The Wii U wasn’t Nintendo’s finest attempt at-bat. Its baffling design and confusing marketing campaigns left Nintendo stalwarts – and the more casual Wii audience – feeling alienated.
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 captivate a sizable consumer base. A shame, considering it was Nintendo’s first console to support HD resolution.
Those that did own a Wii U were treated to some exceptional first party releases over the console’s lifetime, however. And while many of those would eventually find homes on the Nintendo Switch through ports and sequels, the Wii U did evolve into a pretty solid purchase in its latter days.
But at long last, Nintendo looks to have written the final page in the book of the Wii U. The console’s dedicated eShop is officially shutting down on March 27, 2023, taking many digital-only games and services with it. So what better time to dust off your Wii U and browse its digital wares before they’re gone for good?
While you’ll still be able to buy many of the best Wii U games in physical disc format, so many more released exclusively on the eShop. As a result, they’ll be on the chopping block next year if not ported to modern systems.
Here’s our list of recommendations of the best Wii U eShop games you should try before they’re no longer available.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
- $19.99 / £17.99 (around AU$ 28.99) on the Wii U eShop
Originally a collection of games bundled together for the Wii, physical copies of Metroid Prime Trilogy command outrageous sums online. However, this coveted collection of Samus’s finest adventures is much more affordable 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 incredible trio. If you loved Metroid Dread and are looking for more exploration-driven shooters, the Prime games are well worth your time.
NES Remix 1 & 2
- $14.99 / £8.99 (around 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 exactly that, and are wonderfully fun and interesting curios 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 against the clock to stay airborne in Balloon Fight, or taking on a boss from The Legend of Zelda. There are tons of bite-sized challenges like this to be found in both games.
NES Remix is so good that I wish Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES and NES libraries had something just like it. A robust collection of minigames like this would be a great addition to the subscription service, and a natural fit for its rewards programme.
Art Academy: SketchPad
- $3.99 / £3.49 (around AU$5.99) on the Wii U eShop
Want a wonderfully cheap sketching app that’s better than most of the ones you can find on your phone? The Wii U’s Art Academy: Sketchpad is a fantastic tool that makes drawing a blast.
Sketchpad lets you draw with a bunch of highly detailed templates and a wide variety of pencils. But confidence-filled artistes can forgo them altogether in favor of a blank slate. The Wii U GamePad even supports pressure sensitivity for more nuanced works of art.
Unfortunately, as the excellent Miiverse network is no longer supported, you can’t share your creations with other players. That sucks, as it was one of the best features of Art Academy: Sketchpad. But still, if you’ve got the urge to create, you can do much worse than drop a few bucks on this simple yet robust drawing app.
Star Fox Guard
- $14.99 / £12.99 (around 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.
The novelty of Star Fox Guard is that it uses the GamePad in tandem with your TV. Using the Wii U GamePad, you’ll strategically place cameras around the field to keep tabs on infiltrating enemies. If you spot them approaching, you can shoot them down. It’s simple yet frantic fun that’s also very affordable on the Wii U eShop.
- $9.99 / £8.99 (around AU$14.99) on the Wii U eShop
One of Nintendo’s most slept-on games in recent memory, Pushmo World (or Pullblox World in Europe) is a fantastic puzzler that shouldn’t be missed. Especially with the eShop shutting down next year.
You control the adorable Mallo in solving around 250 block-based puzzles. And as the title suggests, you’ll need to push and pull those blocks into (and out of) place to reach each stage’s goal.
It’s a wonderfully creative puzzle-platformer that’s packed with content, and like most other games on this list, won’t break the bank with its budget price.