The Nintendo Switch might be the golden child of its generation, but the Wii U will always be remembered fondly by those who owned one. At launch, it was a console ahead of its time, carving a path for full HD gaming on a Nintendo console and providing the basis for the Switch’s groundbreaking design.
It seems only right that we pay our respects with a list of the very best that the Wii U has to offer. The console might have been replaced, but the experience is as good as it has ever been, and with this selection of fantastic Wii U games, you’ll end up seeing Nintendo’s unknown console in a whole new light.
READ NEXT: Our pick of the best New 3DS games
Best Wii U games to buy
1. Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2
The original Bayonetta was first released back in 2010 on the Xbox 360 and PS3, but the Wii U version is a far better way to experience PlatinumGames’ excellent action game. Even better, it’s still being bundled with Bayonetta 2 as a double-disc pack, allowing Wii U owners to experience the full Bayonetta saga.
While each game’s story may not be much cop, the combat is immensely satisfying and Platinum’s superb sense of spectacle makes each skirmish feel even more legendary than the last. Bayonetta may have something of a reputation as a saucy male power fantasy, but Wii U owners would be short-sighted to pass up these incredible games. Read our full Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 reviews to find out more.
2. Hyrule Warriors
Hyrule Warriors is Zelda-meets-Dynasty Warriors. This might seem like the most unlikely marriage of Nintendo and Tecmo Koei franchises, but somehow it manages to be one of the best and most refreshing Zelda games of recent years. The combat is simply sublime, and there’s nothing more satisfying than slashing through hordes of enemies with Link’s spin attack, Princess Zelda’s light arrows or Impa’s huge samurai sword.
There’s a huge cast of playable characters, too, and a huge amount of extra content available aside from the main campaign. Even better, you can play through the whole game in co-op mode with a friend, where one player uses the TV and the other uses the GamePad. If you’re a big Zelda fan, this is a must buy. Read our full Hyrule Warriors review.
3. Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 is the greatest reason yet to go out and buy a Wii U. With some of the best courses in Mario Kart history, this latest addition for Wii U is the series’ strongest entry to date. Anti-gravity wheels are the new addition this time around, but calling these a simple gimmick would do the game a great disservice, as it’s the anti-gravity tires that really show off the game’s acute attention to detail and jaw-dropping sense of scale. If you haven’t already bought a Wii U, now’s the time to get one. Read our full Mario Kart 8 review.
4. Rayman Legends
It’s a rare occasion when Mario gets shown up by other 2D platformers, but Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends is by far one of the most innovative platformers this generation. Not only is it a celebration of its genre, but it also utilises the Wii U GamePad for some great asymmetric gameplay moments.
There are few platformers that cater so well for both single and co-op play without making a few (and often patronizing) concessions to one mode or the other, but Rayman Legends walks that fine line with confidence and style. Now that you can pick up a copy for a mere £15, this is an essential title for any Wii U owner. Read our full Rayman Legends review.
5. Super Mario 3D World
Following in the footsteps of its 3DS predecessor, Super Mario 3D World shows that 3D platforming doesn’t necessarily need to be a single player experience. You can play it alone or with friends, but it’s still just as brilliant no matter how many people are gathered round the TV.
Worlds are bigger and more expansive than their 3DS counterparts, and while each world map is based around a specific theme, individual stages are wonderfully abstract in their design. It may not be quite as sublime as Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends, but this is a game that keeps on giving, with tonnes of post-credits content to sink your teeth into and a treasure trove of hidden items to find and collect. Read our full Super Mario 3D World review.
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
As the prequel to one of the most highly-regarded PC games of all time, expectations for Deus Ex: Human Revolution were always going to be high. It was a risky move to take the story back to its beginnings, to a world only just beginning to grasp how to advance human evolution using technology, but once you start playing there’s little doubt this is a game that understands its heritage.
With its deeply involving storyline, incredibly varied gameplay and huge replay potential, Human Revolution is a masterclass in open-ended stealth-action. There are always plenty of multiple paths and options to take, and the Director’s Cut for Wii U also gives players new sections to tackle as well as special GamePad features to distinguish it from other versions on rival consoles. Read our full Deus Ex: Human Revolution review.
7. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Wind Waker was already an instant classic when it was first released on GameCube over ten years ago, but this HD remake is even better than the original. In your mind’s eye, this is how Wind Waker’s always looked, but seeing it on a big screen is something else entirely. Skyward Sword may have had a painter’s touch, but The Wind Waker HD is a true work of art. Read our full The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD review.
8. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
The Assassin’s Creed series is the undisputed historical-heavyweight of action adventure games, and this time we’re setting sail to the Golden Age of Piracy. Black Flag adds seamless naval gameplay to the long-running series, and Ubisoft has come a long way since the largely-linear ship sections in the last outing, with the new game engine letting you freely explore land and sea with little loading to be seen.
It’s been a long time since Black Flag first launched, and we’ve had some wonderful entries into the franchise recently – including Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – but for many people, Black Flag marks the series’ pinnacle. The meta-narrative has been rebooted, the historical setting is frankly swashbuckling and the new sea-faring elements are a huge, and excellent, addition to the series. Read our full Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag review.
9. Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady impressed with its first Batman game, Arkham Asylum, and its sequel, Arkham City, perfects it even further. The overflowing halls of Arkham have now been extended into a cordoned-off ghetto of Gotham itself, creating a huge open-air prison. As well as giving Batman an expansive environment to explore, it also offers much more variety than the first game, and the whole city looks stunning.
Arkham Asylum veterans will feel right at home with the game mechanics, which have been tightened and improved since the first game, and Catwoman also makes a playable appearance, although her combat moves and gadgets place a greater emphasis on agility and silent take-downs. The Armoured Edition for Wii U also adds a few new features to the mix, including re-tooled gadgets that can take advantage of the GamePad and a new suit that lets Batman and Catwoman deal more damage while having a heightened sense of enemy locations. Read our full Batman: Arkham City review.
10. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong may not be kidnapping Mario’s princesses any more, but when it comes to 2D platforming, the rivalry between man and ape has never been stronger. For our money, DK’s deft and nimble design has always inched ahead of the red plumber in our estimation, and Tropical Freeze is yet further proof that developer Retro Studios is well on its way to surpassing Nintendo’s very own New Super Mario Bros. team in scope and imagination.
Tropical Freeze takes everything we loved about the Wii’s Donkey Kong Country Returns and kicks it up a notch. With plenty of extra challenges to test even the most hardened platformer fans, this definitely deserves a place in any Wii U owner’s library. Read our full Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review.
11. The Wonderful 101
The Wonderful 101 is an action game unlike anything else you’ve played before. On the outside, it looks like a combination of Pikmin and Viewtiful Joe, but this eccentric comic book brawler is far more frantic and exciting than either of its inspirations.
The game’s main hook is that you can play as up to 100 superheroes (the extra one is you) simultaneously. By using their Centinel suits to transform them into huge makeshift weapons known as Unite Morph attacks, you can combine your tiny team into giant tools of destruction, from Wonder Red’s massive fist right down to the ammo required for Wonder Green’s gun. They’re triggered by drawing various shapes on the GamePad’s touchscreen, and the more Wonderful 100 members you have, the bigger and more powerful they become – and with an alien invasion knocking on your door, you’re going to need all the firepower you can get. Read our full The Wonderful 101 review.
12. Pikmin 3
Pikmin 3 may not have evolved much from previous entries in the series, but this is a game that’s overflowing with charm and character. Best played with a Wii Remote and Nunchuk rather than the Wii U GamePad, this game revolves around a band of explorers searching for delicious-looking treats to take back to their starving planet of Koppai. The only problem is that your team barely stands knee-high to a grasshopper. Luckily the world’s indigenous Pikmin population are on hand to help transport your precious cargo back to your ship.
As always, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye over them lest they get chomped by a crafty pack of Bulborbs, but there’s plenty of humour to be found here and the game’s relaxed pace means you can explore the world more or less at your own speed. A delightful game on all accounts, this is as fun to play as it is mouth-watering to look at. Read our full Pikmin 3 review.
13. Child of Light
It’s not often we see such a substantial RPG as a download-only game, but Ubisoft’s gorgeous Child of Light is a 12-hour epic that lives on in your memory long after you’ve stopped playing. Rendered as a stunning watercolour painting thanks to Ubisoft’s UbiArt engine, this fairytale of light versus dark has one of the most innovative takes on the Active Time Battle system we’ve seen in recent years.
You only have two party members on screen at any one time during combat, but the ability to interrupt enemy attacks gives each fight a great sense of dynamism and variety. The rhyming verse dialogue may not be to everyone’s tastes, but this is an excellent RPG that’s well worth the price of entry. Read our full Child of Light review.