Unlike the other platforms we’ve given the summer drought treatment, the Wii U should be glad that it can take part in the lacking release schedule—that is to say, that its woefully empty summer lineup differs from the rest of its year. It stumbled through month after month of software starvation, and Wii U likely won’t build the momentum that Reggie and Iwata are betting on until the holidays, but even as it stands, it’s a fine system with several quality titles available. Here are five of the best to help you stave off summer boredom.
MARIO KART 8
If it’s a Nintendo platform, you can bet Mario is a centerpiece. The Wii U is no exception to the company’s trend, and despite the disturbingly high numbers tacked onto his classic games, Mario’s Wii U appearances are true delights. Mario Kart 8 sits atop the Mario pyramid, bringing stunning visuals, innovative mechanics, and a rainbow of tracks to both its platform and series.
Amusingly, Mario Kart has assumed a reputation of nefariousness with its newest installment. Mario Kart 8 earned a 9.10/10 in our Review for the creative strides it makes without sacrificing its classic elements, but the bitter vendettas among racers and downright brutal takedowns that its items have borne give the game a life of its own.
Thankfully, the Wii U is more than a box o’ Mario. The resurrection of Shigeru Miyamoto’s pet project worked wonders for the new-fangled and (still) fledgling system, bringing the deceptively simple and infectiously fun gameplay of Pikmin to the HD era. New Pikmin in tow, Pikmin 3 is a refreshing return to the nail-biting exploration and combat that the IP is known for, neatly held together with the GamePad’s unique functions.
It’s a shame Pikmin 3 didn’t release closer to launch time like Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had hoped—which was, undoubtedly, a reason for the Wii U’s crawling start—but with free DLC already available on top of its stellar gameplay, there’s no reason not to dive in now.
MONSTER HUNTER 3 ULTIMATE
As rarely as Nintendo releases action titles, let alone action-RPGs, Monster Hunter is one franchise Wii U and 3DS fans can depend on (especially now that PSP has kicked the bucket). Remake or no, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is chock-full of the monster-mashing mayhem that the series’ millions of fans keep coming back for, along with multiplayer and cross-platform elements to let it stand out from its predecessors.
Micro-management-happy and addictive to the bone, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is what we called the first must-own Wii U title for 2013. Looking at it today—specifically, looking at the host of content its gained in the past year—it still holds up as the platform’s best action title, at least until Bayonetta 2 hits, Nintendo-themed skins in tow.
SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD
At this point in his life, Mario is at his best when we don’t recognize him. Put the iconic red plumber in a new world full of crazy items and level mechanics, throw the preconceptions of Super Mario 64 and New Super Mario Bros. out the window, and you wind up with a satisfyingly unfamiliar experience. Super Mario 3D World is just that.
Right down to its setting, Sprixie Kingdom, Super Mario 3D Land oozes new. Superb level design, inventive power-ups and uniquely valuable characters—Luigi for his high jump, Peach for her float, and Toad for his speed—give it new life, revitalizing the series for its Wii U visit. Plus, cat suit.
THE WONDERFUL 101
Third-party titles are a precious resource for the Wii U, and will likely remain so unless the system finds a much-needed foothold later this year. Fortunately, developer Platinum Games was willing to extend their Nintendo-exclusivity beyond Bayonetta 2 far enough to let The Wonderful 101 stay on Wii U. I wouldn’t throw my hands up in abject despair were it to come to other platforms, but the zany, colorful action that the 100 provide is a good fit for the GamePad, and one of Nintendo's only replies to the infamous question, "What does it have that isn't Nintendo?"