At the start of this year we continued our quarterly tradition of looking at the biggest games coming to the Wii U, this time considering 2014. Even with an admittedly shallow confirmed line-up for the year we'd like to think that it was a list to give optimism to Wii U owners anxious for exciting games to play.
It's now time to take stock and update the list. To begin with the casualties, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze drops out as it's arrived in stores, and we've also made the decision to remove Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs — not only has the title been continually delayed, but the singling out of the Wii U version for an additional delay with no fixed end (aside from '2014') hobbles its potential impact on the system. By the time it arrives on Wii U it will be yesterday's news for many gamers that have played it on any other platform, and it's a release likely doomed to struggle at retail on Nintendo's system as a result.
Once again we're only considering titles currently confirmed for 2014, so some enticing projects of which we've seen little are excluded; they will get an honourable mention at the end, however. We've included some eShop titles once again, though have prioritised those exclusive to the system, despite a substantial range of promising multi-platform downloads also on the way.
So, without further ado, here's our updated list of the biggest games still coming to Wii U in 2014.
Mario Kart 8 — 30th May (North America and Europe)
A major commercial hope for the Wii U, which Nintendo hopes will excite consumers as much as its predecessors. Some significant marketing activity is underway in Europe, particularly, with Nintendo of America no doubt gearing up for its own campaigns. This new entry brings anti-gravity racing into the mix, with other promised features such as Mario Kart TV providing plenty of intrigue. We've enjoyed the limited demo builds to date and each new trailer and track reveal seems to ramp up the hype further — a crucial title for the system.
Not a great deal needs to be said to hype this one, in truth. Masahiro Sakurai's daily screenshot reveals keep fans interested, and since our January list the roster has continued to grow. No release window has been given as yet, which is surely just a matter of time, but first-time characters such as Little Mac keep the buzz alive, while this title is also coming to the 3DS.
An announcement earlier this year that caused an internet meltdown, as much for the character designs as the fact that Sonic Boom will be exclusive to Wii U and 3DS, accompanying an animated (CG) series and range of toys. The Wii U version is being developed by début studio Big Red Button, which has some pedigree with senior members formerly of Naughty Dogs. An adventure game with each character — and their distinct looks — bringing different abilities, this looks to shake up the Sonic formula; fans of the Sega mascot are no doubt hoping that'll be a good thing.
This has been on our lists since the start of 2013, but it is now pegged for a 2014 release. There's still no solid date on the PlatinumGames project, but it shouldn't be forgotten how much buzz this generated back in August 2012 when it was revealed alongside the Wii U's launch date. It'll be intriguing to see how much of an impact this high-octane sequel can have in stores, while many still hope for a deal to bring a port of the original to the eShop.
Little has been seen of this JRPG from Monolith Soft, yet the most recent Nintendo Direct did give us a taste of combat in which the player alternated between Xenoblade Chronicles-style moves and hopping into a mech for some powered-up combat. It's still listed for 2014 by Nintendo, and we're excited to see more.
Though this hasn't been seen since its shock reveal in the last Nintendo Direct of 2013, we can be pretty confident — considering how rapidly the Dynasty Warriors series is churned out — that it's still due this year. It's worth emphasizing again that this isn't the next full title for The Legend of Zelda, but as an action spin-off may certainly attract a sizeable audience in Japan. As for the rest of the world, we don't mind a bit of button-mashing, right?
Project CARS — Q3 2014
Another title that's been kicking around in these lists for a while, with Q3 this year the latest target. This is still coming to Wii U alongside PS4, Xbox One and PC, and at present represents the only major 'serious racer' that we know of coming to the system — there are some lighter and more extravagant options on the way, of course.. Its development has been a little slow, yes, but we're still hopeful that the potential of this one will give us an excellent final product.
NES Remix 2 — 25th April 2014 (North America and Europe)
An inevitable sequel following the surprise arrival and success of NES Remix at the end of 2013, bringing more tweaks and fun twists on classic 8-bit games. Screens that were released recently certainly give an impression of this sequel being equally as enjoyable as the original, and virtual stamp collectors will no doubt get lost in a retro haze as they chase those last elusive stars.
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails — April 2014
Another title that's drifted from an original late 2013 target, but was recently given an April release date along with a shiny new trailer. Exclusive to Wii U, this'll make particular use of the GamePad screen with the TV used for a wider view and 'broadcast' flourishes. For fans of bullet-hell and chaotic shooters this certainly seems like one to watch.
This is one that we've agonised over a little, as Shin'en Multimedia hasn't shown anything of this game since its announcement. We're therefore coasting on the potential of an improved, HD sequel to the rather fun FAST - Racing League on WiiWare, and the fact that our memories of the F-Zero franchise fill us with wistful feelings of joy that are going unfulfilled by Nintendo. As mentioned above we've prioritised exclusives on the download front, too, and the talented team at Shin'en have a strong reputation of delivering quality experiences on Nintendo hardware.
So there you have it, ten games that we think represent some of the best of what's coming to Wii U this year. Some major announced titles miss out due to having 'TBC' release windows in Nintendo's most recent update, including Yarn Yoshi and the mysterious Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, not to mention The Legend of Zelda which is likely a 2015 release at best. On the Wii U eShop there are plenty of exciting projects on the way, many multi-platform — special shout-out for Shovel Knight — which should also help fill gaps in the release schedule.
In terms of the final ten in this list, meanwhile, let us know which is your favourite — or some others that we've left out — in the poll and comments below. Be sure to check back soon for our 3DS list, too.
What's your most anticipated Wii U game of 2014? (805 votes)
Mario Kart 8
Super Smash Bros.
Monolith Soft's X
NES Remix 2
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails
FAST Racing NEO
My choice isn't on the list
Please login to vote in this poll.