Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The 21 Best Wii U eShop Games Released So Far

A companion piece to my list of the best Nintendo 3DS eShop games, it's time to tackle the Wii U's veritable treasure trove of digital gaming delights with a list of the 21 best Wii U eShop games that are currently out there. From platformers, a popular genre for both Wii U fans and indies, to puzzle games, there's plenty for any discerning Wii U owner looking for something new to play that won't burn a hole in their wallet simultaneously.

21) Paper Monsters Recut

We start together on our stroll through the Wii U eShop's best with a colorful platformer, Paper Monsters Recut. Enemies, objects, and obstacles are made out of paper and cardboard, bestowing upon the game a very pleasant and pleasing-to-the-eye aesthetic. The level design offers plenty of challenges for players to overcome and charming design. While the weak point of the game is in its boss battles, the overall package is one that should delight platforming fans of all ages.

20) Chariot

A 2D platformer with a twist, Chariot has you pulling around the coffin of the King, using the coffin as a platform to reach higher places, riding it for faster travel, pulling it up cliff faces, and doing lots of rope-pulling to move the coffin around. The game is quite a challenge, though not so much at first. It is especially difficult to acquire all of the bonus goodies in the game. Difficult, but a fair challenge that will put your pulling, pushing, and platforming prowess to the ultimate test!

19) Spy Chameleon

Spy Chameleon came out of nowhere to surprise me when I originally played it. It has you maneuvering the eponymous chameleon through levels, attempting to avoid detection by enemies, spotlights, and cameras. To do this, you must use the special camouflage ability of the chameleon to blend in with the floor you're currently stepping on. Many times you'll find yourself frantically switching colors one after another to stay undetected. Spy Chameleon features clever level and puzzle design, plenty of replay value, and a low cost of entry.

18) Nano Assault Neo

Shin'en Multimedia is set to debut footage of the team's latest Wii U eShop game around E3 time, FAST Racing Neo. In fact, a handful of new screens was shared today. That said, let's look back at one of Shin'en's first Wii U eShop games with Nano Assault Neo. Unlike the Nintendo 3DS game, Nano Assault EX, Neo simply has levels where you traverse over microscopic vessels, destroying enemies with a twin stick setup. It's more of a high score affair than the more story-driven adventure of the 3DS game. Nonetheless, if you're craving some tight and intense twin stick shooting action, Nano Assault Neo on the Wii U is a novel choice.

17) Affordable Space Adventures

If I were to update my list of Wii U games that best use the GamePad controller, a new game to add to that ever-growing list would be Affordable Space Adventures, an indie pursuit showing that there are still some developers out there who can put the Wii U's controller to good use. Controlling your space ship with a variety of doodads is a breeze thanks to the Wii U GamePad's screen. Few games have brought such innovation from the GamePad that gamers like myself dreamed of when Nintendo first unveiled the controller. Yes, the asking price is a bit high for an eShop-only title at $19.99, but the experiences unleashed on the player that few other games can take credit for make Affordable Space Adventures worth it to me.

16) Mighty Switch Force series

Both Mighty Switch Force games from WayForward have you assuming the role of a police officer, running and gunning your way through levels both linear and nonlinear in search of fugitives. This is all the while being timed. Therefore, you can probably imagine how tense a level can be, especially if you're running and gunning for a best time. The games are both full of complex levels to master, finding the most efficient path to get a record time. Of course, once you find that most efficient path, you still have to have the skill to execute well!

15) Ittle Dew

For those looking a traditional 2D Legend of Zelda-like experience, Ittle Dew is awaiting you. Offering an abundance of dungeons with an even greater number of devilish puzzles and enemies inside them, a nice array of items to utilize, and a wacky script that is oh-so self aware, Ittle Dew is a wonderful take on the Zelda formula. Sure, nothing can truly replace the golden goodness of one of gaming's most respected franchises, but hey, it'll do. (See what I did there? Did you?)

14) Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails

This is an on-rails game-- literally! Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails has you controlling a vessel that moves along rails both straight and curved. You can launch yourself from one rail to another at any time with the simple press of the jump button. You do this while shooting down enemies, avoiding obstacles, and capturing lost kitties. The game found its way to the PlayStation Vita as well, so whichever system you prefer it on, go scram and get this kitty-filled delight!

13) Pushmo World

Pushmo is one of the Nintendo 3DS eShop's greatest games. On the Wii U eShop despite much less competition, the quality of said competition is much greater, I would argue. That said, Pushmo World is only not rated higher as it is an entry in the series that doesn't implement many new changes to shake up the formula like other iterations of the franchise starring Mallo. However, if you crave even more pushing, pulling and jumping to try to reach the top of Pushmo puzzle creations, then Pushmo World has you covered. It's still a great foundation, and Pushmo World doesn't try to fix what isn't broken. A safe release, but still a fun one.

12) OlliOlli 

I remember growing up when Tony Hawk's Pro Skater released. It was my "jam" (as the kids say) for a long time. I loved the series up to American Wasteland, where my love sort of poofed (I don't care if you say "poofed" isn't a word, Google Chrome) out after so much sameness with the franchise and little innovation. OlliOlli is a completely 2D affair, offering an arcade-like experience with ollieing (again, I don't care, Google Chrome), grinding, and performing insane flip and grab tricks while also offering unique per-level challenges to try to complete .It all adds up to an addicting game that takes great skill to master but is easy for anyone to get into.

11) Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones was a timed Wii U exclusive, and now it's available on a variety of storefronts. It's a really cleverly done game with plenty of "son of a gun!" moments, clever puzzles, and a great layering of known skills to solve the puzzles ahead. While the game may have "stealth" in the title, most of the time you're figuring out to progress in the game through obstacles in your way and using different items to their maximum potential. The added bonus of a level creator makes for a game that allows many possible play hours to rack up as you enjoy this delightful puzzle platformer.

10) Elliot Quest

Ittle Dew is a take on traditional Legend of Zelda games with its top-down, overhead perspective. Meanwhile, Elliot Quest is more of a game inspired by Zelda II, seen by many fans as the black sheep of the Zelda series, the CD-I games notwithstanding. You play as Elliot, a boy who as the game progresses gains new items and abilities such as the helpful bombs and double jump. You enter 2D temples, dungeons, caves, towns, and a wide array of outdoor environments to continue your quest within the game. The controls are tight, the level design is superb (nothing I would hate more than having to backtrack over and over again because of poor planning), and the boss fights feature some crazy challenges. Elliot Quest is a grand adventure for young and old.

9) Shantae & the Pirate's Curse

Shantae is back, but no, she isn't back in pog form. (C'mon, that's an old meme anyway.) Shantae returns with a 2D Metroidvania adventure that gives players plenty of gameplay variety other than simply exploring environments obsessively. For instance, one area has you carrying a zombie's head through an obstacle course. Why? Probably because the zombie got a head of himself. *rimshot* But seriously, folks, Shantae's latest release (also available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop) is one that is full of intriguing gameplay, tight controls, and wonderful platforming action.

8) SteamWorld Dig

Dig, baby, dig. SteamWorld Dig is all about digging for treasure-- ores and minerals in this case-- and then returning to the surface to sell them off for goodies. There are myriad caverns to come across that offer you new abilities for successfully solving the puzzles of which they contain. It's a strangely addicting gameplay formula that keeps you coming back for me. SteamWorld Dig recently was part of the Humble Nindie Bundle, a promotion for charity between Nintendo of America and the Humble Bundle, for those who spent more than the average selling price. Even if you missed out on that deal or couldn't take advantage of it due to Nintendo's dreaded region locking, you still owe it to yourself to get SteamWorld Dig and test the game out to see if it's for you.

7) Armillo

A game that reminds me of Nintendo 64-era games (and I don't mean that in a negative way, as if the game has horrid visuals, frame-rate, and camera controls), Armillo has you rolling around as the lead character through an abundance of spherical worlds containing myriad mazes, obstacles, and enemies. The other half of Armillo is composed of several challenging 2D levels, so you're getting both 2D and 3D gaming greatness all in one adorable armadillo-inspired package.

6) Trine series

Platforming, puzzles, and combat are all what the Trine series is about-- though with a focus on the former two rather than the latter. Most of the time your sticking point in Trine: Enchanted Edition or the launch eShop title Trine 2: Director's Cut won't be due to a hard enemy but due to a perplexing puzzle. Trine is all about using the environment to your advantage, interacting with objects or utilizing one of the three heroes's abilities, the Wizard, the Knight, and the Thief. With gorgeous visuals that you can't help but stop to admire, creative levels that feel natural in appearance and design, and plenty to collect for those who aren't simply satisfied in making it to the credits, both Trine games are excellent choices for a Wii U owner. Here's hoping Trine 3 comes the Wii U's way!

5) NES Remix series

Take on miniature challenges within classic Nintendo Entertainment System games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, Kid Icarus and more! Defeat foes, collect coins, bomb a Dodongo, etc. within a limited amount of time to see if you can get a high score. NES Remix 1 and 2 deliver retro gaming goodness while also offering a fresh take on old classics. While not every game in the collection is a winner (I'm looking at you, Golf, Pinball, Wario's Woods, and Ice Climber, for starters) the challenges towards each game is enjoyable enough to attempt to beat. Just realize that you aren't getting full-sized versions of each NES classic-- just quick challenges to beat based off each classic.

4) BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

Thankfully for this next game on my list, playing the game is way more fun than trying to type out its name. Jumping, kicking, sliding and blocking are all actions available to you in this auto-scrolling rhythm based platformer. The game is a blast to play with its immense amount of levels, infectious beats and songs, unlockable content, and vivid and vibrant graphical style. The great thing about Runner 2 is that is eases the player into the game, upping the challenge at a steady and fair pace. I can't help but argue that if there's one version of Runner 2 to get, it's the Wii U eShop version.

3) Toki Tori 2+

Do you like puzzles? Do you like a Metroid-style progression in your puzzle games? Do you like cute baby chickens? Then, Toki Tori 2+ is the game for you. While you have all of the moves available to you at the beginning of the game, Toki Tori 2+ teaches you how to best utilize them so you can reach new areas to explore. Thus, technically you can travel and explore wherever you wish right from the onset of the game. What you get with Toki Tori 2+ is a cute game, but that adorable exterior belies a game that has zero hand-holding and so much potential for you as the player to find large fulfillment in solving how to reach that out-of-the-way platform or that one new area all on your own.

2) Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition was also recently part of the Humble Nindie Bundle. It's quite a treat for those who like the progression of Metroid games. Not only are protagonist Juan's abilities useful in combat (which feels and plays awesomely, by the way), but they are also used to make progress within the game. An uppercut is great to pound some sense into a foe, but it's also great to destroy certain blocks that would otherwise be impossible to pass. Using moves in a chain in either combat or through progression-based platforming challenges makes for a Metroidvania (sorry if you dislike that term) that is too good to pass up.

1) Shovel Knight

Not just the best game on the Wii U eShop, but also the 3DS eShop, and quite possibly on a lot of other digital storefronts it has released on! Shovel Knight hearkens back to a simpler time in gaming, with odes to Mega Man (bosses being similar to Robot Masters), DuckTales (Shovel Knight's ability to bounce off enemies with his shovel like a Pogo stick), Zelda II (2D towns), Super Mario Bros. 3 (the world map) and more. Offering a profusion of levels, achievements, and unlockables, Shovel Knight feels like a retro game but with all of the improvements brought about by modern gaming to create one astounding 2D action-platformer. You done good, Yacht Club Games. You done good.


The order may not be perfect, but all that matters are the games anyway. I'd like to do some honorable mentions which include Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, Dr. Luigi, Art of Balance, among others that didn't quite make this list. There is a lot of good stuff on the Wii U eShop, and hopefully this list helps you find some of it.

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