Now that Nintendo has officially announced that the NX, its next console, will launch in March of 2017, it’s probably safe to say that the Wii U is done. Sure, there are still a handful of games that have yet to come out that will round out the console’s lifetime, most notably the next iteration of the Zelda series, but you could probably stop buying all games for the system between now and March 2017 and not really miss much.
While the Wii U has been one of the Big N’s most disappointing consoles in terms of sales and third party support, it still hosted many great titles that any gamer could enjoy. Even though pretty much all of the good games for the Wii U were Nintendo exclusives (and featured some relation to the Mario universe), there were at least ten games exclusive to the system that everyone should at least try out. Excluding any remakes or ports (Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD are not on this list), here are my ten favorite games for the (in many ways underrated) Wii U.
10. New Super Luigi U
New Super Mario Bros. U was one of the highest selling games on the console and the main launch title when the system rolled out in 2012. It was by no means a bad game, but it didn’t really offer anything new to the franchise, unless you want to count the addition of baby Yoshis.
It’s spinoff New Super Luigi U, on the other hand, was not only a better version of the game, but one of the most challenging Mario games to date. Taking a page out of the book of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Luigi U gave players 100 seconds or fewer to traverse incredibly difficult levels at break-neck speed without any checkpoint flags. In many ways, it was the Dark Souls of the 2D Mario series, never once holding the gamer’s hands and constantly presenting more and more difficult situations.
It may have been short and unoriginal in many respects, but Luigi U gave some of the more hardcore Nintendo gamers a little bit of challenge on a console that didn’t have much to offer in the beginning. It’s looking fairly likely as though New Super Mario Bros. won’t have any future titles, so having Luigi U as its final entry would be a proper end to a solid franchise.
9. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
A spinoff of a frequent mini-game in Super Mario 3D World (stay tuned), Treasure Tracker put players in the shoes of the adorable Captain Toad and joined him on his journey to find treasure in rotating cubic worlds. The game may have been short and had little replay value, but was fairly original and actually contained some pretty challenging puzzles.
Good puzzle games may seem like a dime a dozen, but once you get past Tetris and the onslaught of Candy Crush knock-offs (even Candy Crush is a knock-off of Bejeweled), there aren’t a lot of interesting games in the genre worth sinking a lot of time into. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker offered puzzle fans a fun, engaging experience with tons of bright colors, creative puzzles, and undeniable charm.
8. Hyrule Warriors
I already covered this in my list of the 5 best Nintendo spinoffs, and you can check that out here.
Just to add to what I said before: Hyrule Warriors actually let you experience Zelda in a way that the actual Zelda games can’t, in that they put you in the middle of an actual war. You’re pretty much on your own in Zelda, but Hyrule Warriors makes you feel like part of a team in Hyrule, which in and of itself makes up for the game’s lack of variety in gameplay.
Most Wii U owners would say that Splatoon is one of their two or three favorite games on the console, and while it’s truly fun and original, I just felt like it could have done so much more.
Don’t get me wrong: I really like Splatoon. The online play is the best on the system, the controls are surprisingly intuitive, and there is a ton of variety in the game’s weapons. The unique take on the multiplayer shooter will hopefully inspire other game developers to think outside the box, and the way Splatoon manages to create a “deathmatch” where killing your opponents isn’t the main objective is wildly clever.
The problem with this title is the single player. The solo missions are colorful, fun, and creative, yet there are so few of them that they feel more like a tech demo to get the player used to the game instead of an actual storyline. Perhaps Nintendo will one day create Splatoon 2 with an actual single player mode instead of just a handful of short missions that you can complete in a couple of hours. Until then, what Splatoon offers is what we’ve got, and that’s still a more than adequate offering.
6. Yoshi’s Woolly World
The original Yoshi’s Island for the SNES is one of the best platformers of all time, yet many of its sequels fell flat. None of them could quite capture the adventurous tone and charming ambience of the original, at least up until the fantastic Yoshi’s Woolly World, which took the whole concept and made it out of yarn.
Woolly World mixes great platforming with unabashed cuteness and flair. It is not only one of the best-looking games for the Wii U, but also has some of the tightest controls. The game presents itself as fun, light, and beautiful without sacrificing much in the way of challenge or accessibility. Also, for what it’s worth, it’s my girlfriend’s favorite game on the console, so it gets a few extra points for that alone.
5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
While I absolutely loved Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii, I still felt the game tried too hard to harken back to the glory days of Donkey Kong Country and didn’t present much in the way of originality, which was the essence of each Donkey Kong game before it.
Tropical Freeze easily surpasses its Wii predecessor and delivers the best experience in the franchise since Donkey Kong Country 2, which I truly believe is one of the greatest games of all time. The Wii U iteration of the incredible Donkey Kong universe can be really tough at times, but it has so much to offer in the way of secrets, extra levels, and creative platforming that you never want to put it down.
Much like its predecessors, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has an amazing soundtrack, beautiful graphics, and some of the best character animations of any game in the Nintendo oeuvre. It is without a doubt one of the best 2D platforming games in years and a worthwhile reason to consider buying a Wii U.
4. Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 is comprehensive, engaging, fun, and nearly perfect in its controls. It features some of the best course design in the franchise, and the DLC offerings truly add to the experience. The online play is a perfect balance of fun and competitive, and the only thing standing in this game’s way is that it’s a little on the easy side. It is without a doubt the best Mario Kart ever made, and there really isn’t that much more I need to say about it.
3. Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World didn’t really innovate the Mario series in any way, nor did it provide a particularly challenging or unique experience. Still, it may be the happiest Mario game of them all and was executed nearly to perfection. The title is defined by fantastic level design, bright and shiny art direction, uplifting music, and a ton of variety.
Sure, 3D World is mostly the same concept as the 3DS’s Super Mario 3D Land and doesn’t have a particular gimmick or attribute separating it from its predecessors (the way Galaxy and Sunshine did), but it is a nearly perfect 3D platformer with incredibly high replay value.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
There are few greater joys in gaming than a four-player free-for-all Super Smash Bros. match. The Smash series has been a staple of local multiplayer gaming for 17 years, and while the most recent series entry may not be as good as its GameCube ancestor Super Smash Bros. Melee, it’s certainly one of the best fighting games of its generation.
The Wii U’s Super Smash Bros. doesn’t have the same smooth, fast-paced mechanics that Melee does, but it is by far the most comprehensive entry in the Smash franchise. There are more characters, stages, and songs than ever, and new game modes like Smash Tour and, the greatest addition of them all, Eight-Player Smash. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the gift that keeps on giving and, in all honesty, was the biggest reason I bought the console in the first place.
1. Super Mario Maker
I do not give that perfect rating lightly, and I understand that people have some gripes with Super Mario Maker. There’s no concrete storyline, it took a while for all of the level creation features to come to light, and players might sometimes get stuck in self-playing levels or nearly impossible ones.
While those concerns may be somewhat valid, Super Mario Maker provides gamers with something no other game can: endless content. Whether it’s through creating stage after stage or just playing through the creations of others, Super Mario Maker gives players unlimited options for enjoyment, and while sometimes player creations can seem either too simplistic or too complex, you can always find something in the middle and play for hours upon hours. I bought Super Mario Maker when it came out in September, and I have already logged in nearly 200 hours of gameplay, and while that sounds like a lot, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what Mario Maker can give me. It is truly one of the finest games I’ve ever played and an outright masterpiece.
Super Mario Maker is the game other game creators wish they could have made. The Mario games are all excellent, but none provide the player with so much variety and so much content that they’re worth playing for seven months after their release. You can pop in Super Mario Maker and have no idea what to expect when you select a level to play. Few other games in history have made that possible. Super Mario Maker alone has made the Wii U a console worth owning.
Picture Above: Youtube