At the start of the year we listed what we considered to be ten of the biggest Wii U games of 2013, and as the year has progressed we issued updates for Spring and Summer. As each progressive list shows, game releases and a fair batch of Nintendo Direct surprises can certainly change that outlook, and change is again in the air with this Autumn / Fall update.
For one thing, some games come off the list as they've arrived on the system in the past few months — or in one case is out in Europe and almost out in North America — or are definitely coming in 2014; the games to drop out for either reason are Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends, Disney Infinity, Mario Kart 8 and Bayonetta 2.
With the Holiday season so vital to the Wii U, it's no surprise that there are a good number of no-brainers in this update, especially now more games have solid release dates or windows. We've selected a lot of the expected names, but have left room for two eShop titles to join the retail blockbusters, one exclusive and another for which the Wii U release will be the only home console version.
So below — in no particular order — are ten major releases that we think represent some of the best of what's coming in the remainder of 2013.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD — 20th September (download-only in NA) / 4th October (NA and Europe)
Now only a little over a month away, this HD version of the GameCube title will not only bring sharp visuals, but various tweaks and new features — these will include a Hero mode, some first-person perspective options, adjusted mechanics and some interesting Miiverse integration. It's also a release that's clearly got high-level backing from Nintendo, with a special edition and limited edition console bundle both accompanying the basic copies; it could be an attractive option for fans of the original and those diving in for the first time.
Super Mario 3D World — 22nd November (NA) / November (EU)
The E3 reveal for this title showed that Nintendo's keen to further explore the style of 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land, but with new ideas and multiplayer coming to the fore. Its announcement prompted initial disappointment that it wasn't simply Super Mario Galaxy 3, yet a number of Nintendo Life staffers that had the opportunity to go hands on after E3 were rather impressed and, perhaps most importantly, had fun. It'll be interesting to take on the full title in November, and we'll see whether this one's charm can win over those yet to be persuaded of its merits.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — 6th December (NA) / December (EU)
We'll be honest, before E3 some of our team said "I hope Retro's announcement isn't another DK platformer". That's not a slight on Donkey Kong Country Returns, which is arguably one of the most accomplished and glorious 2D platformers to grace the genre, but a reflection that some Nintendo fans hoped the beloved Texas studio was working on Metroid or something entirely different. Yet here it is, and we shouldn't forget how special that Wii title was; this sequel impressed quite a few of us with its E3 demo, as it's gorgeous, buttery smooth and has some impressive use of a dynamic camera. This could be a sublime 2D platformer.
Sonic Lost World — 18th October (EU) / 22nd October (NA)
In years past Sonic's reputation took a pounding, with any 3D game in the franchise prompting shudders from loyal fans, but recent years have been kind — Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations are two games that restored some faith. This latest entry is exclusive to Nintendo systems (there'll be a 3DS version) and carries element of Colours across, but most importantly is creating positive vibes in those that play it, with smooth speed and tight controls being matched by some interesting cylindrical level designs. We were certainly impressed in our Sonic Lost World first impressions, and this should be on everyone's radar.
Wii Fit U — Holiday 2013 (NA and EU)
Nintendo recently confirmed that this is still set for a Holiday release, which is pleasing against the context that so little of it has been shown. Since fairly early demo builds had us simulating the Luge and firing water cannons, little else has been shown. If this recreates the success of its Wii original Nintendo's accountants would be very happy, and assuming it's ready it could be a strong candidate for a hardware bundle
Wii Party U — 25th October (NA and EU)
Continuing the tradition of mini-game collections that were all the rage on Wii, this title looks let to make good use of the GamePad — some mini-games are played exclusively on the controller — and offer some family fun. This could be a hit in the festive season due to its modest price and bundled Wii Remote Plus controller, a combination that worked wonders (albeit with a standard Wii Remote) for Wii Play
Watch_Dogs — 19th November (NA) / 21st November (EU)
This was arguably the stand-out third-party reveal at E3 2012, and little since then has detracted from that initial buzz. It's a bold new IP, with hacking, real-time in-game multiplayer elements and player freedom being key parts of the overall package. Ubisoft clearly intends for this to become one of its primary franchises, and it has the potential to be just that.
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag — 29th October (NA) / 1st November (EU)
Assassin's Creed III was the first title in the franchise to come to a Nintendo console, which may have had some scratching their heads at the plot — though the same could be said for those familiar with the series. It's perhaps surprising that a numbered release comes just a year later, and its Pirates in the Caribbean setting did prompt early chuckles, but footage so far is certainly promising. It's another big budget release that's incorporating plenty of freedom and sea battles, so we'll be keeping our eye on it.
Shovel Knight — Targeting September 2013 (NA and EU)
Kickstarter has its critics, and in some cases concerns are more than legitimate, but its also a platform that can deliver promising games from talented small developers. Yacht Club Games is a collective of former WayForward staffers, and its crowdfunding campaign was a major success. More importantly, many of those that have played this title have been rather impressed, with its retro-styled action platforming undoubtedly pleasing to see. With plenty of extras courtesy of the funding campaign's stretch goals, this could be a hot release on the Wii U (and 3DS) eShop.
Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails — Q4 2013
UK developer Dakko Dakko is bringing this title exclusively to the Wii U eShop, and Nintendo has certainly taken some opportunities to show it off. In our interview with Dakko Dakko's Rhodri Broadbent — he worked on Star Fox Command during his tenure at Dylan Cuthbert's Q-Games in Japan — this was described as "at heart, a more-or-less equal mix of shooter and platformer", with plenty of "wall-riding" thrown in. It looks like a lot of fun, basically.
So those are ten games that we think represent some of the best of what's still to come in 2013, with the exceptions that we highlighted at the beginning. There are some huge Nintendo projects — and one from Monolith Soft, of course — set for 2014, while a host of eShop games haven't quite tied down releases periods yet, with plenty expected in Q1 2014.
As always we want to know what you think are the most exciting games coming to the Wii U this year. You can vote for your favourite from this list in the poll below and sound off in the comments section
What's your most anticipated Wii U game of 2013? (646 votes)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Super Mario 3D World
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Sonic Lost World
Wii Fit U
Wii Party U
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
Scram Kitty And His Buddy On Rails
My choice isn't on the list
Please login to vote in this poll.