The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild appears to be the WiiU’s last breath. It is far from unexpected, but still sad. The WiiU was a marketing misfire from the start, and Nintendo was unable or willing to make the adjustments that could have turned things around for it. Still, while it is impossible to consider it anything other than a failed console, but it is one that I hold near and dear.
The WiiU only lived at all for a little over 4 years, and for the last year or more of that it was only life support. For about three years though, Nintendo put out a run of games as good as they ever have. The WiiU doesn’t have the biggest library, but it definitely has more than its fair share of absolute gems. It’s got Mario games, with the trio of New Super Mario Bros U, Super Luigi U and Super Mario 3D World. Plus, it has the make it yourself magic of Super Mario Maker. All of them are excellent games, evident of Nintendo at the top of their powers as developers. They made nearly every Zelda game playable on the system (I think it only lacks the Gameboy games) and put out strong entries in most of their long running series.
I don’t want to make this just a list of all of the excellent WiiU games, though there are quite a few, but a more general look at why I love this system. The tablet controller might be the albatross that sunk the system, but being able to play games like Wind Waker HD and Assassin’s Creed 3 while other people in the room watched TV was a Godsend. Then there were asymmetrical multiplayer experiences, like those found in NintendoLand and Affordable Space Adventures. The tablet really added a lot of ways to play games that didn’t exist before, if only more developers were able to take advantage of it. Nintendo Land specifically is an overlooked gem. Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros and Super Mario 3D World may be the obvious multiplayer go to games, but playing Mario Chase and Animal Crossing Sweet Day with my brothers are definitely highlights of my time with the system.
I think I’ve captured my thoughts of the games on this system on this blog over the last few years. The ones I found most memorable, outside of the obvious Mario and Zelda choices, were The Wonderful 101 and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. The first is a game unlike any other. It has some shades of other Clover/Platinum game’s like Viewtiful Joe and Bayonetta mixed with some Pikmin and just a touch of Star Fox. It is a singular experience and is reason enough to own the console. It was also kind of divisive upon release, but I would call it a masterpiece. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, on the other hand, is a game like many others. It is a fairly standard 2.5D platformer, albeit one done with uncanny precision. It can be hard, but it is never unfair, it looks and sounds great and it perfectly nails that easy to play hard to master balance. It is one of my favorite platformers of all-time.
Even though the WiiU is officially dead at this point, I am far from done with it. I have a couple dozen more hours of Breath of the Wild ahead of me for starters. Plus, I got Paper Mario Color Splash for Christmas and have barely started on it. The same goes for Twilight Princess HD and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, both of which I bought last year and have barely started. Finally there’s Hyrule Warriors and Pokken Tournament, one of which I plan to buy and the other I’ll borrow from my brother, but both of them will be played.
I said I didn’t want to make this a list, but I’m about out of things to share about this much loved, by me at least, console and I haven’t mentioned games like Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Star Fox 0, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Pikmin 3, Smash Bros 4, Mario Kart 8 or even breakout hit Splatoon. Other than Affordable Space Adventures I haven’t touched on any of the excellent downloadable games. The WiiU failed, and I can accept that, but it did not fail for lack of quality games. Most consoles would love to have a three year period of output like the WiiU had almost exclusively from Nintendo. The WiiU’s failure is a failure of marketing and a failure by gamers, the system and its games were great.