World marks the first time that Yoshi has started in a mainline home console game since 1997. That’s a long wait. The good news is that Woolly World delivers in absolutely every way. It is one of the best platformers in years.
06) Super Mario 3D World
Released: November 2013 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Super Mario 3D World had a mixed reception at launch. While it was a new 3D Mario title, it wasn’t the follow up to Super Mario Galaxy that most fans were hoping for. However, we Nintendo gave us was one of the most chaotic and fun multiplayer experiences on the Wii U.
The core of Super Mario 3D World is 3D Platforming. The player navigates around a gameboard style map selecting levels to complete. This is the same run, jump, and stomp gameplay that is well known to fans. New additions to 3D world include Cat Mario which allows Mario to claw enemies and climb walls and the Cherry which allows the player to clone themselves.
The biggest addition to 3D World is the 4 player co-op. This was introduced to the 2D series with New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, but this is the first time it was part of a 3D Mario series. Players choose 1 or 4 characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad). The chaos that ensues is the stuff of legend. After each level, the player that performed the best gets to wear a crown on the next level. Super Mario 3D World is a ton of fun that really shines in Co-Op.
05) Bayonetta 2
Released: October 2014 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: PlatinumGames
Bayonetta was an instant cult classic when it released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2010. Although the game was highly praised and loved by fans, it didn’t sell to their expectations and a sequel didn’t seem like it would be in the works.
Then, in September of 2012, not only was Bayonetta 2 announced, but it was announced that it was being published by Nintendo and would be a Wii U exclusive title. Bayonetta 2 continued the story of Bayonetta and her magic hair vs the followers of light. It is a hack’n’slash action title that is both style and substance. Under the supervision of Hideki Kamiya, PlatinumGames was able to craft a game that not only lives up to the quality of the original, but actually manages to improve it in almost every way.
Bayonetta is sporting a new hairdoo in the sequel, but the real star of the follow up is it’s Co-Op mode. In Co-Op, two players would battle through a stage together while racking up points to determine a winner at the end. There aren’t many companies today that make action games like PlatinumGames and Bayonetta might be it’s best game to date.
04) Super Mario Maker
Released: September 2015 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Super Mario Maker might be the world’s first perfect game. The original Super Mario Bros. is one of the most well known games of all time and is directly responsible for a generation of gamers. The conceit is simple, give players the tools and freedom to create their own Super Mario levels. What is surprising that the game is executed perfectly.
In one of the only must have experiences on the Wii U GamePad, Nintendo crafted an intuitive and brilliant UI where players could simply draw on the screen to create a level. You want to add a Koopa Troopa? Done. How about a Pipe with Fire Balls? Easy. Is there a way to shoot 1up mushrooms out of a Bullet Bill? You betchya! Super Mario Maker also lets you switch between art styles, starting with the original Super Mario Bros down through New Super Mario Bros. U.
Nintendo didn’t stop with a basic UI though, because hey…it’s Nintendo. The UI is filled with charm and surprise. Is there a fly hanging around your screen? Swat it away. Do you want to add voice to your game? There is a Parrot that will help with that. Want to start over? Just fly a rocket into your level and blow it up. This game is pixel to pixel Nintendo and it’s absolutely fabulous.
03) Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Released: November 2014 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Sora Ltd. / Bandai Namco Games
Super Smash Bros. has become a staple Nintendo franchise since the original game in 1999. It is pretty clear though that the Wii U release of Smash is arguably the pinnacle of the series so far. Brand new stages, new modes, new trophies, 8-Player Brawl, and 58 playable characters (7 paid DLC).
Smash Bros. has become the perfect mixture of skill and accessibility. For players who dedicate themselves to learning these fighters, the game is a deep and rewarding experience. However, an 8 year old can pick up a controller and play competitively and enjoy every moment. This sounds like a simple thing, but it’s greatly under appreciated in games today. It’s either too watered down for hardcore fans to enjoy or it’s so complex you lose the casual gamer. Smash is a perfect fit for both.
The biggest additions to the Wii U version, outside of the graphical upgrades, is the new characters. A total of 19 new fighters join the game. You have favorites like Little Mac and Duck Hunt Dog to great third party additions like Mega Man and Shulk to downloadable characters like Bayonetta and Cloud. The roster is amazing and keeps fans coming back for more.
Released: May 2015 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Nintendo is really known for it’s IP. Very few people alive don’t know who Mario is. However, Nintendo hasn’t really released any new IP in a long time. Doing a little research, prior to 2015 you had Steel Diver in 2011 which basically failed and then Wii Sports in 2006. The last character driven, original IP Nintendo made was Pikmin in 2001. So, when Nintendo announces a new IP, people pay attention.
Splatoon came out of left field. Nintendo decided to make a multiplayer, 4 on 4, 3rd person shooter where the guns all shoot ink. There was mixed reaction to put it nicely, but Nintendo’s pedigree speaks for itself and Splatoon was no different. What Nintendo made was a fast, super fun, family friendly shooter that quickly became one of the best titles in their library.
What sets Splatoon apart, aside from it’s unique art style and neon colors, is the simple idea of it’s main game mode, “Turf War”. In Turf War you have to cover the map in your ink color and the team with the most color wins. It sounds so simple however it’s translated to some of the most fun I’ve had playing a game in years! The game is filled with charm from Callie and Marie to Fat Cat scoring your results to upgrading to new weapons and outfits. Splatoon is unlike anything else on the market today and it’s without question one of the best games on the Wii U console.
01) Mario Kart 8
Released: May 2104 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
As the name suggests, Mario Kart 8 is the eighth iteration of the Mario Kart series. After 8 games you would think that the fun or charm has left the series. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth with Mario Kart 8. Anyone that’s played Mario Kart knows what to expect here. You push the gas button to race, drift around corners, and throw turtle shells at people in your way. The basic gameplay hasn’t changed and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Mario Kart 8 raises the bar in 2 key areas: Visuals and Gameplay. Let’s start with the new gameplay hook in Mario Kart 8. Most of the tracks now have anti-gravity sections. Once your racer crosses into an anti-gravity section, your kart wheels flip DeLorean style and you loop and turn in fun ways. One of the new gameplay mechanics here is that when you bump into racers in anti-gravity you can actually get a boost. This is a small change, but for players that learn the game and craft their skill, boosting off of racers during these sections is a huge strategy.
You can’t mention Mario Kart 8 without talking visuals. The game is breathtaking. One of the best looking games on any platform this generation. From the particle effects to the moving parts of the fantastically designed tracks to the personality in every single racer, this game is a joy to watch. Nintendo was aware of this, which is why you can load (and save) a replay of every race once it’s completed. Mario Kart 8 is the pinnacle of Kart racers, the pinnacle of the Mario Kart series, and the undisputed pinnacle of the Wii U library.
So, what’s your favorite game on the Nintendo Wii U? Which game did we leave off the list? Let us know in the comments down below!