The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is an attractive remaster with some nice additions, encompassing improved controls, visuals and enjoyable extras for fans. It's a deep, involving 30+ hour adventure, which draws the player in with plenty of honesty and soul. It may have stuck a little too much to the Ocarina formula, but we're certainly glad this one came to light again on Wii U and gave us the opportunity to revisit Twilight Princess once more.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is sprawling, diverse, complex and entrancing. It utilised the Wii U's capabilities not only to produce a beautiful world, but showed how something as simple as a map on the GamePad screen can be invaluable. What's most impressive is the dynamism and impression of freedom in play - level caps and grinding are naturally part of the equation, yet they're managed within a structure where even small missions or Affinity quests greatly enhance the narrative and sense of place. To truly experience the story of this human colony and the vast planet Mira requires exploration and patience, and Monolith Soft found an impressive balance in bringing its vast range of gameplay systems and mechanics together. Occasional bottlenecks are infrequent and easily overcome in the broader experience, and overall Xenoblade Chronicles X delivers a hugely impressive RPG adventure. It was an enormous accomplishment for Monolith Soft and an irresistible part of the Wii U library.
SteamWorld Heist is an entirely different proposition to its predecessor SteamWorld Dig, and that's no bad thing. Its quirky blend of a 2D perspective, allied with turn-based strategy and skill-based attacks, is a surprisingly addictive combination. There's impressive depth to the overall mechanics, and it's all topped off with a level of presentation that's both charming and accomplished. Whether seeking challenging strategy or an entertaining story, this title delivers both in its own unique way and has certainly stolen plenty of our time; we haven't even got all the hats yet. Wherever you choose to play it, you won't regret it.
Shovel Knight was excellent in vanilla form, but Treasure Trove includes absolutely everything that developer Yacht Club has created for the game since its Kickstarter success back in 2013. That includes the extra campaigns Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment and the more recent King of Cards, plus multiplayer brawler Showdown which further increases the attractiveness of an already incredibly compelling package. These games are fantastic odes to the glory days of 8-bit(+) platforming, and having the complete Shovel Knight experience in one spot makes this a must-have for Switch owners - especially those that have so far failed to dig into this game and its add-ons. Strike the earth!
36. Pikmin 3 (Wii U)
Beautifully crafted and filled to the brim with exciting gameplay features, Pikmin 3 is a worthy instalment in Nintendo's quirky strategy series. The core gameplay mechanics remain true to the GameCube originals, but were further enhanced by the unique features of the Wii U GamePad, although you could still use your Wii Remote and Nunchuk. A few minor issues here and there arguably prevented it reaching the heights of its predecessors, but the HD sheen provided by the Wii U made the fruit hauled by your little plant-based helpers look more delicious than ever before and we're desperate to see the series return.
Rayman Legends is close to 2D platforming perfection and its minor missteps, while noticeable, are easily forgiven. The main story levels clock in at well under 10 hours, but the developers made those hours utterly glorious, and then threw in enough extra content, challenges, remixes and collectibles to conceivably more than double that play time. And the fact is that playing levels again, hunting out those hidden Teensies or chasing gold cups, is not only essential, but completely worthwhile. It's also worthwhile playing extensively in both single and multiplayer, as each option feels distinctly different, shaking up the experience in pleasing ways. The Definitive Edition on Switch is equally lovely.
Super Mario Maker is so much more than a simple level creation tool, as Nintendo clearly invested great time, resources and thought into making it greater than its core concept. The user interface, the creativity of the tools that feed the player's imagination and the overall polish are a testament to the development team's efforts. Whether creating, exploring or just playing, Super Mario Maker provides an exceptional experience that was tailored perfectly to the Wii U GamePad - it was arguably the second screen's 'killer app' which simply arrived too late to save the system. If you've ever enjoyed a 2D Mario game and have a creative, playful spirit, then the original Mario Maker deserves your attention.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive, sprawling JRPG built by Monolith Soft, who developed the previous two entries and the Baten Kaitos games on GameCube. The team also helped Nintendo design the world of Breath of the Wild, so there's no doubting the pedigree. You'll explore a massive open world made up of Titans – enormous living creatures that house entire civilisations on their bodies. Along the way you'll meet a wide variety of characters, solve a bunch of quests, and save the world. It's Monolith Soft doing what it does best, albeit without shaking off the occasional flaws of the series. This is another Xenoblade gem, though, and a must-have RPG.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a massive standalone DLC, Torna: The Golden Country, that's also well worth playing through. It serves as a prequel to the events of 2, so you can play it before or after.
Super Mario 3D World can be easily summarised — it’s a terrifically enjoyable, tight and impeccably structured experience. Boasting perhaps the most colourful box art ever created, the game recalls the mascot’s 3D heritage while providing the perfect starting point for those that prefer 2D platforming, catering to an audience of beginners and skilled veterans alike. It successfully found a middle-ground between the iconic Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. You may not swing Bowser by his tail or run upside down, but it’s bursting with creativity nonetheless, while delivering on the craft and skill that defines the Tokyo EAD studio. It’s unmissable and until it arrives on Switch (c'mon, it must be in the pipeline, no?), it's worth hunting down a Wii U to play.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is not only a graphical powerhouse and showcase for Next Level Games’ unrivalled mastery of video game animation, it’s also an immense helping of spooky fun as well. The amount of care and consideration poured into every facet of the game is abundantly clear, and it all results in one of the most enjoyable and attractive Switch titles of the year. It's also the undisputed high point of a franchise which – following this sterling release – will hopefully get even more love and attention from Nintendo fandom, and the gaming community as a whole.