A new year is here, and with it comes the opportunity for Nintendo and its partners to excite Wii U owners in the best possible way — with great games. We've decided to list some of the most anticipated and exciting games coming to the Wii U in 2014, all as a taste of what's to come.
Our aim with this list is to avoid speculative entries, but include titles stated to be coming in 2014, even if no specific date has been given; we're optimistic that all of these games will arrive this year. We'll update our list every three months, but long-absent titles such as the previously teased Yarn Yoshi don't make the cut this time around.
These are all confirmed titles, and we'd expect our future lists this year to evolve as games arrive and more are announced.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — 21st February (North America and Europe)
It may not have been the Retro Studios announcement that all were hoping for, but there's certainly potential in this sequel to the brilliant Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii. Preview builds have shown a continuation of the excellent platforming that came before, but with improved visuals, swooping camera angles and more playable characters. Dixie Kong will have an extended jump, while Cranky Kong will have a DuckTales-style cane, while the Kong Pow move will be a good way to clear enemies and grab more items. It's the first major first-party release on Wii U of 2014, and could be a beauty.
Mario Kart 8 — Spring
One of the big commercial hopes for the Wii U, its predecessors on Wii and 3DS have been huge successes at retail. It looks gorgeous visually, with plenty of vehicles and characters once again; the twist this time is anti-gravity, with tracks twisting upside down. We've been impressed by preview builds, and it's a vital franchise for Nintendo; we'd expect to learn more about new tracks, modes and online features in the not-too-distant future.
Super Smash Bros. — 2014
A firm release window still eludes us, despite loose rumours pinging around the web. Whatever the final release date, this'll be a significant title for the Wii U, and is certainly one of the most hyped upcoming arrivals. The roster continues to gradually grow and Masahiro Sakurai treats us to regular screens, and this will also be a rarity as a dual release on 3DS. The home console version will have its own unique stages, and we certainly hope it'll also bring us smooth, reliable online play; an exciting prospect.
This was on our equivalent list last year as a speculative entry, and it ultimately didn't make it; in fact, we're yet to have a solid release window. Once a date is confirmed we're likely to see hype ramp up again, and we'll see whether it will have much selling power as an exclusive on the Wii U. Its original announcement certainly caused controversy and prompted some to say they'd contemplate buying a Wii U for that game alone — what we do know is that it looks promising, based on the demo builds that have done the rounds. We'd love to see a deal for a budget port of its predecessor, too...
Monolith Soft's X — 2014
The prospect of a HD RPG from Monolith Soft certainly has some members of the Nintendo Life team hyped beyond reasonable levels. Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii set impressive standards, and new footage of this project throughout 2013 suggested that progress towards a 2014 release is moving along nicely. It looks like it has another world of epic scope, and we're certainly anxious to learn more.
Hyrule Warriors — 2014
Undoubtedly a surprise announcement in the final Nintendo Direct broadcast of 2013, this is a Zelda-themed title from Tecmo Koei that follows the Dynasty Warriors template. It's safe to say most wouldn't have predicted that, and it'll be interesting to see how the combat-heavy — potentially button-mashing — gameplay will be tweaked for a Hyrule setting. Satoru Iwata was at pains to say it's not the next full Zelda title, but it could certainly be the most intriguing release this year.
Watch_Dogs — Spring 2014
This was on our updated lists last year, but potential issues were highlighted as release approached and, at late Summer 2013 events such as the Eurogamer Expo, limited demo footage looked a tad underwhelming. The launch of the behemoth open-world title Grand Theft Auto V also didn't help, and Ubisoft delayed the release in order to improve and polish the end result. We're still intrigued by the ambitious concept of an open, hackable world with seamless real-time online interactions, and hope the end result delivers on Wii U.
Project CARS — Q3 2014
This ambitious driving title has seen some delays, with Q3 this year the new target; Slightly Mad Studios recently dropped Xbox 360 and PS3 in favour of the One and PS4, but has retained its Wii U release. The studio has continually talked up the Wii U's ability to deliver a strong version of the game, and with so few driving titles on the system this could certainly be one to watch.
Originally expected in late 2013, this Wii U eShop exclusive from Dakko Dakko has been pushed back as we await word on a new target release. This is an on-rails shooter in a very literal sense, as you navigate around fixed rails to rescue cats and destroy enemies. Demo builds have certainly been encouraging, with GamePad-centric gameplay a prominent part of the experience; you can learn more about this one in our interview with Dakko Dakko.
FAST Racing NEO — 2014
Shin'en Multimedia certainly has its fans among Nintendo Download enthusiasts, and FAST - Racing League was a stand-out on WiiWare. Confirmation of a sequel on the Wii U eShop certainly has plenty looking ahead optimistically, and it may give us our fast futuristic racing fix; it's not like Nintendo's given us a new F-Zero to enjoy...
So there you have it, ten games that we think represent ten of the biggest due to arrive on the Wii U this year. Let us know which is your favourite, or some others that we've left out that you want to share, in the poll and comments below. Be sure to check back tomorrow, too, for our 3DS list.
What's your most anticipated Wii U game of 2014? (1,051 votes)
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Mario Kart 8
Super Smash Bros.
Monolith Soft's X
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails
FAST Racing NEO
My choice isn't on the list
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