Nintendo's Wii U is now just days away from its November 18th release date (Nov. 20 in the UK), and if you're going to all the trouble of purchasing a Wii U right away, you'll also want to pick up a game or two so you get the most out of your shiny new console. The good news is that over 20 games for the system will hit store shelves on the exact same day. The bad news is that many of these titles don't take advantage of the Wii U's capabilities, and most are direct ports that do little more than turn that fancy touchscreen controller into a map or inventory screen. There are a few potential gems among these, however, and we're here to tell you which games could make the Wii U worth picking up on day one.
5. Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
For the most part, the latest Tekken game has remained largely unchanged from the versions released on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but the Wii U Edition will include some unique content only available on the Wii U.
Players will choose from over 50 eclectic fighters with an array of slick moves and abilities, but a few Nintendo-themed twists have been included this time around. A new "Mushroom Battle" mode will have mushrooms lifted from the Super Mario games randomly appearing in the middle of a fight and granting different powers to whoever touches them. Some will shrink the fighter, some will grow the fighter, and others have powers yet to be revealed.
The GamePad controller will come into play as well, to automatically unleash specific combos just by pressing the touchscreen. Several costumes will also be available to dress up the fighters as Mario, Princess Toadstool, Starfox, and other well-known Nintendo characters. This won't affect gameplay at all, and it's a far cry from a new Smash Bros. game, but you can find out what a fight between a less-cartoony Mario and Luigi might look like.
We gave this fighting game a 9 out of 10 in our review last month, so it's a safe bet this version will bring the same quality gameplay to the Wii U.
4. Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition
If you still haven't played the 2011 smash hit, Batman: Arkham City, then the Wii U version should definitely be on your radar. The original version put players inside the cowl of the Dark Knight and gave him an open world littered with thugs and super-villains to take down, all wrapped up in an engaging storyline. WB Montreal handled the adaptation to the Wii U in place of the original developers, Rocksteady Studios, but the core gameplay appears largely unchanged.
The new Armored Edition throws in all previously released DLC (a bonus story, extra challenge missions, playable Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing characters), adds a "B.A.T." power-up for dealing more damage to foes, and treats the touchscreen controller as if it were the Batcomputer. Aside from showing a game map and swapping inventory items, the GamePad will let players hack computerized locks, scan an area for clues, and guide remote-controlled Batarangs to their targets. Though these new controls certainly take advantage of the Wii U's capabilities, it's hard to say at this point whether they will enhance the feeling of being Gotham's super-sleuth or make the game clumsier to play.
At any rate, with over six millions copies sold and enough "Game of the Year" awards to fill a large bookcase, Batman: Arkham City is worth checking out on any platform.
The standout games on Nintendo's past consoles have usually been kid-friendly fare, but ZombiU could change all that. Ubisoft's new first-person shooter has been tailor-made for the Wii U's GamePad, but with a sizable helping of mature horror.
ZombiU takes place in a modern day London that has been overrun with the undead and tasks the player with simply trying to survive. The GamePad comes into play for just about every task aside from walking around, with the touchscreen acting as a sniper scope, a zombie detector, a map and a door hacker, among other things. Most of the tension will arise from the scarcity of resources to be found, and the game's unique take on death. A single bite from a zombie will end your character's life and respawn you as a new survivor, but without any of the weapons or items you collected earlier. If you want to get your inventory back, you'll have to track down your infected former self and kill them. Some online multiplayer modes will round out the game, with one pitting a group of survivors against a "Zombie King" who actively spawns enemies in the map with the touchscreen.
The game garnered plenty of attention when it was revealed at E3 in June, and Ubisoft certainly found some creative uses for the Wii U's new controller. We'll just have to find out if the GamePad adds to the tense atmosphere or distracts from it.
2. Nintendo Land
Nintendo Land stands out among the other Wii U launch games for being the only title that actually comes bundled with the console itself (provided you purchase the deluxe, 32GB version), which tells us two important things right away. Firstly, Nintendo must believe that this game showcases the Wii U's potential so well, particularly when using the GamePad, that it should just be a given. Secondly, this means Nintendo Land is joining the ranks of instant classics like Wii Sports and Super Mario World, which were also packaged with their respective consoles. It's clear that Nintendo is highly confident that most people buying the Wii U will enjoy this game.
Players will be dropped into a theme park that holds 12 "attractions" (i.e. mini-games) based on past Nintendo franchises, from Donkey Kong to Metroid and more. Most attractions closely resemble their source material but with controls centered around the GamePad's touchscreen or motion controls, which still brings a lot of variety to the table. Like any good party game, all the minigames are designed to be fiercely competitive but easy to pick up and play. Some are single-player only, while others can bring up to five people into the game at once. Many of the multiplayer challenges will involve the four players holding Wii-motes cooperating against the one person with the GamePad.
Anyone wanting to show off their brand new Wii U is going to want Nintendo Land in their game library, since it makes full use of the console's capabilities in a manner that even non-gamers can appreciate. The only reason it's not at the top of this list is because it comes out the same day as ...
1. New Super Mario Bros. U
A game starring Nintendo's star plumber stomping on turtles and smashing bricks as he journeys through different worlds to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser is almost guaranteed to entice gamers from all walks of life. Mario's first foray into HD looks like it will follow the same basic formula, but with a few twists on the gameplay tailored specifically for the Wii U.
Like New Super Mario Bros. Wii before it, this game will allow four players to tackle the levels together, but now a fifth player can join in the action in an entirely different way. In certain modes, one person holding the GamePad can help the others along by tapping the screen to stun enemies, add blocks over deadly pits, hold moving platforms in place, or reveal hidden items. This also marks one title that could easily be played from start to finish using only the GamePad's screen; no need for a television. Additionally, players will be able to bring their own custom Miis into Mario's world as playable characters and communicate with other Miis online.
New Super Mario Bros. U is purported to take several cues from 1990's Super Mario World by having a single map with branching paths to the final showdown with Bowser. Several new power-ups have also been tossed into the mix, such as the Acorn, which turns the character into a flying squirrel, and Baby Yoshis, which can swallow different objects to blow bubbles, light up dark passages, and inflate like a balloon.
Bottom Line: Super Mario games have been among the must-have titles for almost every single Nintendo console since the 1980's, and the latest game seems like no exception.
More to come?
So there you have it. Other high-profile games are set to be released for the Wii U in the next few months as well, but these few should tide over early adopters until then. Plenty of bright ideas for using the GamePad and improved online functions have already shown up, so it will be interesting to see what else game developers can produce with the new hardware. Judging from just these few titles though, Nintendo's console is set to carve out a cozy place for itself in the gaming world.