The Wii U wasn’t Nintendo’s best attempt at bat. Its baffling design and confusing marketing campaigns left Nintendo loyalists – and the Wii’s more casual audience – feeling alienated.
Originally released in 2012 – long after the Xbox 360 and PS3, and just a year after the Xbox One and PS4 – the Wii U failed to captivate a sizable consumer base. A shame considering it was the first Nintendo console to support HD resolution.
Those who owned a Wii U were treated to some exceptional releases throughout the console’s life, however. And while many of them would eventually find homes on the Nintendo Switch through ports and sequels, the Wii U evolved into a pretty solid buy in its final days.
But finally, Nintendo appears to have written the final page of the Wii U book. The console’s dedicated eShop will officially shut down on March 27, 2023, taking with it many digital-only games and services. So what better time to dust off your Wii U and browse your digital products before they’re gone forever?
While you can still buy many of the best Wii U games in physical disc format, many more have been released exclusively on the eShop. As a result, they will be on the cutting block next year if not ported to modern systems.
Here’s our list of recommendations for the best Wii U eShop games you should try before they’re no longer available.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
- $19.99 / £17.99 (about AU$28.99) on the Wii U eShop
Originally a collection of bundled games for the Wii, physical copies of Metroid Prime Trilogy charge exorbitant amounts online. However, this coveted collection of Samus’ best adventures is much more accessible on the Wii U eShop. Much much more.
The first two games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy are among the best Gamecube games ever made, and today they hold up tremendously well. As an added bonus, they work seamlessly with the updated Wii motion controls that give them parity with Metroid Prime 3.
Whether we’ll ever see a Nintendo Switch port of Metroid Prime Trilogy is anyone’s guess. For now, the digital version on Wii U is the easiest way to play this amazing trio. If you loved Metroid Dread and are looking for more exploration shooters, the Prime games are well worth your time.
NES Remix 1 and 2
- $14.99 / £8.99 (about AU$21.99) each on the Wii U eShop
Ever wanted to experience some of the most iconic NES games from a different angle? The NES Remix games do just that and are wonderfully fun and interesting trivia as a result.
NES Remix is unique in that it takes snippets of popular NES titles and turns them into minigames. You might find yourself collecting a set amount of coins in Super Mario Bros., racing the clock to stay aloft in Balloon Fight, or taking on a boss in The Legend of Zelda. There are tons of little challenges like this to be found in both games.
The NES Remix is so good I wish the Nintendo Switch Online SNES and NES libraries had something similar. A robust collection of minigames like this would be a great addition to the subscription service and a natural fit for your rewards program.
Academy of Art: SketchPad
- $3.99 / £3.49 (about AU$5.99) on the Wii U eShop
Want a wonderfully inexpensive drawing app that’s better than most you can find on your phone? The Wii U Art Academy: Sketchpad is a fantastic tool that makes drawing a blast.
Sketchpad lets you draw with a variety of highly detailed models and a wide variety of pencils. But confident artists can abandon them completely in favor of a blank slate. The Wii U GamePad even supports pressure sensitivity for more subtle artwork.
Unfortunately, as the excellent Miiverse network is no longer supported, you cannot share your creations with other players. This sucks as it was one of the best features of Art Academy: Sketchpad. But still, if you feel like creating, you can do a lot worse than spending a few bucks on this simple and robust drawing app.
Star Fox Guard
- $14.99 / £12.99 (about AU$21.99) on the Wii U eShop
You wouldn’t think Star Fox would pair well with tower defense gameplay. But that’s 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.
What’s new about Star Fox Guard is that it uses the GamePad in conjunction with your TV. Using the Wii U GamePad, you’ll strategically place cameras around the field to keep tabs on enemy infiltration. If you see them approaching, you can take them down. It’s simple but frantic fun that’s also very accessible on the Wii U eShop.
- $9.99 / £8.99 (about AU$14.99) on the Wii U eShop
One of Nintendo’s most dormant games in recent times, Pushmo World (or Pullblox World in Europe) is a fantastic puzzler that shouldn’t be missed. Especially with the eShop closing next year.
You control the adorable Mallo by solving over 250 block-based puzzles. And, as the title suggests, you’ll need to push and pull these blocks into place (and out) to reach each stage’s objective.
It’s a wonderfully creative puzzle-platformer that’s packed with content, and like most other games on this list, it won’t break the bank with its budget price tag.