Let’s face facts. Nintendo’s latest foray into the home console market has had a slow start to say the least. Despite a one year head start over its rivals, the Wii U has already been overtaken by Sony’s PS4 with Microsoft’s Xbox One not too far behind. Luckily the future looks a lot brighter for the Wii U with a bunch of exciting new titles shown at E3 2014 including big names such as The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Super Smash Bros, Bayonetta 2, and many more. But the promise of good games in the future can only go so far to sell a console today. Fortunately we can confirm that there are plenty of excellent Wii U games out now which are worthy of your time as you’ll see in our list below. We’ve even had to include an ‘Honorable Mentions’ section so we wouldn’t miss anything out. Without further ado, here are our top 10 best Wii U games so far! Do you agree with our choices? Let us know on facebook, twitter, or in the comments below.
10. Child of Light
There are a great number of lovely things I could say about Ubisoft’s Child of Light, but perhaps the greatest compliment of all would be to describe it as playing through a beloved Studio Ghibli film. Child of Light boasts an utterly gorgeous watercolor aesthetic which feels like it’s been pulled straight from a storybook. These breathtaking visuals are further complimented by a dreamlike soundtrack that transports you to a world of pure fantasy. Underneath the pretty surface, Child of Light also plays like a dream thanks to interesting puzzles and exploration, and a highly compelling battle system. The turn-based combat might look like well-worn RPG fare at first, but the addition of a timed ‘initiative bar’ makes gameplay feel fresh and challenging. Both enemies and party members must wait a certain amount of time for each move to be triggered based on its power. If an attack hits an opponent who is in the ‘trigger phase’, their move will be interrupted. The trick is that you can slow down enemies’ initiative bars to try to cancel their attacks while ensuring yours aren’t interrupted. Overall Child of Light is an innovative, beautiful and complex RPG which is most definitely worthy of your time.
The Wii U’s slow start has caused a bit of a catch-22 in regards to third-party content for the system. On the one hand publishers may hold off producing content until the system gains a bigger user base, yet these potential customers feel reluctant to lay down cash for a console without a solid selection of games. Fortunately Nintendo have been doing what they do best—ending the drought with a steady stream of excellent first-party titles as you’ll see further down the list. The fact remains however that there are relatively few decent third-party games on the Wii U, even less if you want something exclusive which pushes the system’s individual strengths. Ubisoft’s undead launch title ZombiU is one such rare example. This intense survival game throws you into a vision of London which—as you’ll gather from the title—has been overrun by zombies. It’s a genre that has been done to death in recent years but it feels innovative here due to its use of the GamePad. If playing as a regular citizen with limited ammo wasn’t bad enough, you’ll constantly need to look down at your GamePad screen to check your radar, as well as to manage your inventory and reload weapons. This really adds a great sense of tension as you fumble around during encounters like you might in a real zombie apocalypse. Another fantastic addition is that when you die you’ll have to start again as a new survivor, but you’ll have an opportunity to return to your previous corpse to retrieve your gear. ZombiU has a few minor frustrations however this shouldn’t stop survival fans from missing such an exhilarating adventure.
8. Rayman Legends
We’re only three spots into our Top 10 best Wii U games and already it’s beginning to look like a shameless plug for Ubisoft with the addition of Rayman Legends to the list. While not a Wii U exclusive, this fun, challenging, and achingly pretty game proves that Nintendo isn’t the only developer in town who can create a truly excellent 2D platformer. First of all just look at those incredible hand-drawn visuals. They honestly look like they’ve jumped straight from the screen of your favorite Saturday morning cartoon. Which is great and all, but it wouldn’t count for much without good gameplay to back it up. The great news is that Rayman Legends shines in this regard too with highly entertaining co-op, tough obstacles to overcome, countless secrets to discover and some utterly masterful level designs. To top it off Rayman Legends makes excellent use of the GamePad. This is one game that every Wii U owner should have in their collection.
7. The Wonderful 101
Japanese developer Platinum Games are best known for creating fast-paced, action games like Bayonetta—and its upcoming Wii U exclusive sequel Bayonetta 2—in which you step into the high heels (and little else) of an angel-slaying witch. Placed alongside other Platinum titles such as the ultra-violent MadWorld, it’s clear why the announcement of The Wonderful 101 for the Wii U came as a bit of a shock to some fans. This cute, colorful title initially seems like a drastic departure from the more risqué content in Platinum’s previous titles, but its lightning-fast combat and unique brand of craziness bear a strong family resemblance to the rest of the developer’s catalogue. Your goal is to take control of 100 mighty heroes who wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Power Rangers. Your mission of course, is to save the world from invading aliens. And if you were wondering who the 101st hero is… it’s you! If controlling 100 tiny heroes sounds tough, that’s because it most certainly is. The Wonderful 101 takes some dedication to get used to and its controls can even grate at times, but stick with it and you’ll find a deep, rewarding action game.
6. New Super Mario Bros. U
Wii U launch title New Super Mario Bros. U was initially dismissed by some critics as just being more of the same. While it’s true that there is a strong resemblance to other games in Nintendo’s retro New Super Mario Bros. series, it’s anything but a quick ‘by-the-numbers’ rehash. Apart from looking fantastic on the Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U brought plenty of inventive level design and a huge amount of content for players to enjoy. It also nails the balance of being welcoming to newcomers, while still offering a stiff challenge for Mario veterans whether they want to play alone or with friends. There are also plenty of hidden Star Coins to collect which will certainly push players’ skills to the limit. Along with an extremely tough Challenge Mode there is plenty here to keep dedicated players occupied for a very long time. New Super Mario Bros. U is a hugely entertaining title and is easily one of the best Wii U games in terms of overall value.
5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
At first I was skeptical that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze would be able to live up to the extreme creativity and challenging gameplay of Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii. Imagine my surprise then, when this Wii U sequel completely blew its predecessor out of the water! Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ups the ante in almost every way. We get more characters with the return of series favorites Cranky Kong and Dixie, even prettier HD graphics, more challenging levels in new exotic locales, and the addition of bosses that make Dark Souls seem like a walk in the park. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a game that no platforming fan should miss.
4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD takes one of the greatest Zelda games of all time, streamlines some of its more dated gameplay elements, and makes it even more beautiful than before with a full high definition remaster. The cel-shaded art style was quite divisive back when it released on the Gamecube over 10 years ago, but with the benefit of hindsight we see a timeless aesthetic that has aged better than most games in the series. Sailing too has been revamped on the Wii U. Traversing the seas back in 2003’s Wind Waker was exciting and liberating, though it also got rather tedious at times. The solution is a new Swift Sail item which allows you to travel at a much faster pace. Another welcome change is the fact that the previously bloated final section of the game has been trimmed back and no longer feels padded out for the sake of extending play time. If you missed The Wind Waker the first time then what are you waiting for? This game alone is almost enough to justify a Wii U purchase. Even fans who played through the original should still check out this definitive version.
3. Pikmin 3
Anyone who denies the Wii U’s claim of true ‘next-gen’ status needs to check out Pikmin 3 right away. Without a doubt this is a jaw-droppingly beautiful game. But don’t be fooled by Pikmin 3’s adorable HD visuals. Underneath the cute, cuddly exterior lurks a seriously challenging—even brutal—strategy game that will have you admiring the scenery one minute then tearing your hair out the next. You take control of one of three space explorers who’ve crash landed on a planet which bears more than a slight resemblance to our own. Your goal is to fix your ship and find a new food supply to bring back to your home planet where resources have been depleted. If you couldn’t tell, Pikmin 3 tackles environmental issues with all the subtlety of Captain Planet, but like that 90’s cartoon classic these themes are handled in a fun way and don’t outstay their welcome. And hey, if it encourages someone to recycle or turn off a lamp then that can’t be bad. Pikmin 3 isn’t a particularly long game—most players will get through it in 12-15 hours unless they rush. However this can be significantly extended by extra mission stages and some fantastic multiplayer modes that are sure to ruin friendships. Whatever you do, don’t let Pikmin 3’s relatively short playtime stop from jumping into this amazing world.
2. Super Mario 3D World
Fun, gorgeous and almost endlessly inventive, Super Mario 3D World is a very close contender for the best Wii U game so far. While it doesn’t quite capture the initial wow factor of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D World is a masterclass in level design that shines either alone or with a group of up to three friends. You’ll step into the shoes of familiar faces such as Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, each of whom have their own slight advantages and overall control feel. There are also plenty of new features such as translucent pipes, a fantastic new catsuit item, and the ability to control multiple clones of your character at once. It’s also a game that is brimming with fresh ideas and creativity. Often a new gameplay mechanic will be introduced for just one level and then won’t appear again for the rest of the game. After all these years and countless sequels it’s amazing to see that Nintendo’s mustachioed plumber still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. Super Mario 3D World doesn’t necessarily highlight the Wii U’s unique strengths, but it is such a great game that you will be having too much fun to care. This is an absolute must-have on the Wii U.
1. Mario Kart 8
They see me rollin’, they hatin’… Surely you’re aware of the infamous Luigi death stare meme by now that recently took the internet by storm. As funny as that might have been, Mario Kart 8 deserves every bit of the attention it got because it’s simply a breathtaking game to behold. I’d challenge even the most jaded Nintendo hater to spend a few hours with it and not crack a smile. Mario and friends have never looked better than they do here in full HD, and the game’s dynamic, anti-gravity tracks are bursting with shortcuts and cool details. Mario Kart 8 might be pretty, but don’t be fooled—it puts up a serious challenge too. In fact sometimes you’ll need all your strength just to resist smashing your GamePad to smithereens—in which case you’d do well to check out our handy Mario Kart 8 guide). As good as the single player modes are, it’s the addictive local and online multiplayer modes where the game really shines. If there is one potential criticism of Mario Kart 8 it’s that you can’t chat during online races with strangers. Instead you are limited to preset family-friendly phrases like “Good game!” or “So unfair!”. Honestly though it’s a refreshing change from the usual anger, sexist remarks and homophobia that dominates chat in competitive games like Call of Duty. This minor restriction helps create a nice, fun atmosphere, and isn’t having fun what gaming is all about?
Bit.Trip Runner 2, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Sonic Lost World, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Wii Fit U, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Director’s Cut), Nintendo Land, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Skylanders Swap Force, Need for Speed Most Wanted, LEGO City: Undercover