Once again, the end of a year is upon us. As such, I’ll be taking the opportunity to look back at the games I have played on my Wii U this year, and sharing my top ten.
The rules for this top ten are as follows: it had to be released during 2016, Virtual Console re-releases count and most importantly of all, I have to have played it. Both physical and digital titles will be on the list. That probably covers everything, so let’s take a look at my top ten Wii U games of 2016.
10: Paper Mario: Color Splash
We begin this list with a paper-thin plumber’s quest to restore colour to Prism Island. The humour in the game is great, though the battle system not so much. Fortunately, it’s really easy to keep stocked up on Battle Cards, so you should avoid any awkward situations – and you can always rely on Battle Spin which will give you a random Battle Card at the cost of some Coins.
The battles may not be stellar, but solving puzzles to get from one area to the next can be fun – particularly with Thing Cards, which introduce 3D objects into the paper world. Paper Mario also possesses the Cutout ability, which allows him to cut out the background and transcend dimensions to move forward.
Not the best game in the Paper Mario franchise, but it does have its charms.
9: Drill Dozer
The first of two Virtual Console titles on this list is one that was originally released on the GBA. The game puts you in control of a lass called Jill, who pilots a robot called Drill Dozer.
This game is an action platformer, in which you control Jill to defeat the Skullkers and retrieve the Red Diamond. As you might expect from the title, drilling is the order of the day here – you’ll drill through blocks, tighten/loosen screws and fight enemies using your drill.
This Game Freak developed title is a lot of fun, and this Virtual Console release provided a chance for those of us in Europe to play the game for the first time (officially, at least…)
8: Star Fox Zero
Fox McCloud returns, and so does the opportunity to take the cockpit of an Arwing once more. The Arwing isn’t the only vehicle you’ll be controlling – there’s also the Landmaster and Gyrowing. A couple of them also have the ability to transform, too.
The controls were a point of contention for this game, but I managed to adapt to them. The GamePad is required to play this game, and you have to use the gyroscopic controls – this does allow for some precision aiming, though waving around the GamePad may not be to everyone’s taste. It takes a little to adjust to the controls.
7: Picross 3D
Originally a DS title, Picross 3D was re-released on the Wii U Virtual Console this year. I missed out on it first time around, but I’m a big fan of Picross so I decided to buy it this time around.
In Picross, you have to fill in squares in a grid according to numbers that run along the grid’s sides – it may just be one of the most addictive puzzle games out there. Correctly fill in all the correct squares and you’ll get a picture.
In Picross 3D, you have to remove cubes according to numbers to create different objects. There’s slightly more to it than that, but a simple explanation will do for here.
There’s plenty of puzzles to keep you occupied for a while, and it has certainly done that for me ever since it’s Virtual Console release.
6: Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut
A remake of a game that was originally released as DSiWare, this won’t be Shantae’s only appearance on this list…
Anyway, this takes the original DSi game, and makes some improvements whilst also adding some new features. Warping between warp points is much easier, and you also have the addition of Magic Mode. In Magic Mode, Shantae wears a different outfit, takes double damage and her magic consumption is halved. This mode is there to provide a challenge, and there’s also rewards for speed-running or achieving 100% completion.
Shantae retains her signature hair whip attack, and gains access to several transformations that allow her to explore more areas. Transformations can also gain unique abilities, opening up even more places.
5: Axiom Verge
The Wii U probably won’t be getting a new Metroid title any time soon, but Axiom Verge might just be able to scratch that itch. It’s effectively Metroid in all but name, with a scientist exploring to find new items that allow him to progress in previously visited areas. There’s plenty of bosses to fight as well, including one with a rather interesting twist on it.
Something that helps to make Axiom Verge stand out is the Address Disruptor. This item allows you to glitch the world around you, having some rather interesting effects. You can even glitch enemies out, which will change their behaviour. Another item that lets you alter the world around you is the Passcode Tool – finding codes and entering them on the GamePad can grant you all sorts of new abilities.
4: Pokkén Tournament
Pokkén Tournament is what you get when you let the people responsible for the Tekken franchise make a fighting game with Pokémon. Its roster of fighters includes some Pokémon you’d expect – Pikachu and Lucario – and some rather unconventional, such as Chandelure and Suicune.
A roster of 14 Pokémon certainly isn’t the largest number of playable characters I’ve ever seen, but they certainly cover a wide range of styles. It’s more quality over quantity here – a smaller selection of characters means its easier to avoid clone. There are a couple of variations on already existing Pokémon, but they bring their own styles and techniques to the table.
Support Pokémon can be called upon during battle, either boosting or lowering stats, attacking your opponent or even refilling some health – you might be the type of person who can plan a strategy around a Support Pokémon, or maybe you just go for one of the healing ones because you’d much rather ensure you retain as much health as possible.
Pokkén Tournament makes for a fun one-on-one fight, complete with online modes where you can take on players from all over the world and realise that you may not actually be too great at fighting games. Sure is satisfying to claim a victory with someone who’s clearly more experienced than you are, though.
3: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Told you Shantae wouldn’t only be making one appearance on this list, didn’t I? The half-genie returns and once again clashes with the pirate Risky Boots in order to protect the Genie Realm.
Shantae’s first full HD adventure brings back her transformations that were absent in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, and adds some new ones to the mix as well. Monkey, Elephant and Mermaid will be familiar for Shantae veterans, but you’ll also get access to crab, bat and harpy amongst others.
Shantae isn’t the sole playable character in this game, but I won’t say much else about that here so you can find out on your own who else will be playable.
The game’s main theme ‘Dance Through the Danger’, sung by Cristina Vee, is also really good – it certainly makes the introductory level one of my favourite from the entire franchise.
2: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
I’ve always loved the The Legend of Zelda series, so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to find the HD remake of Twilight Princess on this list.
The Wii original gets a graphical upgrade for the Wii U, giving us a brighter colour palette than what we had before – the Wii U version is much easier on the eyes than the Wii version. Though saying that, the differences between the two games aren’t as pronounced as The Wind Waker and The Wind Waker HD.
No Wii Remote swinging required to play this game, either. We’ve got more traditional button controls for this title.
I got a bundle that included a Wolf Link amiibo, which opens up a challenge in the game which offers a reward should you complete it.
As far as adventure games go, The Legend of Zelda will always be my favourite, and revisiting Twilight Princess with a HD sheen was just as fun as playing the game the first time around on the Wii.
1: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
A Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei crossover, though you’d be barely able to tell that with just a casual glance – this game is very much its own beast.
Perhaps the most Japanese game on this list, you take control of Itsuki who works at a talent agency. As such, there’s a whole lot of idol culture going on here – oh, and the fact it’s set in Tokyo probably helps.
Anyways, when you’re not busy helping characters with their careers, you’re venturing into the Idolasphere, usually to rescue people from the entertainment industry.
The Fire Emblem crossover comes from the Mirages – spirits of Fire Emblem heroes who fight alongside the heroes. They’re sort of like Stands, though maybe Personas would be a more accurate way to describe them. The weapon triangle is also taken from Fire Emblem.
The most Japanese of JRPGs, what with idols being balanced with turn-based battles. Even though changes to the story and certain outfits were made, gameplay remains the same and it’s actually a rather good game. Not quite Fire Emblem, not quite Shin Megami Tensei, but still an enjoyable experience overall.