Nintendo’s Wii U is notorious for how hard it flopped and for providing the Switch with some of its best ports, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have worthwhile games that are still exclusive to it. While many Wii U games have escaped to other platforms and Game Boy Advance games are now coming to Nintendo Switch, some experiences are uniquely suited to the Wii U GamePad or aren’t able to make the jump elsewhere due to other outside factors.
As such, when the Wii U and 3DS eShops shut down on March 27, there are some unique Wii U games that will become significantly more expensive and tougher, if not outright impossible, to play. If you’re one of the 13.5 million people who actually have a Wii U and are wondering what to pick up before the eShop closes, we recommend these stranded games.
Affordable Space Adventures
While the Wii U GamePad’s dual-screen functionality was an interesting concept, few games utilized it in remarkable ways. Affordable Space Adventures is an indie title with gameplay intrinsically tied to the GamePad. Though this makes it one of the coolest games on the system, it also means this experience wouldn’t feel the same anywhere else. In Affordable Space Adventures, players get stranded on an alien planet and explore it in a small spacecraft.
To complete levels and ensure that the spacecraft stays safe and stable, players micromanage various systems on the GamePad’s touchscreen. If Affordable Space Adventures were to be ported to another platform, it’d either have to lose those micromanaging systems or clunkily incorporate those ship management controls onto just one screen. Even if that were to happen, the Wii U version of Affordable Space Adventures would likely still be the best way to play it.
Affordable Space Adventures is a digital-only title, meaning interested players need to buy it (and its DLC) soon.
Devil’s Third is not a good game; it’s outright terrible. Still, it’s such a beautiful disaster that we recommend every Wii U owner plays it. It follows a buff assassin named Ivan as he tracks down members of a secret organization that he used to be a part of, but it’s not like the plot is good or anything. This is a bombastic and poorly constructed adventure with a dumb story and janky combat that never flows together smoothly. But Devil’s Third thinks it’s so cool with its tattooed, drum-playing Vin Diesel-looking protagonist that one can’t help but find it adorable.
Firmly in so bad it’s good territory, it’s astounding that Nintendo chose to publish Devil’s Third. It will forever be one of the weirdest games in Nintendo’s catalog and one that the company probably won’t ever acknowledge again. Its multiplayer mode shut down a year after launch, and now its single-player will be lost forever unless someone tracks down a ridiculously expensive physical copy.
Devil’s Third is one of the rarest Wii U games as it had a fairly limited physical release in North America. Copies already go for $350 or more, but the eShop had remained an easy way to introduce people to the game until now. Devil’s Third will only get even more expensive once it isn’t available digitally, so those who want to experience this train wreck need to get it on the eShop before the storefront closes down.
Star Fox Guard
Star Fox Zero was a mediocre reboot of Nintendo’s sci-fi franchise that incorporated the GamePad to mixed results. While it’s also unlikely Star Fox Zero will ever be ported, we’re more saddened by the loss of Star Fox Guard. This side game released alongside Star Fox Zero utilized the GamePad in much more exciting ways but is also at risk of being lost forever.
Star Fox Guard is a tower defense game where players switch between various cameras to fight back against invading robots. It stars Slippy Toad, everyone’s favorite annoying Star Fox character, and feels like a unique mix of classic tower defense games, Five Nights At Freddy’s and Star Fox.
Like Affordable Space Adventures, this experience will likely be eternally stuck on Wii U because of how uniquely suited it is to the platform. The game received a limited physical release alongside the first print of Star Fox Zero, and there’s a good chance it could get very rare and valuable once the eShop shuts down. That’s why this is a game Star Fox or GamePad fans should pick up before March 27 if they haven’t already.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Currently, Xenoblade Chronicles X is the only game in the Xenoblade series that is not on Nintendo Switch. Sporting more realistic-looking visuals than the rest of the series, Xenoblade Chronicles X follows a group of colonists from a destroyed Earth as they try to explore and establish a new society on the planet Mira. It plays like the other Xenoblade games but focuses much more on exploration and even lets players control giant mechs called Skells.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is the black sheep of the series but is still an enjoyable RPG nonetheless, and uses the Wii U’s GamePad for the game’s extremely detailed map. With how popular Xenoblade has been on Nintendo Switch, it’s surprising that this title hasn’t made its way over to that system yet. While the game may eventually make the jump to Nintendo’s current console, interested players’ only option until then is to buy Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U before March 27.
While Nintendo Land was a pack-in title for the Wii U in its early days, those who picked up the system later or got a preowned one might not have access to it. The Wii U is full of exclusive minigame collections, including other first-party ones like Wii Party U and Game & Wario, but Nintendo Land sticks out as the best one. This game is a celebration of several Nintendo franchises, including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, F-Zero, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Pikmin, Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, The Mysterious Murasame Castle, Balloon Fight, Yoshi, and Game & Watch.
These all have minigames on them, and while many of the minigames are hit-or-miss, the exhilarating tag of Mario Chase and the reverse Pac-Man ghost-hunting escapades of Luigi’s Ghost Mansion use the GamePad in novel ways and are a lot of fun with friends. As Nintendo Land is built from the ground up for the Wii U GamePad, it’s unlikely that this game is ported elsewhere. As such, you’ll want to pick the game up by March 27 if you don’t already have a copy.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
A sequel to Kirby: Canvas Curse for the Nintendo DS, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse forgoes the typical platforming found in the series. Instead, players use the Wii U’s stylus to draw lines on the GamePad that Kirby will roll along. It’s the kind of game that only works well with a touchscreen, and the Wii U’s stylus ensures that your fingers aren’t blocking large parts of the screens. The game is also one of the best-looking on Wii U thanks to its colorful claymation style
While this game does have the inherent flaw of forcing players to look at the lower-resolution GamePad screen’s version of this beautiful game, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse still provides the novel, approachable fun the Kirby series is known for. The games destined to be stuck on Wii U are the ones that used the GamePad in interesting ways, and unfortunately, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse firmly falls into that category. As such, you’ll want to buy this and some of these other games before the Nintendo Wii U’s eShop shuts down on March 27.