Hail, ye Nintendo faithful! Loyal folk that you are, a Wii U now rests beneath your TV. The console’s now been around for a couple years, and it’s amassed a fairly lineup stable of good games.

Check out the list below for the games that make the Wii U shine.

The great EAD Tokyo studio makes their Wii U debut with Super Mario 3D World, a game as attractive and fun as those others. It’s a hell of a time, an enjoyable hybrid of the more linear, classic side-scrolling Mario games and the go-anywhere 3D Mario games like Super Mario 64.

Advertisement

You can play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach or Toad or, with friends in the same room, all four at once. Some of the game might feel familiar, but this is not one of those safe New Super Mario games. Yes, there are plenty of goombas to hit and fireballs to throw. There’s also a lot that feels fresh.

A Good Match for: People bored of standard Mario fare who want something more experimental than the New Super Mario Bros. games.

Not a Good Match For: People hungry for a game that makes the most of the Wii U. You can play the game entirely on the controller and sometimes have to blow on the GamePad or tap it from time to time.

Sponsored

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: The Wii U eShop or Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | GameStop

Have you ever wondered who would win in a fight between Peach and Luigi? What about between Luigi… and the Wii Fit Trainer? Okay, what about a fight between Peach, Luigi, the Wii Fit Trainer, and the dog from Duck Hunt? Thanks to Super Smash Bros, you can find out.

Advertisement

Super Smash Bros. contains a seemingly endless supply of bonus modes, alternate gameplay types, and hidden secrets, on top of all the fighting. But while there may be a lot of weird, funny side stuff to explore, the game still thrives in the ring.

A Good Match For: People who like playing games with friends and roommates, anyone who wants to watch Duck Hunt Dog repeatedly get his ass kicked by Little Mac.

Not A Good Match For: People who don’t often have friends over to play games, people who don’t own a bunch of controllers for their Wii U, anyone looking for a game with a meaningful story.

Advertisement

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Take one of the prettiest games in the Legend of Zelda franchise. Re-master the graphics in high-definition and add stuff that streamlines and improves the play experience. You’ll wind up with a game that will make you re-think its place in the canon of Nintendo’s action RPG series.

Advertisement

A Good Match for: Zelda fans, people who hated the sailing in the original Wind Waker. The HD version introduces a Swift Sail tool, which improves the speed of your boat and frees you up from having to shift the wind on longer voyages.

Not a Good Match For: Players who wanted that too-long final section trimmed down. The infamous quest before Wind Waker’s ultimate showdown is still bloated and still kills the game’s momentum.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: The Wii U eShop or Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | GameStop

The Wii U’s big competitive online shooter isn’t much like other competitive online shooters; it’s more “Nintendo” than that. You play as a handful of squid-teens who compete with each other by shooting ink-guns all over the place, then quickly transforming into cephalopod form and zipping from place to place. Splatoon revels in its different-ness, and ornaments its joyful gameplay with a snappy, exuberant sense of style.

Advertisement

A Good Match For: Competitive players, people who like squids, people who like their shooters with a little (or a lot of) personality.

Not A Good Match For: Those looking for a more traditional online shooter, or more traditional shooter controls.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Take the demon battles of Shin Megami Tensei and the strategy of Fire Emblem. Mix in a bunch of Japanese teenagers who want to be famous but discover the pop idol world of Tokyo is infested with demons. What do you get? Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.

Advertisement

The story is often silly and occasionally juvenile, but the modern Tokyo setting is refreshing. More importantly, the game’s turn-based battles, which are presented through the visual metaphor of transformed super-charged pop stars battling in crowded concert arenas, are satisfyingly strategic. The game also nicely uses the Wii U GamePad as a sort of smartphone that displays the many, many text messages characters send each other throughout the game.

A Good Match For: Fans of role-playing games looking for something not set in the usual locales.

Not A Good Match For: People who don’t care about or dislike modern Japanese pop culture—this game is drenched in it.

Advertisement

Read our impressions of the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Bright lights, loud music, and a towering dominatrix beating the living hell out of a bunch of monsters: Bayonetta gets the sequel she deserves. Everything the first game did, the second game does just as well, while throwing in a bunch of new weapons and abilities in on top. If you’ve ever wanted to whip a massive angel into submission using your hair, this is your game. Strike a pose.

Advertisement

A Good Match For: Fans of fast-moving action games like Devil May Cry and, well, the first Bayonetta.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for something relaxed to play, people who prefer games with a more subtle, low-key aesthetic.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

It’s a dozen games in one and most of them are good. Nintendo Land is sort of the Wii U’s version of Wii Sports, except that its games are more substantial and… not as simply, purely brilliant as the bowling and tennis in that famous Wii launch game.

Advertisement

Half of Nintendo Land’s diverse games are made to be played solo, three are multiplayer-only and three can be played solo or with friends. All 12 show different, interesting ways the Wii U GamePad can be used to control games.

A Good Match For: Nintendo buffs, since the game is presented as a Nintendo-themed theme park and reward players with all sort of Nintendo-themed unlockable décor. Nintendo Land also serves as a great instruction manual for the Wii U’s features, too.

Not a Good Match For: People who want one focused game (this ain’t that) or one game as perfectly tuned for people of any age or type as Wii Sports tennis (Nintendo Land’s Mario Chase comes closest).

Advertisement

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | GameStop

Supposedly conceived while Mario and Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto was thinking about gardening, the Pikmin games let players control an army of up to 100 little colorful creatures who behave like a cross between plants and ants. The game is played more or less from an overhead view.

Advertisement

The playing field is a zoomed-in version of Earth where, to our titular characters’ view, flowers might as well be trees. Players control any of three diminutive explorers from Alph, Brittany, Charlie, all of whom can pluck the Pikmin out of the ground, marshal them to swarm big bug-like enemies and haul what are, to our explorers, massive, house-sized pieces of fruit. The better you do this stuff, the easier it will be to grow a bigger Pikmin army, which can in turn take on tougher enemies and overcome trickier, puzzling obstacles. This Wii U sequel introduces excellent co-op and competitive modes to supplement a fairly brief nine-hour campaign.

A Good Match for: Strategy-gaming fans who enjoy the likes of StarCraft or Command & Conquer and are therefore looking for a game that involves using wits and reflexes to conceive a complex a multi-unit plan and carry it out.

Not a Good Match For: Those who played Pikmin games on the GameCube or Wii already and are looking for something that feels more like a sequel than like a refinement of something they played before.

Advertisement

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: The Wii U eShop or Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | GameStop

Do you like Mario? Of course you do. Well, thanks to Super Mario Maker, you can now have endless on-tap Mario and eat mushrooms until your eyeballs pop out. Mario Maker is ostensibly a game that lets you make your own custom Mario levels—and it’s very fun to do that. But it’s just as fun to be a player, working through the Nintendo-made levels on the disc before branching out to see if you can survive the weirdest, funniest, hardest fan-created Mario levels you’ve ever played.

Advertisement

A Good Match For: Mario fans, people who’ve always wanted to try designing video game levels but haven’t had the tools.

Not A Good Match For: People who hate Mario, those who would prefer to just play straightforward Mario game.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for how to find the best stuff.

Check out our list of 20 courses you should play.

Advertisement

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Ah, the blue shell. There may be no better metaphor for the bleakness of life. One minute you’re cruising along, on top of the world, and then… BAM, you’re totally hosed. Just when you thought you had it in the bag, life throws a blue shell.

Mario Kart 8 isn’t really all that philosophical, of course. It’s the same Mario Kart formula re-tuned and polished to an absurd degree, easily one of the most fun party games you can play and one of the best games for the Wii U.

Advertisement

A Good Match For: People who like moving really fast, people who like seeing Luigi look really mean.

Not a Good Match For: Those who loved Battle Mode in past Mario Kart games. For some inexplicable reason, MK8’s battle mode takes place on normal racetracks, which significantly dilutes the appeal.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch a huge tournament that we staged at Gawker HQ.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Being a superhero is fun enough on its own—being 100 superheroes at once is just ridiculous. As the eponymous Wonderful 100 (the extra 1 is YOU), your job in this game is to, naturally, save the earth from marauding aliens. You do this by morphing your gang of caped crusaders into guns and swords and boomerangs in a series of satisfyingly chaotic fights. Combine frenetic action with some spectacular fights across giant robots and incredible landscapes, and you’ve got one of the most original games on Wii U to date.

Advertisement

A Good Match For: People who love fast-paced action games that challenge both minds and thumbs. This is a game that takes commitment, and if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded.

Not a Good Match for: Folks wanting a game that’s easy to pick up and enjoy. This one takes some learning.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: The Wii U eShop or Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | GameStop

ZombiU’s undead apocalypse feels fresher because of its London setting, but it’s really the chain-link single-player campaign and asymmetrical multiplayer that make it shine. There’s something morbidly apropos about having to find and loot the walking corpse of the character you previously controlled—to keep the best gear after you die—while playing solo. And facing off against others in the game’s asymmetrical multiplayer battles makes controlling the bad guys more fun than being the hero.

Advertisement

A Good Match for: Passive-aggressive survival horror fans, those looking for a game that uses the Wii U controller in interesting ways.

Not a Good Match For: Those who want meaningful relationships with playable characters. Other than “Zombies! Holy crap! Don’t die!”, the avatars you’ll control in ZombiU single-player don’t get much in the way of backstory and motivation.

Read our review.

Advertisement

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | GameStop

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

Advertisement

Update 8/18/2016: We’ve added Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and removed Little Inferno.

Update 10/2/2015: Super Mario Maker easily earns a spot on the list, edging out Rayman Legends.

Update 6/29/2015: Splatoon ink-blasts its way onto the list, and The LEGO Movie Videogame steps down.

Advertisement

Update 11/25/2014: Two games enter, two games leave: Bayonetta 2 and Super Smash Bros. Wii U make it on the list, while Bit. Trip Runner 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution say adios.

6/25/2014 Update: Surprising no one, Mario Kart 8 breezes its way onto this list, knocking off Need for Speed: Most Wanted U.

5/2/2014 Update: One LEGO game enters, another leaves - the terrific LEGO Movie Videogame finally unseats Lego City Undercover for a spot on the list.

Advertisement

12/11/13 Update: With a new design comes an opportunity to add some overlooked games and remove a couple of others. Both Mass Effect 3 and Scribblenauts Unlimited leave to make room for Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The Director’s Cut and Need for Speed: Most Wanted U.

11/22/13: Super Mario 3D World won our hearts and attention just in time for the end of the year. It’s edged off New Super Mario Bros. U for a spot on this list.

09/20/13: The moment you’ve waited for is here. At last, Nintendo’s latest home console has gotten a price drop. Lucky for you, the Wii U’s library has swelled with more great games since the machine’s launch. So, in celebration of affordability and quality, we’re updating the list of what we think are the best games on the platform. Pikmin 3 bumps Assassin’s Creed III, Rayman Legends replaces Trine 2: Director’s Cut, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD take the spot once held by Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition and The Wonderful 101 muscles out Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Advertisement

04/18/13: Slowly but surely, the Wii U’s software library is getting stronger. Games like Lego City Undercover and Runner 2—both new additions to this Bests list—offer up fun and clever experiences for Nintendo’s newest home console. Give ‘em a warm welcome, won’t you?

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Wii U GamesThe Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 GamesThe Best Wii GamesThe Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android GamesThe Best PSP GamesThe Best Facebook GamesThe Best DS GamesThe Best Mac GamesThe Best Browser GamesThe Best PC Mods

Advertisement

Note: While some games on this list are download-only, most if not all of them can be purchased through the Wii U’s online store. If you buy any of these games through the retail links in this post, our parent company may get a small share of the sale through the retailers’ affiliates program.