The 10 Best Games For The Wii U

Hail, ye Nintendo faithful! New hardware has appeared and — loyal folk that you are — the Wii U now rests in your home. It’s still early in the new console’s lifecycle but that doesn’t mean there aren’t games that will make your latest pledge of fealty to the House of Mario feel worthwhile. Check out the list below for the two-screen offerings that make the Wii U shine.

Assassin’s Creed III

We reviewed Assassin’s Creed III favourably on other platforms, but be warned that Ubisoft’s massive adventure is probably 2012’s most divisive blockbuster game. It concludes the storyline of Desmond Miles, the guy in 2012 who has been entering a device called the Animus since the first Assassin’s Creed game in order to re-live the memories of his assassin ancestors. ACIII, which is technically the fifth console AC game, has Desmond and the player experiencing the exploits of a half-British/half-Native-American man named Connor who, though deeply conflicted, joins the assassin’s guild in the American colonies at the time of the Revolution. This is a game about assassinating and running across rooftops, about sneaking, about commanding your own warship, about climbing trees, hunting bears, meeting Paul Revere, fighting alongside George Washington and, oh yeah, there’s also a deep competitive multiplayer mode. The knock, by some, is that the game is all rough edges, a bit buggy and that Connor and colonial America aren’t as wonderful to experience as Ezio and the Renaissance-era Italy of the first two games he starred in, Assassin’s Creed II and AC: Brotherhood. This Wii U edition doesn’t add much, though having a bigger map on the GamePad than the small one on the corner of the screen is nice.

A Good Match for: Fans of complicated history, as ACIII runs toward, not away, from the contradictions and complications of America’s birth.

Not for Those Who Want: A polished experience. ACIII is a harkening back to the rough-draft era of the first Assassin’s Creed, albeit with way more things to do. Frequent online patches are improving the game, gradually. [clear]

Here’s how it looks in action:

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Why would anyone get an FPS game with an intensely hardcore fanbase on a Nintendo console? Because this Call of Duty sacrifices much less on the Wii U. Its looks stand up to other iterations of the Treyarch sequel and the two-screen design of the Wii offers up some perks that you won’t get on other platforms.

A Good Match for: Folks who love getting killstreaks in co-op. With one person on the TV and another using the GamePad screen, you and a buddy can tackle other players online while sharing the same couch.

Not for Those Who Want: Well-populated servers. Compared to its PC, PS3 and Xbos 360 brethren, the Wii U version of Black Ops II feels like a ghost town.

Here’s how it looks in action:

Little Inferno

It’s an interactive fireplace that challenges you to burn various things. And it has an emotional storyline. OK? Please trust us! It’s from the World of Goo people and it’s… really best if you go in knowing nothing more than that.

A Good Match for: People who don’t want the norm. There’s never been an interactive fireplace video game that has an emotional storyline before. There probably won’t be one again. You play this, you get your indie cred boosted as a bonus.

Not for Those Who Want: A traditional video game. You’ve got to like weird stuff and not be bothered that this isn’t a shooter, a platformer, a racer, a sports game, a fighting game or anything else. Plus you have to not mind possible criticisms of the gaming medium, because that just might be what Little Inferno is really about.

Here’s how it looks in action:

Mass Effect 3

The conclusion to BioWare’s sci-fi epic might have let down a few fans with its controversial ending, but it’s still a solid shooter/RPG that works well on the Wii U. You can hotkey special biotic abilities to the touchscreen on your tablet controller, so you can fling aliens around with the tap of

a finger. You can also use the GamePad as a map as you try to save Earth from the Reapers.

A Good Match for: People who don’t own an Xbox 360 or PS3.

Not for Those Who Want: A perfect frame rate. The Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 occasionally looks less than perfect.

Here’s how it looks in action:

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition

Raise your tolerance for puns and take control of Patricia Wagon, a crimefigher who has to capture escaped convicts in this throwback sidescroller that is a little bit of a shooter and a lot of puzzle-platformer. Officer Wagon has the useful ability of rendering blocks in and out of existence, which turns each timed level into a clever, puzzling quest of figuring out how to jump, climb or otherwise get around to nab the escaped bad girls. This Wii U version of the game includes difficult remixes of the original 3DS game’s levels and can be played on a TV or on the Wii U GamePad.

A Good Match for: People who consider the Super Nintendo gaming’s apex.

Not for Those Who Want: Their games free of cute-girls-in-trouble anime shtick.

Here’s how it looks in action:

New Super Mario Bros U

The first-ever high-definition Mario game is also warm,

familiar, and consistently fun. You might not be surprised too often while jumping your way through the single-player campaign, but stomping on Goombas really never gets old. Plus, the Wii U’s tablet controller allows for some surprisingly enjoyable multiplayer twists.

A Good Match for: People who like to game while watching TV. If you’re playing single-player, you can play all of New Super Mario Bros. U on the GamePad controller.

Not for Those Who Want: Something new. Something that changes up the standard Mario formula we’ve been following for so long.

Here’s how it looks in action:

Nintendo Land

It’s a dozen games in one and most of them are good. Nintendo Land is sort of the Wii U’s version of Wii Sports, except that its games are more substantial and… not as simply, purely brilliant as the bowling and tennis in that famous Wii launch game. Half of Nintendo Land‘s diverse games are made to be played solo, three are multiplayer-only and three can be played solo or with friends. All 12 show different, interesting ways the Wii U GamePad can be used to control games. The stars of the bundle are the surprisingly deep co-op Zelda adventure, the graphically-shocking Pikmin missions, the lovely Balloon Trip iPad-like game and the crowd-pleasing party favourites: Mario Chase and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion.

A Good Match for: Nintendo buffs, since the game is presented as a Nintendo-themed theme park and reward players with all sort of Nintendo-themed unlockable décor. Nintendo Land also serves as a great instruction manual for the Wii U’s features too.

Not for Those Who Want: One focused game (this ain’t that) or one game as perfectly tuned for people of any age or type as Wii Sports tennis (Nintendo Land‘s Mario Chase comes closest).

Here’s how it looks in action:

Scribblenauts Unlimited

The Wii U version of Scribblenauts Unlimited presents all the crazy mad-libs puzzle-solving of 5th Cell’s charming game in hi-def. That alone is a reason to cheer. But Unlimited also lets players in on Maxwell’s back story and offers up clever multiplayer features to boot. Combine all those elements with the fact that a TV-centric Scribblenauts makes for a laugh-out-loud experience and you may have the best version of an already good game.

A Good Match for: Wannabe comic-book creators. This version of Scribblenauts has the Object Editor, with lets players craft their own unique mashed-up creations — like a winged zebra — and share them with other players, who can then tweak them even more. If someone else’s twisted imagination has thought of a weirdo lifeform, then you can revel in using it.

Not for Those Who Want: Variety. More words and more creativity mean that many of the game’s puzzles will feel really lightweight and repetitive.

Here’s how it looks in action:

Trine 2: Director’s Cut

Trine games are side-scrollers that are made to impress you with 1) their amazing fantasy-world graphics, 2) their in-world physics systems and 3) the diversity of gameplay you get in switching from playing as a melee warrior, a sneaky thief and a mage who can render objects into existence. You can play solo or three-player co-op, and the Wii U version incudes the game’s Goblin Menace expansion.

A Good Match for: Graphics gawkers. This game is beautiful and — bonus — is the rare Wii U launch game that outshines its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions (but maybe not the PC one).

Not for Those Who Want: To play Mario, Mighty Switch Force, the upcoming Rayman Legends or any of the other side-scrollers already cropping up on Wii U. There are a lot to choose from.

Here’s how it looks in action:


The best third-party game on the Wii U takes a hackneyed scenario and puts it in a locale where it feels a bit more unexpected. While ZombiU‘s undead apocalypse does feel fresher because of its London setting, it’s really the chain-link single-player campaign and asymmetrical multiplayer that make it shine. There’s something morbidly apropos about having to find and loot the walking corpse of the character you previously controlled — to keep use of the best gear after you die — while playing solo. And facing off against others in the game’s asymmetrical multiplayer battles makes controlling the bad guys more fun than being the hero.

A Good Match for: Passive-aggressive survival horror fans. The atmosphere is dark and desperate in ZombiU and every bullet counts. Holding the Wii U gamepad up to use as a scanner isn’t just a new-hardware gimmick. It’s a crucial mechanic that reveals zombie placements and where weapons and items might be. And if you’re stuck on a particular sequence, a hint from another player might be your salvation. Or a trick to doom you to yet another death.

Not for Those Who Want: Meaningful relationships with playable characters. Other than “Zombies! Holy crap! Don’t die!”, the avatars you’ll control in ZombiU single-player don’t get much in the way of backstory and motivation.

Here’s how it looks in action:

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