By Daniel Lein
Sadly, Nintendo recently announced that they will soon cease production on the Wii U a mere four years after the consoles release on November 18, 2012. It makes sense that Nintendo would pull the plug because, according to vgchartz.com, the Wii U is currently the 21st best selling console with a measly 13.5 million units sold. Though I am very grateful for the amazing times I have had with the console, I’m afraid many people will miss out on the Wii U’s stunning line-up. So when you’re strolling through a gamestop a few years from now and see a used Wii U for sale, be sure to pick it up as well as these ten fantastic games.
Super Mario 3D World
Though it’s a far cry from the Mario Galaxy 3 many of us were hoping for, Super Mario 3D World manages to deliver a unique 3D experience with all of the speed and precise platforming we would expect from one of Mario’s two dimensional diversions. Every level is a compact mixture of bright colors, masterful music, and pure fun especially with friends. It’s also the only Super Mario game I have ever come close to 100%-ing. That has to count for something, right?
Child of Light
When I first played Ubisoft’s gorgeous turn-based RPG, I was absolutely mesmerized by the stunning art, music, and poetic dialogue, but not so impressed by the game itself. However a few years later, the game feels like a meaningful part of my Wii U library. The gameplay was simple enough to be enjoyed by my eight year old sister, but complex enough with its active combat meters to keep a seasoned gamer like myself entertained. What really pushes the game up onto the list though is the childlike wonder with which it tells its story, making it feel right at home on a Nintendo console.
Super Smash Bros. 4
The Super Smash Bros. franchise has always had a difficulty balancing competition and fun. Melee is too complicated for some and Brawl was way too simple for most. Smash 4 has a great mixture of fun and competition, add in plenty of characters, a stage creature, and at least half a dozen different modes and you have an experience that makes everyone happy. I’ve spent hundreds of hours alone and with friends, and though it’s not my favorite Smash title, there’s little that compares to when you and a friend pick your best characters for a serious one on one.
The only thing that’s more tired than the shooter genre is the complaint reviewers have about how tired the shooter genre is. And only slightly less well known is that Splatoon has added a fresh coat of paint to the whole mess. The fun poppy design blends perfectly with the bubbly audio to give an aesthetic that’s as addictive as the gameplay. Toss in some strategy and twitch based shooting and you have one of the console defining experiences.
Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart is one of the most beautiful games this generation. Everything from the lighting to the rain effects make the Nintendo racer something to behold. Nintendo is rarely known for visual fidelity, but Mario Kart really shows what the Wii U is capable of. Oh, and the tracks and racing are pretty good too.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Shantae has been the biggest mascot from the indie scene for some time now, and though the Half-Genie hero has always danced right underneath the radar her most recent adventure has allowed her to rise to the top. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse mixes the action and puzzle solving dungeons of the Legend of Zelda with the pitch perfect platforming of Castlevania. Jake Kaufman delivers one of his best soundtracks in this light and upbeat island romp. Easily the best part of the game is the lovable characters and genuinely enjoyable dialogue that made me laugh more than a few times.
The retro aesthetic is not one I am necessarily fond of. Though it certainly works in some games, I feel it is more of a cop-out in others. This is not the case however in Shovel Knight. This action platformer feels more like a hidden gem dug up from the NES era than a cheap knock off attempting the emulate the style. One of the things that impresses me most about this game is the difficulty. Shovel Knight manages to be insanely difficult but also crazy fun, something real NES games had a hard time accomplishing. Beyond that the various side characters and bosses give the necessary flavor to make the roughly ten hour experience one you’ll never forget.
Super Mario Maker
Mario is easily the biggest name in gaming, and for Nintendo to give the tools over to the fans is really rad. With theoretically infinite levels to play, a vibrant community to engage with, and a toolkit that can make nearly anything that scrolls sideways this game has it made.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Much of this game is par for the Assassin course with great stealth missions, cinematic parkour, and intense chase scenes. What this game does differently however is deliver a truly stunning story along with the greatest vehicle combat the world has ever seen. The ship combat is both exciting and tactical, and with a half dozen different weapons and enemy types it never really gets old. The story is also wonderful as it transcends the contrived mainline epic of the franchise in favor of more complex and meaningful themes.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Alright, no more monkeying around, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is straight up the best game on the Wii U. I could talk for hours about how the joy of movement is perfectly captured in this platformer. I could wax eloquently on the art style, which feels so plush and adorable I feel I could reach out and touch it. We could spend hours listening to David Wise’s melodic soundtrack. But when it really comes down to it, this is something you have to experience for yourself. It’s Nintendo goodness purified and melted down into something flawless.
So did I miss something? And how are you planning to to celebrate the sad end to this lovely console?