It’s the first year for the Wii U, and even though it’s only been out for a month, there are still some terrific games available, even though it lacks that “killer app” game that would win over the hold outs. While the Wii has always been weak on core games, the Wii U launch had quite a few, so my list is notably heavy on dark intense action games.
1. Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition
This gritty, exciting mix of action and puzzle solving is even better than Batman Arkham Asylum, as players explore a vast, crime ridden city and take on a variety of criminally insane grotesques. Arkham City gets the top spot here not just because it’s a great game but also because it takes full advantage of the Wii U gamepad, which can be used to set off explosives or steer a radio-controlled batarang. This is what Wii U games should look like.
While not as perfect as Assassin’s Creed II, AC3 is still a fantastic open world game in which players can do everything from sailing a ship to running along tree branches to starting riots to playing checkers to building a settlement to saving beleaguered citizens to ... well, you get the idea.
This beautifully-designed eShop side scrolling puzzle/platformer combines silly presentation with tough challenges built around an ability to toggle the density of objects. The game’s designers have taken that one clever idea and found a wondrous number of ways to play with it.
4. Darksiders II
Put God of War, Prince of Persia, and Legend of Zelda in a blender and you’ll wind up with Darksiders II, which combines gritty action, dizzying climbs and ingenious puzzles into an amazing experience. Combining so many sources could have been a mess, or could have been derivative, but instead it’s a fantastic The Legend of God of Persia.
6. Trine 2: Director’s Cut
This eShop side-scrolling puzzle/platformer offers ingenious gameplay, a whimsical story, and solid use of the Wii U gamepad, but what makes it stand out above all is its gorgeous scenery. Easily the prettiest game on a Nintendo console since Muramasa: The Demon Blade, you want to solve the puzzles and vanquish the monsters simply to see the next gorgeous landscape.
7. Tekken Tag Tournament 2
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
With the intense action and fast paced-story typical of the series, Black Ops 2 offers solid FPS fun. The game doesn’t do much with the gamepad, except to allow you to use it in lieu of the TV, but you can also use the Pro Controller or the Wii remote/nunchuk combo, which works as well as it did in COD Wii games. I’m happy that, unlike in games such as Madden NFL 13 and Disney Epic Mickey: The Power of Two, COD:BO2 allows Wii fans to play the game they way they always have.
This solid mini-game collection lacks the conceptual focus of Wii Sports Resort but does show off a lot of what the Wii U can do, and its multiplayer offerings certainly present the best case for asynchronous gaming so far, offering fun entertainment if you can lure enough people over to your house.
10. Little Inferno
More satirical art than video game, Little Inferno’s low-key word-puzzle gameplay makes up less of its appeal than its strange story and anti-video game message. While it’s not necessarily a great game, it is one I found extraordinarily difficult to stop playing.