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
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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 (34 games)
Note: The Wii U can be used and played without the GamePad—that is, unless a game says requires in the lists below. Additionally, if you want to completely turn off the Wii U GamePad while gaming, do the following: 1) Turn on the console, 2) Walk the Wii U GamePad out of range, and 3) Hold down power on the GamePad to turn off the tablet.
** indicates Off-TV Play is NOT supported
[MP] specifies the Wii MotionPlus accessory
α showcases special amiibo compatibility
  • Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!
    • up to 4p co-op on the same screen using the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo (but does NOT support the
      Wii Classic Controller)
  • Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II
    • GamePad allows 2p on separate screens (press & hold the (+) and (-) buttons to disable screen mirroring); also supports Wii U Pro controller, Wii Classic Controller, and Wii Remote/Nunchuk motion controls; Campaign (1p max); Multiplayer > Local (2p separate OR 3-4p split) + CPU bots; Zombies (1-2p only)
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
    • GamePad allows 2p on separate screens (same controller options as BLOPS II); Campaign (1p max); Multiplayer > Local (2p separate OR split; no 3-4p) + bots; Squads (1p or 2p) create custom AI players to play alongside with or against; Extinction (1-2p)
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Trackerα
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Ducktales Remastered
    • requires Wii U GamePad to start; may use Wii U Pro
      controller (but NOT the Wii Classic Controller)
  • Guitar Hero Live **
    • uses GH guitar w/ 6 buttons
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2 - no instruction manual
    • GamePad allows 2 players on separate screens
      (2nd player must use Wiimote; Pro NOT supported)
  • Hyrule Warriors
    • GamePad required (P1) for 2p co-op on separate
      screens (no split screen); P2 may use Wii U Pro
      controller (but NOT the Wii Classic Controller)
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wildα
    • 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 HDα
    • use Wii U GamePad for maps, inventory, and Gyro;
      also supports Pro controller
  • LEGO Jurassic World
    • GamePad allows 2p co-op on separate screens; P2 may
      use Wii U Pro controller (but NOT the Wii Classic Controller)
  • Madden NFL 13
    • Detached: hold (-) button on GamePad for 3 seconds
      before game for Off-TV Play; P2 may use Wii U Pro
      controller (but NOT the Wii Classic Controller);
      separate screens for playcalling
  • Mario Kart 8
    • no Steering Assist like on Switch; multiplayer only
      supports split screen (no Off-TV); supports all
      controllers
  • 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
      (MotionPlus is required for Zelda & Metroid)
  • Planes Fire & Rescue
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only)
  • Pokkén Tournament
    • GamePad required (P1) for 2p on separate screens;
      also supports Wii U Pro controller, Wii Classic
      Controller
      , and HORI Pokken Tournament Pro Pad
  • Rabbids Land **
    • requires Wii U GamePad and only one (1) Wii
      Remote/Nunchuk combo for up to 4 players
  • Shakedown: Hawaii
    • Standard Edition; 1 of 3000 copies made in 2020;
      supports all controllers
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
    • GamePad allows 2+ players on separate screens
      (but also has split screen); supports all controllers
      and 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
  • Star Fox Guardα **
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only) for touchscreen
      while monitoring security camera feeds on the TV
  • Star Fox Zeroα **
    • requires Wii U GamePad (cockpit view) for Gyro motion
      aiming while maneuvering on the TV (vehicle view);
      for Co-op Play, start a level, back out, and then
      re-select the level; P1 uses GamePad to aim and fire weapons (lasers, bombs, charge shots), whereas P2
      uses Pro controller for piloting (tilting, rolling)
  • Super Mario 3D World (NS)
    • Wii U GamePad needed to 100%, incl. Captain Toad
      levels; 4-player mode requires GamePad
  • Super Mario Makerα
    • requires Wii U GamePad (1p only); Downloaded Levels: Play > Course World > Three Bars (+) > Coursebot Coursebot icon
  • Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
    • supports up to 8 players and also supports Wii U Pro controller, Wii Classic Controller, and GameCube (GCN) controller w/ adapter
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
    • GamePad allows 2+ players on separate screens; in
      multiplayer, supports Wii U Pro controller, Wii
      Classic Controller
      , and Wiimote
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
    • includes exclusive Mushroom Battle and Tekken Ball
      modes and Nintendo-themed costumes; also supports
      Wii U Pro controller and Wii Classic Controller
  • Yoshi's Woolly Worldα
    • offers 2p co-op; also supports Wii U Pro controller,
      Wii Classic Controller, and Wiimote; Mellow Mode is
      easier for kids
  • ZombiU **
    • requires Wii U GamePad for real-time management of
      inventory; in multiplayer, P2 may use Wii U Pro controller or Wii Remote/Nunchuk (but NOT the Wii
      Classic Controller
      )
Nintendo eShop Downloads
Wii U Virtual Console Breakdown (74 games)

Nintendo (NES) = 26 
TurboGrafx-16 (
TG-16) = 3 
Super Nintendo (
SNES) = 14 
Nintendo 64 (
N64) = 9 
Game Boy Advance (
GBA) = 17 
Nintendo DS (
DS) = 4 
Wii (
Wii) = 1 


* indicates a game I also own on cartridge
Wii U Downloads (18 games)
  • amiibo tap: Nintendo's Greatest Bitsα
    • At least one amiibo accessory
      is required
  • Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures (NS)
    • original is harder and less polished——but has more AVGN references (death screen quotes, characters not in remaster)
  • Art of Balance
    • uses Wii U GamePad touchscreen or Wii Remote motion controls and up to 5 players w/ GamePad
  • Cake Ninja 3: The Legend Continues
    • supports Wii Remote motion controls as well as the Wii U GamePad touchscreen
  • Dolphin Up
    • supports Wii U Pro controller
  • Dr. Luigi
    • requires Wii U GamePad for P1; Virus Buster uses touchscreen
  • Ducktales Remastered
    • not downloaded; play via physical disc
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
    • up to 4p co-op on the same screen in Tower of Doom (1994) & Shadow over Mystara (1996); supports all controllers
  • Games for Toddlers
    • requires Wii U GamePad (touchscreen)
  • Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (NS)
    • not downloaded to Wii U; play via Switch
  • Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challengeα
    • Mario-series amiibo required (Mini Spek can't access amiibo doors)
  • My First Songs
    • requires P1 to use the Wii U
      GamePad for the microphone;
      P2 may connect a USB microphone
  • New Super Luigi U
    • not downloaded; play via bundle disc
  • Pikmin 3
    • Wii Remote & Nunchuk + GamePad is ideal scheme
  • Pumped BMX + Pro on (NS)
    • not downloaded to Wii U (455 MB)
  • Shovel Knightα (NS)
    • not downloaded to Wii U; play via Switch
  • Star Fox Guard **
    • not downloaded; play via physical disc
  • Wii Sports Club (Bowling and Tennis) [MP]
    • requires Wii U GamePad for some menus and sports, and MotionPlus is required for each Wii Remote
** indicates Off-TV Play is NOT supported
[MP] specifies the Wii MotionPlus accessory
Wii U Virtual Console (74 games)
  • 1080° Snowboarding (N64) *
  • Adventures of Bayou Billy, The (NES) *
  • Axelay (SNES) *
  • Balloon Fight (NES) *
  • Battle Lode Runner (TG-16) 5 players
  • 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)
  • Excitebike 64 (N64)
  • F-Zero (SNES) *
  • F-Zero X (N64) *
  • Game & Watch Gallery 4 (GBA)
  • Hogan's Alley (NES) * Wii Remote
  • Ice Climber (NES) *
  • Konami Krazy Racers (GBA)
  • Kuru Kuru Kururin (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) *
  • Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)
  • 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) ARC on (NS)
  • Star Fox 64 (N64) *
  • StarTropics (NES) *
  • Stinger (NES) *
  • Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (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 (Wii) (NES)
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) *
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) *
  • Super Mario RPG (SNES) *
  • Super Mario World (SNES) *
  • Super Mario 64 (N64) *
  • Super Mario 64 DS (DS)
  • Super Metroid (SNES) *
  • Super Punch-Out!! (SNES)
  • Tecmo Bowl (NES)
  • 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) *
NES Remix Pack (Wii U) box art
Star Fox Zero with Star Fox Guard (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.
Last Updated: September 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.