With summertime almost officially upon us, and with E3 looming on the horizon, we've decided to take stock and provide our updated list of the biggest Wii U games of 2013. There are some changes since our Spring Edition, most notably the removal of two Wii U eShop titles. With the Wii U retail lineup getting more enticing — no, really, it is! — we felt that all ten spots should go to full price games; we plan to do an eShop-only list in the future.
We've also made some other changes; out go two titles with rapidly approaching release dates, though one notable example hangs in there due to the hype surrounding it, and in come a few undated titles that we either expect or hope to arrive in 2013; heck, we've had to resort to Wii images for a couple of banners, as they're under wraps until E3. We're confident in most cases — just based on educated guesses and strong hints — though can't guarantee they'll all arrive.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, let's get to it.
Pikmin 3 — 26th July (Europe) / 4th August (North America)
Courtesy of its consistent delays, this goes onto the list yet again, because we just want to play it that much. Thankfully the wait is gradually coming to an end, with this one arriving during the summer to fill any rainy — or for that matter sunny — days. Nintendo's starting to reveal more, and the upcoming E3 Nintendo Direct should enlighten us on the Challenge and Multiplayer content that we can look forward to. It's been quite a few years in the making, but it's almost here.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD — Due Fall 2013
Announced back in January with a target release window this Fall, we've seen and heard precisely nothing of this title since that point; we can safely expect E3 to yield footage and details of how the Wii U GamePad will be utilised. With Eiji Aonuma also promising tweaks to improve lingering gameplay issues in the original, we have a lot of hope that this could be something very special indeed.
Rayman Legends — 30th August (Europe) / 3rd September (North America)
This title is now coming to every current gaming system apart from 3DS, which shows just how much has changed since those hallowed days of Wii U exclusivity. Yet recent footage of new levels and even a boss fight can't help but excite, and multiple platforms and delays are unlikely to stop this being an excellent platformer on Nintendo's system. We were excited about it during E3 2012, and we still are.
Mario Kart — TBA 2013
This one was effectively confirmed — rather accidentally and without sufficient bombast, we'd suggest — in a press release earlier in the year as a title set to arrive in this calendar year. That's hardly surprising, of course, as Mario Kart 7 played such a vital role in improving 3DS fortunes during the Holiday season of 2011. It'll be shown and be playable for the first time at E3 but, really, it's Mario Kart on the Wii U — we doubt too much can go wrong. This could potentially be one of the definitive multiplayer experiences for the system at the end of the year, and Nintendo will be hoping that it can capture the same sales magic as its Wii predecessor.
Super Mario 3D — TBA
This is on the list because, well, it's a 3D Mario game on Wii U. It's a fact that this will be shown and playable at E3, which is hugely exciting. It's apparent release this year is all rumour, with suggestions that the title's development is far along and may even arrive as early as October. Home console 3D Mario titles are always a huge event for Nintendo gamers, especially after the mind-blowing gameplay revolution that was delivered in Super Mario Galaxy. If this arrives for the Holidays as a double-whammy with Mario Kart, it would bode well for the Wii U's fortunes, but the illustrious history of the franchise is sure to put this game under a lot of pressure.
Bayonetta 2 — TBA
We're keeping this in the 2013 list more out of hope than any solid indication that it'll actually arrive. It caused waves on the web when it was confirmed as a Wii U exclusive, and its mature action approach would be a perfect counter-balance to all of the Mario goodness that we expect at the end of the year. With The Wonderful 101's development surely almost finished, we hope Platinum Games can push this one through for the Holiday season.
Watch_Dogs — 19th November (North America) / 21st November (Europe)
This wowed audiences during E3 2012, and subsequent details and footage have done little to dampen that excitement. Possibly the most welcome of multi-platform releases to reflect Ubisoft's support for the Wii U, it takes place in a gritty urban environment and has demonstrated a pleasing level of depth and thematic delivery. With the ability to hack devices and stalk NPCs through their personal lives, this seems like the kind of game that could deliver beyond its core storyline.
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag — 29th October (North America) / 1st November (Europe)
Another blockbuster from Ubisoft, this neglects the opportunity for a named spin-off in favour of a fully-numbered entry. With the main character, Edward Kenway, providing a link to Assassin's Creed III, this goes further back in time and deals with the role of Pirates in the Caribbean, though without lovable scamps such as Jack Sparrow. Jokes about pirates aside, the presence of multiple hub environments and the expansion of the naval battles and gameplay are promising.
Sonic Lost World — TBA
Announced as a Wii U and 3DS exclusive during the most recent Nintendo Direct broadcast, this is part of a worldwide exclusivity deal between SEGA and Nintendo to cover three Sonic titles. Relatively little is known so far, but the recent trailer release and gradually increasing noise around this title suggests that it could target the latter half of the year. It carries over some ideas and themes from the Wii exclusive Sonic Colours, and we're hopeful that it'll take the good core of that title and make the improvements required to deliver that relatively rare entity — an exceptional 3D Sonic game.
Disney Infinity — 18th August (North America) / 20th August (Europe)
A major multi-platform release that seems to be the primary focus of Disney's gaming efforts, and that's not a company to underestimate. This is taking on the might of Activision's Skylanders in a quest to sell not only millions of game copies, but even more plastic NFC figurines to expand the experience. This one has some promising ideas with sandbox-style areas ripe for experimentation, and will call on many of the company's biggest IPs to tempt fans. Considering the fact that one target audience for the Wii U is families, this one's performance on the system may be watched closely.
This list has excluded some excellent titles, while we shifted our internal expectations of some undated releases; one example is Yarn Yoshi, which we think is unlikely to be squeezed into this year. Honorable mentions should also go to the soon-to-be released Game & Wario, along with the particularly exciting The Wonderful 101 from Platinum Games. We certainly haven't forgotten Monolith Soft's 'X', either, though there hasn't been a sniff of news on that since January and, considering how epic that game is likely to be, it's not beyond the realms of logic to peg that one for 2014.
As always we want to know what you think are the most exciting retail games coming to Wii U this year. You can vote for your favourite in the poll below, or sound off in the comments section
What's your most anticipated Wii U retail game of 2013? (660 votes)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Super Mario 3D
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
Sonic Lost World
My choice isn't on the list
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