Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
There’s a strong chance that 2016 could be the last year of the Nintendo Wii U, with the shadow of the next gen console (currently known as the Nintendo NX) casting a long shadow. But it should also be a strong year, with a collection of must-play titles set to hit the shelves.
If you thought the arrival of Super Mario Maker and Lego Dimensions in 2015 was a big deal, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Here are ten Wii U console exclusives you can expect in 2016.
Let’s get started with one of the biggest surprises – the HD upscaling of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was first released back in 2006.
Along with the enhanced graphics, if you buy the physical copy of the game (a digital download option is also available) you’ll find a Wolf Link Amiibo figure. This Amiibo unlocks an exclusive dungeon and is capable of carrying data to the new 2016 Zelda game for the Wii U.
Available for pre-order now, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is out in North America and Europe on March 4, 2016.
In April 2016, Wii U gamers will be able to return – at long last – to the Star Fox series with Star Fox Zero, a 3D scrolling shooter with Fox McCloud back in his Arwing craft at long last.
Neither sequel nor prequel, the game – originally slated for a November 2015 release – makes good use of the Wii U GamePad, displaying the cockpit interior on the secondary display while flight is controlled with the left thumbstick and targeting systems manipulated using the gyroscopic controls.
Put short, this is a new way of playing Star Fox, but fans of the series shouldn’t worry as the ability to transform some of the vehicles as in Star Fox 2 is retained in Star Fox Zero.
Launched as a Kickstarter, the Nintendo Wii U will be the only console platform for this independent game, although Linux, Windows and Mac OS X owners with Steam will also be able to play Hive Jump.
Set in the future, the game pits you against a hostile alien race which needs to be taken apart hive by hive, planet by planet, in order to defend humanity from destruction. With 2D omniscrolling run and gun shoot ’em up action, Hive Jump features single play as well as local and online co-op multiplayer modes. There’s a distinct retro feeling to this game that a lot of gamers will like – don’t miss it!
Already released in Japan in late 2015, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem should be out in North America and Europe during 2016.
With a convoluted premise (attacks from an alternative dimension called the Idolosphere are repelled by the Fortuna Talent agency to prevent the alien Mirages harvesting Performa energy from humans), this RPG features such diverse elements as combat, character merging and even an open world environment for shopping and network texting. It’s worth noting that Off-TV Play is not available on this title, but it should prove to be a unique and memorable gaming experience.
2016 is Olympic year, so by August you can expect Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
It might have the title of a cynical commercial tie-in (the game is officially licensed by the International Olympic Committee), but there’s every chance that playability will make this fifth Mario & Sonic title more memorable. Comprising two teams – Team Mario and Team Sonic – a tournament scenario lets you take on your opponent in a vast selection of sports.
A version of this game is also set for release on the Nintendo 3DS; an arcade version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is also being released.
Expected in the first three months of 2016, Assault Android Cactus is an indie title initially launched on Steam for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
As you can see in the clip, this is an arena shooter, set on an abandoned space freighter, the Genki Star, which is under siege from marauding, malfunctioning robots. You control police android Cactus, who must battle through the robots and recruit other playable characters in order to avert disaster. The PC versions of the game feature four player co-op mode and there’s no reason to expect Assault Android Cactus on the Wii U to be any different.
The Just Dance series gets a special Wii U-only release for North America and Europe in 2016 in the shape of Yo-Kai Watch Dance, which takes the Just Dance gameplay model and rewrites it for TV Tokyo’s Yo Kai Watch.
As expected, the idea is to keep rhythm and dance, while holding an old-style Wiimote (which you should have as they can be connected to Android, and even used with Windows, with Mac OS X and Linux), to the music as it is played. For those of you who are not Japanophiles or familiar with the show, you might find things a little strange. However, as fitness and dance games go, this should prove to be one you won’t forget!
Expected between Spring and Summer 2016, this new Pokemon fighting game – based on the 2015 arcade machine – looks like a lot of fun. As you might ascertain from the title, “Pokken”, the game is a sort of cross between Tekken and Pokemon.
Many favorite characters are in the game (and some who aren’t might be available as DLC), and you can use their various powers and talents to defeat your opponents. Basically, imagine a game like Tekken where the characters have Pokemon powers, and you’re pretty much there.
The Wii U’s first Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda is expected in mid-2016. As mentioned above, the Wolf Link Amiibo from Twilight Princess HD is compatible with this title, meaning that data saved in the earlier game can be imported into The Legend of Zelda.
Most intriguing about this game is not its reused title, however, but the revised gameplay, which challenges conventions from previous games. The developers have stated that one of their aims was to create the “ultimate… most complete Zelda game” yet, and given the success of earlier games in the sprawling RPG franchise, there’s no reason to believe that they won’t be successful.
Bonus: Project Giant Robot
We don’t really know whether Miyamoto’s awesome looking Project Giant Robot will be along in 2016, but if it is, it will look like this:
The concept is ridiculously simple, it’s a surprise no one has had success with it before. You build and fight in giant robots, using the Wii U GamePad as a cockpit view, and using the thumbsticks to control your robot’s arms.
Sadly, little else is known about Project Giant Robot, which might not even be the final name! Originally expected in 2015, the footage above is from the 2014 E3 event, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for 2016. In the meantime, you might take a look at some of the best Wii U accessories under $30, which might prove useful in the months to come.
There could be more games to come in 2016, but ten is certainly enough to look forward to for now. But which is your favorite? Is there a Nintendo Wii U game that you’re looking forward to, whether a platform exclusive or a general release across all console platforms? Tell us in the comments.