First announced well over a year ago – at the E3 expo in June of 2011, in fact – Nintendo’s Wii U console is now finally with us. The machine arrived alongside a more-than-respectable selection of launch software (much of it exclusive) and listed below is a brief top five list: our favourite games of the Nintendo Wii U launch. Trailers for all five titles are embedded at the very bottom of the page…
Visually indistinguishable from its Xbox 360 counterpart, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 manages to stand out on Wii U thanks to some very cool exclusive features. Being able to toggle loadout and profile settings on the GamePad during play is definitely a neat touch, but the fact that you can play co-operatively online with another person – one using the TV and one using the GamePad – means that for some people the Wii U version becomes the superior one by default. Online lobbies are a little light on players at the moment, but hopefully that’ll change after Christmas. An excellent port.
Speaking of excellent ports, this updated version of zavvi’s favourite game of 2011 is similarly special. Not quite as technically proficient as the 360/PS3 original – there are some minor frame-rate issues during the cutscenes, for one thing – but the actual gameplay remains as sublime as ever. Villain profiles and unlocks (which previously paused the game) now appear on the GamePad instead, environmental audio comes through the Pad’s speakers and as with Black Ops 2, you can play the entire game on the GamePad if you like. The remixed mini-games are a joy too, and don’t rely on the pad’s motion control features as previously feared.
A compilation of twelve mini-games – many of them excellent – Nintendo Land really shows off what the Nintendo Wii U can do. Some games use the GamePad’s touch-screen, others use the gyroscope. Some of them are clearly intended for one person, while others don’t reveal their true genius until you’re playing them alongside two or three other people. Some of that same boisterous sense of freshness and delight that was present in Wii Sports is present here too. Regardless of whether or not you fall head over heels in love with all of the twelve games on offer here, Nintendo Land is a near-perfect introduction to Nintendo’s latest console.
The best 2D Mario game since Super Mario World on the SNES, New Super Mario Bros. U is also one of the most downright difficult platformers in recent memory. It’s never frustrating – it’s too smartly designed for that – but it does demand concentration and tact in ways that some recent Mario games have not. Filled with secrets and featuring some fantastically enjoyable new side-quests, it feels like something of a classic already. And there is definitely something charming about finally seeing the tubby plumber make his high definition debut. Roll on Super Mario Galaxy 3.
As bold, eccentric and brilliant as much of Ubisoft’s AAA output in 2012, ZombiU is a true survival horror adventure. Whilst the Resident Evil series continues to shy away from its origins, ZombiU puts tension and atmosphere above action every single time. The game’s creators manage to milk every ounce of tension from the central dynamic: to examine anything in detail (including your own inventory) you have to look at the GamePad screen, and away from the ongoing action on the TV: it’s a game that couldn’t properly exist on any other machine. ZombiU is dark, rewarding and destined to be influential.