Originally thought to be a Wii U exclusive, though Ubisoft had been cautious in its wording, this one was delayed in order to facilitate releases on other systems. Sadly that side-plot detracted a little from what is an outstanding platformer, which makes use of the GamePad for Wii U specific co-op controls, in particular. Stunning visually, there's a case to be made that this is competing for the honour of best 2D platformer on the system.
Nintendo does do new IPs, just not as often as some would like. This one has proven to be a triumph, and was a major contributor to the Wii U having a strong 2015. Colourful, compulsive and gorgeous to look at, it's Nintendo's spin on third-person shooting, also utilising the motion controls of the GamePad to enable accurate, fast movement. The key hook that winning is about painting territory, not killing lots of opponents, is classic Nintendo; it's a brilliant game and one of the big N's best for online play.
A divisive entry on the list, with our editorial team split pretty much half way down the middle. This writer is an advocate for Star Fox Zero, arguing that the controls work nicely with familiarity and suit the game's design. On the other side some find the controls troublesome or were more broadly disappointed with this one. If it was a list of 20 games it may have missed out, but we still suggest that anyone keen to try out different GamePad ideas should give it a look.
The Wii U didn't get Super Mario Galaxy 3, but this title makes its mark on the 3D Mario series in its own ways. Multiplayer for up to four players can be a key part of the experience, or you can opt to go solo, but in either case there are lots of levels that are self-contained, relatively linear puzzles to solve. With lovely graphics and the trademark tight controls that help Mario games stand above so many rivals, this is a must-play for fans of platformers and unadulterated, brightly coloured fun.
Unlike New Super Mario Bros. U, this anniversary release puts the focus on players to create and discover their own 2D platforming fun. An easy to use but surprisingly diverse creative tool-set includes four game templates and various ways to make stages that are enjoyable, cryptic or rage-inducingly difficult. Nintendo harmed some goodwill with over-zealous moderating of uploaded levels, sadly, but there's a huge amount of 2D Mario to enjoy here.
We're not going to get into which of this iconic series is 'the best', but the Wii U does boast the biggest playable cast and quite a lot of rather nice features. Masahiro Sakurai and his team went to town on this game, and it shows through the many modes, some interesting online options and the general level of quality found throughout. It's also a Wii U title that actually rocks along in native 1080p and 60fps (with some trickery for the latter); a fun showcase for the system and Nintendo's IPs (along with some notable third-party guests).
Time is a great healer. Hesitation around the GameCube original's art style when first revealed made way for appreciation, and then delight when Nintendo gave it the remaster treatment. The development team not only showed its love of the bloom effect (lots of it) but made some handy improvements, with some neat (but optional) GamePad usage thrown in. Link selfies, another fun addition, can also be easily found in Miiverse.
Experienced and respected port-masters Tantalus took up the reins for this remaster, and actually it's arguably another GameCube port. Yes, this game was also on Wii, but left-handed Link returns for this somewhat darker, grittier adventure (compared to Wind Waker). Just like its fellow Legend of Zelda remaster this one is nicely done and performs well, adding a HD sheen to an iconic experience.
The first Wii U exclusive from PlatinumGames and a new IP when released, it features a dizzying cast of quirky superheroes that team up in unique ways to take on and defeat apocalyptic threats. Big, bold and entirely unconventional, this title is classic Kamiya, the familiar figurehead of the Platinum team. Once the controls are mastered this is exciting, addictive gaming, and it also has one of the most bombastic and deliciously ridiculous finales we've ever encountered.
Originally announced as Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, what emerged wasn't what many had expected. Rumours of development problems dissipated when this title, and its strange name, was revealed; the final result is an intriguing release. With a plot heavily rooted in Japanese pop music culture, with a lot of surreal elements thrown in, it's rather unique and interesting to play, while also making fun use of the GamePad's extra screen.
The original Wii title, since ported to New Nintendo 3DS, established a strong reputation for Monolith Soft among Nintendo fans. This Wii U release only emphasized the point that this is a studio capable of producing enthralling, incredibly deep RPG experiences. This game is enormous, at times brutally challenging, and delivers a technical masterclass on Nintendo's system. Oh, and you get to fly around in enormous Mechs called Dolls, too.
No game companies in the world are quite as good at arts and crafts graphics as Nintendo and its second-party partners, in this case Good-Feel. A spiritual follow-up to Wii title Kirby's Epic Yarn, this is a beautiful game in which Yoshi, and sometimes Poochy, explore bouncy, soft and squishy stages. There are some lovely transformations for challenge areas, and everything about this game is irresistibly cute. It is coming to 3DS as Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, but this should really be experienced in HD; also, the Yarn Yoshi amiibo is amazing, so try and find one.
First shown (though we didn't know it) during a pre-E3 Wii U showcase, this was Ubisoft's big launch day exclusive. Rough around the edges, perhaps, but it utilises the GamePad concept beautifully to heighten the tension - the danger of Dark Souls-esque perma-death, limited resources and the use of the second screen for item management and puzzles give this one a fantastic (and in its ways scary) vibe. Re-released on PS4 and Xbox One but, arguably, best enjoyed with a GamePad in hand.
That's our list then, which we feel gives a strong line-up of Wii U games that deserve to be experienced by as many players as possible. Sound off in the comments with your own views, and keep an eye out for our eShop list soon; yes, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water will be in that one.