The Wii U eShop has come a long way since launch, though the day one line-up did also have some rather enjoyable options on offer. The library was particularly slow to grow in its first year, but an influx of excellent titles has since flowed. The platform's support for Unity and various tools in the Nintendo Web Framework have contributed much, while a broad variety of developers have taken the plunge on Nintendo's latest download store.
Just recently we shared our staff's picks for our top 10 Wii U retail games so far, and now it's the turn of download-only games. We did make the call to exclude the Virtual Console, however, as we opted to focus on new titles rather than the availability of retro classics.
Once again it's been an entirely democratic process, too; in total 12 staff members contributed votes for their personal top tens, with a total of 33 games earning at least one point, a testament to the variety on offer. This top 10 will have 12 games listed as the result of ties — once again some games were too close to separate even in a voting system. As before voting results like this are at the mercy of what games multiple team members actually own, which means — inevitably — that some niche releases struggle to accumulate points.
Without further ado, let's reveal the top ten.
This remains one of the most unique and intriguing games on the eShop; it's a system exclusive party game. With players focused on the GamePad, there are various co-operative challenges that involve quirky activities that typically utilise the Wii Remote — great with friends and, it must be said, in a spacious playing area.
We think the retro-leanings of many staffers is showing here, as this is the continuation of the much-loved puzzle series Dr. Mario. As it was the Year of Luigi when this was released the green one gets centre stage, serving up various modes, GamePad-only variations and pretty decent online options to keep fans happy.
A Wii U exclusive from Dakko Dakko, this is a relentlessly challenging on-rails shooter, though we mean "on rails" literally, not as a genre description. You navigate along walls, jumping and shooting enemies while attempting to rescue stranded cats. An enjoyable challenge with bright, colourful visuals and interesting use of both screens on offer, this is certainly one to keep in mind for skilful gamers.
WayForward showed day one support for the eShop with this enhanced re-release of its popular 3DS eShop title. The enjoyable level design and action puzzles are all present and correct, while this also has revamped visuals over its predecessor. One of the best titles on the 3DS eShop is, perhaps unsurprisingly, among the best on the Wii U eShop, too.
From the minds that made such an impact on WiiWare with World of Goo, this Tomorrow Corporation release was another day one arrival on the Wii U's store. This is a win for quirky, almost obscure design, as the gameplay and puzzles here are tackled with the simple act of burning objects. Utterly peculiar yet with an undeniable structure to be followed, this is certainly an interesting experience on the system.
A relatively recent arrival, this adventure has a storytelling approach — not to mention humour — that certainly brings point-and-click LucasArts adventures of the '90s to mind. It's entirely off the wall, blending puzzle solving with some elements of stealth platforming; it also makes fun use of the GamePad to read minds. One of the most unique experiences currently available on the Wii U.
Votes for this were based on all or a combination of the three titles released so far: Tennis, Bowling and Golf. Perhaps it's the happy memories of Wii gaming that helps this one win votes, though it must also be said that Wii MotionPlus controls and innovative use of the GamePad in Golf take these titles to another level from their namesakes. With online play and a regional 'club' structure, too, these downloads will soon be completed with Boxing and Baseball, while a retail compilation is on the way.
Just as in the retail list, a Ubisoft title takes fifth place. This is a gorgeous adventure RPG that utilises the UbiArt engine, in which all dialogue rhymes and it explores a lengthy (by download standards) tale of a young girl trying to bring light to the world and return home. Stunning presentation values are supported by well-structured gameplay mechanics, making this a title well worth everyone's consideration.
It's such a simple idea, and has no doubt been done by coders messing about with ROMS, but Nintendo has certainly scratched an itch by messing around with 8-bit titles. This second entry served up more entertaining NES games with quickfire challenges and quirky do-overs, while throwing in a 'Tournament' in which you blast through three games and Super Luigi Bros., a reverse run of the Mario original with Luigi's higher jumping thrown in. Perfect for retro fans or young gamers keen to see what the fuss is about.
The combined work of Capcom and WayForward, this brings back a retro classic with hugely attractive visuals. It doesn't skimp on the challenge, either, retaining the core feel of its 8-bit origins and potentially leading to thrown controllers around the world. Cruel moments are easily forgiven with such a rocking soundtrack, it must be said.
The BIT.TRIP games are among the most popular on WiiWare, so this full on runner sequel from Gaijin Games unsurprisingly got a lot of attention. The great thing is that it delivers on expectations, as you run, slide and kick your way through multiple worlds and increasingly challenging levels. With collectibles, multiple difficulty settings, online leaderboards and voice-over work by Charles Martinet, this is likely to stand up as a classic for years to come.
We're Nintendo Life, and we're retroholics. Beating out its sequel not just because pretty much the whole team bought this one when released in the 2013 Holiday season, but arguably because its challenges and remixes are, overall, a smidge more exciting. It's a tough result on new indie efforts, in particular, yet the relatively simple idea of rejigging NES games is executed brilliantly here, in the process also introducing more players to these 8-bit experiences. We'll have SNES Remix now, please.
That's it, our Wii U eShop top 10 so far. Special mentions for those that narrowly missed out go to Trine 2: Director's Cut and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams which were both very close. There are certainly an impressive range of games on the way to the platform this year and beyond, so brand new favourites could be just weeks away.
Those are the choices of the Nintendo Life team of present. Let us know your thoughts or provide your own lists in the comments, while you can also vote in the poll below.
What's your favourite Wii U eShop game so far? (328 votes)
Spin The Bottle: Bumpie's Party
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Stick It To The Man
Wii Sports Club
Child of Light
NES Remix 2
BIT.TRIP Presents: RUNNER 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
None of the above
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