I don’t have to explain to you all that the media has been DOMINATED by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild lately. It seems everyone is posting articles and videos like a Zelda fanboy on their YouTube channel. But one thing I’ve noticed that isn’t getting a lot of press is what this release means for Nintendo’s older child, the Wii U. Namely, the release of Breath of the Wild marks its end.
We’ve talked a lot about the Wii U on this site. TB and I grew up with Nintendo as a constant presence and we both have a certain nostalgia for that. We also have no illusions about the Wii U and have no problem marking all of it’s flaws, as we have done on multiple occasions.
Today though, it’s not a time for criticizing but for celebrating because despite the Wii U’s many flaws, it did bring some really great ideas and experiences to gaming. So without further introduction, here are my 10 games for the Wii U worth playing.
1. Super Smash Bros for Wii U
I’m going to start with the obvious one. This is the series that has had notable entries on each and every Nintendo console since the Nintendo 64. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is one of the best entries in the series to date, though. While the game modes didn’t appeal to me as much as the 3DS ones did, it’s hard to argue with the gorgeous visuals, eight player modes and numerous amazing courses. Plus, this game took the Smash Bros formula and actually gave it a competitive balance. As far as party games go, Smash Bros for Wii U is one of the best.
2. Bayonetta 2
A lot of people write off Bayonetta 2 as “that one good game on the Wii U” but I really think that’s selling this game short. Bayonetta was a fantastic game from the previous generation but Bayonetta 2 surpasses it in every way imaginable. A better story, better characters, better art and most importantly, better action. Bayonetta 2 isn’t just “the good game on the Wii U”, it’s one of the best action games ever made. The fact that many won’t ever get to play it because it’s on the Wii U is its only flaw.
3. The Wonderful 101
Another Platinum games original, The Wonderful 101 was perhaps the only truly good, original game to come out in the Wii U’s first year. Its praise was far from unanimous but despite its divisiveness, many people appreciated the odd Pikmin-meets-Action-RPG vibe they were going for. The game isn’t without it’s faults and perhaps the Wii U wasn’t quite strong enough to handle this game’s ambitions but it will still be one of the standout experiences the console had to offer.
Splatoon, to me, is sort of the anti-CoD. Where Call of Duty tries to be the hub for serious shooter fans, Splatoon tries to be the hub of folks who just want to have some dumb fun. That’s not to say Splatoon is a dumb game, it is actually surprisingly deep, but it never tries to take itself too seriously. As such, its online community tends to be far less intense than most I’ve encountered. As someone who steers clear of random online multiplayer whenever possible, Splatoon felt like a breath of fresh air to me and I’m very much looking forward to more people getting to try this great series when Splatoon 2 hits later this year on the Switch.
5. Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World may not have been the followup to Super Mario Galaxy that many fans were hoping for. Setting expectations aside though, Super Mario 3D World is actually one of the finest Mario games in years. Where New Super Mario Bros has started to fail, SM3W picks up the slack by offering 3D Mario levels that feel like classic 2D offerings. It’s hard to explain in words but SM3W provides levels filled to the brim with unique challenges, surprising moments and plenty of secrets, much like Super Mario World offered back on the SNES. Add in some goofy multiplayer fun and SM3W may actually be the New Super Mario Bros we wanted all along.
6. Hyrule Warriors
This one may be a bit controversial but as a fan of Musou games to this day, Hyrule Warriors was one of my favorite games on the Wii U. If you are unfamiliar, Hyrule Warriors was a spin-off of The Legend of Zelda made by the developers of Dynasty Warriors in the style of that game. Ever wanted to see Link mow down hundreds of Bokoblins? Now you can! Not only that but you can see him do it in many, MANY different ways! One of my favorite things about this game is the massive amount of variety in the game modes. The story mode takes you through a mostly linear storyline about people messing with various Zelda timelines. It’s contrived but offers up sufficient explanation for why you can slaughter your way through all the different settings across the Zelda franchise, plus allowing you to play as many of the characters. There are also cool modes like Adventure mode that lets you play your way across a map of the original Legend of Zelda, taking on special challenges that offer up their own rewards. Plenty of massive DLC packs, interesting characters and easier Co-op play than you’ll find on the 3DS made me keep coming back to this for a long time.
7. Zelda Games
Okay, hear me out on this one because it’s a bit weird. One of the biggest annoyances to me whenever I have played any main series Zelda game has been having to constantly stop and move items around in the menu. When I’m exploring a dungeon, I want to be able to keep up my momentum and not have to stop every few seconds to get the items I need equipped to hotkeys. It’s a minor complaint but one I’ve had since the very beginning of the franchise. It’s one that the Wii U solved instantly by the nature of the console itself. Instead of having to go into menus, you can just use the touchscreen on the Gamepad to move items around without ever needing to pause. Maybe it’s a small thing to you but to me, I don’t know how I’m going to go back to the old system, no matter how amazing Breath of the Wild may be. We may not have gotten Wii U versions of all Zelda games but for Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, the Wii U is the definitive way to play those games.
8. Lego Games
As if my last entry weren’t weird enough, now I have to say every Lego game? Again, give me a chance here. I promise it will be my last generic entry. See, like many married gamers, I have the struggle of finding games that my wife and I can enjoy together. One of the series we’ve bonded over is the Lego games. Yeah, they’re all more or less the same game but I enjoy them and so does she. I imagine lots of parents have discovered this as well. Still, the multiplayer has always had its challenges on previous consoles. In the early games, you had to stay together on the same screen which can be annoying when two people with different paces play together. Even later, when they implemented split-screen, the way the screen moves around to reflect where you are in relation to each other can be nauseating and confusing. Introducing the Wii U, the console that lets you play local co-op on two separate screens. One person plays using the Gamepad and one person plays using the TV. No more nasty split-screen, no being bound to the other player. When my wife and I discovered this with the Wii U, we immediately picked up every Lego game available for the console from Lego Batman 2 to Lego Jurassic World. All I can say is I don’t look forward to going back to traditional split-screen after we run out. Fortunately, there is a lot of Lego content on the console for us to enjoy.
9. Mario Kart 8
There have been a lot of Mario Kart games over the years and I have owned each one since Mario Kart: Super Circuit back on the GBA. Yeah, I know, it’s amazing I ever got another one… Anyway, of all the Karts I’ve spent time with, Mario Kart 8 is by far the best. The courses are a ton of fun with their transformations from air, sea and land as well as their desire to wreck gravity whenever they can. The gameplay is tight and while rubber-banding still exists, it doesn’t feel as egregious as it has in the past. Good racers will win most of the time, regardless of the items everyone gets. Also, online play is quick, easy and fun. I haven’t played online in a while so I can’t comment on the current state of things but picking it up just about 6 months ago, I was able to consistently find matches within only about a minute each time. Matches were always filled and consisted of a variety of skill levels so while I was usually beaten out by some amazing players, I never felt like I was out of the race. I’m glad that players will get to experience this great game on the Switch also when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe comes out this April.
10. Xenoblade Chronicles X
If there is one crime in the early demise of the Wii U, it’s that once again, Xenoblade Chronicles will not get the recognition it so intensely deserves. Xenoblade Chronicles was one of the best games on the Wii and Xenoblade Chronicles X was probably the best game on the Wii U. While the story was much weaker than its predecessor, they doubled down on creating a massive world to explore filled with all kinds of amazing things to discover. Combat is also improved after characters were given both ranged and melee weapons to utilize as well as massive Skells (read: Gundams) to fight with. I rarely have time to play video games in front of my TV anymore but I made time to clock over 100 hours into this game, something I rarely do with any video game on any platform. Calling it the best game on the Wii U simply doesn’t give this game the credit it needs. Xenoblade Chronicles X is one of the best JRPGs ever made and seriously, in a couple months when Wii U’s become dirt cheap, do yourself a favor and pick one up if only to play this game. You won’t regret it.
Some honorable mentions include Pikmin 3, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Pokken Tournament, Super Mario Maker, NES Remix 1 and 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Pushmo World which are all fantastic games but couldn’t make it on this list.
Have your own Wii U games/stories to share? Let us know in the comments below!