Nintendo’s Wii U is notorious for how hard it flopped, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have good games. While many popular exclusives have made their way to Nintendo Switch or other systems, some are uniquely suited to the Wii U and/or its GamePad or just haven’t made the jump to newer platforms for various reasons. Now that Nintendo plans to shut down the Wii U and 3DS eShop in 2023, many of these games will become much tougher to play and much more expensive.
If you’re one of the 13.5 million people who actually have a Wii U and are wondering what to pick up before the eShop closes, we recommend these five stranded games.
While the Wii U GamePad’s dual-screen functionality was an interesting concept, few games utilized it in remarkable ways. Affordable Space Adventures is an indie title with gameplay intrinsically tied to the GamePad. Though this makes it one of the coolest games on the system, it also means this experience wouldn’t feel the same anywhere else. In Affordable Space Adventures, players get stranded on an alien planet and explore it in a small spacecraft. To complete levels and ensure that the spacecraft stays safe and stable, players micromanage various systems on the GamePad’s touchscreen.
It makes the player feel like a pilot and shows how some game experiences are only possible with two screens. Affordable Space Adventures is a digital-only title, meaning interested players need to buy it (and its DLC) soon.
Devil’s Third is not a good game; it’s outright terrible. Still, it’s such a beautiful disaster that we recommend every Wii U owner plays it. It follows a buff assassin named Ivan as he tracks down members of a secret organization that he used to be a part of, but it’s not like the plot is good or anything. This is a bombastic and poorly constructed adventure with a dumb story and janky combat that never flows together smoothly. But Devil’s Third thinks it’s so cool with its tattooed, drum-playing Vin Diesel-looking protagonist that one can’t help but find it adorable.
Firmly in so bad it’s good territory, it’s astounding that Nintendo chose to publish Devil’s Third. It will forever be one of the weirdest games in Nintendo’s catalog and one that the company probably won’t ever acknowledge again. Its multiplayer mode shut down a year after launch, and now its single-player will be lost forever unless someone tracks down a physical copy.
Unfortunately, Devil’s Third is one of the rarest Wii U games as it had a fairly limited physical release in North America. Copies already go for $280 or more, but the eShop had remained an easy way to introduce people to the game until now. Devil’s Third will only get even more expensive once it isn’t available digitally, so those who want to experience this train wreck need to get it on the eShop before the storefront closes down.
Star Fox Zero was a mediocre reboot of Nintendo’s sci-fi franchise that incorporated the GamePad to mixed results. Star Fox Guard, a side game released alongside this title, utilizes the GamePad in much more exciting ways, but is also at risk of being lost forever.
Star Fox Guard is a tower defense game where players switch between various cameras to fight back against invading robots. It stars Slippy Toad, everyone’s favorite Star Fox character, and feels like a unique mix of classic tower defense games like Five Nights At Freddy’s and Star Fox. Like Affordable Space Adventures, this experience will likely be eternally stuck on Wii U.
The game received a limited physical release alongside the first print of Star Fox Zero, and there’s a good chance it could get very rare and valuable once the eShop shuts down. Until next year, it’s thankfully still available through the eShop.
While Xenoblade Chronicles will soon have two numbered sequels and a remake on Nintendo Switch, a unique spinoff game is still stuck on Wii U. Sporting more realistic-looking visuals than the rest of the series, Xenoblade Chronicles X follows a group of colonists from a destroyed Earth as they try to explore and establish a new society on the planet Mira.
It plays like the other Xenoblade games but focuses much more on exploration and even lets players control giant mechs called Skells. Xenoblade Chronicles X is the black sheep of the series but is still an enjoyable RPG nonetheless. With how popular Xenoblade has been on Nintendo Switch, it’s surprising that this title hasn’t made its way over to that system yet. While the game may eventually make the jump to Nintendo’s modern console, interested players’ only option until then is to buy Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U before March 2022.
Telling someone to pick up the Wii U Virtual Console rerelease of a Game Boy Advance port of a SNES remake of an NES Mario game might seem like an odd request. But this particular version of the game gives players access to some bonus content that’s hard to play otherwise. With its Game Boy Advance rerelease of Super Mario Bros. 3, Nintendo actually added several new levels, but the only way to access them was through the use of the Nintendo e-Reader, a failed peripheral that could read cards with game data on them.
The Wii U Virtual Console release lets players access these fun levels without needing an e-reader, making it the definitive way to play this game. Unless someone is willing to track down a working Game Boy Advance, a copy of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, an e-reader, and all of the required cards, this Wii U virtual console version is worth it.
Regardless of the bonus content, Super Mario Bros. 3 is a great game, and this is a solid remake that also includes a new version of the original Mario Bros. This game’s situation also highlights how Nintendo is doing a poor job at preserving the games available on the Wii U Virtual Console, namely from the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS systems.
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