Today marks 10 years since the launch of the Wii U in North America. As we look back and collectively take stock of a pretty eventful and turbulent decade, we're republishing this Top 50 article in celebration of a console for which we've still got a lot of affection.
Remember, this ranking is based on each game's User Rating in our games database, and is therefore subject to real-time change even as you read this! If you rated the Wii U games you've played, feel free to do so now and potentially alter the ranking below. Enjoy!
Despite our affection for the console, there's no denying that Wii U had its share of issues from the very beginning. 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!
If there's a game bubbling under the top 50 that you'd like to rate, feel free to find it using the search tool below and give it a score out of 10. 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...
Note. In order for games to become eligible, they need a minimum of 50 User Ratings in total.
Featuring a wealth activities built around Wii U’s bespoke functionality, Wii Fit U used the same Balance Board but improved upon the original Wii title in virtually every way. The exercises it offered still aren't intensive enough to replace traditional exercise — and don't provide the sort of intense workout Nintendo integrated into Ring Fit Adventure — it nevertheless remains an entertaining way for players of all ability levels and ages to be more active and conscious of the importance of keeping fit.
It was a shame that the community feature felt so limited and that the data from the bundled Fit Meter wasn't used to greater effect, but as exergaming software goes, it didn't get much better than this until Ring Fit arrived.
Pokkén Tournament attempted to break into the fighting game genre with a bang, although it remains relatively niche. It stripped back unnecessary complexity from the controls which made it easy to pick-up-and-play, but with a skill ceiling that left hardcore fans with plenty of room to explore. The visuals could have been sharper — something that's also true for the only-slightly improved DX port on Switch — but these are grotesquely outweighed by the sheer polish and replayability of the core gameplay. As a lovechild of such disparate properties as Tekken and Pokémon, Pokkén Tournament was a spectacularly scrappy surprise.
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).
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.
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.
Another game that has since come to Switch, Resident Evil Revelations began life on 3DS before coming to Wii U in HD form. This title delivers the trademark franchise experience with moody environments, scares, action set-pieces and silly, campy storytelling in one enjoyable package. Raid mode was a fantastic extra, adding hours and hours of value as you can brainlessly gunned down creatures with a stranger, levelling up as you go.
Visually and mechanically, the game was designed for 3DS, but this version (and the ports on subsequent consoles) held up well. More importantly, this spin-off from the 'mainline' series demonstrated that bombast and eye-watering budgets aren't the secrets to capturing the essence of survival horror and helped steer the RE ship back on course after the perilous waters of Resident Evil 6.
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.
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.
It would be simple to write off NES Remix as something only die-hard retro gamers would enjoy, but developer Indies Zero was really on to something here. The 200+ challenges are short enough to be interesting and fun to replay, but not long enough to outstay their welcome. The developer has even managed to make challenges based on games like Urban Champion and Baseball fun, which is an achievement in itself. If you're the type who likes to relentlessly collect stuff, the stars and stamps will also keep you entertained.
Koei Tecmo's Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water is drenched in the atmosphere and intrigue the Fatal Frame series is known for, and added some innovations that spark interest and excitement for fans to this day. It's not perfect — a bit too much repetition and a few rough edges do mar the experience a little — but that absolutely shouldn't stop you from taking the plunge if you're able. Given the mechanics and the excellent camera-based GamePad integration, this is likely to remain one of the few true Wii U exclusives.