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10 Wii U games to buy before Nintendo shuts down the eShop

10 Wii U games to buy
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo has something of a troubled history with game preservation, and buying older games from the Big N is about to become even more difficult. In March 2023, Nintendo will shut down the 3DS and Wii U eShops, making it impossible to buy digital games for those two consoles. You’ll still be able to redownload content you already own, and you can always buy physical copies. But if you want to build your digital collection, your window of opportunity to do so is rapidly closing.

Unlike the 3DS, the Wii U doesn’t have that many killer exclusive titles. Some of its best games, such as Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors, made their way to the Switch, and we expect that some more ports may follow over the next few years. Still, if you have a Wii U, you should consider grabbing these titles while you still can. They’re not all world-class games, but some of them, you simply can’t find anywhere else.

Game & Wario

10 Wii U games to buy: Game & Wario

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Game & Wario is another one of those “hedge your bets” titles. It’s not the best game in the WarioWare series, but it will probably never get a re-release on another system. That’s because each one of the 16 minigames requires the idiosyncratic Wii U GamePad to run properly. The game was initially supposed to be a preinstalled tech demo, but Nintendo reworked it into a full release instead, which probably explains a lot about the title’s strengths and weaknesses. If nothing else, it’s a great way to showcase what makes the Wii U unique, which will be a great conversation starter a few years down the line. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

10 Wii U games to buy: Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

(Image credit: Nintendo)

A sequel to Kirby: Canvas Curse on the Nintendo DS, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a lightweight and charming platformer starring everyone’s favorite hungry pink blob. Unlike most Kirby games, you can’t control Kirby directly in this one, moving him from place to place by drawing rainbow tracks with the Wii U GamePad. It’s lightweight stuff, but it’s executed well, particularly if you have an affinity for the title character. There’s no indication that Nintendo plans to re-release this game anywhere, so you’ll want to download it while you still can. Physical copies of the game are already a little pricey, and that’s not likely to change. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

Metroid Prime Trilogy

10 Wii U games to buy: Metroid Prime Trilogy

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Perhaps some of my favorite games of all time — right up there with the Dark Souls/Bloodborne franchise — the legendary Metroid Prime Trilogy is a must-play for fans of eerie, solo adventuring. The first-person Metroid Prime games perfectly capture the lonely feeling of the old Metroid games, but this time, you’re looking through Samus’ eyes and wielding her powerful arm cannon with a Wiimote. Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes released on the Gamecube, while Metroid Prime 3: Corruption came out on the Wii. Nintendo later updated the first two with motion controls and packaged the whole trilogy together for a release on the Wii. And you can play it on the Wii U. Since we may never get the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Switch, you should absolutely get this collection of games before the eShop shuts down. Trust me, these games are masterpieces in world building and design, and I can’t wait to see Metroid Prime 4 whenever that finally materializes. First-person metroidvanias are still a rarity even 20 years after Metroid Prime’s release, making the three Prime games practically timeless classics. — Jordan Palmer

Available on other platforms: Wii

Paper Mario: Color Splash

10 Wii U games to buy: Paper Mario

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Paper Mario: Color Splash is probably not a highwater mark for the series, with a repetitive combat system and gimmicky gameplay. Still, the Wii U is the only place you can play this game, making it worth a look from series fans. In this action/RPG, players take control of Mario as he explores Prisma Island and collects colorful cards that dictate his actions in battle. While the gameplay is a mixed bag, Paper Mario: Color Splash is a gorgeous game with a good sense of humor, so that should help it go down a little easier. I’d give even odds on an eventual Switch port. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

Splatoon

10 Wii U games to buy: Splatoon

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With Splatoon, Nintendo demonstrated that nonviolent games can make a splash in the esports scene. In this game, you play as an Inkling: a half-kid, half-squid who lives to hurl paint around. This chaotic game is part paintball and part aquathlon race, as you try to cover a whole battlefield in paint, swimming through paint puddles as you go. There’s also a single-player campaign, which will show you the ropes and introduce you to the off-kilter world of the Inklings. While Splatoon 2 arguably does this concept better, and Splatoon 3 is on the way, the original game is still a Wii U exclusive, which makes it worth checking out. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

Star Fox Guard

10 Wii U games to buy: Star Fox Guard

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Wii U had a traditional Star Fox title in the form of Star Fox Zero. By and large, gamers hated it, railing against its uninspired level design and hostile controls. However, the game came bundled with Star Fox Guard: an unassuming little tower defense title, which made good use of the Wii U GamePad to keep track of the action. It’s not a perfect game — the gameplay is a little bare-bones and gets repetitive over the course of 100 levels. But it’s a decent little timesink, and easily the better of the two Star Fox games on the Wii U. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

10 Wii U games to buy: Super Smash Bros

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Super Smash Bros. Wii U is one of those titles that you don’t strictly need, because its Switch successor has one-upped it in just about every way. However, longtime Super Smash Bros. fans will want to grab Super Smash Bros. Wii U while they still can, because it’s an interesting transitional title. Neither as experimental as Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, nor as comprehensive as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Switch, Super Smash Bros. Wii U struggles to maintain an identity of its own. That’s why, in a few years, I think people are going to want to revisit this one — and you may be one of those people. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

10 Wii U games to buy: Twilight Princess HD

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There’s no shortage of Zelda games on the Nintendo Switch, but for some reason, the Wii U has two excellent ports that the Switch doesn’t. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is precisely what it sounds like, remastering the GameCube/Wii title with better graphics and an updated control scheme. Twilight Princess is arguably one of the more underrated Zelda games, hewing pretty close to the Ocarina of Time formula without the colorful graphics of Wind Waker, or the innovative controls of Skyward Sword. But if you want clever puzzles, tough combat and a striking aesthetic, Twilight Princess is still a good time, particularly in 1080p resolution. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: GameCube, Wii

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

10 Wii U games to buy: Wind Walker HD

(Image credit: Nintendo)

While it sounds inconceivable today, Zelda fans absolutely despised Wind Waker before it came out. They said that the graphics were too cartoonish, and would ruin the dark fantasy vibe that Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask had worked so hard to establish. But then the game came out, and everyone’s tune changed pretty quickly. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD is an upscaled version of the action/adventure classic, with a few quality-of-life enhancements for good measure. This time around, Link takes to the open sea to explore a world of mysterious islands. It’s also one of the more story-driven Zelda titles. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: GameCube

Xenoblade Chronicles X

10 Wii U games to buy: Xenoblade Chronicles X

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Xenoblade Chronicles X is perhaps the single most compelling reason to own a Wii U. This Xenoblade Chronicles spinoff tells a sci-fi story about exploring an alien planet using giant mechs. With a compelling cast of characters, a deep combat system, a complicated story and a gorgeous art style, Xenoblade Chronicles X has everything that Japanese RPG fans look for in a game, and then some. It’s a complex, difficult title, but if you take the time to learn its ins and outs, it’s arguably even more gripping than the core Xenoblade series. Fans have clamored for a Switch port for years, but so far, nothing. — Marshall Honorof

Available on other platforms: N/A

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

With contributions from
  • robertsfutch
    Seems like there is a Switch port of Xenoblade:
    KfjVIQug6_EView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfjVIQug6_E
    Reply