Wii U Buyer’s Guide
Finally getting around to buying yourself a Wii U or just looking to pad out your collection? We at Non-Fiction Gaming have you covered.
“What games should I get for the Wii U?”
This is a question that a lot of people have been asking me lately and now that Mario Kart has provided a major boon to Wii U sales, why not answer to a larger audience. Got a Wii U for Mario Kart? Looking to get one this holiday season?
Until the games announced at E3 2014 start being released, what should you buy? What are the games to avoid? Which Scribblenauts is the way to go?
Read on and maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed vs. Mario Kart 8
I mentioned in my review of Mario Kart 8 that it appeared the Nintendo racing series was heading in a direction similar to Sega’s latest entry. While both are outstanding, picking one to start with can be difficult. Now that the latter is being bundled with the Wii U, it’s likely many of you will opt for the plumber.
But don’t discount our favourite blue hedgehog so soon. The games are very similar experiences at the core but there are some small elements that, in my opinion, give Sega an edge.
Why don’t you dance while you race?
Something else I noted in my review is that the musical score is a real let-down for Mario Kart 8 whereas All-Star Racing’s actually pushed me to buy Samba De Amigo (which, by the way, is hilarious). Actual differences between land and water levels and substantial plane levels really do shine. They add some variety and keep the Grands Prix fresh.
Finally, strategic distinction in how items can be applied (compare Boomerang and Ice; Crazy 8 and All-star) really does make the race a bit more challenging for dedicated players.
Winner: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed.
The Wii was unparalleled as a party console. It let anyone join in the fun and have a reasonable shot at winning.
With games like Wii Sports, Wii Party, and Boom Street, the Wii became another addition to the stack of board games for family gatherings such as Christmas or Easter. The Wii U took this to the next level – even the earliest demonstrations showed off the potential of having two screens.
Games like Nintendoland, Game & Wario, and Wii Party U have taken the reins as far as Nintendo’s party games are concerned. There are a few other titles such as Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games Sochi 2014 that have been floating around but those are the big three and they all bring certain things.
Six of Nintendoland’s twelve games are single player. Okay, they are kind of fun to watch but really you’ll be spending most of your time in the multiplayer ones. And of those, Zelda/Metroid/Pikmin are decidedly average.
The upside of this is that Mario Chase, Luigi’s Mansion Ghost Hunt, and Animal Crossing Sweet Days are unbelievable. Get the right combination of five people and you’ll spend hours playing just these three games.
Game & Wario
Of Game & Wario’s sixteen minigames, only four are multiplayer. Like Nintendoland, taking turns on the single player options is a possibility but really you want to play something that’s getting everyone involved.
Fronk Launch and Artwork are a heap of fun but the real jewel is Fruit. Basically, one person (using the game pad) blends into the crowd and tries to steal pieces of fruit while the agents (1-4 other players) try to identify the thief. Perfect use of the Wii U game pad and almost worth buying the game just for this.
Ultimately, Game & Wario falls short of Warioware: Smooth Moves as a party lets-make-fools-of-ourselves game.
Wii Party U
Wii Party was a strong title for the Wii and Wii Party U performs similarly on the next-gen (or is it current-gen now?) console. Of course, with much of the staff from the developer of Mario Party 1-8, it’s little surprise. Wii Party U is much the same as its predecessor but it’s still worth the update.
Most of the minigames use the Wii Remote and, in the case of 1v3 games, one player uses the game pad. What sets Wii Party U apart from the crowd is the inclusion of “house party” games. In the Wii iteration, this involved hiding Wii Remotes around the room and having the other players hunt for them.
New games include a spot-the-difference pictionary and a game that requires using the Wii Remote in an egg-and-spoon race scenario between the television and game pad.
Winner: Wii Party U.
Early in the Wii U’s life there were two Scribblenaut titles released alongside versions on other consoles (namely, DS). They may not be for everyone but I’m here to help those who are interested in the franchise pick the right one for them.
I don’t want to spend too much time on this section but I loved Unlimited but didn’t really have much time for Unmasked (why these titles have to be the same, I’ve no idea). Scribblenauts Unmasked is a DC Comics version of the popular game and lets you summon various superheroes (including several versions of Batman or Catwoman).
It’s all very cool but the game punishes you for using the same adjective twice in one world. Not to mention, it continually has emergencies in a different world and strongly suggests you travel there. It keeps things moving, which is nice, but really doesn’t allow for much pointless playing around.
Scribblenauts Unlimited, however, does encourage you stop doing the puzzles and just terrorise everyone with varied and weird creations. You want to face off against “sporty, wet, blind, angry God” with a “rainbow, blind, flying, swift behemoth”? Go for it.
Winner: Scribblenauts Unlimited.
Mario / Platformers
Can any examination of a Nintendo console be complete without looking at what Mario games are on offer? There are only a couple so far but they are hugely different.
New Super Mario Bros U
New Super Mario Bros U was one of the Wii U’s launch titles and updates the franchise for the next generation while remaining loyal to the core experience. The updated DLC (New Super Luigi U) adds about 90 courses of a 90-second rush.
Super Mario 3D World
Towards the end of last year, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D World to follow up the 3DS’ Super Mario 3D Land. Sort of a fusion between its immediate predecessor and Super Mario Bros 2.
Each character has different attributes as far as run speed, jump height, and other special abilities are concerned (how Peach got her float ability, for example).
Probably won’t keep you busy for as long as New Super Mario Bros U / Luigi U, but a really good time.
Donkey Kong & Sonic
The only other platform titles of note so far are Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Sonic Lost World. And if neither Sonic nor DK those can win out against their own previous-generation counterparts, they won’t beat Mario in the platformer war of the Wii U.
Winner: Super Mario 3D World (honourable mention to Rayman Legends – great game but available on almost every console now).
Single Player Options
There are a few options on Wii U for a single player experience. Obviously not as many as are available on the Playstation or the Xbox but the Wii U does hold strong. Interestingly, they all mostly cater to a different type of gamer.
Alongside other launch titles was ZombiU. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, this zombie thriller really lacked in the spook department and is a bit of a snooze. The concept and application of the game pad are great. But it gets stuck somewhere between post-apocalyptic horror and action-adventure.
Ubisoft didn’t give up on the Wii U when others did and so Wii U owners can now take part in the worldwide phenomenon Watch Dogs. There’s plenty of news flying around the internet about this game so I won’t bother to repeat too much of it.
Interesting characters, reasonable story, and a concept that drives the action; Watch Dogs is a quality game. Whether or not Wii U owners don’t already have this title on another console is a different story, however.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is another option for those interested in a single player experience. It’s fun and the characters are somewhat amusing (farming cats and the like); the ability to hunt cooperatively with others over the internet is another cool feature.
You can even play locally with others using their 3DS. It’s a fun RPG but does get a bit same-same after a while and can turn into a bit of a grind.
The Legend of Zelda
Another RPG worth looking into is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. It’s every bit as good as the Gamecube version all those years ago and any Zelda fan that hasn’t yet played Wind Waker should definitely investigate it.
Wii versions such as Skyward Sword and especially Twilight Princess offer stiff competition. While not strictly for Wii U, if you need a Zelda title to tide you over until next year, there are three options.
There’s no real question that Pikmin 3 is an outstanding game. It trumps the rest of series by miles and marries its mechanics in truly tremendous fashion. Personally, I couldn’t find anything major to complain about.
Even the multiplayer is ridiculous but fun. This is one of the few times I will say a game is a must-own. Anyone remotely interested in the Pikmin franchise should invest in this title.
Winner: Pikmin 3.
Nintendo eShop Honourable Mention
As avid readers will know, I’ve spent a deal of time lately playing How To Survive. I happened upon this title when trying to claim the free download for registering Mario Kart 8 (for the curious, I already owned most of the games available so I redeemed it for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate). It’s actually better than I was expecting. The story mode doesn’t last for very long but there are challenges that make up for it and benefit the survival / start-with-nothing feel.
There are a plethora of good games available on the eShop but this is one that stood out to me and so it manages to get onto this buyer’s guide as an honourable mention.