Nintendo Wii U Disc Tray
Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

Nintendo's Wii U might not have been the commercial hit many Nintendo fans — and Nintendo itself — hoped for, but it had a winning catalogue of first-party software, as evidenced by the fact that many of its games went on to find new life on Switch in 'Deluxe' and upgraded forms where they got the attentions and accolades they deserved. So while Wii U may not be one of Nintendo's most fondly-remembered systems, its legacy speaks for itself

Our ranked list of the Best Nintendo Wii U Games Ever covers absolutely everything on the system, but in this selection, we're looking specifically at Nintendo's first-party Wii U games released in the West. All of the games below were developed (or co-developed) by Nintendo and therefore represent the company's own in-house output on the system. Other developers are trusted with Nintendo IP — Kirby and Fire Emblem, to name just a couple — but here we're looking purely at Wii U games developed personally by the folks at Nintendo.

This is a reader-ranked list based on the User Ratings of each game in our database. As such, it's subject to real-time change at any time. If you haven't personally rated any of the games below, you can assign them a score out of 10 right now and exert your influence on the ranking. You can also use the search bar below to quickly find any Nintendo-developed Wii U games and rate them as you wish:

So, let's take a look at every first-party Wii U game, as ranked by you. We start at the bottom...

20. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U)

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U)
Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 13th Nov 2015 (USA) / 20th Nov 2015 (UK/EU)

Over the years that Amiibo has been available, there have been dozens of examples of how the toys can add value to a game (or vice versa). Unfortunately, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival failed to achieve this, and brought questionable to downright annoying integration. Were all of amiibo Festival as clever and engrossing as the Desert Island Escape minigame, then this package would be the real deal. However, that simply isn't the case. The central board game is slow and plodding and is tough to recommend to anyone that isn't already a die-hard Animal Crossing fan willing to put up with it. That leaves the minigames, of which seven out of eight aren't compelling enough to continue playing for any length of time.

19. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U)

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U)
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 20th Nov 2015 (USA) / 20th Nov 2015 (UK/EU)

There are positives with Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, like the strong basic gameplay and neat visuals, but we cannot emphasize enough how phoned-in and thin the content offering is, nor how throwaway Mega Battle is as a tentpole feature. Given the severe lack of content at release, it's a difficult game to recommend to even the most passionate Mario Tennis fans. Still, if you're up for some local multiplayer fun in which you simply mess around with the various court types, you can't really go wrong. It's just a shame the rest of it feels like a rush job.

18. Star Fox Guard (Wii U eShop)

Star Fox Guard (Wii U eShop)
Star Fox Guard (Wii U eShop)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 23rd Apr 2016 (USA) / 22nd Apr 2016 (UK/EU)

Nintendo set out to build an experience centered around the Wii U GamePad with Star Fox Guard, and the result was a great little experiment — if a wee bit overwhelming. How much you get out of Star Fox Guard will ultimately depend on your tolerance for its particular brand of attention-splitting gameplay. Some may take to the tense onslaught of robots like an Italian plumber to a mushroom, whereas others might play a few rounds and get completely exhausted with its mix of tower defending, twitch shooting, and puzzling. Beyond that blend, there isn't a whole lot of diversity in gameplay here, and in many ways what you see is what you get. What we see is a terrifying but satisfying game wrapped in charming Star Fox attire.

It also broadened our knowledge of Slippy Toad's extended family. Mileage may vary and all that, then.

17. Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge (Wii U eShop)

Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge (Wii U eShop)
Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge (Wii U eShop)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Release Date: 28th Apr 2016 (USA) / 28th Apr 2016 (UK/EU)

As a free app that provides an incentive to explore amiibo, Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge is a good effort. It offers a nice taster for those with non-Mario-themed toys, with 12 levels to tackle, and adds enjoyable twists and extra content for those with the correct figures. It's a fun if not premium experience, with some rather uninspired level designs mixed in with moments of greater quality - for amiibo fans it's well worth a look.

16. Wii Party U (Wii U)

Wii Party U (Wii U)
Wii Party U (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 25th Oct 2013 (USA) / 25th Oct 2013 (UK/EU)

Stuffed to the brim with content, many of Wii Party U's activities pushed the unique features of the system to create novel, entertaining experiences — at one point we were doubled over laughing at the absurdity of it all. It's fun, though not perfect by any means, and some of the mini-games rely too much on chance and the rather limited GamePad Party mode. There's also an inescapable sterility to its entertainment, although we're big fans of anything with a Mii in it.

These minor points aside, Wii Party U was still an impressive and innovative showcase of what the Wii U can do, even if it didn't set the gaming world alight.

15. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U eShop)

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U eShop)
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U eShop)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Release Date: 5th Mar 2015 (USA) / 20th Mar 2015 (UK/EU)

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is a hugely enjoyable action puzzler with some really fantastic ideas and mechanics. The sharing feature is easily the biggest draw, and the possibility of fresh content being available for years to come is enormously exciting. It's not vastly different when compared to the previous titles in the series, but as the old adage goes: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

14. Wii Fit U (Wii U)

Wii Fit U (Wii U)
Wii Fit U (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 1st Nov 2013 (USA) / 1st Nov 2013 (UK/EU)

Featuring a wealth activities built around Wii U’s bespoke functionality, Wii Fit U used the same Balance Board but improved upon the original Wii title in virtually every way. The exercises it offered still aren't intensive enough to replace traditional exercise — and don't provide the sort of intense workout Nintendo integrated into Ring Fit Adventure — it nevertheless remains an entertaining way for players of all ability levels and ages to be more active and conscious of the importance of keeping fit.

It was a shame that the community feature felt so limited and that the data from the bundled Fit Meter wasn't used to greater effect, but as exergaming software goes, it didn't get much better than this until Ring Fit arrived.

13. Wii Sports Club (Wii U)

Wii Sports Club (Wii U)
Wii Sports Club (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 25th Jul 2014 (USA) / 11th Jul 2014 (UK/EU)

It was certainly pleasing to own the Wii Sports Club disc and have all five sports we knew and loved from the Wii readily available in HD, and not as piecemeal purchases with passes. In our view, three of the sports were strong entries: Golf, Bowling and Baseball, all of which utilised the improved controllers and technology of the Wii U. Tennis was reasonable, too, with Boxing being a weak link it always had been.

With the added fun of Miiverse and online play thrown in, the scope for plenty of waggle-based enjoyment and nostalgia was impressive, although perhaps too little too late for many. We waited a confusingly long time to hit that golf ball from the GamePad on the floor into our TV, something we really should have been doing that at the console's launch, not two years later.

12. New Super Luigi U (Wii U eShop)

New Super Luigi U (Wii U eShop)
New Super Luigi U (Wii U eShop)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 20th Jun 2013 (USA) / 20th Jun 2013 (UK/EU)

New Super Luigi U is a terrific title for capable platform gamers, with intense and exciting bursts of momentum to put those thumbs to the test. What that does do, however, is make multiplayer even more awkward than it was before in New Super Mario Bros. U, and arguably puts this beyond the reach of less experienced gamers, even using the indestructible Nabbit. The sense of the old you get from revisiting familiar stages here is thankfully tempered by a fresh feel and clever level design, however, and even if Luigi's adventure doesn't last long for those without completionist instincts, it's fun while it does last.

11. New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 18th Nov 2012 (USA) / 30th Nov 2012 (UK/EU)

If you loaded up New Super Mario Bros. U with the expectation of playing another genre-defying escapade like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy, then you may have come away disappointed. Mario’s first game for the Wii U played it safe when it came to theme and concept; like previous titles in the ‘New’ series, this was essentially a colourful rehash of the same old blueprint. The mechanics remained the same, but gilded by decades of subtle refinements and enhancements, ultimately leading to one of the most accomplished 2D platformers ever created.

New Super Mario Bros. U may not have offered a cataclysmic genre shift, but it was a fine Wii U launch game and remains a 2D gem in the Mario canon (now more easily accessed on Switch in 'Deluxe' form).