The 15 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

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 15 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 8It'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.

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.

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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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.

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.