by Dave Thier

Here’s the thing about the world of video games right now: there are actually three competing consoles. I know! The console war is all about Microsoft’s MSFT +0.61% Xbox One going up against Sony’s Sony’s PS4, about Nathan Drake vs. Master Chief and all that good stuff. But while there’s no denying a certain binary quality to modern consoles, one would do well to remember Nintendo’s Nintendo’s Wii U. Nintendo’s odd little box had a perfectly fine launch back in 2012, but it’s struggled since. During those two years, however, it has built up a solid library of first-party titles and, in its own way, more than justified its asking price. Arguably, even more so than its competition. The gamepad remains a terrible idea, but that hasn’t really held back Nintendo’s development teams.

Nintendo has always followed a software-first strategy, and while the Wii U’s hard/firmware is weird at best, its game library makes up for that. So in keeping with Nintendo’s philosophy, Wii U’s five best reasons are all games — there are other reasons to get a Wii U, of course, but that’s where the focus lies today. Check out five reasons for the PS4 from yesterday and five reasons for the Xbox One from the day before.


Mario Kart 8:

Oh, Mario Kart: king of kart racers, ever young, ever changing, and always one of the most fun racing experiences to be had anywhere. The insane world of flying shells and bananas may lack the precision of super-serious racers like Forza, but I’ll take Mario Kart over something with real cars any day. As an added bonus, huge numbers of non-gamers I talk to tell me they “only play Rock Band and Mario Kart,” so this is a good way to get more people in on the action.

You’ll notice a theme here, as we go through: local multiplayer. The Xbox One and Ps4 have more or less surrendered themselves to the world wide web, but Nintendo’s Wii U is an important bastion of couch-based competition, which is more fun anyway.

Super Smash Bros:

Technically, this game isn’t out yet, but we have a very clear idea what it’s going to look like from the 3DS version that’s already on shelves. Nintendo’s brawler has grown considerably since over the years and its extensive roster of first and third-party heroes provide the sort of manic nonsense that provides a much-needed counterpart to the legions of gruff games found on other platforms. Beneath the strangeness rests a fighting game complex and precise enough to have developed a loyal hardcore base.

The potential for eight player multiplayer also makes this what could be one of the more absurd experiences to be had in videogames today. Pick it up in time for the holidays and Christmas break won’t be boring.

 The Next Next Zelda:
Another game that’s yet to hit shelves, but, really, there’s no going wrong with Zelda. Even lackluster entries are head and shoulders above most of the rest of the industry in terms of design, and Nintendo’s E3 presentation showed off a stunning art style. Many people buy Nintendo consoles for Zelda alone, and hope springs eternal that the big N will make something that stands next to or even surpasses some of its defining early works. The concept of an open world could be just what the series needs to truly shine again.

Super Mario 3D World:

In much the same way Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time defined the 3D action game, Super Mario 64 defined the 3D platformer. I trot out this ancient comparison because both games still definitely follow in their ancestor’s footsteps, but hey. Those are some pretty good footsteps to follow in. Super Mario 3D world gives the player the chance to play as any member of Mario’s gang, throwing some new mechanics and twists into the mix even as it stays true to classic gameplay. As with any Nintendo title, it’s the immaculate construction and attention to detail that distinguish this game from the competition.


Bayonetta deserves special mention because, unlike every other game on this list, it’s not made by Nintendo. Third-party developers have largely abandoned the Wii U, and so Bayonetta stands out as a distinctive third-party game unique to Nintendo’s console, and it serves as an important counterbalance to all those other titles. It’s a sexualized third-person combo-based slasher that turns the knob to 11 and spends the rest of its time seeing if there are any numbers after that. It’s not for everyone, but it is definitely for some.

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