Essential Nintendo Wii U: The Top 10 Best Games

Zelda, Mario and Splatoon are among our top picks for the underrated console

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Nintendo's Wii U was released in North America on Nov. 18, 2012 Popjournalism

With the launch of the Nintendo Switch, it’s the perfect time to look back at the Wii U, its underrated predecessor.

As of the end of last year, the Wii U shipped 13.5 million hardware units and was a disappointment for Nintendo. However, it’s relative failure wasn’t because of a lack of quality software.

Here are just 10 of the exceptional titles that made the Wii U gaming experience great:

10. Yoshi’s Woolly World
Yoshi's Woolly World
Yoshi’s Woolly World was released on Oct. 16, 2015 Screen capture

This game is seriously cute. Yoshi’s Woolly World takes everything that’s great about the adorable platforming dinosaur and wraps it up in warm, fuzzy yarn. There’s also a huge challenge hidden here, especially if you’re out to grab every collectible. The pressure’s off in Mellow Mode though, an option that gives Yoshi wings and lets gamers enjoy the experience with minimal frustration. (Did we mention how cute this game is?)

9. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Nintendo Wii U
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was released on Dec. 5, 2014 Screen capture

If this game doesn’t make you smile, nothing will. But don’t let the sunny dispositions of Toad and Toadette fool you: this 3D puzzle game is fiendishly tricky. You’ll rack your brain trying to figure out how to get past some levels. Competitions should plan for some extra game time if they’re out to grab the three hidden diamonds and secret bonus, too. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker also offers great reasons to pick up an amiibo or two. The Toad amiibo unlocks a special hide-and-seek post-game challenge — and if you happen to have other amiibo, use them to get a daily supply of extra lives.

8. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Nintendo Wii U
Xenoblade Chronicles X was released on Dec. 4, 2015 Screen capture

Some RPGs like to hold your hand, but not Xenoblade Chronicles X. The vast open-world of Mira — a world which rivals the size of Grand Theft Auto V — is also a dangerous one. Hostile alien monsters are everywhere and low-level enemies traverse the land next to giant level 50 creatures. You’ll need to explore Mira very carefully if you want humanity to survive on their new home planet. The story’s as large as Mira, too, as you can play for over 100 hours and still have story missions left to do. The battle system takes a while to get used to, though, and the story doesn’t pick up steam until a dozen or so hours in. However, the total sum adds up to an unforgettable experience that RPG fans shouldn’t miss.

7. Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 for the Nintendo Wii U
Bayonetta 2 was released on Oct. 24, 2014 Screen capture

Woah. That’s probably the first word that will come out of your mouth when you start Bayonetta 2. This dark, hack-and-slash game is full of over-the-top set pieces that it’s almost overwhelming. Believe it or not, the relentless pace of the opening scenes are just a small taste of what’s ahead. Best of all, you can configure Bayonetta 2‘s controls to your taste, so if you prefer button-mashing or timing out a perfect combo, it’s just a setting fix away.

6. Splatoon
Splatoon for the Nintendo Wii U
Splatoon was released on May 29, 2015 Supplied publicity photo, Nintendo, 2015

Don’t write off Splatoon just because of its looks. Underneath the kid-friendly exterior is a top-shelf competitive shooter that’s a blast to play. Connect online to a never-ending run of turf war battles, with squid kids from around the world trying to spray their team’s ink colour over the most territory to win. Just don’t forget to take a break once and while.

5. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Wii U
Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Wii U was released on Nov. 21, 2014 Screen capture

As one of Nintendo’s core franchises, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U perfects everything that’s come before it. Balanced fighters and a huge roster of playable characters across many different game franchises. Smash for Wii U is a near-perfect fighting game and the best in the series so far.

4. Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 for the Nintendo Wii U
Mario Kart 8 was released on May 30, 2014 Supplied publicity photo, Nintendo, 2017

Yet another one of Nintendo’s key franchises takes the stage. Mario Kart 8 is, like, Super Smash Bros for Wii U before it, the perfect version of Mario Kart. For the first time in the series, the racing game includes drivers from outside the Mario universe, including Link and Isabelle from Animal Crossing. There simply isn’t a better competitive racing game than Mario Kart on the Wii U or otherwise.

3. Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World for the Nintendo Wii U
Super Mario 3D World was released on Nov. 22, 2013 Screen capture

Speaking of perfection, Mario simply doesn’t get better than this. The move to three-dimensions changes the game yet again for the beloved Nintendo mascot. For those who find the reflexes and patience required to play traditional Mario games to be a chore, it’s much easier to maneuver around levels. Yet, veterans who deviate from the main paths will find significant challenge, including insanely difficult post-game levels.

2. Super Mario Maker
Super Mario Maker for the Nintendo Wii U
Super Mario Maker was released on Sep. 11, 2015 Screen capture

If you grew up always wanting to stack a Hammer Bros. on top of Bowser, this game is a dream come true. Making your own Mario level is a breeze thanks to the intuitive user interface. But if creating custom Mario levels in four game styles isn’t your thing, there are hundreds of thousands of Mario levels for you to play through instead.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Wii U
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released on Mar. 3, 2017 Screen capture

The Wii U’s swan song, Breath of the Wild, drops Link in a stunning, always-dangerous Hyrule with little guidance. Hunt, climb and explore the land at your own pace — and if you wander too far without preparation, it may be at your peril. Not only is this the best title on the Wii U (and Switch), it’s possibly the best Zelda adventure ever, which makes it one of the best games ever. Period.

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