At this point, we are all well aware that Wii U is on the way out; production has been ceased, the flow of games has slowed to a drip, and Switch is right around the corner. That being said, the console still had a number of great games to keep fans entertained throughout the year. From long-awaited sequels to clever crossovers and fantastic remakes, Wii U managed to put on a great show in what will likely be its last full year of support.
Here are our favorite Wii U titles from 2016.
BEST WII U GAME
Paper Mario: Color Splash
The Paper Mario franchise has always delivered a nice change of pace from more typical Mario games, and this year’s entry was no exception. The trademark papercraft aesthetic the series is famous for has never looked better thanks to the HD visuals, and the inclusion of near photorealistic real-world items every so often helped to make things pop all the more. Of course, those visual improvements wouldn’t mean much if the gameplay didn’t keep pace, but Color Splash managed to deliver as well, effectively fixing all the issues that irked gamers in Sticker Star while also expanding the series as well. As the name implies, color plays a big role– both in and out of battles– in a meaningful way. And topping it all off is the fantastic sense of humor and witty writing that’s just as well loved as the unique visuals.
So, between the improved gameplay, gorgeous graphics, and laugh-out-loud writing, Paper Mario: Color Splash offers Wii U’s best gaming experience of the past year.
BEST WII U GAME RUNNERS-UP
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
2016 marked another year of Zelda fans waiting for a new console entry in the celebrated series, but at least they could bide the their time with another phenomenal HD remaster of a classic. While Twilight Princess’s transfer to HD might not feel as dramatic as Wind Waker’s, the darker world and more cinematic storytelling benefited greatly from Wii U’s greater processing power, further enhancing what was already a memorable and emotional adventure. But Twilight Princess HD offered more than just a face lift; Miiverse fans had new stamps to collect, and the phenomenal Wolf Link Amiibo was interwoven into the new and challenging Cave of Shadows dungeon. Whether you are experiencing Link and Midna’s quest for the first time or were reliving fond memories of the GameCube/Wii original, Twilight Princess HD is undoubtedly one of 2016’s best Wii U games.
Star Fox Zero
Of all the Wii U games to come out in 2016, Star Fox Zero unquestionably had the highest level of buzz and expectations; the franchise had gone a long time without a new entry, and fans were hungry for more. Surprisingly, the results turned out to be somewhat divisive. Nintendo clearly had a desire to create something unique and innovative with all of Wii U’s signature features and for some, those efforts didn’t pay off. However, for those who put in the time to learn the new control scheme, there was an incredibly innovative game that lived up to the games that came before, while also meaningfully evolving the series. Obviously, we were among the latter group of gamers. Beyond the new control scheme, Star Fox Zero is a gorgeous game and features some amazing boss battles that show off PlatinumGames’ involvement. In the end, Star Fox Zero might require a little time investment to get used to the new mechanics, but once you get past the learning curve you’ll find one of the year’s best games.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
When Nintendo announced it would be partnering with Atlus to make a Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei crossover, gamers had to wait a while to see just how well these two very different series would mesh. In 2016, the game finally came out and the result was a truly unique game that thankfully lived up to the pedigree of both celebrated series. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is as quirky as its name implies. The game takes a deep dive into Japan’s flashy idol culture while adding in some magical forces to bring in recognizable Fire Emblem characters, creating an end product that is unapologetically niche. Such singularly unique games aren’t going to gel with every gamer, but those who delve in will appreciate how well the game marries Fire Emblem’s rock-paper-scissors like combat system with Shin Megami Tensie’s emphasis on strategically exploiting enemy weaknesses. And if you happen to be a fan of J-Pop, then you’ll likely appreciate a phenomenally well produced soundtrack of original tunes.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?
2016 will probably the last year we have such a strong selection when selecting the best Wii U games of the year, but as you can clearly see, the competition was still plenty competitive. While there were other Wii U titles we most certainly enjoyed, this list represents our personal tastes. If you happen to disagree with the order or our selections, feel free to let us know via the poll below, or our comments section.