It’s Nintendo’s turn! The Geekiverse crew has come together to name our Top 25 Wii U games. Although the system has seen a very arduous and bumpy road over the last few years, it played host to plenty of great titles, including some of Nintendo’s very best of all time.If you wanted local multiplayer experiences that would get the whole room laughing and roaring, you needed a Wii U.
Our panel that concocted this list included Jeff Pawlak, Josiah LeRoy, Sam Sarvis, and Jeff Dugan.
Consider this a sort of send off from The Geekiverse for Nintendo’s first foray into HD gaming!
25. Assassin’s Creed 3
The Assassin’s Creed franchise journeyed to several different places in this landmark entry. It took the story all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to the American colonies as the Revolutionary War was underway, offering us an empowering protagonist with Native American heritage. It sent us into familiar, urban environments, but also tasked us to journey into the wilderness. It even gave us exciting set pieces aboard magnificent war vessels out in the waters along the eastern seaboard.
24. Disney Infinity 3.0
Disney decided it wanted a piece of the highly profitable “Toys-to-Life” genre of video gaming, where you purchase a real-life action figure to use within a game. Noting Disney’s incredible catalog of popular fictional character, including ones from Marvel and Star Wars, Disney out earned Skylanders and Lego Dimensions. The games reviewed relatively well but sadly, it was announced that all future sequels had been canceled due to Disney’s decision to only license their properties to outside game producers. That won’t stop fans from collecting the impressive bunch of figures out there, even if they don’t utilize them in the actual game.
23. Batman: Arkham Origins
Ubisoft Montreal was tasked with creating Batman: Arkham Origins, a game that would essentially hold over the masses until Arkham Knight would be ready for launch. The game takes place years before Arkham Asylum, as a bounty is placed on Batman’s head by Black Mask. The impending chaos brings Batman to meeting several of his classic rivals for the first time, including The Joker. The game isn’t as well received as the trilogy of games from Rocksteady, but is still a very good game on its own and often doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
22. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
In 2012, Treyarch launched Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 to record sales in the gaming industry, only to be broken by the mega popular Grand Theft Auto V the following year. The ever-popular multiplayer featured slight tweaks and perks that made it one of the most addicting CoD games ever, while the incredible campaign ranks as one of gaming’s finest. The campaign also introduced subtle RPG elements, featuring multiple endings while having the player control 2 different protagonists in 2 different eras. Many consider it the greatest CoD campaign to date and save for CoD: Advanced Warfare, the last one worth playing through. It was a true sequel to the original Black Ops, whereas Black Ops 3 failed immensely on multiple fronts.
21. Watch Dogs
Upon the original E3 2012 showing of Watch Dogs, gamers everywhere knew that a new generation of gaming was on the brink. Ubisoft took some negative feedback as a result of the ultimately over-produced initial trailer, but overall, Watch Dogs went on to be a commercial and critical success. The game features Aiden Pearce, a professional hacker, who must live with an unthinkable tragedy that cost his niece her life. The narrative focuses on morality and brings about a lot of questions that are pertinent to today’s real life struggles with technology and the cost of having it.
20. Xenoblade Chronicles X
One of the earliest games shown off the Wii U, Xenoblade Chronicles X was well worth the wait when it hit retailers in 2015. Developer Monolith Soft took the priority of art direction and the immense scope from the original Wii’s Xenoblade Chronicles and augmented it with the Wii U’s HD technology. The result was the biggest in-game world ever found on a Nintendo console, and among the biggest on any console. Xenoblade Chronicles X may be too complex for some gamers, but those who dive into its fathomless game mechanics are rewarded with a sprawling and thrilling adventure.
19. Mass Effect 3
The controversy surrounding Mass Effect 3’s ending is something that will always hang over the game like a black cloud, but that should not stop you from playing one of gaming’s masterpieces. ME3 takes everything its predecessors did and combined them, polished them, and mastered them. Choice means everything and carries weight. The combat is a joy. The characters? Unforgettable. As Game Informer Magazine once said: “Movies have Star Wars, TV has Star Trek, and gaming has Mass Effect.” We’re still holding out hope for that current-gen collection of the trilogy….
18. Yoshi’s Woolly World
Yoshi finally made his return to home consoles with a solo adventure after a 17 year hiatus, dating all the way back to Yoshi’s Story on the N64. Woolly World borrowed the adorable and colorful visual style as found in 2010’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and it was just as tight of a fit for the green dino as it originally was for Kirby. With Woolly World, Yoshi proved that you can be sickeningly cute, and finely tuned all at once as a video game.
17. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Until Zelda Wii U/NX lands on store shelves, this stands as the biggest Legend of Zelda adventure to date, with a huge in-game world, a 30-40 hour story, and tons of side content. Link’s quest to save Hyrule from Ganondorf and the spreading Twilight featured perhaps the most diverse array of gameplay in the series, along with easily the most sprawling dungeons to test our puzzle-solving and platforming skills. The HD remake brought new refinements, new content, and enhanced imagery to Twilight Princess, lifting what was already one of the franchise’s very best just a little higher.
16. Rayman Legends
Somehow, Ubisoft managed to out-do themselves with their follow up to the stellar Rayman Origins. Legends is the perfect example of how 2D gaming can hang with the very biggest and loudest HD games on home consoles. Its platforming was just as exhilarating as it was creative, with nearly each new level bringing a fresh gameplay concept to test players. Rayman has always done the platforming genre proud, and he stands tall even among Nintendo’s platforming icons like Mario and Donkey Kong.
15. Hyrule Warriors
In this unexpected spinoff bringing The Legend of Zelda and the Warriors franchises together, Zelda tossed out its puzzles and gave us sprawling battles against hundreds, sometimes thousands of Bokoblins, Stalchildren, Bublins, among numerous other enemies and monsters from across The Legend of Zelda’s storied history. Hack ‘n’ slash wars were never more fun than when you got to take control of Link, Princess Zelda, Impa, Ganondorf, Darunia, along with a host of other recognizable characters to cut your way through hordes of foes. Like any Warriors game, it had just as much content as it did enemies, offering dedicated players seemingly endless missions and challenges.
14. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong continued his fine return to form with this colorful, and thoroughly-challenging 2D platformer. Don’t let DK’s goofy grin and hilarious antics fool you—like previous Donkey Kong titles, this was a game that you could only get through if you took its brilliant level design seriously. Secret levels like Bopoplis may very well be the most difficult that Nintendo has ever crafted. When you finally reclaimed Donkey Kong Island and sent the villainous Snowmads packing, you knew you had overcome one heck of a challenge.
13. Nintendo Land
Nintendo Land was to the launch of the Wii U what the original Wii Sports was to the launch of the Wii. It served as a great introduction to the Wii U’s touch-based controls on the Gamepad with a host of game modes that could only exist with the unique control scheme. Nintendo Land incorporated several of its most iconic franchises and characters into many of the minigames, which ranged from puzzle-solving, to platforming, to action, to the ridiculously-fun hide and seek variant Mario Chase. Whether you wanted single player fun or entertainment for a room full of friends, Nintendo Land had you covered.
12. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Toad’s very first solo outing was an emphatic example of the idea that big things can come in small packages. Treasure Tracker was a budget title that originated from optional levels in Super Mario 3D World, where you took control of Captain Toad to scour trap-filled stages to find valuable rewards. Treasure Tracker took a concept that once made up a handful of side missions and turned it into a complete game of 70+ levels, which were exceptionally quaint, creative, and deceptively challenging.
11. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
This expansion didn’t just up-res the original Monster Hunter Tri’s graphics and call it a day—3 Ultimate more than doubled the number of dangerous creatures you could battle, along with adding a plethora of new weapons, armor, missions, levels, as well as an improved online infrastructure. This influx of new content ensured that Monster Hunter fanatics could play this game for innumerable hours and still have plenty to uncover. The pulse-pounding and brutally-difficult combat was on full display against some of the franchise’s most memorable giants, including the savage Brachydios, the crafty Lucent Nargacuga, the unrelenting Abyssal Lagiacrus, and the titanic Dire Miralis.
10. Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of the 8th gen’s best games, and the Director’s Cut is the definitive version of that thought-provoking classic, with refined visuals, AI, game mechanics, and the all the DLC included. The Wii U version also got some very nifty functionality added through the Gamepad’s touch-based controls, which added a whole new level of immersion while you delved into the cyberpunk world. As you controlled the artificially-enhanced protagonist Adam Jensen, you saw numerous different forms of gameplay, including visceral combat, stealthy infiltration, hacking, and even social elements to the future versions of modern cities like Detroit, Montreal, and Singapore, making for one of the most deep and diverse action games seen in years.
9. Pikmin 3
What a beauty! Pikmin 3 was arguably Nintendo’s first ambitious title utilizing HD technology, and it yielded some of the most gorgeous visuals found on a Nintendo platform. The lush, exotic, and often, perilous environments on the alien planet put National Geographic documentaries to shame, and gave you all the reason you needed to make use of the Gamepad’s photo-taking capabilities. Pikmin 3 wasn’t just eye-candy, though, as it followed in its stellar predecessors’ footsteps with accessible and complex strategy elements. With new Pikmin types like the Rock and Winged Pikmin, your army of diminutive minions got that much more robust as you explored the wilds and battled monstrous predators.
8. Bayonetta 2
Gaming’s most dangerous heroine made an unforgettable debut on Nintendo platforms when Nintendo opened its arms and chose to publish the bombastic sequel to 2008’s action classic. Bayonetta 2 managed to up the ante on everything wild, crazy, and outrageous as the Umbra Witch took on the forces of both Heaven and Hell. The combat was blood-roiling from start to finish, featuring set piece after set piece that tested the very limits of your reflexes and reaction times. Each boss encounter dismissed the idea that a battle could be “too over the top”; early boss battles in Bayonetta 2 put final bosses from other games to absolute shame.
If any game company was going to make a goofy, colorful Shooter where you blast opponents with paint, it was bound to be Nintendo. Splatoon made a huge impact as a brand new IP that has left fans clamoring for a long-running franchise as time goes on. The paint-based firefights contain surprising depth thanks to a sheer onslaught of different weapons and accessories, all that demand a different style of play. Splatting your foes with paint is only half the brilliance in Splatoon’s design, though, as the game prioritizes movement in a way that no other Shooter ever has. By being able to swim in the paint you unleash, Splatoon treads onto mechanics of stealth, platforming, and multi-angle movement. Running on flat surfaces is square—swimming up a wall is where it’s at!
6. Arkham City: Armored Edition
Arkham City is one of the greatest games of all time, so the Wii U got a nice gift at its launch with the complete edition of Rock Steady’s superhero epic. With a whole new layer of polish over the game, as well as intuitive touch-based controls on the Wii U Gamepad, Nintendo die-hards finally got to experience one of the Caped Crusader’s most memorable adventures. Arkham City truly did Batman justice with its blend of combat and crime-solving, along with plenty of gameplay sequences that brought in puzzles and platforming that only Bats could overcome with his nifty gadgets and unparalleled wit. Batman’s rogues gallery also deserve hefty praise for their appearances in the game, as they served up some of the best boss battles that the action/adventure genre has ever seen. The encounter with Mr. Freeze? Astounding.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
One of the biggest underdogs in gaming, the Wind Waker’s bright and color cel-shaded visuals divided fans upon its debut; some even despised it! But it went on to win the hearts of Zelda fans with Link’s grand adventure above (and below) the Great Sea’s surface. The story of the Wind Waker provided some of the most iconic moments in the Legend of Zelda lore, none more memorable than the descent to the land of Hyrule leagues below the waves. The HD remake brought a whole new level of visual fidelity to the game’s vibrant imagery, turning it into nothing short of a piece of art.
4. Super Mario Maker
September 2015 was perhaps the end of an era. By giving fans the ability to create their own Mario platforming levels, Super Mario Maker took away a lot of reason for Nintendo to create new 2D Mario platformers in the apparent future. That’s a testament to Super Mario Maker’s wealth of options. The game is a fantastic toolkit that gives you the power to build all sorts of possibilities for Mario and the crew to run and jump across. Nintendo added plenty of fun pre-made levels in there, but the real fun is when you try out the levels that other fans have crafted, and fans have already proven capable of making some nightmarishly-difficult stages.
3. Super Mario 3D World
Sure, you could play through Super Mario 3D World entirely by yourself—the game’s numerous levels allow for you to overcome them with a solo effort, and the level design is stellar enough that it’s a fun run. But the game shines its brightest when you’ve got a buddy or two along for the ride, taking Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad (and Rosalina!) across all manner of colorful and treacherous obstacles as is the norm in the Mario universe. The levels showcased a mix of linear, action-based platforming along with plenty of free-roaming stages reminiscent of Super Mario 64’s design, offering something for Mario fans of all preferences.
2. Mario Kart 8
A Nintendo console isn’t a Nintendo console without a proper Mario Kart, and the Wii U can boast that it had the very best Mario Kart yet. In 8, Nintendo figured out how to keep the 12 player races from Mario Kart Wii, but without the congestion that sessions in that game saw. Mario Kart 8 not only continued Mario Kart 7’s mechanics of gliding and racing underwater, it also added anti-gravity sections where you could drive up walls, and even on ceilings. These numerous branching paths helped break up the field and added a flair of nonlinearity to the most robust courses that Mario and the gang have ever driven through.
1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
The biggest Nintendo brouhaha of them all rightfully earns its spot as our #1 Wii U title. Including characters from the game’s extensive DLC, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U brought together a huge roster of 58 gaming icons (not all of Nintendo’s making) for a fighting outing that features outstanding balance across its vast selection. Like any Smash game, it gave you countless things to do with the famed characters, including several new game modes like Smash Tour (Super Smash Bros. meets Mario Party), an incredibly in-depth level creation option utilizing the Wii U Gamepad, plentiful online functionality, and most memorable of all, the wild and ridiculously-fun 8-player Smash, where you could have eight people battling it out on one screen at the same time. There’s no better local multiplayer experience in gaming, right now.
That’ll do it! Agree or disagree with what titles comprised out list? Let us know in the comments section below. Nintendo fans should also stay tuned in the future for further Top 25 lists of Nintendo platforms. Their stellar handheld, the 3DS, is up next!