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The 25 Best Wii U Games (Top 25)

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Though the Wii U never achieved the popularity Nintendo had hoped for in the successor to one of the best-selling consoles of all time, those few who gave this quirky console and its touchscreen gamepad controller a chance were rewarded with some of the best and most unique games of the generation. While quantity was always a problem, quality rarely was, from first-party offerings that often were the pinnacle of their respective franchises, to the incredible creativity displayed by indie developers in exploring new ways to play games.

History will likely look back fondly upon Nintendo’s charming but flawed experiment, as when it comes to actual gaming, the system was home to some truly fantastic experiences. To that end the staff here at Goomba Stomp has voted on and compiled a list of the 25 Best Wii U Games. Enjoy!

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25. Affordable Space Adventures

While most developers, including Nintendo itself, struggled to capitalize on the potential of the gamepad to create unique gaming experiences, a small company based in Denmark managed to make it look easy. Knapnok Games’ collaboration with Nicklas Nygren (better known as Nifflas) produced not only one of the Wii U’s best games in Affordable Space Adventures, but one that it’s hard to imagine would be as enjoyable played on anything else. Taking control of a recently wrecked spacecraft after an intergalactic tourism incident gone horribly wrong, players must navigate an alien world by solving physics-based puzzles, all while avoiding the dangerous denizens awakened by the intrusion. The trick to surviving is the proper management of the ship’s various systems, from the engines and anti-gravity to a small searchlight and scanner. These contraptions all emit different levels of noise, heat, and electricity, elements that alert the mechanized threats to the ship’s location, the result of which usually equals fiery destruction.

The gamepad becomes the onboard computer at the helm, slowly booting up new functions as they come online and controllable via the touchscreen. Juggling these systems to preserve functionality while decreasing the desired output enough to slip by sentries undetected is where the challenge comes in, as everything happens in real time, and adjustments must be made on the fly. It’s both intuitive and immersive, making players feel like they’ve actually got their hands on the vehicle’s interface, with little details, like a cracked screen occasionally glitching, sci-fi bleeps and bloops emanating from the gamepad speakers, and ever-changing meters only adding to the ambiance. This free-flowing scheme would be difficult to implement elsewhere without necessitating pauses, or inserting a UI that intrudes so heavily into the beautiful otherworldly imagery up on the TV screen that the illusion would be shattered, and Affordable Space Adventures casts an absorbing spell. The mystery behind both the planet and the shady, yet cheerfully optimistic, travel agency responsible for the game’s events is entertaining satire concisely told, culminating in one of the most inventive uses for the Miiverse yet. It’s a mesmerizing trip from start to finish, made possible by clever puzzles, an engrossing design, and unique controls only found on the Wii U. (Patrick Murphy)

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24. Severed

True to its name, numerous body parts will be separated and strewn across the stark, ancient netherworld of Drinkbox Studios’ Severed, but despite the vicious sword slashing at the heart of the gameplay, it’s the Zelda-like dungeons and haunting atmosphere that lingers long after playing. The Mexican/Central American-inspired visuals stand out stunningly, like a pastel pop-up storybook, and the somber tones of a young woman seeking both rescue and revenge offer a distinct vibe that is never less than absorbing. The story is told mostly through imagery instead of exposition, playing out more like a beautiful nightmare than a straight narrative, and this open-ended, mysterious method is quite effective. Exploring the sadly colorful world, full of dense woods and cavernous ruins, covered in symbols and grotesque monsters, the hero slowly learns her place in this tale, but interpreting for oneself the meaning of the events that unfold is what makes Severed‘s story truly engaging.

That and the limb-detaching hacking and slashing, of course. Swiping the stylus across the gamepad touchscreen simulates a sword swing, with both direction and length being significant factors. Short bursts can produce a series of small lacerations, while longer strokes create deep gashes that deliver more damage, and with many enemies quick to cover up, finding the right angle from which to attack is imperative for victory. As the game progresses, battles start to involve multiple enemies, many of which apply buffs to strengthen themselves, and encounters can often seem like juggling acts, pivoting from monster to monster, chipping away at their health while protecting your own. It’s a satisfying system and one that recalls certain strategic combat elements of Skyward Sword. The reward of precision cutting is an array of arms, legs, eyeballs, and other organs that can be used to forge upgrades, turning a former peasant into a badass warrior ready take on a world of death by causing some herself. Meticulous dungeon design and some nice secrets to uncover accompany the blood-soaked punctuation of conflict, ensuring that journey taken in Severed remains mesmerizing. (Patrick Murphy)

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23. Hyrule Warriors

The fact that Hyrule Warriors is able to exist on its own represents one of the many great things about the Wii U. No other console gives players the chance to experience one of the greatest video game franchises of all time adapted into a Dynasty Warriors-style action game, and this is part of what makes Hyrule Warriors such an engaging and exciting experience.

While it does feel less polished than it should be, the game still packs the perfect amount of nostalgia, tight combat, and replayability. Players get the chance to battle hordes of enemies as some of the most memorable characters from the Legend of Zelda series, such as Link, Zelda, Sheik, and Midna. Each of these characters offers a different play style and signature moves. Battles are fought across iconic areas such as Hyrule Field, Death Mountain, and Skyloft. Along with the copious amounts of content stored in the main game, players can also play through Adventure mode. Modeling itself after the original Legend of Zelda overworld, players run through various areas and try to complete tasks or kill enemies. With victory comes new characters, items, and gear. While this mode is optional, it does make the base game much more exciting and fun. Amiibo support for Hyrule Warriors is also fairly strong, with game-centric figures offering stronger weapons and items, while amiibos from other games give the player some of the lower-tier weapons and items.

The only real weak point for Hyrule Warriors is its story. The entire endeavor feels a bit rushed and hollow, but given the style of the game, this makes sense. It’s always been a challenge to tell and engaging story in a Dynasty Warriors-style game, mainly due to the fact the majority of the gameplay revolves around constant combat.

The bottom line is that Hyrule Warriors was designed to appeal to fans of core Zelda series. While someone completely new to the series could still have fun with the game, a majority of the subtle references and nuances would be lost on them. This does not delude the fact that Hyrule Warriors represents one of the most enjoyable and exciting gaming experiences players can have on the Wii U, hands down. (Carston Carasella)

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22. Runbow

Enter Runbow, the debut title from Toronto-based developer 13AM Games. Runbow is a fast-paced action party game with a novel gameplay mechanic that can be enjoyed solo or with up-to nine friends who race against each other as platforms and obstacles appear and disappear when the background changes colors. For a small indie game, this platformer is jam-packed with content both competitive and cooperative — a fabulous soundtrack, striking visuals — and plenty of unlockable characters, which include the titular character from Shovel Knight, Rusty from SteamWorld Dig, and Max from Mutant Mudds. Runbow is, simply put, the best local multiplayer experience on Wii U this side of Smash Bros., but it’s also a difficult platformer that will keep you busy for hours on end. (Ricky D)

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21. Lego City Undercover

Lego games are primarily known for their family-friendly takes on popular licensed properties, coupled with simple but fun couch co-op, but the Wii U’s Lego City Undercover tosses both those crutches aside, deciding to stand on its own two blocky feet with an original story and single-player focus, in the process delivering possibly the most clever, well-rounded, and engaging entry in the brick-smashing series yet. The open-world adventure following a charming dope of a renegade cop in his pursuit of truth and justice (and the girlfriend that got away) takes place in the spectacularly-imagined Lego City, a bustling metropolis portrayed as an amalgamation of some of the most recognizable cities in America and elsewhere, with sections that draw from New York and Miami, San Francisco, and even Venice. This place feels just as magical as any Star Wars or Marvel setting, yet it’s completely new, a cornucopia of surprises both great and small. From off-roading in Blue Bell National Park to parkour-ing through the back alleys of the Chinatown-like Pagoda district, exploring nooks and crannies while smashing everything in sight in the search for both collectibles and Easter eggs is a joy. The city feels alive, with pedestrians leaping out of the way of recklessly speeding police chases, or simply musing about their lives while waiting for the airport bus. The writers show that they can handle comedy without always falling back on references, but movie buffs will, of course, spot a boatload of in-jokes, from characters inspired by Dirty Harry and The Shawshank Redemption to a construction foreman that speaks almost solely in Arnold Schwarzenegger puns.

The writing is often sharp and quite witty, peppering the player with so many jokes that those falling flat are quickly forgotten, and this approach is taken with the gameplay as well. Though many of the actions in Lego games get repetitive over time, Lego City Undercover mixes things up quite well, with a good-guy GTA-inspired overworld allowing for G-rated vehicle “commandeering,” gang arrests in sunny playground parks, and terrorizing the populace on pigback. The main story missions combine light puzzle solving with a combat system that resembles a watered-down version of counter-based moves of games like Arkham City (so more than just mindless button-pushing is required), and some acrobatic platforming is thrown in for good measure. Nothing ever gets complicated, but it’s never boring either, and the goofy objectives are often gleeful highlights of an superbly madcap world. Add in some great uses for the gamepad that seem more organic than most, and Lego City Undercover feels like it belongs on the Wii U, a uniquely entertaining game for a uniquely entertaining console. (Patrick Murphy)

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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