The 12 best Nintendo Wii U games to play today

Nintendo's two-screened console experience has its share of must-play favorites - these are the essentials

Super Mario 3D World

The Wii U (read our full review) was the first of the next-gen consoles to go on sale, and an attempt by Nintendo to recapture the attention of a hardcore gaming community that had been left somewhat cold by the Wii's casual gaming focus.

With its second screen control setup, the Wii U is certainly an innovative machine – and its stable of Nintendo exclusives makes it a tempting prospect.

While software support was initially a bit limp, the selection has increased significantly in overall quality (although not necessarily quantity) since, and Nintendo has some true gems that you just can't find anywhere else.

So, if you've got a Wii U, here are the 12 games you have to try.

Mario Kart 8

No best Nintendo console games list would be complete without a Mario Kart entry, and lucky us, here's Mario Kart 8. It's the same Mario Kart you've grown to love (and, once the blue shell strikes, hate), but with gloriously shiny graphics and new tracks to sink your tires into.

With multiplayer more hectic than ever, you'll be swearing and cheering in equal measure in no time. And not only is the main game a treat, but it's also been expanded out with some excellent DLC tracks that even bring in Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing elements. It's familiar, sure, but essential for Wii U owners.

Pikmin 3

A horticultural real-time strategy game might sound wrong, but this is one garden party no Wii U owner should miss. You command three micro-astronauts as they harvest hordes of flower-headed Pikmin to help battle giant bugs, as well as find ways to collect the oversized and seductively named fruit they need for their daily juice fix.

The pitch-perfect puzzles and charming characters make Pikmin 3 even more enticing than gulping down your astronauts’ supply of velvety dreamdrop juice.

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Super Mario 3D World

Hands down the best next-gen platform game on the block, Super Mario 3D World hits the sweet spot between the multiplayer joy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and the 3D wizardry of Super Mario Galaxy.

From the familiar head-stomping to new additions like Mario’s kitty onesie and Captain Toad’s puzzle asides, it’s a masterclass in game design. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, when a man is tired of Mario, he is tired of life – and this is proof that there's still plenty of excitement and exhiliration to find in the series.

Bayonetta 2

Considering Nintendo's long-standing reputation for conservative content, a Bayonetta sequel appearing on Wii U seemed incredibly unlikely. And Nintendo publishing it as an exclusive, especially after the original game only hit Xbox 360 and PS3? Totally bizarre. And yet here we are.

Perhaps most surprising of all is that Bayonetta 2 is a downright spectacular action game (even more so than the original), delivering insane boss fights and hugely satisfying hack-and-slash combat that can stand with the genre's giants. The highly sexualized nature can be off-putting, but it's a wild ride for sure.

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