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Top 15 Wii games to play on Wii U

A common sleight against the original Wii is that it lacked good games. However, while it’s true that the original Wii lacked almost all the big third party multi-platform games and that its broad popularity lead to huge amounts of bad third-party games, the fact is the machine played host to dozens of fantastic, must-play titles. And since the Wii U is fully backwards compatible, these games will play just fine on the new console.

But this is not simply a list of the top 15 Wii games, it’s a list of Wii games that should be in the collection of any Wii U owner. So what’s the difference? The top Wii games to play on Wii U need to have stood the test of time, they need to look great despite being displayed in standard definition, they need to steer clear of the more obscure or ridiculous Wii peripherals and above all they need to offer a unique and fun experience. Here’s our list of the top 15 Wii games that you should check out on your new Wii U console.

15. No More Heroes

No More HeroesYou may be familiar with the work of developer Suda 51 from such psychedelic journeys as Killer 7Flower, Sun and Rain or Lollipop Chainsaw, but on the Wii, Suda’s auteur mind brought us No More Heroes..

The game centers around otaku hitman Travis, who sprints and leaps between foes dealing bloody vengeance with a beam Katana like a Jedi on an overdose of mescaline. Mowing through fools to a rain of digitized blood and coins while hoping your next spin of the slot machine will transform you into a man-eating tiger is an experience you just can’t get in any other game.

14. Klonoa

KlonoaA remake of the PSX original that was 2.5D before 2.5D was cool, Klonoa offers a still-fresh riff on the side-scrolling platform genre. While the more traditional jump / hover jump mechanic many are familiar with from other games is there, it’s built upon with the ability to grab enemies and throw them in any direction.

The extra height boost gained by tossing an enemy mid-air means every section of the nightmare-infected world you’re traversing becomes a challenge to figure out how to progress and grab all the jewels along the way. The game looks gorgeous on the Wii U and the music is absolutely stellar.

13. Another code: R – A Journey Into Lost Memories

Another CodeAn under-recognized gem, Journey Into Lost Memories is a direct sequel to one of my personal favourite DS games – Another Code: Two Memories. Ashley is having flashbacks to a mother she barely remembers and you’re tasked with uncovering the mystery of her past. The game has an incredible hand-drawn aesthetic, and throughout you’ll be exploring, looking for clues, progressing a convoluted story and using your Wii remote as an all purpose tool to interact with objects in the world.

12. Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure

Zack & WikiWhile its kiddy name and box art might have tricked many into passing it off as yet another Wii shovelware, don’t be fooled (you’re smarter than that!).

This Capcom adventure / puzzle game offers an amazingly unique mechanic — all the animals and enemies in the game can be transformed into useful puzzle-solving objects! Sneak up on a centipede and ring your bell and ‘boom!’ — it’s now a centisaw you can use to cut down a tree. The puzzles here get diabolical but it’s all offset by gorgeous anime-inspired art.

11. Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade ChroniclesWii hosted a decided lack of epic JRPGs, but the ones it had were mostly stunning. Xenoblade Chronicles from Monolith is epic in every sense of the word. The game takes place on the bodies of two enormous titans, and the player is able to traverse the massive world pretty much as they please.

There’s a lot more of an MMO feel to this game compared to traditional JRPGs (although it’s strictly single-player), and the smart combat system, arresting visuals and huge, varied environments make Xenoblade an ideal way to get your JRPG fix on Wii U.

10. Arc Rise Fantasia

Arc Rise FantasiaIf you’re looking for something (very) traditional and turn-based instead, Arc Rise Fantasia may be more up your alley. The game’s complex, gorgeous and just reeks of a SNES or PSX-era RPG, if a little more forgiving by design. The game was pretty divisive at launch — the localization is a little roughshod and if you tire quickly of Tales-style RPGs it may not be for you — but it’s also much beloved for its fresh battle system and simply for being a really solid JRPG on Wii.

9. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

Star SuccessorThe premier shoot-em-up on Wii, Star Successor delivers fast-paced action and the reliable crazy difficulty Treasure is known for. Do you like blowing stuff up and dying repeatedly in a hail of bullets in games like Ikaruga and Bangai-o? If so you’ll probably love Star Successor.

It’s a wild on-rails ride across some pretty amazing environments, set to pumping techno beats and punctuated by some of the craziest and hugest bosses in recent memory.

8. The Last Story

Last StoryHironubu Sakaguchi of Mistwalker Studios is the man responsible for creating the Final Fantasy series, so when he decides to bring an all-new adventure to Wii, you know it’s going to be something special.

Apart from having the most beautiful collector’s edition on the system, The Last Story boasts incredible music, a captivating world to explore, well-defined characters and a few refreshing takes on JRPG staples. This very much feels like an Ivalice Final Fantasy game, albeit with more of an action-RPG focus.

7. Metroid Prime Trilogy

Metroid Prime TrilogyThis is three games rather than one (obviously) but the addition of the two GameCube originals Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to the Wii sequel Metroid Prime 3: Corruption makes for a package every Nintendo fan should have in their collection.

Every game offers a level of polish and precision usually reserved for top-tier first person shooters, but applied to the tried-and-true Metroid formula of exploration and re-exploration. If you can’t get your hands on the collection Prime 3 will do on its own, but you’ll be missing out on two amazing adventures.

6. Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Kirby's Epic YarnKirby games are known for their innovation, but Epic Yarn is the wackiest design of them all. Kirby gets sucked into a magical sock, turning his body into string and the world into patchwork, buttons, felt dinosaurs and more.

Kirby’s trademark sucking attack is gone, replaced with ability to grab and unravel enemies as well as transform into a car, a fire truck and a UFO among others. The imaginative use of the materials stays fresh throughout and this is probably the cutest game available on Wii.

5. Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Country ReturnsIf you, like me, grew up with the stellar platforming and endlessly creative levels of the SNES Donkey Kong Country games (remember the low-gravity pipe level in DKC3?), this is a game you need to own.

Of course Retro is not Rare, but they bring their own style and flare to a gameplay system so familiar to DKC fans that it’s clear the guys who made the game love the series as much as we do. The levels get pretty punishing as they go but are incredibly rewarding and varied, from the silhouette visuals of Sunset Shore to the whale-riding ambience of Blowhole Bound.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Twilight PrincessWhile this is the oldest game on this list and while the Wii hosted a much prettier Zelda adventure towards the end of its lifetime, Twilight Princess still looks, sounds and feels amazing on Wii U. The constant swishing of the Wii remote to attack is a little more jarring now than when it was a novelty, but the game still holds up as one of the greatest adventure titles ever created.

After all this time the prospect of a dark, gritty Hyrule adventure is still a damn enticing one, and this is still an amazing game.

3. Super Paper Mario

Super Paper MarioThere was a point around halfway through Wii’s lifetime that Nintendo realised the true potential of controlling games simply with the controller turned sideways like an NES gamepad, rather than relying on analog sticks or motion control. Super Paper Mario was the proof that a complex, full-featured and incredibly fun game could not only get by with three buttons and a d-pad, but could be one of the most unique and charming games on the system.

The hook in this game is that the world exists as both a 2D sidescroller and a 3D platformer at once, and Mario can shift between the two perspectives to traverse the levels and find secrets. It’s perfectly balanced, boasts indescribable visual flair and in true Paper Mario style is completely hilarious.

2. Super Mario Galaxy 2

Mario Galaxy 2The original Super Mario Galaxy was an absolute revelation, but I haven’t included it on this list because if you’re only going to own one Wii 3D Mario platformer you better make it Galaxy 2. The sequel improved the original in every way: it cut the hub world out entirely, added a greater number of fresh exciting planets to explore with less objectives on each and added some truly delightful powerups including the cloud suit.

If it wasn’t for the lower resolution this game would look somehow right on par with the better looking games currently being released for Wii U, which is a testament to the care and effort EAD put into every aspect of Galaxy 2. The orchestrated soundtrack is amazing and the worlds are lush and filled with exciting, uniquely Mario secrets to uncover. If you own a Wii or Wii U and do not have this game you are committing a heinous crime. Correct it now.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Skyward SwordIn many ways the timing of Skyward Sword‘s release was very unfortunate. The Wii was all but finished in the eyes of many and there were very few gamers left who hadn’t become disenchanted with the system after a long and desperate dry patch. The upside of the timing though is that Skyward Sword is the product of many years worth of discovering what did and did not work for the system. As a result the game’s graphics, controls, interface and structure are all finely tuned to fit the Wii absolutely.

No more swishing the remote to swing a sword or pointing your whole arm at the screen to select an item, Skyward Sword uses the Wii motion plus to deliver easy and intuitive control over everything in the game. Beyond that, this is a masterful Zelda game you can easily sink hours into. This game is the culmination of everything that came before it on Wii, and if you’re only going to try one Wii game on Wii U it should be this.

That’s our list of Wii games you should check out on the Wii U. Especially if you never owned a Wii console and you’re just getting into it with the Wii U.

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  • Leeroy

    The thing is still covering some articles but not others! Please fix!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MrWillMontgomery William Montgomery III

    Good list, dig the site :)

  • Myles Rodriguez

    HOW DARE YOU NOT PUT ON THE ORIGINAL GALAXY! Galaxy 2 was no where NEAR as good as the first one!

    • Nintedward-3DS-WiiU

      It was better. It just didn’t bring the bacon to the table in the same manor Galaxy 1 did….

      How could you leave out 100 wii games that I liked ? xD 

      The wii is Underated and gets unfair criticism because it was SD. So many great , Amazing games on the system….

      • MujuraNoKamen

         Damn straight, games like Metroid prime trilogy and Skyward Sword (and many many more) are way more hardcore than the overblown FPS rehashes that steal the spotlight on other systems, I recognise many faults with the console but I love my Wii and it has provided some of the greatest gaming experiences I’ve ever known. it’s such a shame they’ve almost all been sidelined for other things that simply aren’t quite as good, say what you like about hardware issues, lack of online and shovelware, it definatley gave us some of the best game of this generation and of all time.

  • http://twitter.com/jackdanisFTW John

    No okami? WHHHAAAT????

    • Johny

      WHWHAT??

  • http://twitter.com/jackdanisFTW John

    NO OKAMI???/ WHAT?!?!?!??!

  • LANCELOT995

    where the conduit that was the best shooting game for wii

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      Imagine Babysitters was the best babysitting game for Wii but that isn’t on the list either.

  • Graham Gillman

    Wow… There are so many games that are better than titles like 
    Another code: R – A Journey Into Lost Memories
    such as Okami, and Rayman Origins.

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      Both great games, but both are much better on other HD consoles. I wouldn’t recommend people go buy them on Wii just so they can play them on Wii U. Another Code is something only possible / only available on Wii.

  • clivemax

    I know this is your list, but some of the game choices are questionable when there are some much better games on Wii.

  • Dominic Coradazzi

    Not a bad list, it’s got most of the major games I would want there and some games I keep hearing good things about but can’t seem to get my hands on.
    Though I would add Okami and Punch-Out.

  • Zach Albright

    I agree with the # 1 choice. Lol

  • Kirbyomega

    Super…. Super Smash Bros? Let me just make sure that’s not in there… No… It’s not… HOW COULD YOU!! Props on including Epic Yarn though..

    • Captain Falcon

      Majority of Smash players prefer the GC controller

      • Kirbyomega

        Ehh, I’m a nunchucker XD

        • Captain Falcon

          I played with the Nunchucks. The only major change I’ve done with the controller is to change the D-Pad to use Smash Attacks and you’ve got yourself a C-Stick from the GC controller.

          • Kirbyomega

            That’s what I did! And also I made A+B a jump so I can still pull off the thing with Pit, Charizard and Metaknight, and I made the c button a grab ^-^

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      As Falcon says, lack of GC controller is a huge thing. Personally I don’t mind the classic controller, but playing on Wii U means you need a whole bunch of wii remotes, nunchucks, classic controllers etc lying around if you want to play three or four players. Plus I don’t feel Wii U is going to suffer from lack of fun competitive multiplayer :)

  • xdlugia

    What about Sonic Colors? Brilliant visuals!

  • SoulSilverZero

    WHERE THE HELL IS KIRBY’S RETURN TO DREAMLAND, TATSUNOKO VS CAPCOM, WARIO WARE SMOOTH MOVES, AND MADWORLD?

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      THEY’RE NOT THE HELL ON THIS LIST :)

      Kirby: I really liked it, but it’s a bit samey and I think people who would be into it are better off sticking to NSMBU – it’s in HD and is a bit slicker.

      TvC: Not really an arcade fighting fan, that’s just personal preference. Plus, again, there will be plenty of HD alternatives on Wii U.

      Smooth moves: I feel it runs a bit thin now that the Wii remote is old tech. Maybe that’s just me.

      Madworld: That game was just straight up boring.

  • Nintedward-3DS-WiiU

    Loving the new writers of this site , as I did the old/regular ones. Keep it up guys . Your site rocks! 

  • Henry Hotspur

    No Muramasa? Son, I am disappoint.

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      I never played it :(. It’s a shame I live with every day.

      • Johny

        should of had man :) should of had. the game plays, looks, sounds amazing. and for me its an overall masterpiece. ‘sigh’ yeah its a shame wii is such an underrated console. it jus has SOOO many masterpiece of games… i have no words fo it..(i know you’re sick of these ‘WHERE’S _____’ but sryously… why not for so many reasons include monster hunter 3 :D)

        • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

          Ah, well monster hunter 3 is soon to have an ultimate edition on Wii U. It would suck to get into such an awesome game only have have an even better version of the game come out :).

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/MUYVHD3ZY7LKTP2IDRNFOSFTKQ Perry

            How much I agree can not be measured.
            Monster Hunter really is the most engaging experience I’ve played on my Wii, but as 3 Ultimate is just around the corner and the Tri servers will shut down shortly after, it’s harder to recommend Tri even as it hits bargin basement pricing.

            Muramasa was so beautiful that a few years ago when the cable guy came to fix our internet, he thought I was playing a PS3.

            Smooth Moves is still my go to game for Wacky Fun that really shows off what the Wii remote can do.

            TvC offers a simple structure that is easy to jump into and I would call an excellent intro or reintroduction into Capcom fighters now while providing all the depth of it’s big brothers all while offering a roster of characters who over half of which are not available in any other game.

  • Doctor Pancakes

    Deadly Creatures? 

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      I loved deadly creatures! Truth be told though the visuals were real rough even on Wii and some of the motion stuff only worked half the time, so I wouldn’t really recommend it to somebody who’s looking for games to play on their shiny new console. Amazing game though.

  • ipaxton

    Well at least you got Mario Galaxy 2 on that list which I’m picking up tomorrow :)

  • Johny

    cmon now guys… just stop with this countless ‘WHERE’S________’ . wii has TOO many awesomely amazing games to make a list of only 10. we all know it, and the guy making this article had it very difficult, but he did a great job :)

  • http://www.mpt-online.eu/ Sylux

    Omfg no Tales of Symphonia? Heheh just kidding I agree with most people there are waaaay to many great games on Wii (wii is so underrated by the majority)which could be played on the WiiU. But still NO TALES OF SYMPHONIA AAAARRRGHHHHH. O well my list would be pretty similair, would drop a few here and there and add my own, plus my list probably would even then be three times as long ;)

  • ElCharlo

    Actually Retro is made from ex DKC ex designers so that´s why they asked that project  Its a TRUE DKC game

  • Mickey Mouse

    The only games I’ve played are the 2 Mario’s, 2 Zelda’s and Epic Yarn, the others are boring Japanese rpg’s and so on. I’m currently playing LEGO Lord of the Rings on Wii on my Wii U.

  • TrueWiiMaster

    I own 11/15.  Not bad, especially since I don’t think Another Code is available in my region.  I still gotta get Last Story and Arc Rise Fantasia at some point, and I don’t really want No More Heroes (it’s too dirty for my taste).

    Klonoa’s a surprisingly good game.  I just played it earlier this year, and while the game was far too easy most of the time, it’s worth playing just to see the ending, and especially to unlock the punishing last level (which was my favorite part of the game).  Even so, I wouldn’t put it in the 15 must play Wii games.  I’d sooner fill that slot with Punch Out!, Excitebots, NSMBWii, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, Brawl, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Monster Hunter, and so on.

  • Alvaro Castañeda

    Seriously? Twilight Princess in #4???? It should be number ONE!!! I do love Zelda games and Skyward Sword is a great game but I really prefer million times Twilight Princess!!! Its darker, more realistic, simply better!!!

  • MetroidZero

    It is SO hard to find Metroid Trilogy…ugh! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/Gaylog Tristan Lynn Ballog

      If you shop online it’s easy to find. I saw it on Amazon.

  • WarioForever

    Well, list is ok, but Skyward Sword better than Twilight Princess? Man, you disappointed me…

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      Not saying Skyward Sword is better, but technically it’s so much more refined. So if the question is “which is the better game?” you may have a point, but the question is “which Wii games are best on Wii U?” TP’s swish to hit controls feel sooooo old right now, the Wii remote microphone stuff sucks, the pointer stuff is annoying and the visuals are great but obviously old.

  • Sidney Majurie

    Wow, I own all of those games except Arc(not a big traditional RPG fan) Guess I know what games to buy when I buy a console :D

  • Master RD

    It just so happens I brought of three of those games with me, and have been replaying them! When I got the Wii U at launch I was too eager…and  I didn’t system transfer. Anyways, glad I didn’t! I’ve been replaying them, and having loads of fun! The Wii wasn’t a bad system, no one could really make a game for it like Nintendo! Merry Christmas everyone! Now how about making the next console title in the Toon Link series *cough* *cough* sequel to Spirit Tracks. 

  • http://twitter.com/rhainorshine rhainorshine

    Thank you so much for this article. I haven’t had the time and money for much gaming since the original Legend of Zelda, but the Wii U convinced me to jump back in. I really appreciate both the list and the commentary for suggestions on catching up. 

  • Jorge Ortega Espinosa

    I think the Trauma Center series shuold absolutely be on this list. Apart from all the great nintendo titles, Trauma Center is one of the great reminders of why the Wii provided with a unique experience, and why some games shouldn’t (or couldn’t) be played in any other way.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KEWQXPOFIZ5N2XS233ATTC45Q4 Paul_Bearer88

    I love No More Heroes just as much as the next guy, probably more actually because Suda 51 is my favorite game developer, but No More Heroes 2 was leaps and bounds ahead of the original. I really enjoy this list though, and I DID go buy a few of these games the other day because Wii games are crazy on sale right now.

  • Celtics_For_Life

    third party pro controller with smash bros would be epic

  • Kyle Berger

    goldeneye, super Mario bros wii, super Mario galaxy

  • http://twitter.com/EatMyVennem Dustin

    I already ordered for the Wii LoZ games, now I have to work on getting Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. All in all, I’m stoked! I feel like a kid again..it’s pretty rad, guys. I won’t lie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.g.grippi Andrea Giovanni Grippi

    what about…Okami!?