Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Post-Mortem: My 20 Favorite Wii U Games, Part 2 (#10 - #1)

If you missed part 1, just go ahead and click here.

Otherwise, let's get to it!

10) Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Developer: Bandai Namco, Sora Ltd.
Publisher: Nintendo

At least from the perspective of a pure casual that couldn't care less about hit boxes and one-on-one, final-destination, no-items battles, Smash on Wii U is simply the best game ever released in which you can pitch cute characters from a bunch of different franchises against each other. It's extremely fluid, it's fun to play, it has a huge roster, and it's been the source of countless insane couch-multiplayer gaming moments for me.

The best thing about it: The loud, insane, and extremely funny moments you can have with friends are just priceless.

The worst thing about it: Probably the name. Was it that hard to think of another cool synonym for 'fight'? Or just just plop a number there and be done with it?


9) Pikmin 3
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Shigeru Miyamoto's pet franchise is an excellent take on the real-time strategy genre. In its third iteration, it offers three diminutive astronauts to guide through huge explorable sections of a world that may just be Earth after humanity went extinct. The titular creatures are beyond adorable, and it's sort of gut-wrenching every time one of them die in the name of resource-gathering and puzzle-solving.

The best thing about it: The game has an adorable-yet-melancholy quality that makes it really easy to get attached to.

The worst thing about it: Maybe it's just me, but I'd die for a Pikmin that's a huge, seamless open world with survival elements. I guess the worst thing I can say about Pikmin 3 is that it isn't that.


8) Shovel Knight
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games

A veritable amalgam of excellent ideas from the 8-bit era, Yacht Club's debut succeeds largely because its designers really understand what made those old games so fun. This is platforming at its most tight, with zero extra fat left to trim, a fair-yet-challenging difficulty level, and tons of secrets to uncover. The two rounds of downloadable content released at time of writing, which are free, excellent, and essentially tripled the base game's lenght, certainly help make this one of the most essential platforming games ever released.

The best thing about it: Pure, fun creative platforming just doesn't get a lot tighter than this.

The worst thing about it: The usefulness of the weapons you get along the way vary greatly, and there are some duds in this regard, but I guess that's true for most games with weapon collecting.


7) Super Mario Maker
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

If you showed this list to a 10-year-old me, this is probably the game that would blow my mind the most. I mean, we get to make our own Mario levels, in a variety of graphical styles, with a helpful and extremely intuitive interface? And we get to share it worldwide, thanks to this thing called 'the internet'? Get out of here!

The best thing about it: Dude, making Mario levels with a Nintendo-curated tool. Childhood dream right there.

The worst thing about it: The fact that we don't get to link stages together online into 'worlds', like every Super Mario Game ever.


6) Axiom Verge
Developer: Thomas Happ Games
Publisher: Thomas Happ Games

Nintendo's Metroid is a much beloved franchise, with good reason - it's one of the very namesakes of the 'metroidvania' genre. Axiom Verge is a sci-fi adventure platformer that certainly follows in the footsteps of Nintendo's classic series, but I'm gonna go ahead and say that, as far as exploration, mechanics, and controls go, Axiom Verge is better than every single Metroid game released thus far. Yes, even Super Metroid. Now now, please stop calling me names. They're called opinions, man.

The best thing about it: The 'pixel disrupting' mechanics are nothing short of a genius idea.

The worst thing about it: You can't see absolutely everything the game has to offer in a single playthrough, which is a long-held pet peeve of mine.


5) Lego City Undercover
Developer: TT Fusion
Publisher: Nintendo, Warner Bros.

I'll never understand why the 3D open world genre usually gets restricted to straight-faced games, and much less so after experiencing this joyful little GTA-for-family-audiences. In this game, Lego City is a thriving metropolis that's an absolute blast to explore, borough by borough, with an insane number of collectibles to find. Add a bunch of silly, tongue-in-cheek movie references and a final mission that's completely indescribable in its utter epicness, and you have a game that should be getting made way more often.

The best thing about it: That's easily the Lego City itself. What a ridiculously fun (and funny) place to be.

The worst thing about it: Load times. They're LONG, but at least they don't come up that often, as the sandbox exploration is completely seamless.


4) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Developer: Retro Studios, Monster Games
Publisher: Nintendo

I just don't think I can use a single paragraph to describe all the perfect, perfect things about the greatest level-based 2D platformer made this century, so I'll just instruct you to find a gameplay of Grassland Groove on youtube, turn the volume way up, and soak in the JOY.

The best thing about it: I have no words for the level design in this game. This guy has a few.

The worst thing about it: No animal buddies except Rambi the Rhino. I mean, come on!


3) Splatoon
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Years down the line, I believe this is gonna be the game Wii U is remembered for. After all, it's a much-requested new triple-A franchise from Nintendo, and it became a true phenomenon, especially in Japan. Shooting ink to cover turf is such a genius idea because it allows even people who aren't very good at precision shooters to actually contribute to a team's victory. The fast-paced, extremely satisfying online gameplay is complemented by a super tight single-player mode, which has an absolutely unforgettable final boss battle.

The best thing about it: I love how accessible Splatoon is. You don't need to be a pro to have TONS of fun in the game's online modes.

The worst thing about it: People will say it's the lack of voice chat, but I have zero interest in that feature. Instead, I'll say it's the lackluster local multiplayer options, something that's being fixed for the Switch sequel.


2) The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Talk about a game that aged well. We've come a long way since people were hating on the cel-shaded graphics of the Gamecube original, and since this HD remake I've been happy to see Wind Waker at or near the top of many best-Zelda lists. Deservedly so, since this is a bright, colorful, epic adventure with a poignant story and an expansive, ridiculously alluring ocean world littered with islands to explore.

The best thing about it: The combination of extremely bright graphics and an ocean-based setting made me feel like I was on an adventure like none else. The insanely good ocean theme helps a ton, too.

The worst thing about it: I do know some people think the dungeons here are too easy, so there's that. (For me, those dungeons feel just right.)


1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Yeah, I know: two Zelda games on top, what a fanboy. But seriously, what do I do when a game (Wind Waker HD) was at the top of my list for an entire console's life cycle, and they finish things by releasing an absolute masterpiece that's possibly my favorite game of all time? That's Breath of the Wild for you: a game of superlatives, a revolution not only for the Zelda franchise, but to open world gaming as a whole. And yes, this means it's gonna be hard for anything else to take this spot years from now, when I do my Switch post-mortem.

The best thing about it: No adventure campaign has ever given this much freedom to the player, and this is because of the climbing mechanic. So I'll go with that, although the overall feel of just wandering around this melancholy, decayed, yet pastoral Hyrule is a close second.

The worst thing about it: I've seen some people complain about the story, or about how the dungeons don't live up to past ones. Here and now, I'll call shenanigans: the story is incredible it is subtle, non-intrusive modus operandi, and the dungeons are among the best things to ever grace a Zelda game. So, what's the worst thing about it? I have no idea. I love the thing to bits. I guess the frame rate could be more stable in some sections, so I'll go with that extremely minor complaint.


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