The Wii U is finally finding itself.

Nintendo originally positioned the console as an innovation, similar to how the Wii’s rocked gaming in 2006. But while that system had motion controls, the Wii U has a giant GamePad with a touchscreen. However, this gadget hasn’t resonate with the market, and the Wii U isn’t close to becoming the massive hit that the Wii was.

Now, two years after the system’s launch, Nintendo has found a new identity for its troubled console. The Wii U is no longer that system with the weird controller — it’s a console that plays some of the best games Nintendo has ever made.

As we recently did with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, we graded the Wii U, although we’re specifically looking at its 2014 since it’s a year older than its competitors.


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The Wii U is beginning to see a familiar problem for Nintendo consoles. A lack of third-party publisher support means that the system has to depend on quality first-party games. Luckily, Nintendo does a great job with its own software, and it has released new games in some of its most reliable franchises on the Wii U this year.

Here’s what you can only get on Wii U:

Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. are always strong sellers for Nintendo, but it was a wise move to release fantastic additions to those series on the Wii U this year. Tropical Freeze is also a solid first-party title, especially for fans of 2D platformers. Meanwhile, Pusmo World and NES Remix are fun downloadable games. And while it also came out on the 3DS, the retro sidescroller Shovel Knight is one of the best indie games of the year. The Wii U also has Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker coming out later in December.

Mario Kart 8 is selling well.

Above: Mario Kart 8 sold well for the Wii U.

Image Credit: Nintendo

The Wii U only saw two notable third-party exclusives this year. One of them, Bayonetta 2, is an incredible action game that defies stereotypes regarding what we usually expect from a Nintendo exclusive. It’s violent, sexy, and drops more than its fair share of F-bombs. More important, it’s exciting and entertaining. Sonic Boom, meanwhile, is an absolute mess that brought the troubled Sonic franchise back to its lowest point since the abysmal 2006 entry in the series (the same one that saw Sonic passionately kiss a human girl).

Elsewhere, the Wii U isn’t getting the multiplatform releases that it used to. Big games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Assassins’ Creed (Rogue and Unity), and Far Cry 4 aren’t available on the console. It did get a version of Watch Dogs, but only several months after it came out for other systems.

For the most part, the Wii U is a system for Nintendo games and little else. Most of theses are great, but it means that many will want an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4 along with their Wii U if they want to play a lot of the biggest games.

Grade: B

The Wii U has great exclusives, but third-party support is becoming practically invisible.