Best Wii U games to buy before the eShop closes
Though Nintendo Wii U sales paled in comparison to both its predecessor, the Nintendo Wii, and it's successor, the Nintendo Switch, it still held a good reputation for having a decent catalogue of quality games, even if support for the system was lacking.
Nintendo recently announced the closure of the Wii U and 3DS eShops, devastating fans of the consoles. From May 23, 2022 onward, users can no longer add funds to their Nintendo 3DS or Wii U via credit or debit cards. After August 29, 2022, users can no longer add funds to their 3DS or Wii U via prepaid Nintendo eShop cards. However, users can still link their 3DS and Wii U wallets with their Nintendo Switch eShop wallets until the eShops close in March 2023.
While this list shows our recommendations for what games you may want to look out for, remember to only purchase games you genuinely want to play. There's no way to guarantee that any game you buy will increase in value later, so stick to the games you like.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Heralded as one of the best games on the system, Xenoblade Chronicles X never ended up getting the port treatment to the Switch that many Wii U games did. This action RPG is set in a futuristic world and places the main characters in the midst of intergalactic wars. Xenoblade Chronicles X pushes the Wii U to its limits, so it's important to download the free content updates on the eShop that help the game run smoother.
Even if you don't have the game yet, or only own the physical version, these updates are important for a better user experience. Though these updates improve the gameplay, they are technically classed as "free DLC" on the eShop, so they won't be available for downloads once it closes, unlike additional downloads classed as "updates".
Set in 2054, this colossal action RPG is one of its kind on the Nintendo Wii U. For those who are into the Xenoblade universe, you should do yourself a favor and experience this game.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
This is probably one of the most controversial Zelda games out. After being flamed across the Zelda community for its "child-like" cel-shade aesthetic, it's now grown on fans and become the darling of the series. This HD remake of the original GameCube title is the definitive way to play Wind Waker, as it adds tons of quality-of-life updates that vastly improve the player experience in the end game. Link sets out on a quest to save his sister after she's been kidnapped, ending up traversing the seas in ways he never imagined.
The prices for physical versions of this game continue to go through the roof, unfortunately, so digital may be your best bet. There's no telling whether this game will make it over to the Switch, so don't miss out on this great game.
Help Link on his mission to save his sister, sailing the seas across a post-apocalyptic Hyrule. Change the direction of the wind with the Wind Waker, taking charge of your destiny.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
This Zelda game is unique in that it received three releases across the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Wii, and the Nintendo Wii U. Of course, the Wii U version is the best of the three, featuring quality-of-life changes, extra content, and amiibo support.
Initially setting out on a mission to rescue the children of the village, Link ends up caught up in a conflict much bigger than himself. Link must work with his new companion, Midna, and switch between human and Wolf Link forms to bring light back to the land of Hyrule.
Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing whether this game will get a fourth release on the Switch, and physical releases are already starting to skyrocket. If you're looking for some traditional Zelda dungeon goodness, make sure to pick this up!
Alternate between human and wolf form as you team up with the strange imp, Midna, to restore the world to its former glory. This HD remaster is the definitive way to play this game, so you don't want to miss out.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
"Hey, why is this game here," you may be asking, "It's already on the Switch!" Well, yeah. But this is one of the last major first-party games to be released for the Nintendo Wii U, on the same day as the launch on the Nintendo Switch, and that's kind of special. Though there are no major differences between the Wii U and the Switch versions of the game, it is pretty neat to see the game on a disk instead of a cartridge.
For the full experience, you'll want to get the DLC for this game, which features new content such as the Trial of the Sword, Master Mode, new armor, and the Champion's Ballad. Arguably one of the best open-world games of all time, this game is one you don't want to miss.
After 100 years in a post-war slumber, Link must slowly regain his memories and set out to rid the four divine beasts of their corruption, saving Princess Zelda in the process.
One of the first new IPs created by Nintendo in quite some time, Splatoon was spearheaded by younger developers who wanted to breathe new life into a game. Though not many got to play it on the Wii U, its sequel, Splatoon 2, took the world by storm. So much so, in fact, that Splatoon 3 is on many people's wishlists this summer.
The main concept of Splatoon is thta it's a third-person shooter, except it uses colorful inkling ink as ammunition. Players are encouraged to ink their turf in turf wars, with the team boasting the largest turf winning. There are multiple other modes that incorporate strategies like the traditional capture the flag modes used in other games. It's a great time, and interesting for any Splatoon fans who care to know the series' origins!
Paint the town whatever color your team is rocking in Nintendo's take on the third-person shooter. With Turf War and other cool modes, this new IP from Nintendo is super fresh.
Nintendo Land was the flagship title of the Wii U that was meant to show off what the system can do, similar to what Wii Sports was for the Nintendo Wii. Featuring minigames in a huge theme park, this game deserved more love than it got. Players could play solo games, co-operative games, or work against each other in competitive games. Each game is based on a Nintendo franchise, and players can expect to see Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario minigames featured.
Get together with friends and family with the Wii U's flagship title. With co-operative games, competitive games, and solo games for a night in, players can dive in and experience that it would be like to go to a Nintendo theme park.
NES Remix Pack
If you're a retro game fan in search of something new, the NES Remix Pack provides new challenges for tons of NES games. Wanted to play Excitebike in the dark? Mario in a Zelda game? You got it!
Nintendo hasn't made mention of porting this game over to future systems, which is a shame because it breathed new life into classic games we all know and love. The first NES Remix debuted on the Nintendo 3DS, with its sequel on the Wii U. NES Remix Pack consists of both these titles, offering loads of content to players. If you're a retro fan, this game is worth it.
Tired of the same old NES games? Shake it up with the NES Remix Pack! Try out classic games with a twist, featuring remixes like Link in a Donkey Kong game. Tons of fun for retro fans!
Yoshi's Woolly World
I'd dare say that Yoshi's Woolly World is one of the best platformer game on the Wii U. Yoshi and his friends are depicted in a yarn aesthetic, and it's up to Yoshi to save his friends after Kamek unraveled them. The game features clever platforming sections, consistent themes, and tons of hidden items for Yoshi to find and collect.
Though this game got a port to the Nintendo 3DS with new features, the Wii U version is the only way to play this gorgeous game in HD. With Yoshi's Crafted World out on the Nintendo Switch, there's no guarantee that this game will get a Switch port. This game is amazing, so whether it be on the 3DS or the Wii U.
Delve into a world filled with softness and cute things around every corner. Yoshi's Woolly World is one of the best platformers on the Wii U, and sets the bar for Yoshi games.
Virtual Console games
The low sales numbers of the Wii U meant that third party developers were reluctant to spend the money and resources on getting games over onto the system. This meant that, for the most part, Nintendo was forced to support the system all on its own, leading to many game droughts over the console's life cycle.
To combat this, they placed a large focus on bringing legacy content to their system. This was the last console to see the "Virtual Console" brand being attached, with the Nintendo Switch only offering NES and SNES games via the Nintendo Switch Online, as well as Nintendo 64 games in the NSO + Expansion Pack. The Wii U became known as a sort of Virtual Console machine, with game libraries being offered that weren't previously available to legally emulate, such as the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo Wii.
I'd recommend getting any retro games from the GBA, DS, and Wii that you're interested in, as their secondhand market prices are through the roof. The version of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 offered on the Wii U, for example, is the only way to legally play all the additional levels developed by Nintendo specifically for that game, as they were locked behind the failed e-Reader peripheral.
Metroid Prime Trilogy, though rumored for a Switch release, has never been announced for the Switch and is available on the Wii U for a low price. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was regrettably omitted from the Super Mario 3D All Stars collection on the Switch, but is available as a digital download on the Wii U. That's not to mention all the light gun games like Duck Hunt on the NES that were given new life on the Wii U with the Wiimote controller, as light guns are incompatible with modern TV screens.
There are tons of classic games that were given new life on the Wii U, many of which will be lost after the eShop closes. While fans are hoping for Game Boy or Game Boy Color support on the Switch, there's no guarantee that Nintendo will do so.
The Nintendo Switch's ancestor
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The Wii U may be the laughing stock of gamers today, since it in no way competed with Sony or Microsoft's systems at the time, but there are some real hidden gems on there that deserved more attention. There's a reason many Wii U games got ported to the Switch, as they were super high quality. Don't forget to check out our list of the best 3DS games to pick up before the eShop closes as well, as many games on that system will be lost to time come March 2023.
All digital, all the time
Before the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U eShops close, you may want to purchase some digital games. Many Virtual Console games will be lost to time after the closure of these storefronts, so make sure you have as much money in your Nintendo 3DS and Wii U wallets before you're unable to add funds in this manner after August 29, 2022.
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Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.