History Behind Wii U Purchase
The Wii U is somewhat of a weird system for me.  For years, I believed that the original Wii would be the last Nintendo home console that I would buy as I moved onto the next chapter of my life.  Furthermore, after the Wii U was officially announced, I definitely cannot say that I was dying to get one.

As we got closer to the Wii U release, I kept telling people that I was unsure if I would get one or not.  It was interesting, yet it did not seem to be compelling enough.  Nevertheless, after Nintendo announced on September 13, 2012 that you could reserve Wii U at GameStop, I decided to run out that evening and reserve one -- just in case.  What Nintendo fanboy had not dreamt of playing Mario and Zelda in HD?

On the afternoon of November 18, 2012, I walked into GameStop and picked up my reserved Wii U Deluxe Set (black) for $349.99.  I also purchased New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU on launch day.  No crazy stories this time.

Unfortunately, as we all know, Nintendo botched the Wii U's release and its formative years.  Initially, confusion started when people could not tell if it was an add-on to the original Wii or a brand-new system.  Then we found out that this new system was only slightly more powerful than PS3 and Xbox 360, which meant the PS4 and Xbox One would be much more powerful -- just one short year later.  Oh, and then there were several draughts between 2012 and 2014 where months went by without first-party Nintendo games.  And, of course, the asymmetrical gameplay idea of the GamePad was never realized to its fullest.

So it may come as a surprise that, in retrospect, the Wii U might get too bad of a rap.  It probably should get some more love.  To start, it laid the groundwork for the immensely popular Nintendo Switch.  Wii U also had a unique Miiverse social networking feature, which blossomed into an artistic community, and was the initial home to the Amiibo toys-to-life platform.  It gave birth to the much-loved Splatoon and Super Mario Maker games.  And, by the end, it had a respectable collection of exclusives and well-received indie games that could be purchased from the Nintendo eShop.  Finally, you could even download some previously portable-only games from the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS as part of the Wii U Virtual Console, which worked well on its GamePad.

For me, though, I think my appreciation of the Wii U grew after its demise.  I realized that I could have been using the Off-TV Play mode much more by not keeping the console tethered to a specific TV.  (Eventually, I purchased a second Wii U AC Adapter Power Supply so that I could move the console around the house more easily in order to keep it near the Wii U GamePad for playing games off-TV.)  In time, I appreciated that Wii U was a great console for Zelda games since you could download the retro Zelda games, play the remastered HD versions of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and enjoy Breath of the Wild as Wii U's swan song.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that I introduced my boys (~6.5 and 3.5) to video games using the Wii U.  Originally, I started by purchasing a used copy of LEGO Jurassic World (dinosaurs) in December 2019 for the easy cooperative play across the Wii U's two screens: TV and GamePad.  With COVID-19 and quarantine throughout 2020, we had ample opportunity to play together.  With the end of Wii U, did I "switch" to being only a Nintendo retro gamer?
Quick Links
Random Notes & Thoughts
What lies below is a listing of my Wii U collection along with some history behind the system's purchase. Please note that all of the games listed below are actual discs or digital downloads. I'm not into pirating the latest games.
Wii U
All-Time Favorite Wii U Games
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U) screenshot
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Three words: Open World Zelda.  And it revolutionizes the open world concept by doing it Nintendo's way.  That means you get an imaginative, boundaryless world that lets you explore and do whatever you want.  No restrictions, no required upgrades, no checkpoints.  Explore as much or as little as you want.  It also tweaks the Zelda formula with breaking weapons and smaller dungeons.  Undoubtedly, one of THE best games on any console in the PS4/Xbox One/Switch (Wii U) era.

Guitar Hero Live (Wii U) screenshot
Talk about love and heartbreak.  Guitar Hero Live tried to evolve music games with its different guitar, cool first-person presentation style in the on-disc GH Live mode, and streaming music videos in GHTV online.  The singular focus on guitars and playing to the backdrop of 500 music videos was awesome -- a ton of fun for 1 or 2 players.  But the abrupt end, as of December 1, 2018, was a stark reminder about online services.  I'd love to see Rock Band adopt music videos...or a clone (hero).

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) screenshot
3. Mario Kart 8
For a long-time Mario Kart aficionado, the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 dazzled.  Beautiful HD graphics, solid online play, 4-player local Grand Prix, lots of great new and retro courses, DLC expansion packs with Zelda and Animal Crossing content, and a 200cc mode!  Always so much fun.  The only disappointing part of the game, Battle Mode, was rectified in the Switch "Deluxe" release (3 years later).
Tank! Tank! Tank! (Wii U) screenshot
4. Tank! Tank! Tank!
My young boys and I loved Tank! Tank! Tank!  Although it was released in the arcades in 2009 and was ported to the Wii U for its launch in November 2012, I purchased the game in 2020.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It is a hidden gem, with a lengthy 1-2 player campaign and various 2-4 player battle modes.  Due to its simple controls, non-stop action, camera integration, and ability to play on separate screens, Tank! Tank! Tank! offers surprisingly fun value.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Wii U) screenshot
5. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Early adopters of the Wii U were treated to a great port of the best Mario Kart clone ever made: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.  With tracks inspired by Super Monkey Ball, Panzer Dragoon, Golden Axe, and After Burner, and up to 5 players among the TV and GamePad, it provided loads of Sega nostalgia and lots of frenetic-yet-balanced fun action with the cars, boats, and planes.  The finale of Doug, Scott, and Nate.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted U (Wii U) screenshot
6. Need for Speed: Most Wanted U
Long-time Nintendo fans know that getting a definitive version of a more "realistic" game is rare.  Yet Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is that rare gem on Wii U that looks better and runs more smoothly than its PS3 and Xbox 360 competition.  The game also represents my first experience with an open-world racer, and it provides a ton of fun and replay value by landing in the sweet spot between semi realistic and arcade.
Nintendo Land (Wii U) screenshot
7. Nintendo Land
Clearly, Nintendo Land was built to showcase the capabilities of the Wii U GamePad and the potential for asymmetrical games as well as 5-player games using four (4) Wii Remotes.  And, in retrospect, it is a summation of the possibilities, eccentricities, and failures of the system.  Nothing else really took advantage of the Wii U like Nintendo Land, yet I never really returned to it.  Still, a few of those mini-games were fun, especially Mario Chase. 

Lego Jurassic World (Wii U) screenshot
8. LEGO Jurassic World
LEGO Jurassic World will never be seen as a great game, but it holds a special spot on my list. To start, the Wii U version really excels due to the second screen co-op (TV and GamePad). Moreover, the four movies provide faithful, entertaining backdrops with large worlds, perplexing puzzles, and exciting sequences. OK, the movie sound bites are a bit cheesy, but kids love dinosaurs, and this is an easy-to-control entry into video gaming.
Honorable Mention: Super Mario Maker,
New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World, NES Remix 1 & 2 Pack
Super Mario Maker (Wii U) screenshot
Wii U Boxed Game Collection (31 games)
  • Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!
    • supports up to 4-player co-op
  • Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II
    • GamePad allows 2p co-op on separate screens
      (but also has split screen)
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Ducktales Remastered
    • HD remake of NES classic (1p only)
  • Guitar Hero Live **
    • uses GH guitar w/ 6 buttons
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2
    • GamePad allows 2 players on separate screens
      (2nd player must use Wiimote; Pro not supported)
  • Hyrule Warriors
    • GamePad required for 2p co-op (no split screen)
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
    • Wii U GamePad needed to 100%; Pro lacks Gyro
  • Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
    • use Wii U GamePad for maps, inventory, and Gyro; also supports Pro controller
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
    • use Wii U GamePad for maps, inventory, and Gyro; also supports Pro controller
  • LEGO Jurassic World
    • GamePad allows 2p co-op on separate screens
  • Madden NFL 13
    • Detached: hold (-) button on GamePad for 3 seconds before game for Off-TV Play
  • Mario Kart 8
    • no Steering Assist like on Switch
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted U
    • Co-Driver: P1 drives with Pro controller or Wiimote, and P2 uses Wii U GamePad to provide assistance
  • NES Remix Pack
    • short, rapid-fire challenges from 25+ NES classics
  • New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U Bundle
    • requires Wii U GamePad for one player, but it
      cannot be used in multi-player
    • Original disc for saves; Luigi U bundle disc for DLC
  • Nintendo Land [MP]
    • requires Wii U GamePad and supports up to 5 players;
      some mini-games require Wii Remote/Nunchuk
  • Planes Fire & Rescue
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Pokkén Tournament
    • supports HORI Pokken Tournament Pro Pad
  • Rabbids Land **
    • requires Wii U GamePad and one (1) Wii Remote/Nunchuk
  • Shakedown: Hawaii
    • Standard Edition; 1 of 3000 copies made in 2020
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
    • supports up to 5 players w/ GamePad
  • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
    • GamePad allows 2p co-op on separate screens (press + on controller 2); also includes 4-player party modes
  • Super Mario 3D World (NS)
    • Wii U GamePad needed to 100%, incl. Captain Toad levels; 4-player mode requires GamePad
  • Super Mario Maker
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
    • supports GameCube controller w/ adapter
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
    • GamePad allows separate screens
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
    • includes exclusive Mushroom Battle and Tekken Ball modes and Nintendo-themed costumes
  • Yoshi's Woolly World
    • offers 2p co-op; Mellow Mode is easier for kids
  • ZombiU **
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
Nintendo eShop Downloads
Wii U Downloads (17 games)
  • amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bits
    • At least one amiibo accessory is required
  • Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (NS)
    • not downloaded to Wii U; play via Switch
  • Art of Balance
  • Dolphin Up
  • Dr. Luigi
  • Ducktales Remastered
    • not downloaded; play via physical disc
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
  • Games for Toddlers
  • Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (NS)
    • not downloaded to Wii U; play via Switch
  • Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge
    • Mario-series amiibo required (Mini Spek can't access amiibo doors)
  • My First Songs
    • not downloaded to Wii U
  • New Super Luigi U
    • not downloaded; play via bundle disc
  • Pikmin 3
    • Wii Remote & Nunchuk + GamePad is ideal scheme
  • Pumped BMX +
  • Shovel Knight (NS)
    • not downloaded to Wii U; play via Switch
  • Star Fox Guard **
  • Wii Sports Club (Bowling and Tennis) [MP]
Wii U Virtual Console (65 games)
  • 1080° Snowboarding (N64) *
  • Adventures of Bayou Billy, The (NES) *
  • Axelay (SNES) *
  • Balloon Fight (NES) *
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
  • Castlevania: Dracula X (SNES)
  • Donkey Kong (NES) *
  • Donkey Kong Country (SNES) *
  • DKC2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES) *
  • DKC3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (SNES)
  • Dr. Mario (NES) *
  • Duck Hunt (NES) * Wii Remote
  • EarthBound (SNES) *
  • EarthBound Beginnings (NES)
  • F-Zero (SNES) *
  • F-Zero X (N64) *
  • Game & Watch Gallery 4 (GBA)
  • Hogan's Alley (NES) * Wii Remote
  • Konami Krazy Racers (GBA)
  • Legend of Zelda, The  (NES) *
  • Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) *
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) *
  • Life Force (NES) *
  • Mario Pinball Land (GBA)
  • Mega Man & Bass (GBA)
  • Mega Man Battle Network 3 (GBA)
  • Mega Man Zero 3 (GBA)
  • Metroid (NES) *
  • Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)
  • Metroid Fusion (GBA)
  • New Adventure Island (TG-16)
  • New Super Mario Bros. (DS) *
  • Ninja Gaiden (NES) *
  • Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of (NES) *
  • Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of (NES) *
  • Pilotwings (SNES) *
  • Punch-Out!!* feat. Mr. Dream (NES)
  • Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii) Wii Remote
  • Salamander (TG-16)
  • Star Fox 64 (N64) *
  • StarTropics (NES) *
  • Stinger (NES) *
  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (SNES) *
  • Super Mario Advance:
      Super Mario Bros. 2 (GBA)
  • Super Mario Advance 2:
      Super Mario World (GBA)
  • Super Mario Advance 3:
      Yoshi's Island (GBA)
  • Super Mario Advance 4:
      Super Mario Bros. 3 (GBA)
  • Super Mario Bros. (NES) *
  • Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (NES)
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) *
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) *
  • Super Mario World (SNES) *
  • Super Mario 64 (N64) *
  • Super Mario 64 DS (DS)
  • Super Metroid (SNES) *
  • Vs. Excitebike (NES/Famicom Disk) *
  • Wario Land 4 (GBA)
  • WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! (GBA)
  • WarioWare: Touched! (DS)
  • Wave Race 64 (N64) *
  • Yoshi (NES)
  • Yoshi's Island DS (DS)
  • Yoshi's Story (N64) *
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) *
Wii U Virtual Console Breakdown (65 games)

Nintendo (NES) = 23 
TurboGrafx-16 (
TG-16) = 2 
Super Nintendo (
SNES) = 12 
Nintendo 64 (
N64) = 8 
Game Boy Advance (
GBA) = 15 
Nintendo DS (
DS) = 4 
Wii (
Wii) = 1 

NES Remix Pack (Wii U) box art
The following bulleted points are some random notes and thoughts about the Wii U. In the list, you will find information about the system and games that I could not place anywhere else.
  • Just like with Wii, my most played Wii U game was a music game: Guitar Hero Live. Unlike Rock Band, however, I played it mostly solo and online (GHTV).
  • As a launch game for Wii U in November 2012, New Super Mario Bros. U was rightly criticized for being, well, more of the same, except in HD. In hindsight, I would say that this is a very, very good 2D Mario entry -- and surprisingly challenging (unless stockpiling 1-UPs). In my humble opinion, New Super Mario Bros. Wii will always rate higher, as it was the original widescreen, multiplayer Mario game and had cooler power-ups (Propeller Mario > Flying Squirrel Mario). Still glad the U edition got the Deluxe treatment on Switch, though.
  • Super Mario 3D World, the Wii U's other big Mario game, was a fresh take on the Mario franchise with its fixed 3/4 overhead perspective, more cooperative pacing, fun power-ups (Cat Mario, cherries), and rather clever levels. I did not love it, though, because you do not get enough time, the levels seem too short, and jumping feels imprecise at times. The multiplayer "leash" also seems more restrictive compared to the New Super Mario Bros. series. I wanted to love this game, but I just...cannot love it. Fun, but not an all-time great.
  • Thanks to Nintendo's Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign -- which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Famicom with $0.30 games in 2013 -- I downloaded a few Virtual Console games (e.g., Yoshi, Kirby's Adventure) that I never would have purchased otherwise.
  • Also, I decided to download and purchase (again) the classic Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games for the Wii U because of the Off-TV Play compatibility and because the Wii U has a more convenient HDMI connection to the TV.
  • Hindsight and 2020: For all the odd, crazy, and bad things that happened in the Year 2020, I also marked this strange year by playing a bunch of Wii U, including LEGO Jurassic World and Tank! Tank! Tank! with my young kids, and by purchasing a brand-new physical release: Shakedown: Hawaii (Standard Edition).
  • In retrospect, Wii U's Off-TV Play mode was cooler than we originally thought.
Last Updated: January 14, 2022
Copyright © Scott McCall. All Rights Reserved.  ™ and © for all products, characters, and indicia related thereto which are contained herein are owned by the companies who market or license those products.
** indicates Off-TV Play is NOT supported
* indicates a game I also own on cartridge
** indicates Off-TV Play is NOT supported
[MP] requires Wii MotionPlus accessory