The legion of Nintendo fans already know that the Wii U has plenty of awesome games to play, but those just jumping into the tablet controller waters may not know where the best experience lie. If you're one of those people, this list is every game you'll need to have a blast playing with your new Wii U. With these 20 games in your library, we don't know if you'll be able to turn the Wii U off. There's hours and hours of crazy fun hidden in these releases, and we're sure that you'll keep coming back for more.
Wii Sports it is not, but Nintendo Land is still an excellent introduction into the world of the Wii U. There are 12 mini-games in all, some single-player only and the rest multiplayer in some fashion, and each one is focused on a different Nintendo franchise. The mini-games highlight different aspects of the console's perks, from Mario Chase's 4-on-1 multiplayer and The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and using the GamePad to aim a bow and arrow, to Takamaru's Ninja Castle's shuriken launching and Captain Falcon's Twister Race's GamePad-only racing. This is the first game that should be played on every brand new Wii U, as there's no better teacher for what the system has to offer.
New Super Mario Bros. U
Nintendo is the king of re-imaging its most famous mascot. Mario, who started as a little 8-bit plumber running to the right to save a princess, has become a galaxy-hopping, cat suit-wearing everyman. Sometimes though, it's best to return to one's roots, and that's exactly what New Super Mario Bros. U does so well. This is classic Mario platforming at its finest, letting up to four players join together in the adventure to save Peach from the clutches of Bowser and his Koopa Kids. This is a perfect game for family game night and it's a must-buy for any Wii U owner.
Those looking for the normal Legend of Zelda experience on Wii U need to download an older game or wait a few more months, because this one surely is not it. Hyrule Warriors focuses solely on smashing thousands of enemies across vast battlefields with characters from all over the Zelda universe. We're familiar with Link's battle style, but seeing Zelda use the Wind Waker to damage foes with the weather or Darunia smashing the ground with the Megaton Hammer really makes us happy. Hyrule Warriors takes the storied Zelda franchise out of its comfort zone, but it does so in the best way possible.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
We were pleasantly surprised when Retro Studios released the Donkey Kong Country sequel we never knew we wanted. Tropical Freeze captures the same platforming excellence and challenging difficulty as the original Donkey Kong Country all those years ago on Super Nintendo, as DK and his pals fight to save his island from penguins, walruses, and other arctic warriors. Plus it's the first time we get to play as Cranky Kong, who turns Donkey Kong Country into DuckTales NES and we're completely okay with that.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
While Wind Waker was always excellent on the GameCube, Nintendo itself admitted that the little purple box wasn't the best selling console ever made, causing some players to miss out on the oceanic adventure. What better way to fix that problem than by re-releasing the game in glorious high definition on a brand new console? The cel-shaded graphics that caused so much controversy in 2003 truly shine in HD, and the minor enhancements that speed the game up in its slower moments make Wind Waker an even better Zelda game. Set sail for Outset Island as soon as you can, even if you've played it before.
Many may be wondering what those tiny plant-like creatures are following that one astronaut-looking guy around in the latest Smash Bros. game. Those are Pikmin, and they star in one of the quirkiest and most charming franchises in Nintendo's portfolio. Pikmin 3 on the Wii U is a perfect example, throwing us into beautifully lush natural worlds and tasking us with finding fruit to keep our three intrepid explorers alive, all while braving the wilds and facing off against some gigantic creatures along the way. Pikmin 3 does have its oddities, but we expect you'll fall quickly in love with every single one of them.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted U
We saw Need for Speed: Most Wanted U among the early Wii U releases and admittedly did not have high hopes for it. We thought it would be just another port from another console--easily played and forgotten about. Then we played the exclusive Co-Driver mode where one person drives and the other guides via an interactive map on the GamePad. After that we found the hidden Warp Pipe-esque tunnels with exclusive unlockable cars themed after Mario characters. Finally, when it was time for bed, we switched to Off-TV play and played it away from the TV for a while. After all of that we were convinced: Most Wanted U should be on everyone's most wanted Wii U list.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
What began as a minor side mini-game in Super Mario 3D World (which we'll get to later on) suddenly became worthy of its own retail release, and our Wii U consoles are much better for it. Toad's first starring role has him traversing more than 80 puzzles looking for Stars and other treasure. While Toad can't jump, we can still help him by shifting our perspective of the stage and finding open paths for our captain to use on his quest. We liked the mini-games back in the original game, but we love the puzzles in their own release, and it's about damn time Toad got the top billing he deserves. Good on you, you little mushroom, you.
Nintendo's not the only one that can publish a stellar platforming game on the Wii U. Ubisoft and its patented UbiArt engine brought Rayman Legends to the world, and we're hard-pressed to find more awe-inspiring 2D graphics like these anywhere else on the system. The challenges are incredibly fun as well, especially the music-themed stages where we have to collect flies and pound enemies to the rhythm of songs like Black Betty and a mariachi version of Eye of the Tiger from 'Rocky IV'. If that last part doesn't sell you, we're not sure what will, but we recommend giving Rayman Legends a try.
This is a puzzle game that centers around burning things in a fireplace. As you burn items you gain money, which then opens up more catalogs of things to burn and more money to gain, which also advances the story. We're in full agreement that this sounds really strange, but we're in awe of how a simple puzzle game like Little Inferno turns into a deep, meaningful story rather quickly. Once you realize what's actually going on, you'll want to keep burning everything you can until the final credits roll. Pick it up in the Wii U eShop and see what we mean.
Skylanders: Swap Force
Activision struck gold with the Skylanders series, introducing the world to tiny figurines with chips inside that made the figurine come to life inside a video game world. While there have been many versions of Skylanders since the original, our favorite has to be Swap Force, which introduced sixteen new figurines that could be split in half and combined with other figurines to create even more all-new creatures. Despite the ingenious idea of getting 256 characters out of 16 figurines, these also featured some of our favorite Skylanders characters like Grim Creeper, Magna Charge, and Hoot Loop. We'd recommend Skylanders to anyone but with fair warning: the instant you begin to enjoy these games is the instant your living space becomes consumed by tiny figurines.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
We all know Monster Hunter is a widely popular Capcom franchise that pits players against gigantic creatures from land, air, and sea, and Monster Hunter 3 on the Wii brought monster hunting to the online frontier for the first time ever in the States. The Wii U upgrade, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, expanded on that even more, creating a game that avid monster hunters could easily drop 200-300 hours in without even thinking about it. Hunting these behemoths takes a certain strategy that fans love, so if you're more into planning your steps and being methodical in your approach, Monster Hunter will certainly appeal to you.
One of the best things about the Wii U is its extensive library of great indie titles available for download on the Wii U eShop. One of those games is Teslagrad, a 2D puzzle platformer that focuses less on combat against enemies and more on insane puzzles with magnets and magnetism. This is a game that thrives on the "a ha!" moment, as the out-of-the-box thinking that comes with solving these trials will surprise even the best puzzle solvers. Teslagrad is a game that some will probably overlook, but we think you'll be pulled right to it if you give it a go.
Before the Wii U launched we saw plenty of previews for the games available on day one, but one game's dark and violent world stood out among the others: ZombiU. This is no Mario platformer; this is a struggle with the undead unlike any we've played before with an interesting death mechanic. If a character dies, the next character must find and kill the preceding character's zombie in order to retrieve any items that character found. Basically if you die holding the key, your next "life" will have to take out the character you controlled before to get it back. What does that mean? Whatever you do, don't die. ZombiU is a fresh face among the zombie games in the world, and it served as a great launch title for the Wii U.
Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World is the perfect example of why we love Mario so much. It's fun for up to four players at a time at any age, letting groups play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach. It's delightfully weird, debuting the brand new Cat Suit that gives Mario and his pals feline-like powers and odd meowing sound effects. It's challenging as it progresses, pulling out some stages that really require some skill. Best of all, it's yet another Mario game that's perfect for a rainy day with the family, collecting coins and jumping on Goombas to your heart's content.
Yacht Club Games
If we didn't know better, we'd have no problem believing that Shovel Knight released in the late '80s instead of 2014. This game is a wonderful time warp back to the glory days of old-school 8-bit platforming games. Seasoned gaming veterans will love the Super Mario Bros. 3 style world map, Mega Man-esque eight boss format, and gameplay mechanics inspired by those games, DuckTales, and many more. The ripping soundtrack is an even bigger treat, with some of the most memorable chiptune tracks ever made. The game takes every fond childhood memory we have of our old NES consoles and molds them together into one wonderful retro experience.
Platinum Games is on a different level than many other developers when it comes to crazy ideas that work. The Wonderful 101 has us controlling multiple characters on-screen at one time, which we can turn into giant fists, guns, and swords to battle enemies and save the world from an alien invasion. As we collect new heroes our attacks become stronger and our weapons largers to cover more ground. Drawing shapes on the GamePad lets us morph our characters into the weapons we desire, then we can wreak havoc. It's a strange game, but the Wonderful 101 is... well, wonderful.
Mario Kart 8
Name one Mario Kart game that didn't become a favorite to Nintendo games everywhere. It's impossible, as the series continues to strike gold with every release. Despite those accolades, Mario Kart 8 may the best in the bunch, with beautifully designed tracks brimming with color and life, a giant roster of characters that continues to grow with downloadable content, and the most robust online mode the series has ever seen. The game that's generated countless inside jokes and turned Luigi into one angry plumber should be on every Wii U owner's shelf without question, because one Friday night with friends is bound to turn into a night at the racetrack.
Bayonetta 2 would not exist without Nintendo's funding, so Platinum Games must have tried to thank them by making this the most over-the-top awesome action game we've ever played. Right from the first battle (which happens on top of an in-flight fighter jet, by the way) the adrenaline starts pumping and doesn't stop until the final credits. Think what you want of Bayonetta herself, but she's easily one of the best female characters in video games with her perfect mixture of strength and sexiness. We didn't think Bayonetta 2 would ever exist, but now that it does, you better believe it's a must-own for the Wii U.
Super Smash Bros.
So you bought a Wii U but you don't know anything about Nintendo outside of Mario and his friends. Super Smash Bros. is a crash course on the entire history of Nintendo centered around a high-intensity fight fest that's equally fun alone and with a friend. Forty-eight characters in the main roster hail from every main Nintendo franchise there is, from Pokemon and Fire Emblem to newer names like Xenoblade Chronicles. With all of the music tracks, trophies, and other things to unlock and the various game modes to try out, Super Smash Bros for Wii U is one of those games that has unlimited value, as we think players will be Smashing for years to come.