Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Top 10 Wii U Games

RIP: 2012-2017.

Before we start, I'd just like to say that The Bye Bye Man will come out next week and Horizon Zero Dawn will replace my Top 10 Worst Things About Modern Video Games list. Live got busy, and to be perfectly honest, I've just been thinking a lot about the Wii U recently. I just beat the latest expansion of SHovel Knight, Specter of Torment, and it made me think how tragically short the Wii U's lifespan was. It was Nintendo's worst selling home console, not including the Virtual Boy, and there were a lot of negative criticisms against the console. Some of them were unfair, but most of them were justified. The Wii U had no third party support, had a terrible name, had weird online requirements, had no support for the second half of its lifespan, and it just couldn't keep any initial excitement after a year or so.

But even though the Wii U was a flop, and it's very safe to say that it is a flop, there are still fantastic games on it. Some of these games are console exclusive, but you can pick a bunch of these games up on different systems. I wanted to take some time to actually look back at the Wii U, because the Wii U actually holds a special place in my heart. I got it the week before I went off to college, and I've played some great games with some great friends, and I wanted to give a final hurrah to the system that never really could.

Now just a few parameters for this list. I'm ranking these games based on how much I like them. Some of my favorite games may make sense, some won't be they're my favorite games. Second, I decided not to include HD remakes or remasters on this list. I know that the Wii U had barely any, but they still exist, and it would have felt weird to make a list of the best games the Wii U had if I put on Twilight Princess or Wind Waker. And no, Breath of the Wild won't be on this list. I played it on the Switch, so in my mind it's a Switch game.

So with all of that out of the way, let's give the Wii U the send off it deserves.

#10: Shantae: Half Genie Hero
As the most recent game to be put on this list, Shantae: Half Genie Hero is a fun and enjoyable little platformer that I just so happened to back on Kickstarter. No, that didn't influence its ranking on this list, but it goes to show just how much faith I had in the initial premise. I love the Shantae series, and this was the first game in the series specifically designed for home consoles. The graphics are great, the humor is there, and the level design is varied and enjoyable. Yes, I wish that the backtracking wasn't as pervasive as it is here, and I wish the game had an open world instead of a level select style of design, but that's me just being a nitpicking fan of the series.

My thoughts are still pretty fresh on this game, so if you want to hear more about them, just pop on over and read my original review here. Everything I'm saying now is pretty much verbatim of what my thoughts were then.

#9: Hyrule Warriors
If you were to ask me what was the best year for the Nintendo Switch, I would say 2014 without a shadow of a doubt. 2014 was such a great year for the console that several of its games were actually contenders for several Game of the Year Awards for major game outlets. Usually Nintendo games are considered niche, but so many Wii U games broke through to the mainstream and became instant classics. Hell, a majority of the games that are on this list came out in 2014. That should speak miles on how good 2014 was for the Wii U, and Hyrule Warriors just happened to be one of those games.

Hyrule Warriors is a hack-n-slash beat'em up made up entirely of Zelda characters. You can play as Link, Zelda, Impa, and a whole host of others as you defeat hordes of monsters all to get at other Zelda characters and massive bosses. What makes Hyrule Warriors great though is its ludicrous amount of content. Not only did it had several massive DLC add-ons, but even after the game finished updating, when its 3DS remake, Hyrule Warriors Legends came out, all of the new DLC from that game made it over to the Wii U version, giving you so much content that it's safe to say that you may never actually complete the game.

Though it's not the most complex game in the world, if you just want to play a fun little action game and you really like The Legend of Zelda, you can certainly do a lot worse.

#8: Super Mario 3D World
You may not believe me when I say this, but I'm actually not the biggest fan of 3D Mario platformers. I can certainly respect them as being good games, but I view them more as baseline experiences for a console if that makes any sense. A Mario game usually comes out early in a console's lifespan and shows what a console is capable of in terms of solid gameplay experiences. Developers can either reach that level, exceed that level, or never reach the same level of polish. Galaxy was the best platformer on the Wii, and 3D World is merely just one of the best platformers on the Wii U.

3D World is the first 3D multiplayer Mario game, and its a ton of fun to play. I love just being able to join a game with my friends and have some crazy antics. The worlds all feel fresh and never feel recycled like in the 2D Mario games. This game just personifies the idea of co-op couch gaming, and I can safely say that the Cat Suits are pretty cute and fun. Other than that, I don't really have any personal connection to this game. Yes it's good, but like I said, Mario games all feel kind of the same to me at this point. They're great, but they're all great in the same way, which is much less interesting to me than having a great game that doesn't do the same old Nintendo style of platforming. Speaking of...

#7: Rayman Legends
Now this is a fresh, original platformer that anyone can get behind. A 2D, co-op platformer with fantastic visuals and very more fun platforming, and it's third party? How could this be?

Rayman Legends is a bit infamous among Wii U fans for being a promised launch exclusive only to be delayed by a year and made into a multi-platform game, which arguably incited the Wii U doom and gloom that the console was known for. All of that aside, Rayman Legends is a great time! The platforming is tight, and the platforming stages centered around jumping to the beat of a song are some of the best levels in the entire game. I haven't played this game since its release, but even then I still believe that it's a better game than 3D World if only because I can that this was a passion project that the developers at Ubisoft wanted to make. I'm not sure how well it did financially, but I hope it did well by becoming a multi-platform title. It's getting a port to the Switch sometime this year, so who knows? Maybe we'll get a sequel to one of the most criminally underrated games of last generation.

#6: Yoshi's Woolly World
Oh hey, it's my Game of the Year for 2015! How are you doing?

If I'm being perfectly frank, while I still do love Woolly World with all of my heart and think it's an adorable and amazing time, I would be lying if I said that it was perfect. Looking back at my Best of 2015 list, while I still defend every game's placement on that list, I put Woolly World at number 1 more because of what it represents instead of how mechanically good it is. There's no other game on the Wii U that looks this good, plain and simple. Every frame of this game is a work of art and the texture work on every individual thread is mind blowing to me. The gameplay is fairly conventional, dare I say simplistic, but when the overall aesthetic and package are as wonderful as they are, it doesn't really matter to me.

You know, one of my closest friends said that they don't understand the appeal of Woolly World because since the player can never actually die in it, the game can become dull. I would argue that the lack of death is irrelevant here as long as you have fun playing. If you still feel a twinge of fear for falling into a pit, then that's solid game design. You forget that you can't lose and just have fun enjoying the game. Woolly World is the game you play when you want to relax, unwind, and play a mellow little experience.

#5: Mario Kart 8
It was really only a matter of time until Mario Kart 8 popped up on this list. It's the best selling game on the Wii U. It surpassed 3D World as being Nintendo's pack-in title for the console. Hell, it's so popular that it's getting an updated port for the Switch in less than a week. I remember doing my first Retrospective on the Mario Kart series back in 2014, and looking back at every game in the series I can safely say that Mario Kart 8 is the best Mario Kart game.

The game sports a massive 48 track total, more characters than any other game in the series, customization, different vehicles, and a gravity defying mechanic that is still a blast to play through today. Though we only take it out every once in a while, if a group of friends and I start playing through Mario Kart 8, we'll have a blast playing it. It's a game that is impossible not to have fun playing, and with the edition of 200cc, even die hard Mario Kart fans can have a challenge here.

I won't be buying this game again when it comes out on the Switch for the simple reason is that I already love it on the Wii U. I don't need to buy it again just for an updated battle mode. I'm fine with just having a bunch of friends over to race for fun like I did when it first came out.

#4: Shovel Knight
I didn't think it was possible for a game to get better with age, but Shovel Knight has only gotten better and better since it first released in 2014. In the span of three years, we've gotten two new campaigns for the base game as well as an amiibo that unlocked co-op mode. Shovel Knight has more or less quadrupled in replayability, and it's still so, so much fun to play through.

Instead of talking about why Shovel Knight is good, because we all know it is, I instead wanted to take this time to talk about the expansions added on to the game and why they push what was merely an honorable mention as one of the best games of 2014 into one of the best games on the Wii U. Plague of Shadows has you control Plague Knight and playing as him is a bit of a challenge, but the story involved is actually a really fun one. It's almost like changing the game to where Plague Knight is the hero, and it's a great time all around. Co-op mode is exactly what it sounds like, and while it is fun to play through, it can be a bit frustrating having two people jump around in an already challenging platformer.

Then there's Specter of Torment, the expansion that released last Friday for the Wii U that made me write this whole list to begin with. It's a prequel to the original game and features some incredibly creative platforming where Specter Knight is able to fly in the air, climb up walls, and grind rails in a much more fast paced version of Shovel Knight. Specter of Torment rekindled my love for Shovel Knight and made me realize how awesome the game was. And that's really all I can say about Shovel Knight; it's an awesome game from passionate developers who want to make the best game they can, and with one final expansion set to come out this year that let's you play as King Knight, the game can only go up in my esteem from here.

#3: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Why didn't I ever notice this game when it first came out? I played Tropical Freeze for the first time back when I got it as a Club Nintendo Reward (rest in peace), and I was shocked that I had never took that much of an interest in it until then. So to all of my readers who thought that I never cared about this game, this post is for you; Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the best platformer on the Wii U. Hell, it's one of the few games I strived to 100% just because it was that good.

Tropical Freeze play almost exactly like the other Donkey Kong Country games, only here that platforming is much tighter, the levels are beautiful, and there are four characters you can play as, each with their own special abilities. There's Donkey, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky Kong, and you can have Donkey team up with any of them to travel around a huge variety of worlds and levels. I had never been a huge fan of the Donkey Kong Country games because I've always believed that the games were too simplistic for my liking, but Tropical Freeze made me realize that it's simple controls and mechanics are all in service to level design that truly tests the player's skill. This is a hard game, but it's so satisfying to beat.

It's a shame that you can only get this game on the Wii U, because it deserves to be more popular and have more sales that it already has. This game should be hailed as being one of the best games Nintendo has ever made, and for the people that have played this game, they can attest that it deserves all of that praise.

#2: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
I don't think it was ever a doubt that Smash Bros. would appear on this list. It wasn't a matter of if, but when. How high would it go? Is it the best game on the Wii U? Well, let me explain why this phenomenal game, the one that took home the prize of being my Game of the Year for 2014, isn't the best game on the Wii U.

No one is denying that Smash Bros. is fun to play. You can have a fantastic time playing Smash Bros. with a group of friends, and playing an 8-player round of Smash is beautiful on so many different levels. There are well over 50 characters in the game composing of fan favorite fighters and new fighters that quickly grew in people's hearts. Smash 4 did the impossible of combining what worked best in Brawl and Melee together into one game that has replaced Melee for some as being the best Smash game.

However, after three years, while I still adore Smash 4 and still think it's one of my favorite games of all time, I honestly just haven't been playing it as much. It's given me some fantastic memories and I always love whipping it out for a couple of rounds, but Smash 4 has become more of a fond memory that a truly amazing game. I don't break it out all the time to play, and I certainly don't play it competitively like others do. I'm just a casual fan that'll break it out when a couple of friends are around. I've sunk an insane amount of time into it, but it doesn't give me as much joy, as much pleasure, and much positivity as my number 1 game. Still, Smash 4 is a legendary game and I will never let that be taken away from it.

#1: Bayonetta 2
I think it's becoming a running joke how much I love Bayonetta 2. The past five entries on this list have all come from 2014, but there was no game that year that made me as happy to be a gamer as Bayonetta 2. I've always thought that I could never do the game justice by describing how good it is, so I just showed videos from the game to get my point across.

I played through Bayonetta 2 for I think the third time last fall. During my playthrough, Platinum Games celebrated it's two year anniversary by revealing some secrets that no one had ever found in the game. And it made my playthrough just a little bit more special, because it made me look at one of my favorite games through new eyes again. It was like I was playing it for the first time back in 2014. I'm not ashamed to say that when I first heard that Bayonetta 2 was coming to the Wii U, I felt like a kid again, and that sense of wonder still remains to this day.

Bayonetta 2 is the best action game that's ever been created. It's fast, frantic, has an incredibly amount of depth, is all skill based, features unbelievable boss battles, and made people seriously consider buying a Wii U. It received Game of the Year Awards from Edge and Destructoid, won Best Wii U game for Gametrailers as well as best action game from Gametrailers and IGN. And the best part? The game would have been cancelled if Nintendo hadn't had funded production for it. There's so much to like about Bayonetta 2 that I can only say this; Banjo Kazooie may be my favorite game of all time, but Bayonetta 2 gives it one hell of a run for its money.

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