With Wii U turning one year old this week, here’s a look at the gaming highlights from its first year of release. I’m sure there’ll be an endless flood of these kinds of lists, so I’ll keep mine to the point. If you own a Wii U, you should play these games. No one can say there’s been nothing to play. Even if you bought one game a month this year, you’re still in over your head with my list.
I may as well start with the blindingly obvious. Pikmin 3 is Wii U’s best game right now, and while the Pikmin name might not conjure up the kind of excitement or generate the hype of AAA titles on other consoles, Nintendo fans know better. Charming and engaging, simple to pick up yet difficult to master, there’s a whole heap of content, (including free DLC or “add on content” available) and it looks beautiful.
Lego City Undercover
I was really impressed with this game. After the horrible opening half hour. There’s a massive open world to explore with so much to find and do, it really surprised and delighted me. If you get a chance to play it, remember the first half an hour is slow, tedious, and in no way a reflection of the rest of this beautiful, funny, ambitious and downright fun Wii U exclusive.
Trine 2 The Director’s Cut
Anyone who has downloaded from the eShop has probably downloaded this already. It’s a beautifully crafted (and looking) sidescrolling action/puzzle/adventure game and really shouldn’t be missed.
People are either going to love or hate Scribblenauts. If you played any of the earlier games on 3DS you’ll love this. Bigger, bolder and brighter, plus Maxwell looks stunning in HD. If you like puzzles, logic, and creative thinking, you’ll love it. If you like a slow paced game full of humour, wit, and charm (and dare I say emotion) you’ll love it. If you don’t like those things, you’ll hate it.
Need For Speed Most Wanted
This game is getting a bit old now, but it’s a hell of a ride and the online is (was? I haven’t played it for a while) spectacular. The Wii U version of this fast, frantic open world racing game looks the best, plus you can play the whole thing on the gamepad. It controls great and if you love a good racing game with plenty of content and beautiful looking real-world cars, or just love a quick burst of get-away-from-the-cops action, find this for cheap and play it. It’s awesome.
TANK! TANK! TANK!
You need to play this with four people. It’s a fun little arcade game and I wrote more about it here. If you can get the disc for under $20, do. If not, head to the eShop, download it for free and buy a multiplayer map or two for $3 each. You’ll only get a few hours out of it, but give it a go, it’s unique and frantic fun.
The Legend Of Zelda The Wind Waker HD
Basically at this point in Wii U’s life, any list of “what to play” will be basically the same. There’s not much to really choose from, but a game with a rich and controversial a history as Wind Waker simply must be played. You’d know this HD remake has had unprecedented review scores, so even if you played the original everyone’s still telling you to play this, the definitive version.
New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U
I really enjoyed NSMBU when I bought it at launch with my Wii U. Although the graphics truly left a lot to be desired and I felt the overall presentation smacked of laziness, (or was that just HD inexperience?) it’s still a blast to play, offers a wealth of modes, and easily has the most content of any New Super Mario game. You’re be doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t played it yet. While I haven’t gotten around to New Super Luigi U yet, everyone I know who has tells me it’s just as awesome, only harder. Reviews I’ve read reflect exactly that, too.
I’m not going to recommend anyone pay full price for Zombi U, nor will I ever say it’s a must play game. I will say that for $20-$30 it’s worth experiencing, even if you only play it for a few hours to soak up the novelty value. Zombi U uses the gamepad in some nifty and contextually appropriate ways, and it’s offers up genuine scares and tension. I will never finish it but I enjoyed the experience and I’d certainly be more forgiving of its shortcomings if I picked it up for $20.
TNT Racers: Nitro Machines Edition
This game took me by surprise. I’d never heard of it, but when I saw it on the eShop, I Googled it and the buzz was positive. I downloaded it and I’m glad I did. Read my review of the game here, and if you’re lucky enough to have friends over to game on a regular basis, you should consider spending the few bucks and including this one in your rotation.
Bit.Trip Presents…Runner 2: Future Legend Of Rhythm Alien
As ludicrous as the title is, this instalment of the Bit.Trip series is a blast. If you like runner games, here’s one with a level of pizazz, spectacle, and polish rarely seen in the genre. I wrote more about it here. Here’s hoping the game’s protagonist, Commander Video, gets a start in the new Smash Bros.
Wow. Was this worth the wait. Ubisoft showed Nintendo how to do a sidescrolling platformer on thier own machine, even though it didn’t end up a Wii U exclusive like it was originally supposed to be. Rayman Legends is the overall best and most entertaining 2D platformer I’ve ever played, and it has got to be the best looking ever created. You’ve got to pick this one up.
Zen Pinball 2
A pay for what you want game from the eShop, Zen Pinball 2 is an absolute blast. If you like pinball this is a must buy, I recommend the Fantastic 4 table. Playing this with the gamepad is an absolute joy, I’ve played it on 360 and 3DS, and I’ve gotta say the gamepad feels so much better. It’s something about having your hands so far apart to press the flippers that makes it feel so close to the real thing.
Just Dance 2014
God and Ubisoft know there’s no escaping the Just Dance series. I’d take the KINECT version over the Move or Wii Remote version any day, but with fun new gamepad features and a more recent, (relevant) pop focused selection of tracks, Just Dance 2014 on Wii U looks like a winner. Just Dance is an anomoly in my game library. We only ever acknowledge the games existence after the tequila bottle is half empty, and who did well dancing to Gangnam Style or Nelly Furtado’s Maneater is never mentioned again once the disc leaves the machine.
Look, I doubt anyone reading this bought a white Wii U and didn’t buy Nintendo Land. If you did, you’re silly and you’re missing out. Read my review and my separate critique of each attraction in Nintendo Land. Also see how I think the game could improve.
The Other Ports
Don’t forget the other enhanced ports that reviewed well, like Batman: Arkham City, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Deus EX: The Director’s Cut, and Mass Effect 3.
The Virtual Console Games
Virtual Console games are, on the whole, overpriced. But at least they’re there as an option. I’m not too sure the variety on display is too crash hot at the moment either, but there are some gems there. Zelda II, Mega Man X, Ghosts ‘N Goblins, Kid Icarus, Super Metroid and Super Mario. Bros. are all classics that should be experienced.
. . .
What will the second year of Wii U bring us in terms of quality games? We all know Mario Kart is on the way, so are Smash Bros. and Mario 3D World. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is coming too, and possibly the next Zelda.
Here’s hoping there’s some more big franchise titles, like Metroid, Battallion Wars, F-Zero, and the big one everyone seems to want. Starfox.
Come back tomorrow for part two of my “Wii U Turns One” series, where I’ll look at the biggest disappointments of the year. You can follow me on twitter: @rustyshell and Miiverse: zinger_AU
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