The Wii U is a devastatingly underrated system. It’s ousted the GameCube as Nintendo’s least-selling home console of all time. Because of that, gamers all over the internet, true to their cynical nature, see that as a reflection of the quality of the system itself (of course, they also dismissed the original Wii because it sold well, so go figure). But despite being the butt of jokes on the internet and its less-than desirable sales figures, the Wii U actually boasts a really impressive library of games.
Sure, Nintendo really needed to emphasize the console over the controller in its early marketing strategies, the Gamepad needed to be used more effectively in more games, and one can’t help but think that simply naming the console “Wii 2” could have helped boost sales by itself (because seriously, what does the “U” mean?). Despite this questionable decision-making and marketing, the Wii U has ultimately proven to be a terrific console where it counts, and that’s the games.
Yes, the Wii U had a slow first few months, but once it started picking up steam around mid-2013 it’s released some of the best games in recent years. Arguably the best part is that you can’t play them anywhere else. Though console exclusives are becoming rarer on competing hardware, they often prove to be the more definitive titles of their generations, and it’s an area in which Nintendo always excels.
Though the Wii U still has some big games on the horizon (including a new Star Fox and The Legend of Zelda), I think it’s safe to say that rumblings of Nintendo’s next console, codenamed “NX,” means that its days as a priority for Nintendo are slowing down. Sure, Nintendo has stated that they’ll still support the Wii U even after NX launches, but I think the Wii U’s underwhelming sales will make it a short-term continued support (Wii U might have a good few months and a couple of big games after NX, but I can’t imagine it would go much farther). I feel now is a good time to reflect on the many great games the Wii U has provided over the past three years, even if I may have to make a revised edition after the last waves of big games hit the console in the year ahead.
Despite Nintendo being backed into a wall in regards to the Wii U, or perhaps because of it, Nintendo has ended up creating some of the greatest lineups of games in their history for the console. It’s given us the most balanced Mario Kart, the most intricate Smash Bros. and the best version of the best 3D Zelda yet made. But which Wii U games are the best?
The following is my list of the top 10 greatest Wii U games. The ten Wii U titles that are the most fun. The 10 most definitive. The 10 games that all those people who still refuse to get a Wii U are missing out on the most. Seriously people, stop using the whole “waiting for Zelda” excuse as a crutch. Nintendo consoles are more than just a Zelda title.
One final note, I have decided not to include The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD in this countdown. Despite being one of my favorite video games, it would feel kind of cheap to list a remake here with all the original Wii U titles, even if Wind Waker HD has some of the best uses of the Gamepad.
So without further ado, the top 10 Wii U games! But first, some runners-up!
Runner-up: Nintendo Land
No, Nintendo Land didn’t prove to be the second coming of Wii Sports that the Big N hoped it would be. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a whole lot of fun. Granted, you kind of need a full party of five players to fully enjoy Nintendo Land, as the single-player options feel pretty empty compared to Wii Sports. But if you can get said party together then Nintendo Land is an incredibly good time. Games like Luigi’s Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day make this a must-have for parties. It’s some of the most fun local multiplayer in recent memory.
Runner-up: Rayman Legends
Rayman Legends is an absolutely gorgeous game to look at, and an incredibly fun one to play. I admit I prefer more strategic platformers as opposed to the momentum-based style of Rayman’s resurgence (thus explaining why it’s a runner-up and not in the top 10), but there is no denying the charm and fun that exudes from this game. Though it didn’t end up a Wii U exclusive as it was originally promised, the Wii U version of the game remains its definitive version as it matches its original vision the closest.
Runner-up: New Super Mario Bros. U
We all know that the New Super Mario Bros. games tend to play things safe, as they prefer to stay in tried-and-true formulas as opposed to reinventing them like the 3D Mario games. Not to mention Nintendo was quick to turn New Super Mario Bros. into its own sub-series, with perhaps one too many sequels being released too quickly.
2012 saw two titles in the sub-series emerge in New Super Mario Bros. 2 on 3DS and New Super Mario Bros. U on Wii U. While the former is arguably the worst and most uninspired Mario platformer, the latter actually boasts a huge improvement in level design for the series. And when four players get thrown into the mix (and a fifth using the gamepad to help or hinder them), things really pick up.
It may not reinvent the series, but this is the best New Super Mario Bros. yet.
Runner-up: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Super Mario 3D World is a brilliant game (more on that later), and some of its highlights were the Captain Toad stages, in which players navigated a jump-less Toad through compact, singular screen stages. They were so fun that the team behind 3D World decided to expand them into their own game a year later.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a very fun, challenging, and underrated puzzle adventure that proves the Captain Toad levels were far too good to be relegated to a side dish. It’s a game that oozes charm and creativity from the get-go.
Plus, Toad finally stars in his own game (Wario’s Woods doesn’t count, Wario got top-billing)! Now if only Nintendo could make a Bowser game…
And now, on to the top 10!