With the release of Paper Mario: Color Splash last month we have unceremoniously come to the end of an era in gaming. Color Splash marks the last major title to be released for the underappreciated Wii U. Yes, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is slated to be released on the Wii U next year alongside the Nintendo Switch version of the game, but I think for most people Zelda:BOTW will be considered the first great Switch game instead of the last great Wii U game. So as far as big exclusive games go, this is the end.
Color Splash is the latest in a series that started with Super Mario RPG on the SNES before being rebranded Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64. And while this latest game might not reach the heights of that original classic or the critically acclaimed Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, it does stand on its own as a great game and a solid addition to the Wii U library. It features the series trademark art style and hilarious sense of humor, both of which are greater here than they’ve maybe ever been. And while the new card based combat system is a bit uninspired and drags out combat longer than it needs to be, it was an interesting take on the battle system (the special “summon” cards are especially ridiculous).
But as I was taking notes and preparing to write a review of the game, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how it’s another really good game on a system that too few people gave a chance. So I thought this instead might be a good opportunity to remind people of just how many fantastic games the Wii U had, and how I hope some of these games find a home on the Switch so that they aren’t forgotten.
When it comes to the big franchises that Nintendo is known for, the Wii U had you covered. Mario Kart 8 was probably my favorite in the series since Mario Kart 64 and the addition of DLC featuring Animal Crossing, Zelda, and F Zero was a fantastic touch. Super Mario 3D World was also a return to form and combined the fun co-op modes of the recent New Super Mario series with the bright, vibrant worlds of a traditional 3D Mario title. And Super Smash Bros. for Wii U brought an amazing list of new fighters to the acclaimed series, including Mega Man, Ryu, Bayonette and Cloud Strife.
The Wii U also had great sequels to some of Nintendo’s less popular (but still beloved) series. I got to see the return of one of my personal favorite Nintendo franchises with the great Pikmin 3. Fans of hardcore 2D platformers found a serious challenge in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Star Fox Zero brought back everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic flying aces.
On top of relying on their fan favorite series of titles, Nintendo also managed to bring a fair number of original IPs and new ideas to the Wii U. Super Mario Maker brought the dream of creating your own Mario game to life with its fun templates from the series different eras and it featured possibly the best use of the Wii U pad ever. Splatoon managed to do the unthinkable and made me a fan of online shooters. With its amazing art design, quick matches, and the wonderful omission of voice chat (thank you!), they created a fast, fun and welcoming multiplayer game.
While the Wii U had…. lackluster 3rd party support, there were a few exceptions. Bayonetta 2 brought back the outrageous cult classic action series and fans of JRPGs had a few gems to play with Xenoblade Chronicles X and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. A few others like The Wonderful 101, Zombi U and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate also ensured that there was more to play than just Nintendo’s own offerings.
And while it’s true that we never received an exclusive new Zelda titles for the Wii U, we did see HD remasters of both Twilight Princess and (possibly my favorite Zelda title) Wind Waker. The truth is that there are so many great games on the Wii U that’s it’s hard to fit them all into one post. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, Nintendoland, New Super Mario Bros U, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Hyrule Warriors. The list goes on and on.
So while many will look back on the Wii U as a disappointment and a console that didn’t live up to its full potential, I would make the case that the Wii U was still a fabulous console with a library of games that I would put up against any other console today. Hopefully when we look back on it years down the road we’ll be able to appreciate how great it really was.