In catching up with games we’ve skipped over or set aside, it’s important to pay tribute to entire platforms shoved over into a forgotten corner and covered in dust. You know ... like Wii U, the least successful Nintendo platform this side of Virtual Boy. Unlike Virtual Boy, though, Wii U saw a lot of best-in-class games; they were simply squandered on an unappreciative world.
At least Nintendo recognizes the gold mine of content it has lurking in the cobwebbed wasteland that was Wii U. Nintendo has been quite proactive about converting lost Wii U classics to Switch — most recently with the charming Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It could go further, though. There’s so much more to be salvaged from the flaming wreckage of the Wii U!
To help, I’ve selected the 11 Wii U games that absolutely, 100% still need to make their way to Switch. These are all top-flight works just begging to enjoy the light of day on a console people not only own but are proud to own. Now, you may notice they’re almost entirely first-party titles; that’s not snobbery. There just weren’t many third-party exclusives of note. Wii U puttered along because Nintendo was firing on all cylinders for the system ... and now it’s time for the world to take notice.
11. Xenoblade Chronicles X
(Monolith Soft, 2015)
If you’re a fan of open-world role-playing adventures featuring giant robots, Nintendo’s portable systems have you covered. A port of the original Xenoblade Chronicles showed up on the New 3DS, and developer Monolith is still pumping out content updates for its Switch-exclusive sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. But what of the middle child? What about Xenoblade Chronicles X?
A spinoff with only loose story connections to the other Xenoblade games, XCX still feels very much like a member of the family. It involves semi-automated combat, free-roaming exploration, large machines, and themes that blend religion and science fiction into a heady froth. It’s a nice-looking game packed with involving exploration and combat. And, for the moment, it’s trapped forever in the obscurity of Wii U exclusivity. Wouldn’t it make a nice fit for Switch, though? As something for RPG fans to tackle once they’ve plowed through Octopath Traveler and all the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC? I say yes. Bring it on, Nintendo.
10. Scribblenauts Unmasked
(5th Cell, 2013)
A rare third-party Wii U exclusive appears! Technically, Scribblenauts Unmasked did show up on platforms besides Wii U: Warner Bros. also published it on Steam and 3DS. For those who prefer traditional consoles, however, it’s Wii U or nothing.
Despite what its title might imply, Scribblenauts isn’t actually a game about drawing, so you don’t need a touchscreen to play. (Though certainly Switch’s ability to go portable wouldn’t hurt.) Rather, you control a character named Maxwell who possesses a magical notebook. By writing words or simple phrases in that notebook, you can summon into reality thousands of different objects, creatures, and — in Unmasked — DC Comics superheroes. The point of making these characters and items materialize? Solving puzzles. However, much of the fun of the game comes from the fact that everything you introduce into the world has its own properties, resulting in all sorts of wild interactions that can be either helpful or harmful ... but which rarely turn out exactly the way you expect.
Warner hasn’t abandoned Scribblenauts, but the next entry in the franchise — Scribblenauts Showdown — will take the form of a party game, which isn’t really what most fans expect from a follow-up. Why not balance things out by giving a new lease on life to a great little game that most people missed out on? Besides, Unmasked has Batman. Everyone loves that guy.
9. Yoshi’s Woolly World
With the new Yoshi game for Switch having been pushed back to next year, this fall offers a perfect opportunity for Nintendo to make sure the best Yoshi game in two decades doesn’t remain stranded on Wii U forever. Yoshi’s Woolly World needs a chance to reach more people than its original hardware allowed. Yes, there was a 3DS port, but that conversion turned out to be decidedly less than optimal. Woolly World deserves better. It deserves Switch.
While Woolly World drew a great many play mechanics from Yoshi’s Island, it was the first follow-up to that Super NES classic that (1) didn’t feel like a total rehash and (2) was actually good. That’s a rare combination of Yoshi traits!
Woolly World adopted the visual style of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the conceit that everything in-game has been knitted from yarn and sewn together by hand with craft knickknacks. The graphics look stunning, with a convincing tactile quality that breathes new life into familiar platform action settings. Developer Good-Feel did more with the arts-and-craft concept than merely indulge in visual splendor, though. The idea that everything here is made of yarn translates into play mechanics, too. Yoshi can pull on ribbons and yank buttons to reveal secrets in the world, and the yarn balls you toss have different properties than the eggs in other Yoshi games. Oh, and best of all, it’s a cooperative platformer, but the slower pace of the action makes for a less combative multiplayer vibe than, say, New Super Mario Bros. In short, it’s a charming little game that has more than earned another chance to find an audience.
8. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
(HAL Laboratory, 2015)
Like Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse plays up the idea of trompe-l’oeil physicality through its graphics. Rather than appearing to be made of yarn, its entire world appears to have been crafted of modeling clay. There’s a squishy three-dimensionality to Kirby’s unconventional journey here, and it’s a delight.
Nice graphics are all well and good, but what makes Rainbow Curse truly enjoyable is the way it revisits the stylus-driven play design of Kirby: Canvas Curse for DS and builds on it. Rather than playing as a standard platformer with the running and the jumping, Rainbow Curse instead treats Nintendo’s roundest protagonist as an actual ball. Navigating levels involves creating pathways for Kirby to roll around on while coaxing his little rotund form through dips, rises and loop-de-loops.
There’s a catch. Rainbow Curse originally centered its design around the Wii U’s stylus-driven interface. That won’t work on Switch, obviously. But Rainbow Curse could still work well on Nintendo’s new console. The portable touchscreen mode would allow for a painless translation into handheld form. And when docked? Well, that’s a chance for Nintendo to put its fancy Joy Con tech to work. The gyroscopic motion controls in the system’s controllers would work perfectly well as a simulation of the in-game paintbrush control metaphor. Yeah, this one’s just beginning for a Switch conversion.
7. NES Remix 1 & 2
Before the NES Classic Edition mini-console, Nintendo gave us NES Remix: a pair of mini-game collections built around its 8-bit hits. In spirit, NES Remix plays a lot like a spiritual successor to 9-Volt’s events in the WarioWare series. You navigate a series of bite-sized challenges culled from NES games, completing each task in order to advance to the next round.
Unlike in WarioWare, though, the challenges in NES Remix don’t play out in a totally random fashion. Instead, you can choose your game — anything from Balloon Fight to Zelda 2 — and tackle multiple events connected to that particular title. The challenges can be as simple as jumping a single barrel in Donkey Kong or as taxing as defeating Meta Knight in Kirby’s Adventure. The game uses a star system to rate players for their performance, with the ultimate goal of mastering every event. It’s quick, breezy, and bite-sized ... a perfect on-the-go experience, as demonstrated by the decent 3DS conversion.
There’s ample room on Switch for a bite-sized, nostalgic romp like this, especially if Nintendo was to jazz it up with new games or challenges. Or maybe it could include the full versions of these games for people to enjoy at their leisure. Like some kind of, hmm, “virtual console” or something.
6. Super Mario 3D World
(Nintendo EAD, 2013)
Wonderful as Super Mario Odyssey is, Mario’s more structured 3D adventures possess a certain appeal that his open-world journeys can’t quite capture. In the case of Super Mario 3D World, that appeal isn’t too hard to pin down. It’s multiplayer. Glorious, rambunctious, cooperative, competitive, punch-your-sibling-in-frustration multiplayer.
With 3D World, Nintendo brought the four-person madness of the New Super Mario Bros. games into the third dimension. Even better, it riffed on the wonderful Super Mario Bros. 2 in order to do so, giving players command of four iconic heroes each with their own skills: for example, Peach can hover, Toad scrambles like a madman, and Rosalina (yes!) can double-jump. And even better than that, Nintendo packed the game with all kinds of fresh ideas and themes, including new power-up suits, tricky multiplayer puzzles, and lots of great boss battles and bonus stages.
On Wii U, all four players had to stay effectively tethered together on a shared screen. Moving over to Switch would allow for head-to-head networked play in handheld mode, allowing everyone to control their own hero on a separate screen and thereby opening up new play possibilities and strategies.
Anyway, Super Mario 3D World marked the origin of Captain Toad, who appeared in a number of charming bonus stages. Now that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker has made its way to Switch, doesn’t it just seem right to show us where our favorite little myconid explorer got his start?
5. The Wonderful 101
Many take it as given that Platinum-developed games — especially those spearheaded by the outspoken Hideki Kamiya — will review well, win over a ferociously dedicated fanbase, and utterly and completely fail to register at retail. Certainly that was the case with The Wonderful 101! But just because that’s the way it was doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be, and this is a perfect case of a game just begging for a Switch port to help it finally reach the audience it deserves.
The Wonderful 101 defies easy description. A little bit of an action game, a little bit of a strategy game, it bursts with invention and manic energy at every moment. Heavily inspired by superheroes (both American comics and Japanese sentai), The Wonderful 101 explores themes like teamwork and inspiration to create an underlying message that’s every bit as uplifting as its peppy music and visuals. Players control a Power Ranger-like squad of heroes that rescues civilians and recruits them to become part of the team, merging their allies together into special formations capable of defeating villains and solving puzzles.
While the original version of the game relied heavily on the Wii U GamePad, it would translate nicely to Switch’s motion controls. The move to Switch would also make the cooperative multiplayer mode a lot more compelling, too. Happily, Platinum has teased the prospect of The Wonderful 101 making its way to Switch — so unlike the other games on this list, the idea of a conversion is less a matter of “they really ought to” and more like “how soon are they going to?”
4. New Super Mario Bros. U/New Super Luigi U
(Nintendo EAD, 2012/2013)
As the greatest Mario platformer of all time (it’s true — just ask any expert!), New Super Mario Bros. U and its evil mirror-universe counterpart New Super Luigi U deserve a place of honor on Switch. Just as Super Mario 3D World feels meaningfully different from Super Mario Odyssey despite being a platform game starring Mario, NSMBU is its own thing as well: a traditional 2D action game with a four-player cooperative option. Well, more like “cooperative,” since multiplayer sessions usually degenerate into angry chaos. But you get the idea.
NSMBU carries forward the best ideas of the classic 2D Mario games and adds all kinds of fresh, new features to the mix. Every single stage has its own distinct personality or core mechanic, just like in Super Mario Bros. 3 for NES, and while the game definitely touches on plenty of classic Mario settings it also strikes out in own direction as needed. It’s crammed full of secrets and loaded with challenging stage designs and bonus objectives. At the time of its debut, it was the most creative 2D Mario game to have come along in 25 years — and it’s every bit as entertaining now as it was when it launched.
Honestly, if Nintendo really loved us, it’d give us a sort of New Super Mario Bros. All-Stars that collected all four of the NSMB games into a single compilation, thoroughly facelifted to share consistent graphics. Failing that, though, we’ll happily accept a conversion of the best of the set ... at least until New Super Mario Bros. Switch comes along, that is.
3. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
When Nintendo and Atlus announced a collaboration to create a crossover between Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei ... this was not what anyone on the planet had in mind. It certainly wasn’t what faithful Fire Emblem-loving Nintendo fans expected. Tokyo Mirage Sessions does not at all resemble Fire Emblem. It’s set in modern-day Tokyo rather than in some classical medieval fantasy milieu. It stars Japanese teenagers, not knights and dragon warriors. It features a traditional turn-based role-playing battle format rather than a strategic movement-based system.
And while the Tokyo setting certainly does feel true to the spirit of Shin Megami Tensei, and you can cast familiar SMT spells like Zio and Bufu, there’s not a single demon to be found here. Instead, players can befriend and summon “Mirages,” which serve a similar role to SMT’s demons (or the Persona games’ eponymous Personas) but which are much less devilish and risqué in nature. Mirages can also include ... various heroes from Fire Emblem, including favorites like Marth and Lucina.
So, yeah. It’s kind of weird and only vaguely faithful to the franchises for which it ostensibly serves as a crossover. But you know what? It’s a great game in its own right. Indeed, it’s easily the best role-playing game on Wii U — not that there was a lot of competition, mind you. But even though it had that field very nearly to itself, Tokyo Mirage Sessions still stands out among similar games on competing platforms thanks to its lively personality and bold visual style. The fact that it (sort of) contains Fire Emblem heroes in (something vaguely akin to) a Shin Megami Tensei adventure is just gravy; this is a game that deserves to a chance to shine regardless of its purported progeny.
2. Pikmin 3
(Nintendo EAD, 2013)
So ... Shigeru Miyamoto has been teasing the prospect of a fourth Pikmin game for quite a while now. Kind of like he teased the prospect of a third one for years before it finally materialized. Given this series’ history and track record, we’re not really holding our breath for Pikmin 4 any time soon. That said, we could certainly use a fix of Captain Olimar in these dark times. So why not an encore performance of his third adventure?
After all, Pikmin 3 is easily the best Pikmin game to date. Less punishing than the original, less meandering than the second game, it perfectly balances its elements of exploration, strategy, and sheer horror at losing dozens of adorable little carrot-people as a giant bug monster scoops them up to become a tasty snack. Fundamentally, it plays more or less like the previous games in the series: You control a tiny astronaut who can command and cultivate an army of plant-men whose different traits are defined by their coloration. These pikmin creatures can help you gather resources, battle monsters, and bypass obstacles.
Everything in Pikmin 3 takes place at a micro scale, since your hero (Captain Olimar) and his helpers are actually only a few inches tall. Their journey takes place on what appears to be a post-apocalyptic earth, with rocky terrain and shimmering water alike rendered in almost photorealistic detail that makes your goofy little active party all the more surreal. And the gorgeously rendered fruit that Olimar seeks to collect will make you want to run to the nearest farmers market.
It’s an odd, unique little game that marries both whimsy and tragedy to an accessible rendition of real-time strategy gameplay. The Pikmin series remains unique in gaming. Since there’s no telling when we’ll see the next one, the world should at least get another shot at the last.
1. Super Mario Maker
(Nintendo EAD, 2015)
The shining gem of the Wii U library deserves to make Switch equally resplendent. More than any other Wii U creation, Super Mario Maker took advantage of the unique strengths of its console. That might seem to preclude a conversion to Switch; after all, the entire premise of Super Mario Maker hinged on using the console’s stylus-driven interface to seamlessly edit and play original Mario stages. Switch has a touchscreen, but it doesn’t use a stylus. And more to the point, there’s no guarantee that players can use the touch interface, since the dock obscures and deactivates it.
But Nintendo could do a lot worse than figuring out how to make Super Mario Maker work on Switch. Finger-driven controls? A motion gyro interface? A combination of both? Some outlandish alternative never before considered by fans? This is a company that can create a working D.I.Y. piano out of cardboard. It can figure something out.
Taking a mulligan on Super Mario Maker for Switch would also allow Nintendo to rectify one of gaming’s great tragedies. See, the original version of this game made brilliant use of Miiverse to allow players to exchange, challenge, and rate other people’s stage creations. Now that Miiverse is gone, so is that core feature — and as we saw with the underwhelming 3DS port of Super Mario Maker, losing the game’s social features greatly diminishes its overall appeal. Now would be a lovely time for Nintendo to right that wrong and create a definitive edition of Super Mario Maker, one built around some sort of social sharing feature that won’t die off a couple of years after launch.
While Nintendo’s at it, it could also integrate the best part of the 3DS version — its 100 all-new, original stages designed by Nintendo staff — into this full-featured console remake. Maybe it could even go really crazy and add Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) or Super Mario Land elements for players to build stages with. If that sounds like a lot of unreasonable demands for a remake of a game that’s only a few years old ... well, sure. But that’s the thing. Super Mario Maker is simply one of the best things Nintendo has ever created, and the two versions that currently exist don’t quite live up to its potential. In a lot of ways, Switch feels like the culmination of numerous ideas Nintendo has been tinkering with for decades. Why not cap it off with a conversion of the most quintessentially Nintendo game in recent memory?