Ah, poor Wii U – you’ve got to feel for it. Through bungled messaging and almost total non-support of its unique asymmetric gameplay, Nintendo launched the ship without a compass into an ocean littered with pointy icebergs ready to pierce her glossy white hull. Despite releasing some excellent games on the platform, only a comparatively small fraction of Nintendo devotees got to play them, and now Switch is systematically robbing the console of what small legacy it had. The silver lining to its demise is the catalogue of gems life-rafted to Switch – from Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker to the Bayonetta games, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to the upcoming New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
Unwieldy titles aside, these ports have been a triumph, helping to plug gaps in the release schedule between new titles. With a whole new audience able to discover them, Nintendo’s utter failure to utilise the GamePad in any meaningful way means that – ironically – they can jump ship practically feature-intact; Miiverse integration is typically the biggest loss, although we’ve seen workarounds in the likes of Splatoon 2. With the new year approaching, we’ve rounded up the stragglers; the last glittering remnants yet to be salvaged from Wii U and given new life on Switch. We wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these announced this year, buoying up the big guns of Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and (fingers crossed) Metroid Prime 4 in 2019.
Before we begin, though, let’s take a moment and pour one out for two games we doubt could ever make the jump to Switch – games which made use of asymmetric gameplay in genuinely interesting ways: please raise your glasses to the memory of Nintendo Land and Affordable Space Adventures. We had a lot of fun with the former at launch, and the latter is a real hidden gem which – for shame – will likely remain hidden forever. Sirs, we salute you.
Now, let’s loot!
First up, it’s the most colourful, vibrant video game you’re ever likely to play – the box art alone was a breath of fresh air on store shelves back in 2013. Super Mario 3D World is a perfect stepping stone between the 2D and 3D games from Nintendo’s Tokyo EAD team, introducing the world to Cat Mario and enabling four players to take control of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad (echoing the line-up from Super Mario Bros. 2). Truth-be-told, after the 360° freedom of the Galaxy games, 3D World’s contained level design and angular controls took a while to adjust to, but it wins you over with bounding enthusiasm and irrepressible energy. Five years back we awarded it a stonking 10/10, so of course we want to see this on Switch – it’s one of the jewels in Wii U’s crown.
The transition would be relatively painless, too. The touchscreen could still be used in handheld mode to seek out hidden items and its multiplayer focus would suit Switch down to the ground – the only notable loss would be blowing the Gamepad’s microphone to raise platforms. Yep, we’ll be having this thank-you-very-much. Zoink!
From the sublime to the wonderfully ridiculous, next up is Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover RPG which has you managing a showbiz idol career in contemporary Tokyo while teaming up with FE characters to battle mysterious baddies called Mirages. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE released towards the end of Wii U’s voyage and consequently it only found a small audience, especially in the west. Those who did pick it up fell in love with its battle system and stylish blend of J-pop and classic RPG mechanics. A Switch port would give more people the opportunity to discover its charms, although it would require a little rejigging – the GamePad originally displayed your map and texts from your in-game phone. Sounds to us like a perfect opportunity for the Switch Online app to earn its keep as a second screen option on Switch (as an alternative to having them pop up on the main screen, of course). The original also lacked an English dub – not a problem, but it would be nice to see one added in a potential port.
Coming from famed director Hideki Kamiya and PlatinumGames, despite being well-received The Wonderful 101 kinda fell through the cracks of the early Wii U catalogue; one of those games you definitely would’ve picked up on offer, but probably didn’t get round to. Its unique gameplay melded aspects of Pikmin with the spirit of Viewtiful Joe (always A Good Thing™) and tasked you with assembling a group of heroes that battled more-or-less as one unit. An everything-and-kitchen-sink approach meant it could easily overwhelm players, especially at higher difficulties, but the core challenge of adding Wonderful Ones to your team and taking down ever-inventive obstacles and enemies is addictive, ultimately capturing you like Platinum’s games so often do. Beyond some handy touch gestures and a few sub-menus, a Switch port would lose little in translation and we’d love the opportunity to try it out again.
The chance to play a proper Pikmin on-the-go is tantalising – Hey! Pikmin on 3DS didn’t sufficiently scratch that itch. Odd rumours that Miyamoto-san is sitting on a near-completed Pikmin 4 seem non-sensical to us, so we’d certainly welcome a port of Pikmin 3 while waiting for a bespoke entry. This second sequel brought winged and rock pikmin to the fold but added surprisingly little to the established template; HD was arguably the most significant addition to the series – those oranges and strawberries never looked so juicy and delicious! In terms of controls, we generally preferred using the Wiimote and nunchuck over the GamePad, and beyond losing the separate map screen, we see zero problems with this making the jump to Switch almost entirely intact.
Okay, so now we’re onto ports of ports, but who in their right mind would turn down either of these on a handheld? The Wind Waker’s evergreen art style continues to charm the socks off anyone who plays it and it never looked better than on Wii U. The slightly aggressive bloom lighting isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard to argue with the numerous gameplay tweaks that helped tighten up the GameCube original. The off-TV mode of the HD remake shows it could function perfectly well on Switch, especially with the touchscreen in handheld mode. What’s not to like?
The same goes for Twilight Princess. We’ve already seen videos of the game running on the Tegra X1-powered Nvidia Shield in China (the same chip lodged inside Switch’s innards), although we’d really prefer Wii U’s HD edition with the bells and whistles of gyro aiming, improved textures and amiibo support. This entry in the series divides gamers – despite having some excellent dungeons, the 3D ‘template’ laid down by Ocarina of Time was beginning to pall without Wind Waker’s distractingly beautiful cartoon style. Breath of the Wild has rightfully blasted the cobwebs from the series, but there’s still so much to love in the ‘traditional’ Zelda formula; what better way to pass the time while we wait for the next chapter?
In 2015, HMS Wii U was in serious trouble, but still had some tricks up her sleeve as she began listing. Although not enough to save a sinking ship, Super Mario Maker gave Wii U her a string quartet; a touching farewell as the console slipped away. It’s a masterstroke of intuitive design and enables anyone to build, test and rebuild their perfect Mario levels, giving players a peak behind the curtain and an appreciation for the genius that goes into designing these games. It spawned a community that came up with some amazing creations, from the auto-play musical levels to intricate mazes that required advanced techniques and exploits to complete. A wonderful package for Mario fans of all ages, it garnered a well-deserved 10/10 from us.
Of course, that doesn’t mean a Deluxe edition couldn’t improve on the original – an option to chain levels together and create ‘worlds’ would be much appreciated, for starters, and how about Game Boy and Super Mario Bros 2 skins? By simply limiting level construction to handheld mode, Nintendo could solve the problem of cumbersome telly-based editing and it would play quite nicely from a marketing perspective – edit levels on the bus, come home and share them with the family!
Of course, Mario Maker already escaped Wii U’s watery grave in the form of the 3DS version; an impressive effort from the plucky handheld, although a somewhat-reduced take on the original. However, we’d be truly surprised if Switch didn’t dive down to rescue this final treasure from the cold depths where Wii U rests, allowing it to truly shine on a handheld system that’s in the prime of its life, thanks in no small part to the juicy morsels it continues to plunder from its predecessor.
Are there any remaining Wii U games you’d love to see jump ship to Switch? As always, let us know in the comments.