While the Wii U’s library isn’t known for its abundance of certain genres, like RPGs or FPSs, one area that Nintendo’s console has represented quite well is the puzzle game. Sure, running and jumping and flying and shooting can be a fun test of reflexes, but as someone who can’t get enough of crosswords before I go to sleep, sometimes I just want to come home after a long day of work and relax by exercising my brain. Here are ten games on the Wii U that have best helped me do just that:
The best puzzle games revolve around taking simple concepts and slowly expanding the ways in which players think about using them to approach solving problems, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a game that does that better than The Swapper. There’s an orb in a room, and you need it to move on; that’s the gist. Only by cloning your character, transferring your soul to the clone, and/or often mercilessly sending your other selves to a bone-crunching death, will solutions can be attained. The only tools and abilities you’ll ever need are given right at the outset, so from then on full attention can be paid to simply figuring out the increasingly complex rooms the developers have concocted, and the many traps that add new wrinkles and twists to the gameplay. With a wonderfully textured visuals rendered from clay sculptures, a mind-bending philosophical story, and a rich, spooky atmosphere The Swapper is one of the most satisfying puzzle experiences available anywhere. [check out our full review for more]
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
It didn’t take a Nintendo genius to realize that the puzzle mini game distractions that occasionally popped up in Super Mario 3D World needed their own chance to shine in a separate, solo game, and that feeling was validated when we received Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Brimming with the company’s usual charm and colorful visuals expected from anything taking place in the Mario universe, what makes Treasure Tracker actually so enjoyable is the creative ways in which the diorama-style stages are constructed, presenting the grounded Captain with a maze of tricky paths and cleverly hidden gems that require tilting the gamepad to examine the stages from every possible angle. The difficulty ramps up perfectly, with collecting every treasure along the way a pleasurable obsession, and those who find the early challenges too easy will have their hands full with the plentiful post-story levels.
Affordable Space Adventures
While Nintendo still tries to make a case for the unique features possible on the gamepad, Danish indie developers Knapnok Games and Swedish gamemaker Nifflas (Night Sky) have already succeeded. Affordable Space Adventures takes the humorous premise of a space vacation gone very wrong and through it delivers an atmospheric puzzler involving guiding a beat-up star ship through an alien world. As its systems reboot, the ship has access to more functions, all of which appear on and can be manipulated from the gamepad touchscreen. With heavily-armed robots sensitive to different outputs like sound, heat, or electricity, the levels of thrust, anti-gravity and the numerous other abilities must be modified or even turned off to safely pass. Solutions can require a bit of dexterity, but generous checkpoints guarantee this to be a puzzle trip that’s more on the relaxing side, so that while the ship may blow up several times along the way, hopefully players won’t. Culminating in an ending that may be the best use for Miiverse ever created, Affordable Space Adventures is not only one of the best Wii U eShop exclusives out there, but one of the best Wii U games, period. [check out our full review for more]
Human Resource Machine
What are puzzle games if not a series of inputs that, when done in the correct sequence, lead to a solution and the chance to start all over again with a new challenge? Kind of like programming, or simply having a job. Melding these ideas and treating the office like a computer by using a conveyor belt representing an “Inbox” to deliver a series of boxes designated with numbers and/or letters, Human Resource Machine tasks the player with simply escorting those boxes to another conveyor belt, the “Outbox”, in whatever order or combinations the higher-ups demand. This might be something relatively simple like putting this data in reverse value order from highest to lowest, or it could involve weeding out duplicate characters or multiplications. By programming a sequence for your compliant avatar to follow constructed of the meager amount of commands available, the job will get done and you’ll move up the corporate ladder, promoted to the next floor of the towering company’s headquarters. While not as atmospheric as some of Tomorrow Corporation’s other offerings, the immense satisfaction from weaving a complex loop of inputs to solve later puzzles is nearly unmatched. [check out our full review for more]
Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones
Using figuring out the best way to keep out of sight as a puzzle in itself, Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones follows a clone attempting to escape from the laboratory where he was created, while being continuously monitored by a scientist essentially bent on winning employee of the month. Each room along the way introduces devious new traps and insidious security devices put in place to prevent the clone and his pals from finding out the secret behind what is really going on. These challenges are platforming puzzles at their finest, requiring a quick step and decent reflexes. Though some trial and error will inevitably result in many squishy deaths, the game does a good job of easing players in, providing new abilities every so often to keep things fresh. Online leaderboards may have some coming back to rack up their best times, and a level editor allows user-created content to be shared with others, potentially extending the life well beyond the main campaign.
Click below for the next page and 5 more great puzzle games available on the Wii U