After the launch of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 one year ago, it seemed that Nintendo’s Wii U console (and quite possibly the company itself) was on a fast track to obsolescence. With scarce third-party support and only a handful of available games worthy of the beloved Nintendo logo, purchasing a Wii U was difficult to justify. Even with Nintendo’s 3DS handheld still selling strong and award-winning games like Super Mario 3D World, the brilliant remaster of The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker and the third installment of the Pikmin series, rumor began to circulate about Nintendo’s demise. Of course, it was not the first time Nintendo had been written off by the gaming community, and Nintendo was certainly not ready to give up the fight.
Fortunately for Nintendo, in 2014 they doubled their efforts and came roaring back with several hit titles.
In February, Nintendo came out with guns blazing with the release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, followed by a one-two punch of Mario Kart 8 in May and Hyrule Warriors in August. Then, in November, Nintendo went on the offensive once more with two of the best games of the year, Bayonetta II and Super Smash Bros. Wii U. Throughout 2014, Nintendo released a solid line-up of top-notch games, many of which certainly stand a chance of being considered classics.
Unlike many of the most anticipated hardcore games released for other consoles in 2014, Nintendo’s latest video game masterpieces are glitch-free, providing hundreds of hours of fun right out of the box. Without a doubt, Nintendo is back and with games like Yoshi’s Wooly World, Splatoon, Starfox, and the newest installment of the Legend of Zelda franchise, it looks like 2015 will be another very strong year.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The Wii U is no slouch when it comes to rendering HD and creating colorful games full of detail and eye-popping spectacle. The first thing you will notice when you fire up Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is the game’s lush graphics. Waters ripple, ice glistens and animal hairs bristle against the breeze in exquisite detail.
In the game, you can play either as Donkey Kong, Dixie Kong or Diddy Kong, all of whom are stranded on an island after their home was attacked by a band of Penguin Vikings and the surrounding land frozen solid. It is up to you to find your way back home and rid the land of the icy rapscallions.
Tropical Freeze is everything you love in a Donkey Kong Country game. The levels are full of adventure and discovery, and you will find yourself replaying levels to locate all the hidden objects like the familiar KONG letters, puzzle pieces, secret exits, and (of course) bananas. It does not stray much from the classic games of the Super Nintendo days, which makes Tropical Freeze feel like coming home to an old friend. Although finding every hidden object is challenging, this is a must have game if you own a Wii U.
Mario Kart 8
With the eighth installment of the Mario Kart series, Nintendo gave fans a fantastic game with perfect graphics, tons of cars and characters to unlock, and new weapons and features. At first, one of the game’s most innovative aspects is the ability to defy gravity, which can be a little disorienting at first. Soon enough, though, you will find yourself grinding your teeth and wiping your sweaty hands often as you square off with friends and revel in the frantic racing mania that is Mario Kart 8.
Mario Kart 8 is the best game of the series. With Nintendo’s recent embrace of downloadable content, they also have the chance to continue improving the already stellar quality of Mario Kart 8, growing it into something bigger than we could ever imagine. The first DLC was excellent and there are plans for a second addition in March. We can only hope that Nintendo continues to announce more DLCs. Mario Kart fans around the world are always looking to experience new tracks and play with new characters and Nintendo is positioned to give fans exactly what they want.
Hyrule Warriors proves that with just a bit of faith, Nintendo’s beloved franchises will be safe when placed in the right hands. Koei Tecmo has done a very skilful job of fusing the design, story and characters of the Zelda universe with the exciting gameplay of Dynasty Warriors.
The classic Zelda story is intact with an evil force spreading discord across the land of Hyrule and the hero, Link, charged to make things right again. However, this time Link will have plenty of help along the way in this hack and slash adventure. With the chance to choose from several different characters, Hyrule Warriors is not an ordinary Zelda game, but everything is familiar and the changes are welcome.
You will find yourself playing in a variety of landscapes from a variety of Zelda editions like Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, and Skyward Sword. The graphics are awesome, the music is enchanting, and the fighting is a thrill. Hyrule Warriors is a great addition to the Zelda franchise and one of the best games for the Wii U.
What can be said about Bayonetta II that has not already been said? It is a fast-paced, hardcore, sex-charged action game that keeps you on your toes from the moment the game starts. Arguably one of the best games of the year, it is surprising to find that it is playable only on the Wii U. With the relentless demon killing, sexual innuendo, curse-filled conversation and shameless crotch shots of the gun-toting heroine, Bayonetta, it is difficult to believe that it is not being played feverishly by young men on the Xbox One or Playstation 4. Yet.
Platinum Games has done a masterful job with Bayonetta II. Filled with familiar characters, endless attack combos, costume customizations, and ridiculous replay value, Bayonetta II will make you sweat. This game will also keep you up well into the night on a natural high, whispering to yourself “Just a little longer” as you experience the relentless action and demonic story line. Bayonetta’s sex-laced outfits and the game’s shamelessly revealing camera angles will make grown men blush. Despite these obvious attempts at sex appeal, the gameplay is consistently solid.
Super Smash Bros.
Unlike some franchises (here’s looking at you, Assassin’s Creed) Super Smash Bros. is released only once for each console generation going all the way back to the Nintendo 64. This leaves several years between each version, but it is safe to say that each edition of Super Smash Bros. utilizes every ounce of the respective console’s processing power and squeezes more content out of a simple fighting game than you could imagine. Naturally, the same can be said for the latest version of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U.
Super Smash Bros. is easy to learn, but harder to master. The unskilled “button masher” can get by in the stages of lower difficulty, but to really win at Smash Bros. one must master the special moves of their character, perfect the timing of these moves and most importantly, be patient.
The graphics are beautiful, the character roster is vast and the game is overflowing with content. Don’t be surprised if you discover parts of this game weeks after you’ve started playing it.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is, without a doubt, the game of the year. You will have uncountable hours of fun with your friends, whether they are at home with you fighting a nerve shattering, zany, eight player brawl or playing online from across the globe.