Cosplay, Comic-Con and Culture

 


Epic Originals: The 10 Best Wii U Games

 


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Posted February 28, 2017 by

There’s no easy way to say this: the Wii U has been a bit of a disappointment for Nintendo. Since its launch in 2012, the system had been struggling to find its place in the market for a variety of reasons, ranging from the Gamepad controller, a lack of third party support, confusing marketing, and the system just not being as powerful as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. And while that hasn’t stopped the system from a having a legion of supporters and fans, myself included, there’s no denying that the system didn’t do as well as Nintendo had hoped, especially after it’s predecessor the Wii sold gangbusters.

But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the system. While it wasn’t as innovative as motion controls, I still enjoyed the Gamepad for what it was, as it added a bit of portability to a home console, something that Nintendo is making the focus of their new console, the Nintendo Switch. While it wasn’t as robust as its competitors, Nintendo’s Miiverse service was a surprisingly fun online service that let players communicate via messages or drawings, with posts ranging from players offering each other help in games, funny comments and drawings, to the just plain weird, even by Internet standards. And of course, the most important thing to every console is the games; sure the Wii U didn’t have heavy hitters like Fallout 4 or Grand Theft Auto V, but it still had a great library of games to choose from, many of which coming from Nintendo themselves.

And so, as we get closer to the release of the Nintendo Switch, let’s pay our final respects for the console that could have been and look back at the 10 best games the Wii U had during its brief life cycle. The only two rules for this list are no remakes or virtual console games (sorry Wind Waker HD, Earthbound Beginnings, and Twilight Princess HD) and these games had to have been bought at a brick and mortar store, so no digital only games (sorry Freedom Planet, the North American release of Fatal Frame V, and Fast Racing NEO). But before we kick this list off, here are a few runner up games that didn’t quite make the list:

  • Pikmin 3
  • Yoshi’s Wooly World
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions
  • Star Fox Zero
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash
  • The Wonderful 101

10. Zombi U

ZombiU

Ubisoft was one of the few third party developers to support the Wii U for much of its life, and while even they eventually had to drop support for the system, they did the best they could with what they had, bringing a fair number of games to the system, including Assassin’s CreedRayman Legends (which was originally an exclusive for the console before being ported to the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, and PC) and the original Watch Dogs. But of all the games they made for Nintendo’s console, Zombi U is easily the best.

Set in London during a zombie apocalypse, Zombi U is a first person survival game that tasks you with fighting off waves of zombies using a variety of melee weapons and the occasional gun. The game makes full use of the Wii U’s Gamepad, which besides using it as a mini map and inventory management, also is used in special minigames to barricade doors and unlock doors, as well as to be used to scan an area, the latter of which adds a lot of tension and fear, as using it leaves you vulnerable to zombies, who will kill you with one bite. This wouldn’t be a big deal in any other game, except the fact that Zombi U has a permadeath system, where dying causes you to switch to another character, who you must slowly work your way up and find your items and equipment from your last run, but not before killing the last character you used, who’s now a tougher zombie.

The game got mixed reviews when it first came out due to it’s controls, and while it’s not a perfect game by any means, it’s certainly a solid game in the Wii U’s library that makes excellent use of the Wii U’s Gamepad to create a game that’s both fun and at times terrifying which rewards careful, well thought out play. The game was re-released on the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2015, and while they aren’t bad per se, the game does feel like it was built with the Wii U Gamepad in mind, with those versions suffering a bit for it.

 9. Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors Legends 3DS

The Zelda series has been in a weird place this generation. While we’ve gotten remakes of beloved games on both the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS, the mainline games were mostly on the 3DS with A Link Between Worlds and the co-op focused Tri-Force Heroes. Then you have Hyrule Warriors, a game that many fans thought would be a nice distraction while we waited for the next mainline Zelda game, but ultimately ended up being an excellent game in its own right.

Hyrule Warriors is just one of many games in the long running Dynasty Warriors series or (Musou as it’s usually known as), are a series of hack and slash games that focus on one character taking on waves of easily disposable grunts, completing missions and fighting bosses, all with some corny rock music and some ridiculous combos and specials thrown in for good measure. Hardly the kind of gameplay that would mix well with a series like The Legend of Zelda, and yet it surprisingly all works, throwing in enough Zelda elements like collecting items and using them to explore the map, while at the same keeping traditional Musou elements of fighting waves of enemies, only this time the enemies in question are from various Zelda games, like Moblins and Stalfos. Speaking of previous games, one of the biggest things Hyrule Warriors has going for it is that’s a giant love letter to the series. From iconic music cues like opening a chest, to an Adventure Mode that is shaped like the over world in the original Legend of Zelda (complete with hidden secrets to discover), and even having characters from previous games show up (such as the obvious heavy hitters like Link and Zelda, to more obscure characters like Ruto from Ocarina of Time or Agatha from Twilight Princess), the game is a love letter to all fans of the series wrapped in a nice layer of hack and slash gameplay.

Admittedly, the game can get a bit repetitive, and assuming you have a New Nintendo 3DS XL, the handheld version of the game is the superior one, hence why it isn’t higher on the list. But for a game that was meant to be an appetizer while we waited for the full meal, Hyrule Warriors definitely has a lot of love, care and polish that any fan can enjoy.

8. Super Mario 3D World

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When it was first announced, Super Mario 3D World didn’t really impress people, myself included. Not that it looked bad or anything, its just compared to the Super Mario Galaxy games on the Wii, the whole game looked rather pedestrian, even with its cat power up and having Peach be a playable character. Then more trailers for it came out, including one with a snazzy jazz theme, and people started to get more excited about it. And the final game came out, while it didn’t set the world on fire, it was still a solid, excellent co-operative Mario game.

The two biggest selling points Super Mario 3D World are the four playable characters Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad (with Rosalina unlocked later), and the new Cat powerup. Unlike the New Super Mario Bros. games, Super Mario 3D World’s four playable characters each have their own strengths and weakness, with Mario being all-around, Luigi can jump higher, Peach can glide, and Toad can run (kind of like how they were in the North America version of Super Mario Bros. 2), with some levels obviously being easier or harder depending on the character, as well as how many player you have with you. That’s all fine and dandy, but what really helps set 3D World apart from other co-operative games is the Cat powerup, which besides giving each character an adorable cat costume, also lets players climb up certain walls and attack enemies with pounce attacks.

Combined with each character’s abilities and classic powerups like the Fire Flower and the other new powerup the Double Cherry (which adds a copy of your character), and you have a game that is a solid platformer on your own and a hilarious chaotic good time with friends (especially since there’s a competitive element when playing with friends). Also, hearing Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario and Luigi) make cat noises never stops being adorable.

7. Splatoon

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If you had told me five years ago that Nintendo would make an online shooter, I would have rolled my eyes and exclaimed, “Nintendo, making an online shooter? Ridiculous! Also, what are you doing in my house?” But here we are, in 2017, where Nintendo has not only made an online shooter called Splatoon, but one that’s actually pretty good for a variety of reasons that one wouldn’t expect.

What I mean is that unlike most online shooters, where the focus of the game is to rack up as many kills as possible, the point of each match in Splatoon is to cover the floor of each stage with your team’s ink color, since you know, you’re controlling little squid kids in this game, another huge departure from most shooters. Sure, you still have things like loadouts, grenades, etc., but Splatoon puts a nice colorful spin on these, with weapons ranging from super soakers to my personal favorite giant paint rollers, with each of them having their pros and cons, and insuring that no matter what you’re doing on any given map, you’re contributing to the team in some way, something that I feel you can’t say about many online shooters. Heck, the single player, which is often nothing more than a tutorial for the multiplayer with a plot in most shooters, is actually pretty fun in Splatoon, with a great final boss fight and a surprisingly dark backstory that I won’t spoil here.

Granted, at launch Splatoon wasn’t perfect, as it felt like it was missing a lot, hence why the game isn’t higher. But combined with its numerous post launch updates and events, bright and colorful designs, memorable characters, and most important of all, its unique gameplay, and you have a fun online experience that (no pun intended) oozes with personality.

6. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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While not as popular as the Mario series, the Donkey Kong Country games are still solid platformers with a fair share of fans, myself included. After taking a bit of a break, the series came back in full force in 2010 with the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns, a game that brought the series back to its 2D roots and developed by the excellent developer Retro Studios, who were behind the excellent Metroid Prime trilogy. The game was well received by fans and critics, and many people considered it one of the best games in the series, and that nothing would top its greatness. Then Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze happened.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of those sequels where it’s more of the original game with a few changes here and there; that’s not a bad thing though, considering that the original Returns was great, and Tropical Freeze just builds on that already solid foundation, with a few minor tweaks, such as adding two new characters in Dixie and Cranky Kong, as well as some underwater levels, which were absent in the last game. While the latter doesn’t always work out, the addition of two new characters make the stages even more interesting to explore, as each of their abilities (Dixie’s helicopter hair and Cranky’s cane) complement each stage, which much like the last game are truly memorable and a blast to play through.

Sorry if this entry is shorter and less descriptive than the others, but Tropical Freeze is one of those games that you can tell just by looking at it you’re going to like it. Did you like Donkey Kong Country Returns? If so, then you’re going to love this, since it’s the same solid gameplay and level design as the last time, only this time it’s in beautiful HD, doesn’t have motion controls, and it has an excellent soundtrack done by the brilliant David Wise.

5. Mario Kart 8

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At this point, what hasn’t been said about Mario Kart 8? The game was well received, its sold 8 million copies as of September 30th, 2016, making it the best selling title on the Wii U (which granted isn’t saying much), it actually increased Wii U sales when it first launched, and Nintendo is releasing a Switch port this year. So really what else can be said Mario Kart 8 at this point? Quite a bit actually.

Like Tropical Freeze, while Mario Kart 8 doesn’t make many changes that shake the formula that we’ve seen in previous games, but the changes that are made improve and build on what’s already there. Case in point: the biggest addition that Mario Kart 8 brings to is it’s anti-gravity mechanics, where you can ride up walls. It’s not really that big of a deal, but it’s just enough to let the developers get a little more creative with the tracks, and boy did they. With tracks that have you going up waterfalls, power sliding on walls, and even bumping into your opponents to boost like a bumper cars are just some of things that you’ll do in these tracks, which combined with the series tight controls and chaotic weaponry, make these some of the best tracks in the series’ history; heck they’ve remade some courses from past games using these anti-gravity mechanics, making them feel like brand new courses. There’s even a couple of DLC courses that make the jump too, like two based on the beloved F-Zero series.

Combined all of that with the Mario Kart 8‘s excellent online, including Mario Kart TV (which is sadly no longer around), a new 200 CC speed that was added post launch, a ton of post game content, and the addition of the Super Horn to combat that pesky Spiny Shell that’s plagued the series since the Nintendo 64, and you have a game that absolutely deserves all the praise that it got. Even if the Battle Mode is kind of terrible, which they’re thankfully fixing with its Deluxe version.

4. Shovel Knight

Shovel-Knight

Technically, this is kind of cheating since Shovel Knight was originally a digital only game for PC, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U before being ported to the PS3, PS4, Linux and Xbox One. But it did also get a physical release for most major consoles, including the Wii U, so at the same time it technically still counts. Besides, this is the only chance I have to gush about Shovel Knight, so I’m going to take it.

Shovel Knight isn’t the first game to be inspired by the NES library, and it most certainly won’t be the last. However, what sets Shovel Knight apart from those games is the fact that it strikes a nice balance between 8-bit nostalgia and modern sensibilities. For example, the game can be really hard at places, but there are no lives and checkpoints are incredibly frequent. You lose money when you die (which you need to buy a lot of the game’s important items), but it’s easier to get it back by retracing your steps, a system that both punishes you for messing up while at the same time not punishing so much that you give up. Heck, you can even break those checkpoints I talked about earlier to get more money, but at the cost of one less checkpoint should you die.

It’s little tweaks like these that make the game enjoyable for all ages and skill levels, and while it’s clear that developer Yacht Club Games has a fondness for the NES, they aren’t blinded by that fondess and knows what worked in those classic games, creating a game that can not be missed regardless of what platform you decide to game. And considering how many copies of the game have been sold and the three expansions to the game (one of which, called Plague of Shadows, is already out and you should totally play), the game is going to be around for awhile. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about how awesome the soundtrack is; it’s pretty awesome.

3. Super Mario Maker

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I won’t go into too much detail about why Super Mario Maker is such a great game (you can check out our review of the game here for that), but I’ll say this: Super Mario Maker, more than any game in the Wii U’s library, sold the Wii U Gamepad and what it could do. For a lot of people, this is the game where the Gamepad finally clicked and it made sense. For all intents and purposes, Super Mario Maker is one of the Wii U’s killer apps, if not the killer app.

The biggest selling point of Super Mario Maker, besides the fact that you can make your own Mario levels, is the ease of which to make them. Creating a new level is as easy dragging and dropping objects, and is surprisingly fun to boot. While making levels is half the fun of Super Mario Maker, putting that level online and seeing what others have created is just as rewarding. The community that’s sprung up from this game is amazing, with some truly creative levels being made. And while not all of them are great, the majority are still pretty great to play through.

Super Mario Maker, more than any game on this list (or really in the Wii U’s library), is the best use of the Wii U Gamepad, showing perfectly what it could do in the right hands, and I feel that if it had come out sooner in the console’s life, the Wii U would probably have been better off because of it. But that obviously never happened, and while we’re probably not going to get another Maker game on the Wii U anytime soon, the game that we did get was great, and I hope Nintendo continues this series with some of their other franchises down the road.

2. Bayonetta 2

bayonetta-2

Bayonetta 2 had a really interesting development history. After the success of the original Bayonetta, development began on a sequel. Those plans were squashed when Sega had was in financial trouble, but Sega allowed developer Platinum Games to shop the game around to other publishers. When every publisher rejected the proposal, the game was on the verge of being canceled permanently until Nintendo, who was publishing Platinum’s other major project The Wonderful 101 at the time, swooped in and agreed to fund and publish Bayonetta 2, making it a Wii U exclusive. It was officially announced on September 13th, 2012 during a Nintendo Direct, and despite fans getting mad and worried that Nintendo would interfere with development, the game was finally released in North America on October 24th, 2014. While the original Bayonetta set a high bar for action games, its sequel did the impossible and exceeded the original in just about every way.

The original Bayonetta was well received for its stylish, fast paced combat, and the sequel follows suit, bringing back Bayonetta’s trademark moves abilities such as her Torture Attacks, Wicked Weaves, and Witch Time. This time though she has a new ability called Umbran Climax, which when activated lets her go town on a group of enemies, and this combined with her new weapons (which besides guns also include swords, bows, and chainsaws) makes for a challenging yet rewarding combat system. Sure, you can button mash and dodge your way through the game just fine, but the game is at it’s most rewarding and fun when you’re activating Witch Time, knowing when to use Torture Attacks or to use Umbran Climaxes, trying out the new weapons, exploring the stages, and overall learning the intricacies of the the game’s combat.

Real talk: Bayonetta 2 is my personal favorite game of this console generation. The soundtrack is bombastic and stylish, the combat is deep and fun, there’s more variety in the enemies than in the first game, and there aren’t any quick time instant deaths. If you seriously ever find it in a store, I urge you to go get it, and would strongly recommend getting Much like its protagonist, Bayonetta 2 isn’t for the faint of heart, but once you get to know its intricacies and subtleties of the mechanics, you’ll find yourself having a excellent time.

1. Super Smash Bros. For Wii U

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Super Smash Bros. For Wii U was going to end up on this list one way or another. The question was going to be in what position? After mulling it over, looking at the other games on this list, there was no way it couldn’t be anywhere than number one; Super Smash Bros. For Wii U is the best game on the Wii U. Not just because it pays homage to Nintendo’s beloved franchises, but because of how much well made content is in the game.

Seriously, even without DLC and before the updates, the game has a roster of 49 characters, with 15 of them being new and most of them bringing something unique to the game, like Little Mac from the Punch-Out series and his boxing repitore and KO meter, Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy with her Lumas, Mega Man from the Mega Man series bringing his Mega Buster and powers, and Robin from Fire Emblem Awakening having his or her tombs, with veterans feel much better to play with. Stages cover a wide range of games from Nintendo’s history, each accompanied by an excellent collection of songs both new and old. And when you aren’t playing with friends or loved ones online or offline,there are bevy of game modes to keep you busy, like the returning Classic Mode and new modes Smash Tour and Master/Crazy Orders (though the latter is much better). Going back to DLC for a bit, but the amount of post support for this game is definitely worth mentioning. Besides bringing back veterans like Roy and Mewtwo, but also new characters like Ryu from Street Fighter, Bayonetta from well Bayonetta, Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, complete with his own Midgar stage.

Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, like every other game in the series, is a love letter to everything Nintendo and its rich history. Now if it were just that and nothing more, than there’d be no reason to put at number one. But much like its predecessors, it’s more than just a simple homage to the longest video game company; it’s a genuinely fun, well made game that is fun for everyone, whether your a hardcore player that plays on Final Destination with no items, a casual player that likes to play with items on, or you’re a fan who wants to see Mario beat up Sonic and Cloud so more. Everything about the game fits, and that is more than enough reason and then some to reward Super Smash Bros For Wii U the best Wii U game.

 

Come this Friday, the Wii U will officially be done. Production has ended, retailers aren’t getting any more stock, and outside of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there won’t be any major games coming to the system. It’s a sad time right now, as the system certainly went through the ringer and is ending prematurely, not even hitting the five year life cycle that most consoles do. But it’s also a happy time, as we’re getting ever closer to the release of the Nintendo Switch, a new console hybrid that combines a handheld with a home console. And while we don’t know what will happen with this new console, there is one thing that I’m sure of: that the games will be fun and unique experiences that we can talk about and enjoy for years to come, much like these games on the Wii U.

So here’s to you Wii U.It may not have worked out as well as your predecessor, but you had some amazing games that couldn’t be found anywhere else, and for that, I and many gamers thank you.

 

 

 

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Jon

 
Jon


  • Kate Yap

    I never really look at the Wii U when I think about spending hours on gaming, but surprisingly a lot of the games they have are very addictive and you end up spending hours and hours more than you intended. Games like Donkey Kong and Mario Kart is just super fun to play with a friend and they also evoke a warm feeling of nostalgia for the old titles.