Nintendo's Wii U was the first console out of the gate this generation, but poor sales and tepid developer support has relegated it to last place. And the NX is apparently coming to replace it.
It's a sad fate for the innovative platform, because while we wouldn't advise it as a primary console for most players, it has enough spunk and appeal to warrant your attention. More importantly: it has Nintendo games. Sweet, sweet Nintendo games.
Luckily, while game quantity has been an issue, Nintendo has slowly but surely built a strong core lineup of Wii U titles punctuated by some of the (arguably) best-ever versions of beloved franchises, along with some intriguing indies and third-party picks. Got a Wii U or considering the purchase? Here are the 15 essential games we recommend you start with.
Super Mario Maker
The Wii U already has a few smashing Mario entries (keep reading), but Super Mario Maker puts the tools in your hands: with the GamePad, you can create your own weird, wild, and wonderful 2D platform stages and share them online.
Not only is that fun and intuitive, but you can also play everyone else's stages, plus Nintendo bundled its own stages in the package – so even if you're not crazy about level creation, it's still a blast.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
It drops you into a vast wonderland of monster slaying and (eventually) mech piloting, with an anime-esque sci-fi story and plenty of RPG grind in store. It's a tough nut to crack, but rewarding: stick with it and you may find much to love.
We've come around to Splatoon. True story! While we were admittedly underwhelmed by the launch experience, due in part to the limited array of initial content, our enjoyment and admiration for this team-based, paint-spraying, alt-shooter has grown as the game itself has.
Now there are enough maps and modes to keep you satisfied, not to mention a great community around it. Cheers to Nintendo for not only doing something different, but also continuing to support the game.
Minecraft: Wii U Edition
While it's a shame that the Wii U Edition doesn't take significant advantage of the GamePad – aside from off-TV play, of course – it's still Minecraft on Wii U.
Given the rather compact library, the release of the block-building favourite makes an even larger impact on Nintendo's box. It's playable with up to four local or eight online players as you survive the unknown or create pixel-packed wonders together in the blocky unknown.
FAST Racing Neo
Ignore the dreadfully dull title: FAST Racing Neo is a truly exhilarating throwback to the anti-grav racing greats of old: think F-Zero and Wipeout.
It's more like the former than the latter, really, since it lacks weapons, making maintaining your insane speed the sole priority as you whip around an array of twisty tracks. In fact, it's fitting that Neo is a Wii U exclusive, since it has the feel of an N64-era racer – just much, much better looking.