After a disappointing run, Nintendo finally pulled the plug on the Nintendo Wii U last January. A number of factors had a hand in sinking the Wii U to the bottom of the current-gen console race, which includes a confusing marketing campaign and lack of third-party support. The Wii U only managed to sell 13.56 million units worldwide. That number pales in comparison to the Wii, its predecessor, which sold over 100 million units. It wasn’t even close to sniffing at the Wii sales numbers.
The Wii U games library is unimpressive, which is an understatement. But it still has a good number of must-play titles. Let’s take a look at 15 of the most notable Wii U titles that you should definitely play first before selling your console and moving on to the Nintendo Switch. Well, assuming you bought a Wii U console in the first place. Many of these are Nintendo first-party titles, so expect to see a lot of Mario.
Bayonetta 2 is the sequel to 2009’s Bayonetta, which was created by Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya. Unlike its predecessor, Bayonetta 2 is exclusive to the Wii U, one of the few noteworthy non-Nintendo exclusives for the console. It centers on the titular character Bayonetta, a witch who mainly uses guns and her lovely black hair to fight angelic and demonic monsters.
The gameplay features a fast-paced hack-and-slash combat system similar to Devil May Cry. The “Witch Time” feature also returns, which activates by dodging enemy attacks at the very last moment. When activated, Witch Time allows Bayonetta to finish off enemies who have been slowed down.
Bayonetta 2 greatly improves upon the first game’s mechanics, smoothing over a few rough edges to deliver an experience that is both stylish and chaotic. The game length is on the short end, though. But the great combat system will make you want to play it over and over again.
Super Mario Maker is another proof of Nintendo’s creativity and willingness to always look for new ways to provide gaming entertainment. Not that anyone’s doubting them, of course. Super Mario Maker was a Wii U exclusive before Nintendo released a port on Nintendo 3DS just last December. It features the classic 2D side-scrolling platforming gameplay seen in other Mario titles.
But instead of levels designed by Nintendo, players go through levels designed by other players and uploaded online. Players need to show first that the level they created can be finished, and only then can other players online play their created level. This discourages players from designing impossible levels. The interface is easy to grasp, making it more accessible to players who are unfamiliar with platforming mechanics.
There are lots of editing tools available, giving players a great amount of freedom in designing levels. For example, they can give normally flightless enemies the ability to fly and create traps inside warp pipes. After playing through extremely hard levels in Super Mario Maker, Nintendo-created levels in other Mario titles will feel like a walk in the park.
Mario Kart 8 is not only one of the best games on Wii U, it is also the console’s best-selling game to date with over 8 million copies sold. It is the eighth entry (duh) in the long-running racing game series, which started way back in 1992 with Super Mario Kart on SNES.
Featuring single-player and multiplayer modes, Mario Kart 8 continues the series’ familiar go-kart racing gameplay where players use characters from Mario titles. Players can use various items picked up on the racetrack to attack and slow down other players. There are over 40 racetracks in the game, which includes DLC racetracks. Up to 12 players can play against each other in online multiplayer.
Mario Kart 8 features a handful of returning gameplay elements seen in previous titles like go-kart customization and underwater racing. The newest and most notable addition is anti-gravity racing, which is exactly what it sounds like. This new feature allows players to drive along walls and ceilings in select areas, making races more fun than ever.
Shovel Knight is the lone indie title in this list, developed by Yacht Club Games and published by Nintendo on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. (The developer handled the publishing on other non-Nintendo platforms.) Featuring old-school 2D graphics, Shovel Knight is a side-scrolling platformer that draws elements from classic NES platformers.
The gameplay centers on getting the titular character through different levels to advance. Each level has a boss battle at the end. You can use the Shovel Knight’s shovel to fight enemies and uncover buried treasures in each level. Chests scattered around each level also contain items.
You can use the in-game currency to upgrade the Shovel Knight’s parameters, weapon, and armor. You can also buy secondary items that grant both offensive and defensive effects. These secondary items can be bought from a salesman, who is typically hidden around levels.
An interesting gameplay mechanic is the ability to destroy checkpoints. Yes, as in checkpoints where you start over from whenever you die, which saves you from having to start from the very beginning. By destroying checkpoints, you lose a safety net. But in exchange, you can earn even more treasure. It’s a fair trade-off. Shovel Knight, while obviously less budgeted, is right up there with other notable Nintendo platformers in terms of fun, replay value, and well-designed gameplay mechanics.
Released in 2013, Pikmin 3 arrived nine years after Pikmin 2. The story centers on three aliens – Alph, Brittany, and Charlie – from the planet Koppai, who were sent to explore the planet PNF-404 and bring back food resources to help their famine-ravaged home planet. After the trio’s ship crash-lands on PNF-404, they come into contact with plant-like creatures called “Pikmin,” who help them explore the planet.
Pikmin 3, like its predecessor, has a real-time strategy gameplay, which revolves around commanding up to 100 Pikmin to do specific tasks in the vast and colorful game world. This includes collecting items, fighting unfriendly creatures, and building structures.
Unlike in previous series installments, Pikmin 3 features five colored Pikmin: red, blue, yellow, grey, and pink. The latter two are the new additions. Each type of Pikmin comes with different abilities and attributes. For example, the grey-colored Pikmin can punch a hole through armored enemies and barriers, while the pink-colored Pikmin can carry items over bodies of water thanks to their wings.
Another new feature is the ability to control three different groups of Pikmin. Each group has an assigned Pikmin leader. You can utilize all three groups to make quick work of specific tasks. It’s basically the same thing as controlling multiple units in other real-time strategy games like StarCraft and Warcraft. Pikmin 3 may not be as popular as other Nintendo first-party titles, but it’s definitely one of the must-plays on Wii U.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an enhanced port of the Wii title Monster Hunter Tri. It contains practically the same content as the original game with few significant changes. The most noticeable change is in the graphics – Ultimate now features enhanced high-definition graphics, making monsters more fearsome than ever.
Like other Monster Hunter titles, Ultimate centers on hunting, slaying, and capturing monsters. By repeatedly slaying monsters, you gain resources and money, which you can use to get your hands on more powerful equipment. Which, in turn, allows you take on even stronger monsters. That’s pretty much what the entire gameplay is about.
However, Ultimate is more than just a hack-and-slash game. In order to effectively take down monsters, you will need to carefully, and sometimes meticulously, scout them for weak points and soft spots. Each monster usually comes with a specific combat behavior or attack pattern. It’s up to you to find the most effective way to deal with monsters after analyzing their tendencies and weaknesses.
A launch title for the Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U stands behind Mario Kart 8 as the second best-selling title on Wii U with over 5.6 million copies sold worldwide. Like many other Mario titles, it is a side-scrolling platformer where the ultimate goal is to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser.
To do that, players must go through a finite number of levels littered with enemies, traps, pits, and other contraptions meant to prevent Mario from rescuing Princess Peach. The core gameplay is a tried-and-tested formula that, amazingly, never seems to get old.
New Super Mario Bros. U features both single-player and multiplayer modes. In multiplayer, up to five players can play cooperatively. Four players control each of the four characters in the game: Mario, Luigi, and the two Toads. The fifth player provides support to the other four by using the Wii U GamePad to directly affect levels. Like stunning enemies to give the other four a safer path.
The game introduces two new modes: Challenge Mode and Boost Rush. The former gives players challenges to complete, like avoiding collecting coins or finishing a level without touching enemies. The latter features an automatically scrolling screen that moves even faster when players collect more coins.
Splatoon is an addicting third-person shooter game developed by Nintendo where you control characters called “Inklings,” who have the ability to shapeshift from human form into squid form. Yes, squids, as in those ink-squirting sea creatures.
The gameplay is somewhat similar to an area capture mode where players control and defend zones around the map. Players use ink “weapons” like ink guns and ink rollers to cover the map with ink, which has the same color as their team color (i.e. the purple team sprays purple ink). Players can also “splat” opponents, which is the equivalent of shooting other players in firearm-based shooters like Call of Duty. Players who get splat are sent back to the team starting point.
While in squid mode, players can dive into and swim in the ink, provided it is the same color as their team color. Swimming through ink allows players to move quickly around the map as well as recharge their ink supply. Areas covered in the enemy team’s ink are off-limits while in squid form. Players can walk on them while in humanoid form, but at the cost of movement speed and damage.
Splatoon is an incredibly fun team-based multiplayer game, providing a breath of fresh air in a shooter genre dominated by military-based first-person shooter titles. A sequel, Splatoon 2, is currently on the way for Nintendo Switch. It releases this July.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is an RPG containing elements from Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei. You control a group of teenagers who have the ability to merge with “Mirages,” which are similar to Personas in the Persona series except they are based on Fire Emblem characters.
Despite being a crossover title, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE feels more like a Shin Megami Tensei title with only a few elements drawn from Fire Emblem. The gameplay centers on exploring real-world Tokyo and dungeons and defeating evil Mirages (think Shadows in Persona). The weapon triangle system in Fire Emblem has been turned into resistances, which work similar to the six-type elemental system in Shin Megami Tensei.
Initially titled “Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem,” Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE features excellent stylish visuals and a great soundtrack, more than making up for its sometimes silly story. Which is kind of surprising considering the two franchises involved. The turn-based battle system is also well-designed and seamless, another huge plus.
Super Mario 3D World is another 3D Mario title, which combines classic 2D platforming from early Mario titles and 3D exploration from titles like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 64. Up to four players can play simultaneously using one of the four playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad. A fifth character, Rosalina, can also be unlocked.
Each character has their own characteristics. For example, Luigi jumps higher than Mario, probably due to his skinnier frame, and Toad outruns everyone else. The game is best played with real-life friends, which opens the door to a lot of hilarious and frustrating moments.
The ability to use the Wii U GamePad to interact with the game also adds to the fun factor. You can use the touchscreen and the mic to reveal items and fight enemies. Like many other Mario titles, Super Mario 3D World delivers countless hours of fun.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is another installment in the loosely connected Xeno series, which includes Xenogears and Xenosaga. It comes with the same action-RPG gameplay seen in Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii, though it doesn’t count as a full-fledged sequel (Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is currently being developed for Nintendo Switch).
The gameplay puts more focus on exploration than combat and features “Skells,” rideable Gundam-like humanoid robots. You can use Skells, which can also transform into vehicles, to traverse the vast open-world. There are a lot of things that can keep you busy in the game, like the numerous, albeit sometimes tedious, quests and the deep character customization system.
Don’t count on the story to produce fireworks, though. It’s the most disappointing aspect of the game. But other than that, Xenoblade Chronicles X is an excellent action-RPG, one that doesn’t feel boring even a hundred hours into the game.
Next, we have Pokken Tournament, a product of a collaboration between Bandai Namco and Nintendo. It’s a fighting game that features characters from the Pokemon franchise and a gameplay system borrowed from Bandai Namco’s popular Tekken series.
Pokken Tournament features 20 playable Pokemon, an unimpressive number for a fighting game. But it does come with an additional 30 more support monsters, which are grouped into twos. The support roster includes fan-favorite monsters like Dragonite, Cubone, and Eevee.
None of the monsters look out of place in the fighting system. And that includes Suicune, a four-legged beast. The all-out Pokemon brawls actually feel like a preview of how Pokemon battles would look like if trainers weren’t around in the Pokemon universe.
Want to see Link tear through hordes of enemies with impunity? In Hyrule Warriors, you can do just that. Hyrule Warriors is a hack-and-slash game borne from a hook-up between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo. It features characters and locations from The Legend of Zelda series but uses the gameplay system of the Dynasty Warriors series. You can think of it as a more fast-paced and more combat-heavy Zelda title.
The story is non-canon, so don’t bother putting pieces together in an effort to determine where the game fits in the main Zelda timeline. You mainly control Link, but can unlock more characters in Legend Mode and Adventure Mode. The former is the main campaign mode. The latter features a grid-based map where you complete specific objectives. The map is based on the first Zelda title. Unlocked characters can be played in Free Mode, a mode where you can replay scenarios in Legend Mode.
Hyrule Warriors puts more focus on combat and less on exploration and puzzles. The combat system revolves around weapon classes. Each weapon class comes with a different set of combat abilities. You can also customize weapons to make them more powerful and formidable. Similar to unlocking new characters, new weapons and weapon classes are unlocked via game progression.
Though endlessly cutting through groups of enemies can sometimes feel repetitive, Hyrule Warriors is a well-made spinoff that offers tons of fun. A sort of spiritual sequel is on the way in the form of Fire Emblem Warriors for Nintendo Switch. It will feature the same Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash gameplay, but with characters from Fire Emblem (obviously) instead of The Legend of Zelda.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the fifth entry in the Super Smash Bros. series. It continues the series’ unorthodox take on fighting games. Instead of depleting the opponent’s health bar, players need to knock them out of the arena to win. All characters have a percentage meter that indicates how far they can be knocked back. A higher percentage makes them more susceptible to being kicked out of the arena.
The roster is largely composed of characters from Nintendo’s intellectual properties. There are over 50 different characters available, which includes Charizard and Pikachu from Pokemon, Mario and Bowser from Mario, and Marth and Lucina from Fire Emblem. A few characters from non-Nintendo franchises like Snake from Metal Gear Solid (Konami) and Mega Man (Capcom) also make an appearance.
The gameplay is a bit more casual than other Super Smash Bros. titles, making it more accessible to newcomers. Still, it will take more than a few hours of practice to get a good grasp on the system. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is arguably the best fighting game on Wii U, though there really wasn’t much competition.
Finally, we have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the final Zelda title on Wii U. It was released last March alongside the Nintendo Switch. It’s the best Zelda title right now, a distinction that Ocarina of Time held for years.
Breath of the Wild is a reinvention of the series, throwing away a number of gameplay elements that have been staples in the series since its inception. The most notable of which is the linearity. In previous Zelda titles, players always had to follow a set path where they must beat dungeons in a specific order. There’s none of that in this game.
After visiting the mandatory shrines (sort of mini-dungeons) and collecting the key items from within early in the game, everything opens up. You can do whatever you want from that point onward. The game won’t pressure you into taking on the four main dungeons and the final dungeon.
You can spend 50 hours exploring Hyrule with no regard for Princess Zelda’s wellbeing. Or you can march straight into Hyrule Castle, the final dungeon, with nothing but sticks as weapons. Breath of the Wild provides you with a beautifully created open-world as a canvas – it’s up to you to paint your own adventure.