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The best Wii U games to play in 2023

Here are some games to play on that Wii U you have lying around.

Image credit: VG247

The Wii U was a strange console. The wild success of the original Wii was never going to be an easy act to follow, but it’s pretty plain to see how this oddball console was the foundation of Nintendo’s latest bit of hardware, the Switch.

The Wii U didn’t quite fly off the shelves upon release. It was perceived as lacking power compared to the PS4 and Xbox One, and considering its lineup of games at launch weren’t exactly the best, the writing was on the wall pretty quickly.

However, that's no reason to consign this strange little box and gigantic tablet completely to the history books. The Wii U was home to some stellar titles over the course of its lifespan; some of which fans - including me - are still desperate to see come to the Switch. And let’s not forget that the Wii U was also backwards compatible with all the best Wii games, and the Wii accessories. So, all in all, there’s still plenty of great games to play on that definitely real and not emulated Wii U of yours.

Here is an array of the best Wii U games are to play in 2023.

All release dates listed are the dates the specified game was released on the Wii U.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD + The Wind Waker HD

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Released: 2016 (Twilight Princess HD), 2013 (The Wind Waker HD)

We bundled these two fantastic Wii U games into one entry on this list, because really, you should play them both if you have a Wii U to hand. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD are two games that fans have been dying to see ported over to the Switch, much like Skyward Sword HD, but alas, we’re still waiting.

Twilight Princess is one of the most gorgeous Zelda games out there. | Image credit: Nintendo

Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker are both playable on the GameCube (Twilight Princess is also on the Wii), but if you’re hoping to play the HD remaster of either game, you’ll need a Wii U. So, if you’re an owner of one, consider me incredibly envious of you and your ability to play these games!

The Wind Waker mixed the Zelda formula up by inviting us to explore a group of islands. Like many Zelda titles, this one sees Link trying to rescue his sister from the villainous Ganondorf while in the company of the pirate captain, Tetra.

As for Twilight Princess, you’ll be venturing into an alternate timeline in an attempt to save Hyrule. This time, though, Link lives his anthropomorphic best life by regularly transforming into a wolf on the regular. It’s one of the best Zelda games of all time, and a must-play for Wii U owners. Meanwhile, I’ll continue waiting patiently for that Switch port… It’s about time, Nintendo.

Super Mario Maker

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Released: 2015

Super Mario Maker is an absolute delight, giving players a nifty creation system in which they can conjure up their own side-scrolling Super Mario levels. Sadly, you can no longer upload your creations to the ‘net, but there are millions upon millions of player-created levels still out there to explore.

Create your own side-scrolling Mario levels! | Image credit: Nintendo

Levels are made using Goombas, warp pipes, Power-Up blocks, cannons, and more familiar items, and you can even mess with how they behave, resulting in some wholly unique levels. It’s a real shame that new players can no longer share their creations with the world, but the millions of player-made courses on offer do make up for it, a tad. There’s absolutely no shortage of levels to try out, and you can still take part in the 100 Mario Challenge which sees you, and 100 Lives, take on 100 random player-created levels. It’s quite the gauntlet.

New Super Mario Bros. U

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Released: 2012

New Super Mario Bros. U is the last 2D side-scrolling Mario game we received. That said, Mario fans have Super Mario Bros. Wonder to look forward to later this year! In the meantime, though, it’s well worth revisiting this vibrant platformer.

This one will keep you busy until the release of Super Mario Bros. Wonder. | Image credit: Nintendo

New Super Mario Bros. U follows on from New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. 2 with more of the same gameplay but plenty of new features. You’ll still be platforming your way through blocks and past enemies to reach the flag at the end of each level, but you’ll also be able to mess around with new Power-ups, baby Yoshis, and some all-new game-modes.

Simply put, it is more of the same New Super Mario Bros. gameplay, but there’s no denying that this is something Mario fans can’t get enough of. It’s a tried and tested formula, and this HD iteration is definitely the best New Super Mario Bros. experience to tide you over while waiting for Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

  • Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
  • Released: 2014

You don’t need an introduction to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but I’ll give you one anyway. This fighting game throws some of Nintendo’s best characters - and more - into the arena to beat one another to a pulp.

Battle it out as Bowser, Link, Samus, Mario, Sonic, and so many more. | Image credit: Nintendo, Sora Ltd

As Kirby, you can go about inhaling the likes of Samus, Link, or whoever else you come up against. You can watch Mario and Bowser fight it out in real-time, and most importantly, you can fight against your friends as these characters and show them who’s boss.

Super Smash Bros., in my opinion, has always been best played using a proper gamepad. That said, the Wii U is actually a pretty great way of playing the game. Up to eight players can join in, you can recruit your Miis to battle on your behalf, and all in all, it’s just a great way to mindlessly waste some time with your friends, and favourite characters.

Super Mario 3D World

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
  • Released: 2013

If you’re familiar with Super Mario 3D Land, you’ll already have a grand idea of how Super Mario 3D World plays out. Its gameplay is similar to its predecessor, letting you roam relatively freely while still completing side-scrolling levels, complete with a flag at the end of each.

The Sprixie princesses need rescuing from Bowser! | Image credit: Nintendo

If you’re not familiar with these games, you could think of them as New Super Mario Bros. but in 3D, and they’re great. In Super Mario 3D World, you and friends can play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, and eventually, Rosalina, as you strive to rescue the Sprixie princesses from Bowser. This angry turtle will just never give up kidnapping people and creatures, huh?

It’s got nothing on Super Mario Galaxy, which came later, but it is a great 3D Mario game that gives you that same Super Mario Bros. thrill when completing each level, while also being a fresh reiteration of the Mario formula.

Mario Kart 8

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Released: 2014

The last of the Mario games on this list (yes, I know there’s a lot, but this is the Wii U we’re talking about) is Mario Kart 8. I am, once again, saddened that we still haven’t received a Mario Kart 9 for the Nintendo Switch. Alas, Mario Kart 8 (and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) is pretty good, so I guess we can overlook that for now…

Image credit: Nintendo

We’re used to Mario Kart games building on their predecessors, providing new tracks and features to keep us glued to our karts, and Mario Kart 8 was no different. Mario Kart 8 is where we first saw anti-gravity racing, with some tracks allowing us to drift around walls, ceilings, underwater pipes and more. If you bump into particular items or another player while in these areas, you’ll get a speed boost.

This turns some segments of Mario Kart 8 into a fun bumper-kart rendezvous as you bid to gain as much speed as possible, and makes an already fun formula even more enjoyable.

Mario Kart 8 is also privy to new playable characters, such as Splatoon’s Inklings, and 16 new tracks. This includes Twisted Mansion, Bowser’s Castle, a new Rainbow Road, and Thwomp Ruins as some of the best. Needless to say, if you haven’t already, you should play Mario Kart 8.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Released: 2014

Back in 2014, the Toad species of Mario fame was privy to its own game, with thanks to Super Mario 3D World. The Captain Toad in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is not the same Toad we see in other Mario installments, acting as Peaches loyal aide, but keen fans will spot the Toad we know and love make an appearance here and there…

In this adventure, you get to play as Captain Toad for a change. | Image credit: Nintendo

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker places you in the shoes of Captain Toad, or his companion, Toadette. As either character, you must navigate a range of levels collecting stars while avoiding the perils of the antagonist, Wingo.

It’s more puzzling than platforming, and with Captain Toad being unable to jump beneath the weight of his own backpack, you’ll be spending your time avoiding obstacles and manipulating camera angles to complete these neat little game.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

  • Developer: Retro Studios
  • Released: 2014

That’s enough love for Mario and co. Now, it’s time to give Donkey Kong the attention that he deserves.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer that has you swinging from vines and gobbling bananas as you wade through each level. You’ll be accompanied by companions such as Dixie, Diddy, and Cranky as you go on your adventure to reclaim Donkey Kong Island, and you needn’t do this solo with multiplayer support!

Image credit: Retro Studios

It’s got all the Nintendo charm you’d expect from a Donkey Kong title, and is packed with pretty impressive jungle environments. It’s also been ported to Nintendo Switch if you’d rather play it there, and now I’m wondering where the hell The Wind Waker’s Switch port is again, but anyway…

Pikmin 3

  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Released: 2013

Pikmin 3 graced the Wii U in 2013 after almost a decade of waiting. If you thought we had it rough then, the wait for Pikmin 4 was even longer.

If you’re not already in the midst of trying to rescue Captain Olimar in Pikmin 4, then the good news is that Pikmin 1 to 3 are all available on the Nintendo Switch too. Alas, if you’re hunting for an adorable, plant-sized adventure on the Wii U, Pikmin 3 is just that.

Pikmin 3 is all about commandeering your army of Pikmin in the most efficient way possible.

Like all Pikmin games, you’ll be commandeering a small army of these cute plant-animal hybrids to collect treasure and resources for you. Pikmin 3 in particular sees you and your creatures gathering as much food as possible so that you can protect planet Koppai from famine.

Different Pikmin have different capabilities, and it’s up to you to utilise them all as strategically and efficiently as possible. This is what Pikmin calls the art of ‘dandori’ and honestly, it’s something that could benefit most of us in real life, too.


  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: 2015

Do you like your shooters jovial, colourful, and packed with paint guns? If so, Splatoon will be a real treat for you. In this third-person shooter, you become one of many strange, anthropomorphic squid-like creatures known as Inklings often engaging in what is, simply put, gang wars.

Forget about blood and guts. Splatoon is all about paint splatters and ink. | Image credit: Nintendo

You claim dominance over your turf by splashing ink wherever you can using your arsenal of weapons, including all over your enemies, resulting in one of the most colourful battlegrounds that you’ll find in any shooter game. It’s a relatively simple premise that guarantees a lot of mindless fun, and paint splatters.

The original Splatoon hit the Wii U in 2015, and the good news for Splatoon fans is that two new installments have since arrived for the Nintendo Switch, with this original game also being made available on the console. Voila!

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Released: 2012

If your idea of a good time is hunting and slaying ferocious monsters, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate hit the Wii U in 2012 and provides just that. What’s better is there’s no shortage of content to mess around with, either.

Image credit: Capcom

With over two hundred quests, some epic monsters, and an array of craftable gear, this is one of those games that you can really sink your teeth into. If you find yourself enamoured by Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, you’ll find yourself unable to put the game down, constantly crawling back for more monster-slaying.

Rayman Legends

  • Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Released: 2013

Rayman Legends released on just about everything available back in 2013, and one of those platforms was, of course, the Wii U. This sequel to Rayman Origins comes from Ubisoft Montpellier, and starts out with you exploring an enchanted forest… until you come across some peculiar paintings and are whisked away to the world inside them.

Image credit: Ubisoft Montpellier

And that’s how things kick off. From there on out, you play as Rayman, Globox, Teensies, or Barbara as you navigate your way through this medieval land by running, jumping, and beating up bad guys. As you platform your way through each level, expect secrets, collectables, and all that good stuff, you’ll also be witness to some stunning environments, and plenty of whimsical charm.

Shovel Knight

  • Developer: Yacht Club Games
  • Released: 2014

Shovel Knight is another game that can be played on most platforms, and it’s up there as one of the best Switch games, and best 3DS games, too. So, there really is no denying that Shovel Knight is one of the best platforming games out there.

If you play any non-Nintendo platformer, let it be Shovel Knight. | Image credit: Yacht Club Games

Paying homage to greats such as Mega Man and Castlevania, this platformer features brilliant 8-bit graphics, and sends you on quite the journey. Playing as the eponymous Shovel Knight, wielding his trusty shovel-blade, your goal is to jump and fight your way to being reunited with the beloved Shield Knight.

That’s only one of the campaigns, too. Shovel Knight brags four different campaigns, so you need not worry about the fun being over quickly!


  • Developer: DrinkBox Studios
  • Released: 2016

Severed hit the Wii U in 2016, delivering a game that really utilised the consoles GamePad. In this one, you take on the role of a troubled warrior in a fantastical world. Lost and full of uncertainty, you’ll go on a whimsical, non-linear journey that weaves together the story of her past and her future.

A unique and refreshing game on the Wii U that utilises the GamePad's touchscreen. | Image credit: DrinkBox Studios

Combat is gesture-based, so you’ll be swiping on that touchscreen in a bid to defeat enemies. As you do, you’ll unlock new abilities, uncover secrets, and enthrall yourself in an incredibly haunting, yet wonderful, aesthetic. If you’re hoping for a short, refreshing adventure with unique combat, or fancy simply trying something different for a while, Severed is a must-play on that Wii U of yours.

Bayonetta 2

  • Developer: PlatinumGames
  • Released: 2014

How do you feel about a stylish, often sexy, action-adventure game? One that sees you fighting against both angels and demons? Or, perhaps most importantly, one that lets you summon demons to your aid with the flip of your hair? Well, I hope you’re feeling good about it, because that’s our next entry on this list: Bayonetta 2.

Stylish, silly, and downright fun. | Image credit: PlatinumGames

Described as a game that is “very dumb, therefore amazing” by VG247 editor-in-chief, Dom Peppiatt, Bayonetta 2 is a game full of wacky ideas put into practice. The end result? A game - a full series, even - that is equal parts silly and superb. You’ll experience some brilliant cutscenes, and some even more outstanding fights.

Have you ever fought it out with an angel on top of a speeding train? You will have done it once you’ve played Bayonetta 2, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Released: 2015

On the topic of the wacky yet wonderful, I present you with the completely absurd Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. As an Atlus-developed RPG, this game being a little odd comes as no surprise, but it really is stranger than the likes of Persona, or Fire Emblem, in a good way.

Image credit: Atlus

A brilliant blend of elements from both the Fire Emblem series and Shin Megami Tensei series, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE whisks you away into the vibrant world of modern day Tokyo and teen J-Pop stardom. If you like your dungeon-crawling RPGs with wacky storylines and mid-combat dance acts, then Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, while not for everyone, is a must-play.

Mass Effect 3: Special Edition

  • Developer: BioWare
  • Released: 2012

It’s not Mass Effect 2, but Mass Effect 3 is still a great action RPG to play through on the Wii U, and perhaps one of the prettiest Mass Effect games. You can tailor this space-faring RPG to your playstyle, and unlike Starfield, you can actually romance aliens.

It's not Mass Effect 2, but it is still a fantastic RPG. | Image credit: BioWare

Perhaps one of the best things about Mass Effect 3 is the journey you go on; as Commander Shepherd, you’ll take part in intense combat, make impactful decisions, and might even find yourself quite emotional as you scope out planets and forge connections with the characters that you meet.

If you don’t fancy taking on the story, though, you can mess around with your friends in Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode, Galaxy at War, which sees you cooperating together to take on waves of enemies.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut

  • Developer: Eidos Montreal
  • Released: 2013

For an action-RPG that sees you stealthing around in a cyberpunk environment, check out Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut on the Wii U. This semi open-world game is ideal for any of you who enjoy all that cyberpunk stuff, like transhumanism and class debates, and grants you a level of freedom with it all, too.

Get your cyberpunk fix from Deus Ex Human Revolution. | Image credit: Eidos Montreal

You get to decide which version of Adam Jensen you want to be. Play good cop or bad cop as you navigate this strange world of augmented people, provided you can overlook the aged controls. With that in mind, you can also consider visiting one of the best cyberpunk games and sequel to Human Revolution, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

Some will say that Human Revolution is the better game, with much more impactful choices and story, but if you prefer less jank in your shooters, we recommend Mankind Divided as an alternative.


  • Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Released: 2012

ZombiU is one of the best games for the Wii U. In fact, it’s actually best played on the console because later versions on the PS3, Xbox One, and PC - coined Zombi - were missing the multiplayer and online single-player content.

If your idea of a good time is slaying zombies, ZombiU is all you need. | Image credit: Ubisoft Montpellier

This survival horror video game takes inspiration from Resident Evil, and you can tell. You’ll be wading your way through a zombie apocalypse in the middle of London in a challenging bid to survive, and if you die, that’s it. The permadeath system certainly makes ZombiU frustrating, but in all the right ways; after all, surviving hordes of zombies plaguing Big Ben wouldn’t be a breeze.

For a more mature, horrifying experience on the Wii U console, ZombiU is your best bet.

Resident Evil: Revelations

  • Developer: TOSE
  • Released: 2013

Another mature horror experience on the Wii U, Resident Evil: Revelations actually first arrived on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. In 2013, the HD version of the game arrived on the Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, and this is arguably the better way to experience this rad Resident Evil spin-off.

Play as Jill and Chris in this pretty decent Resi spin-off. | Image credit: Capcom

If you’re a fan of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, Resident Evil: Revelations is a must-play for you. Set shortly after the chaotic events of Resident Evil 4, which saw rookie cop Leon Kennedy rescuing the President of the USA’s daughter, Jill and Chris must work together to put a stop to the bioterrorist organization that is planning to infect the entirety of earth with a virus.

In typical survival horror style, you’ll be slaying enemies and solving puzzles throughout this horrifying adventure. It’s not the best of Resident Evil, but it is still a spooky game with an eerie atmosphere that any Resi fan will know and love. What’s better? You can run through the game with a friend in multiplayer, too.

Honourable Mentions

Lego City: Undercover, Paper Mario Color Splash, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Star Fox Zero, Hyrule Warriors, Pokken Tournament, Guacamelee!, Axiom Verge, Darksiders 2, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, Star Wars Pinball, SteamWorld Dig, Art Academy, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Nintendo Land, Gunman Clive HD Collection

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