With the recent release of The Wonderful 101 on modern platforms, one less game is confined to rot on the poor console that is the Wii U. Despite a treasure trove of innovative and engaging titles, Nintendo’s last console saw terrible sales due to confusing marketing and an inconsistent release schedule, with the Gamepad peripheral adding an additional pain for third parties to develop around.
Since the launch of the exponentially more successful Switch in 2017, Nintendo and other developers have been keen to migrate their Wii U titles to the new platform, letting a much larger audience experience these games for the first time and selling a lot more copies in the process.
Although most of the Wii U’s best offerings have since made the switch (pun intended), some are still left stranded on the console, for better or for worse. Here are some of the most notable Wii U exclusives still stuck there.
A launch title for the Wii U in 2012, Nintendo Land was no killer app, but nevertheless showed promise for the “asynchronous play” Nintendo promised for the new console. Through a series of minigames themed around Nintendo properties such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and F-Zero, Nintendo Land had one player operate the Wii U Gamepad while the others played on the TV.
This concept led to some truly fun games, such as “Mario Chase,” where one player would control the titular plumber on the Gamepad while others would chase them down in essentially a game of tag, with no indication of where Mario could be. Another favorite was “Luigi’s Ghost Mansion,” where one player would take control of the ghost, who would be invisible to players on the TV unless shined with a flashlight. These led to plenty of tense situations that may not have sold the world on the console like Wii Sports did with the Wii, but nevertheless offered a fun, dynamic experience that couldn’t easily be replicated elsewhere.
In fact, Nintendo Land’s integral use of the Wii U Gamepad is what makes it unlikely for the game to ever be ported to Switch. It’s possible that another Switch in handheld mode could take the place of the Gamepad and pair to the docked Switch on the TV, but it seems ridiculous to require two $300 consoles in order to play a single game. For this reason, Nintendo Land is probably stuck on the Wii U forever, even though we’d love to see its return.
It had been around nine years since the last mainline Pikmin installment when Pikmin 3 launched on the Wii U in 2013, and since then it’s been around seven years, with nothing but an unimpressive 3DS game to tide fans over. Fans of Nintendo’s take on the tactical sim adored the series’ first HD outing, and for good reason. The game is full of beauty and charm, while offering an engaging single-player campaign and a surprisingly deep multiplayer mode. Here’s what Garrett Martin had to say about the game in his review:
“I cried the first time a Pikmin died. I can handle the loss, though. I can take the sadness because it happens in such a bright and lovingly realized world, with its lush fields and its colorful creatures and these weird little plant-animals known as Pikmin. Part of knowing these adorable little critters that regularly give their lives to help me out is knowing how to say goodbye to them. Maddy Myers called Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us “Dad simulators”. Pikmin 3 isn’t just a strategy game but a pet simulator, with all the joy and pain that comes with owning a real pet.”
With the only use of the Gamepad being constant access to the game’s map, it doesn’t seem like much would be lost in a port to Switch. In fact, according to some pretty reliable sources, that might be exactly what ends up happening in the not-too-far future.
The Wii U never had its exclusive The Legend of Zelda game, but it did have pretty much every other Zelda game ported to it. In the case of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Nintendo didn’t just port the games but gave the two titles full HD remasters, adding quality-of-life improvements that made these the definitive versions of the two classics.
With a property as big as The Legend of Zelda and the games already converted to HD, it seems like a no-brainer to eventually bring these games to Switch. Whether the company will include them as a package or yet again charge the full $60 for each separately, however, remains to be seen. With fans’ ravenous appetite for anything Zelda on Switch, myself included, they could definitely get away with it.
A cross between a more traditional Mario Bros. level structure and its 3D adventures, Super Mario 3D World iterated on the 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land to add multiplayer elements and larger levels that let players interact in a joyful playground. Mario’s first HD adventure isn’t viewed quite as fondly as his outings to space or odyssey around the world, but 3D World is still among the best 3D platformers out there and rightfully deserves a larger audience on the Switch.
And much like Pikmin 3, some loose lips have hinted that may come to pass sooner than later. Although this certainly isn’t a guarantee, especially with the state of the world throwing even the most certain plans into question, it seems likely at this point that Super Mario 3D World won’t be forever bound to the dead console.
If you asked, I could probably talk to you about Xenoblade Chronicles X for hours. As a young teen with the Wii U as my only modern console for years, this game’s release was a godsend. At the same time other platforms were getting The Witcher III, I got my own massive RPG to obsess over.
And I truly mean massive. Xenoblade Chronicles X pushed the Wii U to its very limits, offering a visually jaw-dropping world with five distinct continents. Each hexagon on the map had at least one objective to complete, and over the course of a year and 240 hours of playtime, I completed them all. With the series now more popular than ever with the success of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the recently remastered Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, it seems like a no-brainer to introduce Switch players to the incredible world of Mira.
However, Monolith Soft seems to be more on the fence on the idea. In an interview with USGamer, executive producer Tetsuya Takahashi said that although he’d like the game to be on Switch, porting over such a huge game would take a lot of time and money, more than perhaps the team is willing to commit. With the increased audience for the series, however, perhaps Takahashi will reconsider? It’s possible, but we wouldn’t hold our breath.
Looking at Star Fox Zero’s rating of 69 on Metacritic might lead you to think that most critics found it to be just a smidge below the generally accepted average of 70. When you dig into the discourse, however, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
One of the game’s highest-scoring reviews came from CGMagazine at 95, whose reviewer described the game as “beautiful, challenging, deep, addictive, and plays unlike any other space shoot em up I’ve ever experienced.” On the other end of the spectrum, The Jimquisition gave the game a 20 and described it as “just plain rotten. An otherwise run-of-the-mill space shooter that couldn’t be content with its own mediocrity and subsequently mutilated itself in a desperate attempt to stand out.”
Our own reviewer, Jon Irwin, skewed toward the positive end. Although the game was difficult to get a grasp of with its dual-screen layout, mastering it was worth the initial frustration, he argued:
“[A]s you figure out the system’s limitations and you observe where and when the action on-screen requires you to be more or less accurate, you find yourself performing feats that’d be impossible without the decoupled controls. So many contemporary videogames let you achieve greatness with the press of a button that, over time, you forget you’re actually doing anything. Star Fox Zero asks you to accomplish these feats yourself.”
Whether you love it or hate it, however, chances of PlatinumGames’ space opera coming to Switch look grim. Warranted or not, the mixed reception is sure to give anyone cold feet in investing resources to port the game, and the unique control scheme which made the Gamepad’s second screen integral essentially puts the nail in the coffin for Star Fox Zero ever seeing a second chance on other hardware.
There was no such controversy with Yoshi’s Woolly World because how could you not like Yoshi’s Woolly World??! The game is tailor-made to soften hearts and make you feel all fuzzy (and dizzy?) inside. It’s an adorable sidescrolling platformer that young kids can complete but which adults can find challenge in through its optional collectibles.
But will it ever see an audience on Switch? It’s possible, but seeing as the game already got a port to the 3DS in 2017 and developer Good-Feel already made a sequel in the form of 2019’s Yoshi’s Crafted World, I don’t think there’s enough of a demand to warrant a Switch port.
The same goes for Paper Mario: Color Splash. One of the last games to be released exclusively for the Wii U, this game conflicted reviewers by capturing the spirit and fun dialogue of earlier entries in the Paper Mario series, but stayed at a frustrating distance from its RPG roots for many.
However, much like Woolly World, Color Splash too has a sequel in the works: Paper Mario: The Origami King coming out July 17. Like Good-Feel, I imagine Intelligent Systems doesn’t see a point in focusing resources on translating the title to Switch, even though it wouldn’t be impossible. Woolly World and Color Splash are beloved by plenty of people, but I don’t see them making enough money for Nintendo to make the Switch.