The Wii U wasn’t Nintendo’s best effort when it came to batting. Its shocking design and confusing marketing campaigns left Nintendo veterans — and the more casual Wii audience — feeling isolated.
Originally released in 2012—long after the Xbox 360 and PS3, and just a year out from the Xbox One and PS4—the Wii U failed to attract a large consumer base. A shame, considering that it was Nintendo’s first console to support HD resolution.
However, those who had a Wii U were treated to some exceptional first party releases over the lifetime of the console. And while many of them would eventually find a home on the Nintendo Switch via ports and sequels, the Wii U evolved into a pretty solid buy in its later days.
But at long last, Nintendo has written the last page in the Wii U’s book. The console’s dedicated eShop is officially closing on March 27, 2023, taking with it a number of digital-only games and services. So what better time to dust off your Wii U and browse through its digital wares before they’re gone for good?
While you’ll still be able to buy many great Wii U games in physical disc format, so many more have been released exclusively on the eShop. As a result, they will be on the chopping block next year if not ported to modern systems.
Here’s a list of recommendations for the best Wii U eShop games you should try before they aren’t available.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
- Wii U eShop. at $19.99 / £17.99 (about AU$28.99)
Originally a collection of games bundled together for the Wii, physical copies of Metroid Prime Triology command outrageous sums online. However, this coveted collection of Samus’ best adventures on the Wii U eShop is a lot more affordable. Much, much more.
The first two games in the Metroid Prime trilogy are among the best GameCube games ever, and they hold tremendously well today. As an added bonus, they work seamlessly with the updated Wii motion controls that give them similarities to Metroid Prime 3.
Whether we’ll ever see a Nintendo Switch port of the Metroid Prime trilogy is anyone’s guess. For now, the digital version on the Wii U is the easiest way to play this incredible trio. If you love Metroid Dread and are looking for more exploration-driven shooters, Prime Games is well worth your time.
NES Remix 1 & 2
- Wii U eShop. Each at $14.99 / £8.99 (about AU$21.99)
Ever wanted to experience some of the most iconic NES games from a different angle? NES Remix games do exactly that, and result in surprisingly fun and interesting curiosities.
NES Remix is unique in that it takes snippets of popular NES titles and turns them into minigames. You can find yourself collecting a certain amount of coins in Super Mario Bros., running against the clock to stay in the air in balloon fights, or taking down bosses from The Legend of Zelda. There are plenty of bite-sized challenges like this in both games.
The NES Remix is so good that I wish Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES and NES libraries had something similar. A strong collection of minigames like this would be a great addition to the subscription service, and a natural fit for its rewards program.
Art Academy: Sketchpad
- Wii U eShop. at $3.99 / £3.49 (about AU$5.99)
Want a great cheap sketching app that’s better than most of the apps you’ll find on your phone? Wii U’s Art Academy: Sketchpad is a great tool that makes drawing fun.
Sketchpad lets you draw with a wide variety of highly detailed templates and pencils. But confident artists can forgo them altogether in favor of a blank slate. The Wii U gamepad also supports pressure sensitivity for more fine-grained works of art.
Unfortunately, as the excellent Miiverse network is no longer supported, you cannot share your creations with other players. It sucks, because it was one of the best features of Art Academy: Sketchpad. But even so, if you’ve got the urge to create, you could do worse than drop a few bucks on this simple yet robust drawing app.
star fox guard
- Wii U eShop. at $14.99 / £12.99 (about AU$21.99)
You wouldn’t think that Star Fox would pair well with tower defense gameplay. But this is where Star Fox Guard will prove you wrong. And to be honest, it’s even better than the Wii U’s divisive Star Fox Zero.
The novelty of Star Fox Guard is that it uses a gamepad with your TV. Using the Wii U gamepad, you’ll strategically place cameras around the field to keep tabs on intruding enemies. If you see them approaching, you can knock them down. It’s simple yet frantic fun that’s also very affordable on the Wii U eShop.
- Wii U eShop. at $9.99 / £8.99 (about AU$14.99)
One of Nintendo’s most-golden games in recent memory, Pushmo World (or Pullblox World in Europe) is a fantastic puzzler not to be missed. Especially with the eShop closing next year.
You control the adorable Mallow solving approximately 250 block-based puzzles. And as the title suggests, you’ll have to push and drag those blocks into (and out of) space to reach the goal of each stage.
It’s an amazingly creative puzzle-platformer that’s packed with content, and like most of the other games on this list, won’t break the bank with its budget price.