The Best Games on Wii U: #20-16

Switch may be on everyone’s minds, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about Wii U. Join us for the first part in our week-long celebration of the console’s best titles!

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 05/01/2017 10:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

Everyone may be enamored with Nintendo’s newfangled portable/home console hybrid, but its predecessor, Wii U, will always have a fond place in the ‘Dojo staff’s hearts. While the system will likely go down in the annals of history as the poorest performing home console to bear Nintendo’s name, it nevertheless managed to amass a truly impressive library of titles, many of which made a compelling case for its unorthodox (if never fully realized) dual screen display. Nintendo may be glad to finally be rid of its bungled Wii successor, but we’ll always be a little sad the system never got the attention it deserved, so this week we’ll be highlighting all of the truly great games Wii U had to offer.

#20-16 | #15-11 | #10-6 | #5-1

20. Pokkén Tournament

Pokkén Tournament was a real surprise when it landed last spring. Merging Pokémon with Tekken seems, in theory, like it would be a bad idea; after all, the two franchise on the surface seem utterly disparate. Yet, the minds at Game Freak and Bandai Namco realized what everyone else did after the game dropped: Pokkén Tournament represents the realization of the dream of what a Pokémon battle would actually be like. Fans are used to seeing Pokémon battles play out in turns, but in reality it’s an interpretation of what would more likely be a fluid, smooth bout of combat between Pocket Monsters.

Thus, Pokkén Tournament lets players pick from a sizable roster of the beloved creatures to duke it out in real time, all with the signature fighting mechanics that the Tekken franchise is heralded for. The battles are kinetic and dynamic, with some dizzying special moves to master (and bask in the sight of). It’s currently making inroads with the fighting community, as it almost was highlighted at EVO; not bad for a spin-off! Here’s hoping for a Switch port in the near future, by the way. Along with game like Pokémon Conquest and Snap, Pokkén Tournament is yet another reminder of how spectacularly adaptable the Pokémon franchise is.

– Robert Marrujo

19. Star Fox Zero

Star Fox Zero will go down as a very odd game in Nintendo’s history. It will be remembered by people in many different ways. Some will lambast it as an aged game with a wonky control scheme, while others will have seen potential in it and experienced the game in a way that I believe Nintendo intended. This isn’t to say Star Fox Zero was a great game by any means, but I feel if given enough time, you can truly see what exactly Nintendo was going for. Yes, it shouldn’t have to take an entire campaign to fully get used to the game’s controls, but there is something special in having to actually master a control scheme and really become good at a game. I think Star Fox Zero does a great job at that. For the first few missions, you almost want to give up because of the controls (which of course might be a negative). However, as you progress and finally are facing off against swarms of enemies and a daunting final boss, you realize just how skilled you have become at the game. It seems as if the control method was difficult on purpose, only to give you a sense of accomplishment and empowerment when you finally master it and can blow through those first few levels that were giving you so much difficulty on your first run with a new sense of ease and skill. The game isn’t for everyone, but I believe it to be more than how it was initially received.

– Dustin Grissom

18. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Kirby has always been a pretty low key kind of fellow, and his one and only Wii U game might end up fading into obscurity as one of the console’s more experimental games. But Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a truly unique experience that exudes beauty, ingenuity, and above all: love.

HAL took the gameplay from 2005’s Kirby Canvas Curse and somehow got even more mileage out of it by stripping it to its basics. Drawing a line on your GamePad screen is such a simple task. It’s a wonder how Rainbow Curse uses this mechanic to its fullest potential with such creative and thoughtful level design.

This game was sculpted with utmost care at all levels. The astounding clay art style, amazing music, and bountiful extra goodies shine so brightly. Kirby fans are truly spoiled by the attention that HAL gives to every single detail.

It’s not exactly a defining game for the Wii U touch screen like its predecessor was for Nintendo DS. Even so, it earned Nintendojo’s highest review mark because the game embodies the very essence of joy. The ability of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse to truly make you feel happy cannot be understated.

– Kyle England

17. Paper Mario: Color Splash

One of the strong suits of the Paper Mario series is its writing, and Paper Mario: Color Splash didn’t disappoint in that regard. At the game’s core is the mystery of Prism Island and who has drained it of its color, and why. Very quickly, the standard Mario story elements fall into play – Bowser is at the helm, Peach gets kidnapped, and Mario is tasked with rescuing her and saving the land – but Color Splash puts smart-mouthed, paint-sucking Shy Guys and Snifits in the limelight in a way they haven’t enjoyed in previous Mario titles, while keeping Bowser a black, shadowy mystery that the player only gets glimpses of throughout the majority of the game. While Bowser’s brash commentary and in-your-face behavior is to be expected, I was pleasantly surprised by Nintendo’s decision to keep his intentions secretive and to keep the player guessing.

The mystery of Prism Island kept me coming back for more, and I poured many, many hours into my playthrough. As a die-hard Shy Guy fan, Color Splash was essentially made for me, but bias aside I was impressed by how large the world map was and how an area that might be inaccessible for a while would open up after certain story elements were completed, which made Prism Island feel like a vast place with plenty to uncover. The combat system was the one gameplay element that I had mixed feelings about, as I felt filling in cards with paint started to become a tedious task, but the variety of cards helped keep battles interesting. The return of the Koopa Kids was welcome, and boss fights became hilariously over-the-top once Mario pulled out Thing cards, which have effects ranging from dousing enemies in lemon juice, to blowing them away with a giant fan, to crushing them with a runaway Chain Chomp, all with ridiculous accompanying animations. While Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remains my very favorite Paper Mario game, Color Splash gave me so many laugh out loud moments that reminded me of the writing in TTYD, which is the game that made me truly love the franchise. Paper Mario: Color Splash has a lot of wonderful, creative moments and lovely visuals and was a quality experience to help close out the Wii U’s lifespan.

– Angela Marrujo

16. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Even without a single second of footage to accompany its announcement, Nintendo managed to turn every JRPG fan’s head when it revealed it would be partnering up with vaunted RPG developer Atlus for a mysterious Fire Emblem/Shin Megami Tensei crossover. The prospect alone sounded like a match made in heaven: the deep demon-recuriting mechanics the Shin Megami Tensei series is renowned for seemed like a perfect fit for the methodical nature of Fire Emblem’s tactical excursions. Fans were eager to learn more, but as is often the case with Nintendo, it would be years before another word was spoken of the fabled collaboration.

And then, during one fateful Nintendo Direct broadcast nearly two years after the title was first announced, the Big N revealed the first footage of its collaboration with Atlus. And it featured idols and J-pop. But despite the unusual direction the crossover took, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, as the title would eventually be christened, turned out to be one of the finest role-playing adventures on Wii U. Atlus’s RPG pedigree shines through in the game’s deep dungeon crawling and satisfying battle system, and it was endlessly amusing to see familiar Fire Emblem heroes like Chrom and Tharja reimagined as stylish “miarges.” It certainly isn’t what fans may have been expecting when the game was initially announced, but beneath the fluorescent sheen is a serious RPG that belongs in every Wii U owner’s collection.

– Kevin Knezevic

What do you think of the list so far? Share your thoughts in the comments!

2 Responses to “The Best Games on Wii U: #20-16”

  • 745 points
    OG75 says...

    So happy you’re all making a “Best of Wii U” list!

    While I love the idea of porting Wii U games to Switch, part of me wants the Wii U to retain many of its gems’ exclusivity. I’m loving Mario Kart on Switch. I think it’s great many Wii U games will eventually get re-released on Switch and reach a wider audience.

    Yet for every Mario Kart Deluxe and Smash Bros. that make the move, I hope games like Star Fox Zero and Kirby Rainbow Curse remain Wii U exclusives. I believe games such as these will gain cult status in 10 to 15 years (along with the Wii U itself).

    Looking forward to the rest of your list and am wondering in advance why NES Remix didn’t get the love it deserves :)

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