Despite our affection for the the console, there's no denying that Wii U had its share of issues. Chiefly, Nintendo failed to properly communicate the hardware's unique potential to the game-playing public — a mistake the company was careful avoid repeating with Switch. The name was a point of confusion, too, with some people assuming that it was some sort of add-on peripheral for the original Wii (quite understandably given the strategic focus of pre-release materials on the GamePad while the new console was tucked away out of view).
Throw in some oversized, chunky styling and a lack of Wii Sports-esque launch title to instantly convey the product's appeal and it comes as little surprise that Wii U was a commercial failure, and one all the more painful following the unprecedented success of its immediate predecessor. However, all fair criticism aside, there's one area where we won't hear a word against Wii U: the games.
Say what you like about the hardware or Nintendo's misguided marketing, but Wii U had a large library of software across a breadth of genres and styles. There's a very good reason Nintendo and third-parties have been plundering the catalogue and re-releasing Wii U games on Switch — many of them are utterly fantastic.
Below you'll find a list of the 50 best Wii U games, including both full retail releases and downloadable eShop titles. Similar to many of our other Best Games lists, the ranking is governed entirely by each title's User Rating in the Nintendo Life Game database and will constantly evolve to reflect those ratings, so you can still participate even as you read this. To do so, simply click on the User Rating star next to each title below and give it a score out of 10. The score will immediately be counted towards the total and potentially alter the ranking.
We've assembled these Top 50 rankings for a growing number of Nintendo consoles, so be sure to check out the Best Nintendo DS games, the Best 3DS games, the Best Game Boy games, the Best Nintendo 64 Games, the Best Nintendo Wii Games, the Best SNES Games, and even the 50 best Switch games — each and every one a fluid list that can change over time. Try rating the games in those, too!
Ready, then? Let's dive in and see why publishers the world over have been plundering this console's treasure trove for 'Deluxe' and 'Ultimate' editions on Switch. Here are your picks for the all-time 50 best Wii U games ever...
Mojang did a wonderful job of porting the full Minecraft experience over to the Wii U. A game such as this felt right at home on the system, it's just a pity that it didn't arrive sooner. The open-ended nature of the gameplay means that virtually endless hours of fun are possible, and it can be tough to put down once it's really gotten its hooks in you. There's little to justify a double dip — world size aside, it was pretty much the same experience you'd find elsewhere — but it was a fine version of a fine game.
Yes, back when EA gave the impression of genuinely caring about Nintendo platforms, Mass Effect 3 was ported to Wii U. Starting with the third game in a series may not make sense much sense (with ME2 arguably being the pinnacle of the series to date), but it was a quality port from a Bioware series that excelled — at the time — in delivering complex storytelling with engaging gameplay. The ending might have rubbed some people the wrong way, but experiencing the beautiful Mass Effect universe on a Nintendo console was a treat that we've missed in the years since.
Runbow is a game that is very ‘Nintendo’ in every single aspect, from concept to art and sound direction, to the point that Nintendo itself held a launch party for Runbow at the Nintendo World Store in NYC. It's an excellent party game with a solid single player campaign and more unlockables than the colours of the rainbow; you won't regret playing this gem on the Wii U (or Switch).
Small issues aside, Freedom Planet is a fun and worthwhile experience. Replay value is high due to the hectic nature of the stages (you won't see everything during your first playthrough because you'll be moving too fast) and the diverse experience of playing with different protagonists — there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more. If you enjoy platformers (especially Sonic games), give this one a shot – you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Don’t let the cartoony graphics and Disney branding fool you: DuckTales: Remastered is a challenging duck-blur of a platformer that’s absolutely brimming with charm. The campaign of this affectionate remake of the NES classic may be short, but WayForward updated it in a way that makes the experience feel fresh and guarantees you'll want to revisit it. This is essential gaming for fans of the original DuckTales or the animated series, and even if you're not in those camps, it's still worth a look for fans of Disney, platformers, and Disney platformers.
Another great addition to the roster of the console with 'no games', Tekken Tag Tournament 2 launched alongside Wii U and threw exclusive Nintendo costumes and power-ups into its quality fighting mix, plus DLC content from other platforms, too. This entry in Namco's franchise had already cemented itself as a quality participant contender in the genre, but add in the Wii U exclusive modes, bells and whistles and you're left with perhaps the best console version of a fine fighter.
Axiom Verge is an excellent Metroidvania that combines creative gameplay, beautiful visuals, and a compelling story to create a fantastic game which pays tribute to classics while doing something wholly new with the established formula. It's made all the more impressive, too, by the fact that the entire thing is the product of one-man-team Tom Happ's dedication. If you have even the remotest interest in 2D action games, do yourself a favour and pick this game up pronto. It's available on Switch, too. You know, if your Wii U is packed away or something.
If you're after a fun way to unwind, relax, and have a laugh alone or with some friends, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is exactly the game to fulfil that need. True, it offered only a larger and prettier package in terms of gameplay innovations over the expansive stable of accessible LEGO games spanning myriad properties, but the charming, accessible formula worked for a wide audience, and does so to this day. It’s pure family-friendly fun that squeezes in just enough variety to ensure that players of all ages will find something to enjoy.
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag delivered an, exceptionally crafted, immensely beautiful and consuming open world that felt fantastic on Wii U. The clumsiness of the free-running mechanics showed up every so often, and low frame counts crept in here and there, but not enough to break the illusion Ubisoft painstakingly constructed in this open-world seafarer. Black Flag effortlessly sucks you into even the most insignificant of activities as you sail the high seas, and Wii U owners found plenty of gold for the plundering on their travels.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted U a stunning port that went above and beyond in terms of tailoring a multiplatform title specifically for Nintendo's hardware and its feature set. Criterion's game is fast, fun, and absolutely beautiful, with an open-world design that creates a real feeling of freedom to go with the sense of speed, but it's the graphical upgrades and GamePad-specific features that made this the definitive console version at the time. It's one of the finest open-world racers we've ever played — the perfect example of a Nintendo port done right. Most wanted, indeed.