Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2014: Wii U

The Wii U games that will bring a smile to anyone’s face!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/20/2014 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Wii U’s software lineup isn’t the biggest of the current-gen systems, but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for with booming quality. There really were more excellent physical releases for Wii U this year than some might think, so let’s get everyone caught up on the Wii U games that should be on anyone’s wish list!

Super Smash Bros.

Price: Standard $59.99 | Bundle $99.99
Nintendo’s fighting game makes its fourth appearance on a home console, and much of what irked players about Brawl has been rectified with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Gameplay speed rests comfortably between Brawl and Melee, while the dreadful tripping mechanic has been eradicated. The roster is bigger than ever, meaning players of all fighting styles will find a character to fit their needs. Numerous modes, online play, and Amiibo integration make Smash Bros. feel like one of the biggest games Nintendo has ever made. It’s a must-own. Be sure to stay sharp and try to spot one of the Smash Bundles out in the wild. It comes with a GameCube Controller and adapter, plus the game, for only $99.99. It’s a great value for those wanting to get their GameCube-mojo on!

Bayonetta 2

Price: $59.99
Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden are often (and rightly) bandied about when debating the top modern action game franchise, but it would be pretty easy to make a case for Bayonetta, especially after this latest sequel. Bayonetta 2 is everything the first game was and more. Heck, it comes with the first game for free, so it’s as complete a package as anyone could hope for. With a potent and empowering combat system, Bayonetta 2 is action the likes of which really hasn’t been seen on a Nintendo console. It’s gorgeous, it sounds great, it plays great, and the addition of Nintendo-themed costumes is icing on the cake. Keep in mind that it’s an M-Rated game, but for those who can partake, it’s highly recommended to get aboard the Bayonetta bandwagon.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Price: $39.99
I challenge anyone who isn’t filled with cold, festering cynicism and blackness in their hearts to play Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and not crack a smile at least once. In fact, scratch that– I challenge anyone to guide Captain Toad and Toadette through this game’s intricate diorama-like micro worlds and not be grinning ear to ear by the end of the first stage. Captain Toad is a joy of a game, featuring beautiful visuals, a catchy soundtrack, and some expert puzzle/platforming design. Everything that makes a Mario game endearing is on display here, but Captain Toad also manages to establish its own identity and signals, hopefully, big things to come from everyone’s favorite Mushroom retainer.

Mario Kart 8

Price: $59.99
Mario Kart 8 is arguably the new pinnacle of the series. With the game’s lush graphics (which are some of the best on Wii U), deftly designed courses, beautiful, orchestrated music, and large roster of racers, Mario Kart 8 is voluminous, to say the least. And that’s before even buying a stitch of the excellent DLC! The game’s online is better than ever, but like Smash Bros., this is the ultimate party game, meaning Mario Kart 8 is at its best when played with people in the same room. Amiibo integration is subtle but fun, with new costumes added for a player’s Mii with each figurine scanned in. Similar to Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8 is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s something casual and hardcore players can bond around.

Skylanders: Trap Team

Price: Starter Pack $49.99-$54.99
The original toys-to-life are still alive and kicking with Activision’s Skylanders: Trap Team. This latest installment introduces the ability to “trap” (see what they did there?) bosses in the game to be added to a player’s horde of characters. As ever, Trap Team is dependent on the series’ signature, sold-separately figures (though the Starter Pack does provide a handful to begin with) to be properly experienced, but this time around developer Toys for Bob made an effort to make the game engaging whether or not the player has a huge assortment of the accompanying toys. Coupled with the improved combat, and Trap Team is a great starting point for new fans, or an excuse for lapsed ones to return.

Hyrule Warriors

Price: $59.99
Dynasty Warriors meets The Legend of Zelda turned out to be a lot greater than anyone could have hoped. Though the core hack and slash gameplay of Dynasty Warriors is on full display in Hyrule Warriors just as advertised, infusing it with all the lore and characters of Zelda has proved surprisingly reinvigorating and fitting. With a varied selection of characters to choose from, and ample content to play with, Hyrule Warriors is as much a celebration of the Zelda franchise as it is a spinoff. DLC has continued the adventure, adding new characters and weapons to experience. With incoming Amiibo support, Hyrule Warriors is primed to continue growing, and to continue giving players an excuse to keep coming back for more.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Price: $39.99-$49.99
Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii had already set the new high bar for Donkey Kong games, so any further sequels would have to do something really special to trump it. Luckily, developer Retro Studios had more than a few tricks up its sleeve, and delivered the wonderful Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze to Wii U. Its vibrant HD graphics took full advantage of Wii U’s raw horsepower, making Tropical Freeze one of the most visually arresting games on the system. Composer David Wise returned for this installment, and brought a mesmerizing soundtrack with him, one that mixed new and old pieces of music together. Tough but challenging, the three Kong buddies that join DK on his adventure provide some welcome twists to the platforming. No Wii U collection is complete without this game.

Wii U has a unique assortment of games that should make it an integral addition to anyone’s gaming setup. With the powerful stable of titles listed here, there’s enough to keep even the most avid of gamers busy for a good, long time.

Don’t forget that NES Remix Pack is a nice little 2-in-1 collecting the first two NES Remix games onto one disc! Beyond what we’ve listed here, are there any other games that you all would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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