Mario, Zelda, and more Mario: The best games for Wii U

Alas, poor Wii U! Nintendo’s ill-fated successor to the Wii must have been conceived under a bad star. It has never been able to grab the same audience its predecessor did, nor has it put a dent in the success of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. With a new Nintendo console — the Nintendo Switch — on the horizon, the Wii U’s days seem to be coming to an end. That’s a shame, because the Wii U’s touchscreen game pad and focus on local multiplayer made it the most ambitious console of this generation. While the Wii U has lacked the third-party support that the other consoles have had, it has its share of impressive and inventive games. Here are some of the best titles you can find on the Wii U.

Super Mario Maker

Few games have had as long a shelf life as the original Super Mario Bros. trilogy. Really, the only limit to those games was that they had a finite number of levels, a problem Super Mario Maker eliminates by allowing players to create and share their own levels, using a vast suite of design tools. Players can use the Wii U gamepad to craft their levels, dragging and dropping items, enemies, and environmental hazards. The touchscreen controls feel intuitive, and the level design screen resembles a sheet of grid paper, a small touch that gives players a good sense of the size and orientation of every object. You can also download and play levels made by other players, all of which are sorted into various difficulty tiers. While Super Mario Maker’s search tools and metadata could be more robust, there is no shortage of breezy, tough, and downright weird levels to explore. If you only ever buy one Wii U game, make it this one.

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Amazon

Bayonetta 2

Platinum Games is a studio known for two things: frenzied action, and absurd set pieces. Bayonetta 2 is the purest distillation of Platinum’s formula, with quick combat, tight controls, and some of the most ridiculous scenes and character designs in recent years. Players control the title’s titular character, a witch with magic hair and a lot of guns, fighting through wave after wave of baroque enemies and bosses. There is a plot in Bayonetta 2 — it revolves around angels, demons, and a magic mountain — but the focus is on the action. Combat is difficult, but the game gives players a number of tools and abilities, and when you get into the groove, Bayonetta 2 has an elegance unlike many action games.

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Amazon

Splatoon

Although Nintendo takes a lot of flak (deservedly so) for its over reliance on tentpole franchises like Mario and Zelda, the company does, from time to time, produce something new and interesting. On the Wii U, that game is Splatoon, a team-based shooter that takes a classic genre and filters it through Nintendo’s stylish, whimsical prism. In Splatoon matches, players use ink guns to paint areas of the map and spray opponents, effectively “killing” them in video game terms. There are also various game modes, such as Turf Wars, where the team that has painted more of the map after three minutes wins. Platoon’s visuals are gorgeous, with bright colors and cartoony character designs that contrast sharply with the gritty realism of many third-person shooters.

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Amazon

Mario Kart 8

The Wii U was designed with local multiplayer in mind, and there are few games better for a group of friends crammed onto a couch than Mario Kart 8. The eighth and latest installment in the racing franchise doesn’t radically change the series’ formula, but it does refine it. The game features more than 30 characters and 48 tracks, many of which will be familiar to fans of the series. New characters and maps are great, but what has always been central to Mario Kart is the core gameplay, with tight controls and outlandish weapons that make every race a chaotic marathon. Mario Kart 8 has perhaps the best driving in the series, aided by a pristine frame rate. The game also has online multiplayer and custom tournaments, which can keep it fresh until the next installment of the landmark racing series hits store shelves.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate

The long-running Monster Hunter franchise has never been a mainstream franchise in the west, which is a shame, because it is one of the most unique RPG series around. In Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate, players are cast as a monster slayer who must protect a small fishing village from the numerous monsters that plague it. The monsters in question range in size from small to colossal, and the fights are often both difficult and spectacular. Unlike in most RPGs, in Ultimate, players do not level up or gain better stats and abilities as the game progresses. Instead, players construct better weapons and armor from the body parts of the monster they slay. The title doesn’t have much of a story, but the core gameplay loop of killing monsters and crafting items is compelling enough, with or without a narrative. The game also allows for players to team up and hunt monsters online.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

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