The best Wii U games: Wii barely knew U
Update: Naturally we've added the latest and perhaps greatest addition to The Legend of Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild, to our list of must-play titles.
There aren’t many consoles that have had as hard a time as the Wii U. Like the younger sibling of a chronic overachiever, it had a lot to live up to in terms of sales and public reception and unfortunately it never managed it.
Before it was even launched, the Wii U suffered from poor communication with regards to its purpose and unique selling points. Even when it was released, the console struggled to boost its sales partly because of its high cost and partly because of its relatively underwhelming game library at launch.
That said, it wasn't all bad. The system had its fair share of gems that are definitely worth your time and attention. Plus, now that the Wii U is tagging the Nintendo Switch and being dragged out of the ring by a disappointed Nintendo, this is the perfect time to pick up the little console that tried for yourself and experience the great games that it did have.
It might not have been able to match up to the heavyweight libraries of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 due to a lack of third party support, but the Wii U still had some fantastic titles that we think are worth playing, many of which didn’t get the attention they deserved as they were simply launched too late in the console’s lifecycle.
So, if you’re wondering if you’ve missed any great games in the time since you bought your console, or you’ve just picked up a brand new one since they’ve dropped under £200 and you want to know what to play, we’ve put together a list of the best games you can get on the Wii U.
Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 is without a doubt the best and most polished racing game Nintendo has released in a long time. Keeping the best elements of the classic Mario Kart racing games but adding modern, outstanding visuals, a catchy soundtrack, and even more customization it’s a must for your Wii U library. Especially if you’re looking for a multiplayer party game that everyone will love.
Super Smash Bros on Wii U
It’s time to prove once and for all that Princess Peach could take down absolutely anyone in a fight with New Super Smash Bros. If you’ve ever played a Super Smash Bros game before, you probably don’t need to be told what to expect here but at the very least New Super Smash Bros is an example of Nintendo getting the balance between appealing nostalgia and inviting accessibility just right.
That’s because it adds new characters, more stages, and the absolute chaos of an eight-player battle mode.
For anyone that loves getting their friends round for multiplayer gaming this is a title is a perfect choice. If you prefer games with depth and story that you can enjoy alone, though, this probably isn’t one for you.
New Super Mario Bros. U
Not keen on the 3D levels of Super Mario 3D World? Why not try New Super Mario Bros. U instead. It’s a classic side-scroller that offers a five person competitive multiplayer to keep things interesting when you’ve worked your way through the single player mode.
Though it’s not a groundbreaking addition to the franchise, for competitive multiplayer fun we think it’s a great buy that actually makes good use of the Wii U Gamepad.
Super Mario 3D World
It’s not a Nintendo home console if it doesn't have a Mario platformer and Super Mario 3D World is a good one, which you’d expect as it follows on from Super Mario 3D world for the 3DS handheld.
You can take up the role of Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Rosalina or Toad (or take four on the road at once in the game’s excellent co-op mode) in a fantastic platform adventure that changes up the traditional Mario formula just enough to keep fans interested.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was already a great and beautiful game when it was released on the Gamecube but the Wii U is probably the best possible way to experience it thanks to its re-mastered graphics and improved gameplay.
In Wind Waker you take Link around Hyrule long after a great flood, exploring the stunning open world while solving puzzles and defeating bosses.
One of the most significant improvements is Swift Sail, which greatly improves on the sailing mechanic of the original game so if that was something you detested, this game is a good way to try again.
Whether you played the original and want to take a trip back to this incarnation of Hyrule or you’re looking to jump into Zelda before the release of Breath of the Wild, this is a title that’s worth your time and money.
This is a competitive online shooter that’s absolutely been Nintendo-fied. What do we mean by that? Well, take out the aggressive masculine characters and the bullets and replace them with quirky teenagers and ink and you’ll probably understand what we mean.
Splatoon is different and refreshing but most of all it’s just massive amounts of fun, even for the traditional online shooter lovers out there.
Super Mario Maker for Wii U
Sure, you love playing games but you’ve always had a feeling you’d love making them too. Super Mario Maker is your chance, bringing to gaming what fanfiction brings to, well, everything apparently.
In Super Mario Maker you design your very own Mario levels, making them as challenging as possible and then you play through them yourself or allow others to play through them.
Adding to the fun of designing the Mario level you’ve always dreamed of, you can also play through the crazy creations of other players. Guaranteed you’ll encounter some of the most difficult Mario levels imaginable thanks to this.
Like Splatoon, Pikmin 3 is another example of how Nintendo still has fun and original IPs up its sleeve and doesn’t have to rely so heavily on the classics.
It doesn’t change much from previous titles on Gamecube and Wii but Pikmin 3 is a fun and colorful strategy game that’s played from an overhead view where the player controls hundreds of tiny Pikmin creatures through three leaders. The aim is to use their unique abilities in clever ways to explore the game world, discover treasures and grow your army even larger to take on more challenging tasks.
Bayonetta is not a title for everyone but if you loved the first game in the series, or you just love fast-paced hardcore action games in general, Bayonetta 2 is a must-have.
It brings back the intense combat and ridiculous character designs of the first game, but throws in all new weapons and abilities to keep things interesting.
Yoshi's Woolly World
Adorable is the first word we’d use to describe Yoshi’s Woolly World. Despite its cute and entertaining surface, this is a genuinely challenging platformer with wonderfully individual visuals, fun deep levels, and plenty of collectibles to gather and secrets to uncover. It also has the Yarn Yoshi amiibo behind it, which is probably one of the best amiibo out there.
This game riskily takes the Pokemon and Tekken formulae and smashes them together with a surprisingly satisfying outcome.
Until Pokken Tournament we’d only seen Pokemon battles feature animated suggestions of what moves the Pokemon were actually performing with little to no sense of their power. Now, however, we see the moves actually hit their target. We see Pokemon two-on-two battles which involve actual battling.
Pokken Tournament includes the exciting battle elements of the mainline Pokemon games, but eases up on the mechanical elements of Tekken which strikes a nice complexity balance and provides rich combat that will entertain fighting fans and newcomers alike.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Seeing the X in a game’s title can be off putting, but if you haven’t played a Xenoblade Chronicles title before that shouldn’t stop you from picking up X. Action RPG fans don’t get many titles to chose from on the Wii U system but this is an excellent one to have access to with its big open world that’s filled with entertaining characters and quests.
Have we mentioned you can jump inside massive humanoid robot suits which fly and take part in aerial battles? Because you can and they do.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Another HD remake of a Legend of Zelda title, Twilight Princess took the original game, enhanced its graphics and added amiibo compatibility as well as support for the Wii U Gamepad.
Everyone has different reasons for which Zelda title they hold closest to their heart and if yours is Twilight Princess an HD remaster is a great way to return to the Hyrule and Link you love most.
Minecraft was always a game that felt like it should have come from Nintendo, so it makes sense that it was a title worth picking up when it finally arrived on the Wii U.
Players on the Wii U got the traditional Minecraft block-building content we’ve all come to know and love, but had the added benefit of music, items, characters, and textures from Nintendo’s Mario to bring an added bonus to their decision to play on this platform over others.
Sharing surface level similarities with Towerfall Ascension, Shovel Knight also eschews polygons for beautifully evocative arrangements of pixels that'll make you pine for a bygone era – until you realise that it's actually a hell of a lot more fun to play than the Castlevanias et al that influence it.
A knowing and challenging RPG complete with idyllic villages, impossible boss fights and (mercifully) mid-level saves just to remind you what decade you're in, it's among the best-executed hybrids of old-school punishment and modern amusement in years.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a side-scrolling platformer that continues the well-loved gameplay of previous games in the Donkey Kong Country franchise.
This version sees Donkey Kong and characters travel through six different islands on a mission to defeat the Snowmads and save Donkey Kong Island. Players will mostly play as Donkey Kong, but they’ll be joined by a companion character who provides supplementary abilities and can also be controlled by a second player should the desire arise.
This game boasts fantastic level design (though there aren’t an abundance of them) and great boss battles making it a must-have for any side-scrolling platformer fans.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Even for a series like The Legend of Zelda which rarely puts a foot wrong, Breath of the Wild is an absolutely phenomenal game.
While past Zelda games have stuck pretty closely to the formula established by Ocarina of Time (the series’ 3D debut), Breath of the Wild throws much of the established wisdom away.
Rather than having a pre-defined order you must use to approach each major mission, Breath of the Wild opens the entire map up to you almost immediately, allowing you to approach the game in whatever order you see fit. You can spend hours just climbing trees and brewing elixirs, or you can even head straight to the game’s final boss if you’re feeling confident.
But away from Breath of the Wild’s unique structure, it’s the puzzles themselves that make the game feel the most satisfying. While previous games rigidly allow for a single solution to each puzzle, BotW’s physics-based problem solving means that there are often multiple solutions to each challenge depending on how you combine your various skills.
The result is a game that feels incredibly broad in scope, with so many little touches to discover that it’s hard not to fall in love with this long-running series all over again.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
This is one for all the fans of Japanese Role Playing games. If you like titles such as Fire Emblem, Persona and Shin Megami Tensei you'll no doubt find a lot to love here: fantastic characters, a great strategic battle system and a frequently silly but often entertaining storyline.
It's also a game that actually makes good use of the capabilities of the Wii U game pad by turning it into a giant smartphone of sorts where the text messages the game characters send each other appear.
Taking several games and mushing them into a single package served Nintendo well with Wii Sports and it's served it well here too.
Nintendo Land has more than a dozen games for players to enjoy and though they're not all good, many of them absolutely are. There are both single-player and multi-player titles on offer, though the balance is skewed in favor of solo adventures.
Still, each and every one of them make interesting use of the Wii U's gamepad and that's something we love to see.
Metroid Prime: Trilogy
They're absolute classics and now you have the chance to enjoy them on your Wii U thanks to the beauty of Nintendo's Virtual Console.
The Metroid Prime Trilogy bundle brings all three of the main Metroid Prime games together and if you enjoy intense gaming adventures set in space then you'll absolutely love taking up the role of the badass bounty hunter Samus Aran.