Nintendo’s fortunes have gone through the roof of late with the release of Pokemon GO, whilst the hugely positive reaction to its Nintendo Switch console appears to confirm the Japanese gaming giant is unstoppable.
The relative failure of the Wii U, however, has reflected badly on the games industry. Since 2012, it has shifted around 15 million units worldwide, far short of the Wii’s 100+ million. A botched launch marketing campaign and a stupid choice in name didn’t help, but it’s also been unfairly and idiotically snubbed by certain sects of the often elitist gaming media.
This has given rise to the notion the Wii U isn’t very good (it’s “crap” my colleague confidently claimed, even though he’s not played on one). This is incorrect – it’s fantastic. In fact, it’s our second favourite games console ever, right behind the almighty SNES.
With Nintendo on peak form, the exclusives the system has enjoyed have made it every bit as good as its more graphically powerful peers. Today, we’ll indicate why now is the right time to pick one up.
The Top 10 Glorious Wii U Exclusives
With the Switch on the way, Wii U prices will likely be plummeting over the coming months. It’s a good opportunity to pick one up on the cheap, with many discounted bundles no doubt on the way.
The console has amassed an exceptional array of exclusives and, with its innovative GamePad controller and a huge back catalogue of classic NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 games to download, there really is no excuse (it can also play Wii games)! So, here are the 10 best (in our opinion) games on this innovative and highly underrated console.
10. Bayonetta 2
Starting things off, Bayonetta 2 is ridiculously flamboyant, but it’s self-aware and doesn’t take itself seriously. The action-adventure, hack and slash sort of thing received sweeping critical acclaim but, do note, it’s not for everyone.
Some would argue this should be near the top of this list, but we found its relentless cut-scenes and irritatingly bad dialogue somewhat annoying. If you’re into this sort of game, however, this will likely be a 10/10 sort of wonderbar experience. Enjoy!
9. Wonderful 101
Inventive, funny, a blast to play, and (unfortunately) woefully ignored by the gaming press and gamers. Wonderful 101 came out and caused a few nodding heads, but has since been largely forgotten. Do note, the legendary Famitsu magazine in Japan handed it a near perfect score. It’s also one for superhero fans, as you command a small army of the dudes and take on the world. Hell yeah!
One of Nintendo’s latest franchises, this is an unbelievably good fun third person squid-based shooter. The idea is to cover as much (or all) of your enemy’s arena in ink. This, simply put, makes it an epic online multiplayer option with frantic matches. It’s a rather marvellous antidote to the endless stream of ultra-violent first and third person shooters which currently plague gaming like a festering sore.
7. Xenoblade Chronicles X
A colossal JRPG with incredible scope and which simply demands hours and hours of play. If the trailer doesn’t get you frothing at the mouth, nothing will. It’s huge! Many gamers have reported thumping in over 100+ hours on X and for RPG fans it’s simply an enthralling experience.
6. Zelda, Zelda, Zelda!
Okay, so this is three games included as one point here (it’s our blog, we can do what we bloody well want). First off, the Dynasty Warriors style beat-em-up Hyrule Warriors was a great big slice of fun in 2014 – the license was handed to Omega Force and Team Ninja, who did a fine job.
Nintendo, however, gave a HD makeover to two stunning titles from its Legend of Zelda action-adventure franchise. The Wind Waker (first released in 2002) features cell shaded graphics and is a charming, peaceful, and mesmerising experience. Sailing across the world’s ocean, whilst night shifts to day, is really quite something. It’s just a glorious game which was criticised in 2002 for its cutesy look but is now regarded as a classic.
There is also Twilight Princess (from 2006), the darkest game from the series which features Midna, one of the best characters Nintendo has ever created. It’s a sweeping epic, simply put, but we’re leaning towards Wind Waker these days as the must have Zelda title on the Wii U.
5. Super Mario Maker
This one burst out of nowhere! Nintendo decided to let players take control of the Mario series and design levels in the style of several of its most recognisable 2D entries. The result is the bizarre genius of Super Mario Maker, which is perfectly suited to the Wii U’s GamePad.
The result is a game perfect for creative people looking to design levels. Anyone who loves Mario games (which should be everyone on Earth) will also rejoice at being inundated with a perpetual stream of new levels. If a game ever were mentally unstable, however, this is it. It’s extremely weird, it’s wonderful, it’s impossibly surreal, and it’s an utter classic.
4. Pikmin 3
One of Nintendo’s often forgotten franchises (a fourth title is, happily, on the way), Pikmin 3 arrived early in the Wii U’s life in 2013 and bagged sweeping critical acclaim.
It’s a title which should have been up for Game of the Year but was ignored – we have noted to be considered for this a game, seemingly, must be an ultra-violent CoD or GTA clone, but there you go.
Pikmin 3 is the antithesis of such insipid romp alongs – it’s a gloriously imaginative and charming adventure. After you’re stranded on an unknown planet, you’re left to command a small army of obedient plant-based animals who will help you to stash food in order to survive.
It’s peculiar, no doubt about it, but it’s one which will leave an indelible impression on you.
3. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
A lot of the gaming press was confused by this one and didn’t seem to put any effort into playing it. The general disdain for it was alarming, with some claiming it was another boring 2D platformer for kids. As a result, GameSpot gave it 6/10. Destructoid gave it 10/10. The latter is correct.
Tropical Freeze takes the Donkey Kong Country games from the SNES and adds new life. It’s a living breathing world you enter, in a platformer which challenges Mario’s brilliance and often betters it.
The scale is astonishing, the action relentless, the challenge full on (it’s extremely difficult – no child could play this!), and David Wise’s remarkable soundtrack elevates it to a dramatic new level. The brilliant Retro Studios delivered a masterpiece here, it’s just a shame much of the gaming press failed to pick up on it.
2. Mario Kart 8
The Mario Kart series is legendary and in many ways remains the ideal video game. It’s a colossal amount of fun and seems to unite even notoriously belligerent gamers on its brilliance. The games just keep getting better and better, too, with the Wii instalment from 2008 being a work of genius.
Mario Kart 8 followed it up and it’s even better! It’s breathtaking stuff and absolutely comes alive during the online races, where up to 12 people across the world can compete in roller coaster courses boasting relentless imagination and shortcuts we’re still discovering.
We can’t overstate how riveting the online races are – five-minute blasts of conniving, cunning, luck, bad luck, and almighty last lap dashes to the flag which will leave you almost literally breathless.
There’s no denying this is a masterpiece. Over two years on and we’re playing it non-stop and simply not getting bored of it. If you want more fun in your life, the Wii U is worth it for this game alone.
1. Super Mario 3D World
What Nintendo did with Super Mario 3D World is take the fun of traditional Mario platformers and put the new title on an epic scale. With relentless imagination and a colossal amount of stages to work through, it simply doesn’t seem to want to end. As the player, you’re dragged along with it and it’s simply a joyous, uplifting, and genius experience.
For our money, it’s the best Mario game of all time, which is some statement considering this series has many contenders for Best Game of All Time status.
It should also be seen as Nintendo’s towering achievement on the Wii U and a fine example as to why it is one of the leading game developers in the world.