March 3rd is quickly approaching and with it comes the latest Legend of Zelda game ‘Breath of the Wild.’ This is exciting not just because it’s a new Zelda game, but also because it be the first notable game for Nintendo’s new console-handheld hybrid, the Switch. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild heralds the beginning of a new console era, but also the ending of another – the Nintendo ‘Wii U.’ Looking back on the past 5 years, I realize that in many ways Nintendo’s ill-fated Wii U was to me almost what the Dreamcast was to Sega fans. Whilst it never quite became the final nail in Nintendo’s coffin, it certainly became a Sword of Damocles hanging over Nintendo’s head – marking some of the poorest sales of a console they’re ever experienced and seeing several declines in company profits. It was during this period that Nintendo decided to start developing first party software for mobile, marking a first for the release of Nintendo franchise games on non-Nintendo hardware. The Wii U spent the majority of its product life being ridiculed, flagged for death, and ignored. It experienced some long dry-spells in terms of software releases, most of its online features were mishandled, and it ultimately failed to hold third party support. But the thing is, despite its many commercial and practical failings when stacked against its competitors – the Xbone and PS4 – the Wii U actually remains my favourite home console of the last generation. The reason? Well many of my favourite games of the past 5 years were exclusive to the Wii U. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild In the initial weeks after the Wii U’s launch there weren’t a lot of significant AAA releases. So whilst I dabbled in the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 and the occasional evening of Nintendoland whenever I was with friends, what I mostly ended up playing was the small, download arcade title Nano Assault: Neo. It was probably the most time I’d dedicated to playing ‘shoot ‘em up’ since the 90s – where I had played a lot of the demo for PC game Raptor: Call of the Shadows. Taking place on the surface of biological cells, Nano Assault: Neo gave me hours of retro-inspired joy as I piloted my tiny ship through misshapen, alien worlds killing all the strange and hostile forms of life I found along the way. The play sessions were short, sharp, and filled with many strange, colourful things to destroy. Nano Assault: Neo Over the next 5 months or so things continued to be rocky for the Wii U. Titles that had been promised during the first month or so of the console’s release were getting delayed, so the wait time was filled with 3DS games such as Luigi’s Mansion and Fire Emblem Awakening. It was also a time for indulging in some retro Nintendo classics that were getting drip fed to us via the Wii U eshop. It was during this time that I finally got around to finishing Super Metroid – the genre defining exploratory platformer. It wasn’t until the release of Pikmin 3 that things really kicked off for me. A real-time strategy game with a Nintendo twist, Pikmin 3 has provided me hundreds of hours of local multiplayer fun. Although I initially bought it for the single player story – something I finished over the course of a weekend – it was the split-screen two player mode that really stuck with me. My housemate at the time and myself would play it whenever we both had a moment to spare and we needed to unwind. It played like a strategic version of bingo – a race to organize your pikmin to collect all the necessary items to match 4 in a row on your randomly generated bingo card. Each match was short and frantic, with all the elements of luck, strategy, and surprise balanced together with as much finesse as a Mario Kart game. It became a video game staple of ours that has endured for many years since release. Having looked at the limited discussion of strategies online, we’re convinced that we must be the best competitive Pikmin 3 players in the world. Pikmin 3 multiplayer owns. Just sayin’. A few more months passed before Nintendo fans fell in love with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker all over again. The Wii U saw a HD remaster of this classic (possibly best) Zelda game, complete with gorgeous new lighting effects and compelling online features. Integration with Nintendo’s Miiverse – a kind of Nintendo exclusive social media platform – allowed players to draw, write, and take photos in game to be shared with other, random online players via messages in bottles. There’s something about finding G-rated shitposting in a bottle, drifting along the shoreline or rising with the swell of the great sea, which makes it that much more endearing to witness. Speaking of Zelda, the Wii U also facilitated the holy union between Dynasty Warriors gameplay and many of the highlights of the entire Zelda franchise in Hyrule Warriors. Although it foolishly overlooked Nabooru (one of the very few characters in the Zelda canon to be coded as a woman of colour), Hyrule Warriors served as a ridiculous and spectacle laden love letter to the tropes, characters, and convoluted mythologies of one of the industry’s most enduring and beloved franchises. Not only that, it also allowed Nintendo to experiment with a female analogue of Link known as ‘Linkle’ – an adorable and energetic teen girl duel wielding crossbows and capturing the hearts and imaginations of fans all across Twitter. Give Linkle her own game Nintendo. Bring Linkle to the Switch. Continuing the run of great multiplayer games, Super Mario 3D World took the cooperative play of recent 2D Mario games and introduced it into one of the most immaculately designed 3D platforming games I’ve ever played. It was so much fun to play cooperatively that a friend and I reached 100% completion after a few very dedicated days of play. 2014 saw a great year of releases for Platinum games, who opened up the year with the superhero themed, Pikmin-like The Wonderful 101, and closed it out with the superb femme dom, angel-slaying witch action game Bayonetta 2. To this day, Bayonetta 2 remains my favourite game on the Wii U and one of my favourite games of all time. Heavily sexualized, camp, and spectacularly over the top, Bayonetta 2 has occupied a special place in my head and my heart for several years now. She has guns for shoes, summons demons with her hair, and became a playable DLC character in the new Super Smash Bros game through popular vote. Make no mistake, the Wii U is worth owning for Bayonetta 2 alone and if it gets a sequel – or even a rerelease – on the Switch I will emit a delighted squeal that will be audible around the world. Bayonetta 2 Arguably the best implementation on the Wii U’s more gimmicky features came about with the release of Project Zero: Maiden of Blackwater (known as Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater in the US). A creepy Japanese horror game with a talent for building tension through sound and set design, Project Zero took the ‘fight ghosts with a magic camera’ idea and enhanced it spectacularly using the gyroscopes and second screen of the Wii U gamepad to create a ‘first person photography’ experience. Despite having some rough corners in places, Project Zero: Maiden of Blackwater managed to tell a strange and captivating story in an interesting and chilling way. It’s a game that enhances the supernatural horror by grounding it in everyday objects and people that feel very real and tangible. The use of the Wii U gamepad as a camera – the only weapon in the game – allowed the player to expose themselves to these elements of the game more directly. The more direct control the game allowed you to have, the more it could pull you closer to mess with your head. It’s a game that asks you to dangle your arm over the side of your bed whilst you sleep and hope that monsters won’t eat it. Maiden of Blackwater The latter years of the Wii U’s life saw the release of several high quality Japanese RPGs. Sci-fi anime adventures on an alien planet took place in the open world RPG known as Xenoblade Chronicles X. It was a huge game about creating an anime protagonist, forming a quirky anime squad, and running around a giant planet filled with a variety of flora and faunae ranging from tiny to enormous, as well as hostile and indifferent. The scale of this world and the life that make up its ecosystems is incredible, and comes from having to cleverly design an open world RPG that will be navigated by both human beings and giant mechs. Because oh yeah, you also get to pilot giant mechs in Xenoblade Chronicles X. The icing on this game filled with spectacle and wonder is the personality and character of the game and its characters. It’s the kind of game to feature a 14 year old mechanic savant known as Lin, who fights with a giant shield and gattling gun, and writes fan fiction about the giant robots. If any of its elements appeal to you, there’s a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles X for you to sink into. Xenoblade Chronicles X From one very Japanese, anime game to another, the Wii U had its second huge franchise crossover game in the form of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE – a fantastic game with an absurd name that my mouth never fails to stumble over whenever I speak its name aloud. A cross between the Shin Megami Tensei games and the Fire Emblem games, Tokyo Mirage Sessions actually manages to create a whole new and very unique feeling JRPG about popidols who fight demons. It’s a very contemporary and very colourful game – trading in the expansive adventures of Xenoblade for a more focused, narrative-driven experience. In an era where it can be hard to find really great new JRPG games, the Wii U managed to produce two of the best. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE But these are simply my own cherished experiences with the Wii U. Speaking with other friends about the console, many would fondly mention Lego City: Undercover or jump right on to their soap box to proclaim how fantastic and underappreciated Zombi U is, and how fantastic a launch title it was. For many others, the Wii U was the place they poured hours into creative level design in Super Mario Maker. It would also be remiss of me not to mention Splatoon – the highly successful new IP from Nintendo that re-examined and reimagined what we already thought we knew about online, team based shooters. Splatoon was so popular that the announcement of Splatoon 2 for the Nintendo Switch was the point that I saw people’s attitudes tip from ‘vaguely interested in the Switch’ to ‘fine I guess I’m getting a Switch.’ The Switch, of course, has me very excited. I am in regular discussion with people who are counting down the days with me, contemplating whether or not they can spare the time to go to a midnight launch event. But in these times of new beginnings and the promise of new ideas, it’s always worth looking back at something you truly loved, share in its successes and failures, and bid it a fond farewell. Wii may not all have really gotten to know you. But for those of us who did, Wii will remember U fondly.