With the last chance to digitally buy Wii U games approaching rapidly, now is the best time to pick up some of the greatest titles on Nintendo’s last-generation console.
But which Wii U games are the best of the best? Let’s take a look back at the titles that stood out on a console that had a ton of potential, but couldn’t stand the test of the time.
10. Game & Wario
Of all the party games on the Wii U, Game & Wario was best at giving people of all shapes a good, casual time. Game & Wario combines classic WarioWare gameplay with some hilarious party game opportunities for two to five players, making it perfect for college hangouts and house parties alike. As far as local multiplayer Wii U games go, it’s one of the best the console has to offer.
9. Super Mario Maker
Super Mario Maker was a huge hit across YouTube, complete with fans making and sharing levels for one of the most popular video game franchises ever. This Wii U level creator paved the way for a full series, one that sparked so much creative thinking among players young and old alike. Honestly, it was so much fun just to explore what you could do using the framework, all the while getting to play other players’ levels.
Of course there were annoying levels, and it could be hard to filter that out. But the good outweighed the bad with Super Mario Maker, which is why it remains a fan-favorite among Super Mario fans years later.
8. Mario Kart 8
It feels like clockwork that, on most Nintendo consoles, Mario Kart will end up being a standout title among all the others. From all the other cart racers and all the other racing games in general, it’s hard to capture the energy a Mario Kart installments has, and Mario Kart 8 really revved it up its style. Nintendo refined the Super Mario racer’s simple mechanics while adding new items, race tracks, and racers, all without changing the franchise’s core gameplay. Mario Kart 8 remains a visually stunning and incredibly fun standout in the series, the kind of game players could enjoy alone or with friends—which is always the sign of a really memorable Mario Kart.
7. Yoshi’s Woolly World
Yoshi’s Woolly World is the most beautiful game on the Wii U. It’s cute, charming, and really understands what makes Yoshi games so fun, all while giving that added extra layer with its knitted theme. A lot of games can take the theme and end up just making it boring by leaning too hard on gimmicks, but this game understands Yoshi platforming and hones in on its strengths. Who knew the Wii U could render yarn so well?
6. Super Mario 3D World
There are diehard Mario fans, and then there are those that were pretty much done with main series Mario games by the time the Wii U rolled around. But something about playing this game with family and friends really elevated it. The little extra flavors of flare each character had, and running around in really pretty maps, just made for a great time. It’s a simple game with not a lot going on, but who plays Mario for the depth? Super Mario 3D World really just needed to have simple fun and plenty of charm, and it has both.
5. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Before the Nintendo Switch doubled down on open-world JRPGs, there was Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U. This is one of the only games published by Nintendo to not find itself ported to the Switch, reportedly due to the costs Monolith Soft would entail to bring such an enormous game over to the console.
It’s a total shame given Xenoblade Chronicles X features incredible open-world gameplay that paved the way for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, not to mention its campy soundtrack and memorable story. Building relationships, toying with customizations for mechs and the player, and meeting an incredible cast make this a fun Wii U installment.
4. Hyrule Warriors
Hyrule Warriors is a surprisingly enjoyable installment to The Legend of Zelda franchise. The combination of Dynasty Warriors gameplay and Zelda elements was a perfect blend that’s engaging to return to, especially with its large roster of post-launch content. It’s an incredible feel-good game where you can mow down enemies, team up with your favorite Zelda characters, and live out that perfect action hero power fantasy. Plus, Hyrule Warriors finally let fans play as many of the amazing female characters in the Zelda world that seriously deserve a chance to shine, such as Impa, Midna, and Zelda.
3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Smash Bros. is always a massive highlight for any Nintendo console, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is no different—except in all the amazing new flavor it added to the series. The exciting DLC that was voted on by players kept a constant cycle of hype revolving around the game, but even the base game alone was just as much fun to play. There was a lot going on in it, from Amiibo support to eight-player battles officially introduced to the series. Smash Bros. for Wii U was just the colorful and exciting action that the Wii U needed when it came out, and it is no shock that it was the framework for the Switch Smash Bros. game, given how great it was.
2. Bayonetta 2
Who doesn’t love a game where a witchy gun lesbian has to go save her girlfriend from hell?
Bayonetta 2 is a deep, rich, and incredibly fun sequel to the original burlesque-em-up. While Platinum Games’ Bayonetta franchise may appear to be your standard beat-em-up action game, its flashy, beautiful style makes up for its difficulty, making it a perfect fit for gamers new and old alike to the genre. Bayonetta 2 is easy to return to, with different weapons and characters to revisit and learn. Bayonetta has always delighted in its over-the-top action, and there’s nothing better than just having fun with the camp this game radiate.
The Wii U’s best and most culturally influential game is, by far, Splatoon. With Splatoon 3 now on its way, the Squid Kids have really left an impression on everyone. Many never expected Nintendo to have a stand-out multiplayer shooter franchise, but Splatoon perfectly captures that clever, out-of-the-box Nintendo vibe while fostering a massive competitive and casual community.
Splatoon’s premise is simple: Play as a part-squid, part-kid creature that can spray ink on the battlefield and swim in it. Players compete for various objectives and can kill their opponents with their ink weapons, which double as tools for both territorial control and fragging devices.
Splatoon’s fun doesn’t stop with its third-person shooter gameplay. Fans of Splatoon regularly share messages in the main Inkopolis Plaza area, including many affirming queer players (as a sizable contingent of the Splatoon community is LGBTQ). In other cases, Splatoon’s Splatfest events brought players together and allowed them to have silly, light-hearted arguments about which is better: Cats, or dogs?
The first Splatoon may be overshadowed by its sequel in recent years, but the original game’s legacy is going to be with Nintendo for a long time.