The Wii U, the latest home games console from Nintendo, is sure to be on the Christmas lists of many this year. Children who want the latest and greatest gadgets will want one to replace their aging Wii, while geeky adults who want to jump to the next-gen and cannot wait for Sony and Microsoft to cater to their desires will also seek one out.
The Wii U was released in North America on Nov. 18, in Europe and Australia on Nov. 30, and in Japan on Dec. 8. Just in time for the holiday season. Nintendo certainly knows when to release a new piece of hardware, though hitting this window meant the list of games available at launch isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with triple-AAA titles.
However, there are at least five games already out for the Wii U that are worth buying, whether for you or your nearest and dearest. The first three are Wii U exclusives, which makes them all the more unmissable, while the last two are ports from other platforms which are recognized as being the definitive versions of the games in question.
New Super Mario Bros. U
New Super Mario Bros. U is a continuation of the series that began life on the original Wii, but those games had their origins in the classic Mario games many of us know and love. It’s a 2D, side-scrolling platformer which follows the usual course of Mario and Luigi having to traverse a varied landscape to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser and his underlings.
Anyone who has played New Super Mario Bros. Wii will be able to pick this game up without any trouble, as it uses the Wii Remotes in the same way. Five players can play through the game together, and the new Boost mode sees one player utilizing the GamePad to help the other players out. Mario is familiar to millions, and there are few surprises in store.
The Good: Probably the best 2D Mario game to date. Creative, fun, long-lasting.
The Bad: More of the same old Mario, so if you’re not a fan, avoid at all costs.
Nintendo Land is to the Wii U what Wii Sports was to the Wii. Or at least that’s Nintendo’s intention. In the same way Wii Sports was designed to show off the capabilities of the Wii Remote, Nintendo Land is designed to show how the GamePad functions and what it brings to the table. Nintendo Land takes place in a theme park setting, and features 12 mini-games.
These mini-games are all based on other big Nintendo titles, such as The Legend Of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, and Animal Crossing. Some of the games are for single players, while others support multiple players either working together or competing against each other. As is always the way with compendiums of mini-games, some work better than others.
The Good: Brilliant use of the GamePad, bags of variety. Will last you for years.
The Bad: The games exist purely to show off the GamePad. Limited appeal for solo players.
ZombiU is a game that Nintendo was keen to show off in the run up to the release of the Wii U. And with good reason. This is a decent third-party game (from Ubisoft), which is rare on a Nintendo console. It’s also aimed squarely at hardcore gamers rather than the casual gamers that traditionally favor Nintendo, its consoles, and its cast of cutesy characters.
This is a survival horror game in the mold of the classic Resident Evil titles. You play in a first-person perspective, taking on the role of one of the survivors hanging on for life in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. This game could only exist on the Wii U, as it extensively utilizes the tablet-style GamePad controller.
The Good: Innovative and engaging. Clever use of the GamePad. Genuinely creepy.
The Bad: Fairly short, but very difficult. Meandering, dull, repetitive at times.
Darksiders II is a port on the Wii U, having originally been released on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 in 2012. This is a game that did reasonably well on other platforms, but could do even better on the Wii U as it’s another title aimed at the hardcore market. The fact that you take on the role of Death proving that beyond all reasonable doubt.
You take Death on a third-person hack-and-slash adventure through different worlds with multiple dungeons. RPG elements are also present to give the whole thing more depth as you take down your enemies with various weapons and skills. The boss fights are epic affairs reminiscent of the God Of War series, which this game and its predecessor owe a debt of gratitude.
The Good: Probably the definitive edition of Darksiders II. Fun and addictive throughout.
The Bad: Visually uninspiring. Borrows heavily from other titles. Glitchy at times.
Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition
Batman: Arkham City was originally released on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 in 2011, and the Wii U version (subtitled Armored Edition) is a port of that game. It features a Battle Armored Tech mode, hence the name, as well as a few other features designed to differentiate this version from the previous versions.
This is primarily an open-world action-adventure game with the added bonus of featuring the Dark Knight. The story is brilliantly written, having been conceived by a veteran comic book writer. As well as the main storyline there are side missions that will keep you occupied for hours. And you even get Mark Hamill voicing The Joker.
The Good: Probably the definitive edition of Batman: Arkham City. A great action-adventure.
The Bad: The visuals aren’t very impressive, and new glitches have emerged during the port.
That little lot should keep you and yours entertained over the holiday season and into the new year. And 2013 will herald in the arrival of a brand new batch of Wii U games that should benefit from the developers having got to grips with the tablet controller and the unique opportunities/challenges it presents.
If none of the above take your fancy, or if five games just isn’t enough to sate your appetite, it should be noted that the Wii U is backwards compatible with original Wii games. This means there’s already a huge library of games out there just waiting to be picked up on the cheap, and this list of 10 of the best Wii games ever released would be a good place to start.