Wii U

Best Wii U-exclusive games to download before the eShop shuts down

It is no secret that Nintendo’s Wii U was a commercial failure fairly soon after it launched in November 2012, putting the company in a tough spot on the console market. However, that doesn’t mean the system doesn’t have an entire library full of great exclusives that might be disappearing forever in March 2023 when the eShop closes. 

The Wii U has already been on life support. Nintendo discontinued production in January 2017, two months before the Switch even hit store shelves. Nintendo plans to close the system’s eShop entirely in March 2023, along with the 3DS, meaning players will no longer have access to the digital storefront or the hundreds of games that have been launched for the unique system. 

March 2023 is the date set for the actual eShop shutting down entirely, but players have an even smaller window available to make their final purchases on both the 3DS and Wii U—though it will still be possible to redownload games and DLC, receive software updates, and play online on Wii U and 3DS for the “foreseeable future” after that. 

On May 23 this year, both storefronts will stop letting users add funds from external payment options like debit cards. Nintendo eShop cards can still be used to add funds through Aug. 29, but that could leave you with leftover funds and comes with more steps than just buying the games. 

Just like with the 3DS, once the eShop closes, you won’t get many of these games again easily, and many will be gone for good. And while developers, including Nintendo, have been consistently porting many of the best Wii U games to the Switch over the last several years, a lot of hidden gems exclusive to the console or that play best using the GamePad will be lost to time. 

So if you want to give this oddity of a console another chance to try some of those excellent experiences, here is a selection of games you might not play anywhere else (until they get ported elsewhere).

Wii U games you need to grab before the eShop closes

Affordable Space Adventures

If you have to give one game a shot on Wii U that isn’t a big name, Affordable Space Adventures is the one. NapNok Games has created an incredible little puzzle adventure game that makes the most of the system’s GamePad to control different elements of the ship as you explore their environment in order to call for an evacuation while piecing together a mystery surrounding UExplore. 

Fast Racing Neo

You can play the sequel for Fast Racing Neo, Fast RMX, on your Switch, but if you want to experience the second entry in the Fast series and one of the best spiritual successors to Nintendo’s dormant F-Zero futuristic racing franchise, this is a must-play. 

Devil’s Third

Devil’s Third is one of those games you have likely heard about or seen, but never actually played if you weren’t incredibly attached to your Wii U. It went through a very long development period, starting as an Xbox 360 exclusive before eventually releasing for the Wii U as an exclusive in 2015.

It was critically panned when it launched in the West compared to mostly positive responses in Japan, though now it is considered a difficult, intense, and entertaining game with an over-the-top action story. The multiplayer was a big draw for the game, but unfortunately for players, that portion has been shut down already. 

Pushmo World

Pushmo World is a puzzle game developed by Intelligent Systems that follows up the Pushmo series mainly found on 3DS. Players will spend time pulling and pushing blocks to solve surprisingly complex puzzles across 250 different levels, all while enjoying the cute and colorful aesthetic. 

Chasing Aurora

Broken Rules has developed some great games over the years, and Chasing Aurora was one of the studio’s first projects. Released as a launch title for the Wii U, the 2D aerial-action game has players competing in challenges. This is a great multiplayer title to play with friends as you compete against each other in various modes, or as a single-player experience as you try to set high scores. 

Xenoblade Chronicles X

With Xenoblade Chronicles 3 set to release this July and the series only gaining popularity, it is likely Xenoblade Chronicles X will eventually make its way to the Switch or a future Nintendo console at some point. However, this is one of the last great Nintendo titles that isn’t just featured on Virtual Console or a remake that players should experience, especially if they are a fan of Xenoblade or good open-world action role-playing games. 

Virtual Console

The real loss, once the Wii U eShop closes, will be the Virtual Console, which features Game Boy Advance, DS, NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and a number of other systems. There are even some Wii games that can only be obtained on the Wii U eShop now, though those aren’t technically part of the Virtual Console. 

The N64, GBA, and DS selection are where the real value comes from since many of the NES and SNES games are now available on Switch via the Nintendo Switch Online service. And, while N64 games are slowly being added and Game Boy support has been rumored, these DS titles might be locked on the Wii U digitally since they use the GamePad to simulate the DS’ bottom screen with touch controls. 

In total, there are around 74 GBA games and 31 DS games available, including popular titles like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, the Pokémon Ranger games, Metroid: Zero Mission, Fire Emblem, and Mega Man Battle Network

The Wii U is a bit harder to find exclusive gems for. A lot of developers released their games for PC or on other consoles alongside Nintendo’s lackluster hardware. However, some of these games make use of exclusive hardware features or aren’t big enough to receive a second life on new consoles, so picking them up here is your best bet at enjoying them until something changes. 

Here are a few other games that are worth grabbing. Keep in mind these are mostly Nintendo’s bigger games, which could eventually make their way to Switch at some point. 

  • NES Remix 1 and 2
  • Star Fox Guard and Star Fox Zero
  • Dr. Luigi
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
  • DuckTales: Remastered
  • Game & Wario
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
  • Pokémon Rumble U

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