Nintendo’s Wii U is definitely on the decline, with its predecessor, the NX, set for release in March. The console has taken its fair share of knocks since its 2012 release, but it’s boasted enough knockout games to justify its purchase for any hardcore Nintendo fan. And because of the unique design, as well as Nintendo’s insistence on containing its games to its own hardware, you couldn’t play these classics anywhere else. Now that the Wii U in its twilight, it’s time to look back at the very best the console had to offer.
Here’s a look at the best Wii U exclusives available right now:
5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Nintendo reliably cranked out HD remakes of some of the best Wii and GameCube games on the Wii U, and was in peak form with this brilliant redo of the Zelda title that sent off the GameCube and introduced the Wii in style. Better graphics, smoother gameplay and redesigned animations made one of the finest entries in the franchise better than ever before. Excellent remakes of Pikmin and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker were strong runners-up.
4. Bayonetta 2
Developer: Platinum Games
This was by far the most out-of-place Wii U success story. M-rated games were few and far between on the family-friendly console, and this hack-and-slash sensation — about a warrior witch who strips down as she takes damage — was as naughty a title as you could find on any console. Platinum’s stellar effort more than backed up the risque content with airtight gameplay, boasting one of the most thrilling action titles of this generation on any console.
3. Super Mario 3D World
Capitalizing on the momentum that launch title Super Mario Wii U generated, Nintendo delivered one of the greatest 3D platformers ever released, and added co-op multiplayer to boot. Brilliant level design — which hid countless secrets waiting for obsessive players to unearth — wacky boss fights and funny interludes made the game impossible to put down. The need to go back and replay levels to find hidden star coins made the game challenging to even the hardest-core Mario fanatics, and unique power-ups, including a cat-themed item, made the gameplay unique.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Developers: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco
This was the fighting game that pumped lifeblood into the console for years, becoming a dorm room staple and one of Nintendo’s stronger online offerings. The Big N broke with its own tendency to disregard modern conventions such as updates and DLC, pumping out a steady stream of new characters and stages that kept the game lively after months of all-night throwdowns. The well-balanced slugfest was a high point for the legendary series.
1. Mario Kart 8
With online and offline multiplayer on par with Super Smash Bros., as well as a streaming channel that made it easy to check out live action going on elsewhere, this was the Mario Kart dream fans always dreamed of. Strong, consistent paid and free updates — including the addition of the paradigm-shifting, ultra-fast 200cc mode — kept evolving and advancing the game over the years. Few gaming thrills can match the rush of pulling off a come-from-behind victory at the finish line with a well-hurled item.
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