With Nintendo Switch doing better by the day, Screen Critics looks back at the absolute worst of third party games from Wii U.
Nintendo Switch has been killing it recently. Since arriving in March, Nintendo’s portable console has fast become a magnet for outstanding games. But as more and more developers jump aboard the Switch express, we have to remember that this wasn’t always the case. Back with the Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo had to accept all offers from third party’s, even if those offers weren’t the best.
We figured after such a strong Nintendo Direct, it was a good time to look back at the Nintendo Wii U games that shouldn’t have bothered. These are the third party games that came to embody the very worst of Nintendo’s forgotten console.
10. Hello Kitty Cruisers
What happens when you take a mobile game and stretch it so thin that it has to fit onto a high-definition console? Whatever the answer is, we get it in Hello Kitty Cruisers.
Everything feels awkward in this title from the word go. Whether it be the way the karts handle (You turn like a broken trolley) the amazingly bland selection of characters or even the laughably shallow pool of race tracks made available to you – the effort put into this title is the bare minimum. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone really – the game is based on the frustratingly cute Hello Kitty brand and has all the depth of a paddling pool. Perhaps the best part though, the AI is on a one man mission to ruin you. Elastic band racers are a huge naughty no-no in modern racing yet Hello Kitty Cruisers wears that distinction like a badge of honor.
On a console where Mario Kart 8 exists, as well as a fine selection of other karting titles, handing a child this title seems like cruelty.
9. ESPN Sports Connection
Perhaps the worst thing about this title is that even the name gives away how poor it is. ESPN’s decision to stick their name on this sports minigame collection underlines how sometimes brand awareness doesn’t equate to quality.
The big issue here is that most of the mini-games are junk. Attempting to steal from Wii Sports glory a whole generation later – Sports Connection piles together all kinds of sports mini games – rowing, soccer, baseball – but none of them are really that fun. It’s a huge issue for the game that it never really overcomes and when combined with lackluster graphics and some of the worst controls in the entire console’s library of games – you’d be forgiven for wondering why they even bothered.
8. Tank! Tank! Tank!
Beginning life as an arcade offering in the Japanese arcades, Tank! Tank! Tank! was originally intended to deliver that exciting arcade experience on Nintendo’s home console. Sadly somewhere in the transition, it appears the fun didn’t quite make it.
The game is slow, plodding and ultimately un fun to play. The focus on multiplayer doesn’t do a good job of hiding the game’s inadequacies, with a control scheme that feels cumbersome and poorly thought out. Even graphically, the game feels sub-par with cel-shaded graphics that feel underwhelming.
7. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
Animal Crossing has managed to endear itself to Nintendo fans thanks to its easy-going, well thought out long-term gameplay. Yet despite this, Nintendo made the bewildering decision to spin the franchise off into a board game entry for the Nintendo Wii U.
The worst thing about this game is that it’s neither fun enough to outmatch Mario Party – a game that it takes very clear direction from nor entertaining enough to be considered a true party classic along the lines of Mario Kart or Wario’s entry of games. In the end, Amiibo Festival feels like a desperate attempt to ride the Amiibo popularity – and stall out the end of the Wii U’s awkward existence with a game no one really asked for.
6. Devil’s Third
Devil’s Third is an awkward proposition for Wii U owners. The brawler struggled to get to grips with its controls – leading to a mess of gameplay that struggles to be engaging or fun for anyone.
Beyond this the game looks ugly and features some of the worst sound mixing we’ve heard in a modern generation game. The worst part about Devil’s Third though is that at times it feels like a game that could have been fun. It just never found its footing.
5. Pokémon Rumble U
Nintendo’s track record with Pokémon and home consoles is awkward at best. Rumble U is yet another addition to this pile of woefully ill-conceived titles.
The game sees you exploring dungeons, controlling toy versions of Pokémon as you mash buttons in order to defeat enemies. The games biggest issues stem from its limited scope – the difficulty never really pushes on while the game suffers heavily from repetition. Perhaps most disappointingly – the game lacks most of the charm that’s ever-present in the Pokémon series. Instead we’re faced with a game that removes the huge moveset and ties you to an awkward combat mechanic that feels more akin to a mash-em-up than a Pokemon game.
4. Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs was a disappointment across the board when it touched down for missing the mark on hyped promises. Yet most curiously, the game was pegged for a Nintendo Wii U version that Ubisosft insisted would be given their full attention. Many months later and rushed out the door – many Wii U owners probably wish they hadn’t bothered.
The Wii U version of Watch Dogs awkwardly feels rushed – even for a game that arrived later than its companions. The game has notable technical shortcomings – including excessive pop-in as well as lag issues that dog many of the games more action intense set-pieces. Perhaps more disappointing – Ubisoft failed to make creative use of the Wii U Gamepad – opting instead to use the pad as a mini-map display. Add in the fact that some features had been wholly nerfed (The Wii U version was left out of all the DLC fun) and it’s not hard to see why many Nintendo gamers didn’t rush out to buy this edition of the game.
3. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
If you’ve never heard of Sonic Boom on the Nintendo Wii U, then consider yourself somewhat lucky. Sega’s attempt to reboot the franchise in a new linage that was in line with a whole new outlook for the Sonic franchise turned out to be a complete disaster upon arrival.
Whether it was the hugely poor use of Crytek Engine 3, an engine not designed for the Nintendo Wii U and thus filled to the brim with issues galore. Whether its the incomplete levels – which were easier to break than a glass spider. Or perhaps it was just the incredibly lazy effort that went into the game – laziness that allowed an infinite jump glitch to make its way into the final release and subsequently break the gameplay for those who used it.
Rise of Lyric is easily one of the biggest disappointments ever committed from the Sonic franchise – and a reminder that despite all the progress the series has made since Sonic 2006 – the series isn’t above repeating those mistakes.
2. Game Party Champions
When Wii Sports came bundled with the Nintendo Wii, it marked a moment of brilliance from Nintendo. Wii Sports was a wonderful collection of simple but fun titles that showcased the very best of the Wii’s console out the gate. Clearly, others looked on jealously, deciding to cash in when the successor to the Nintendo Wii hit the market in 2012. Enter Game Party Champions.
A sad collection of 8 mini-games bundled together, the collection reduced the excitement of Wii Sports to the Wii U’s tablet touchscreen. This resulted in tediously dull versions of table tennis, golf, air hockey and more – with no attempt to inject any kind of excitement into proceedings. Voiced along by some of the most still faced characters in all of video games, the game feels like it was ripped wholly from the PlayStation 2 generation.
1. Family Party 30 Great Games: Obstacle Arcade
The trick with these mini-game compilations is to balance out the rubbish games with the decent ones. No one expects world beating gameplay – but when your game has “Great” in the title, you’d expect at least one of the offerings to meet that criteria. You’ll struggle to find any in this offering that are merely “adequate”.
From awkward racing titles to competitive arcade games – the selection of games across the board feel like they were slapped together in an afternoon. The in-game sound effects are atrocious, laughably poor with controls that feel like you’re navigating a brick across a frozen lake. What makes things really tragic though is just how poorly the Wii U Gamepad has been integrated into proceedings – feeling more like a distraction than a natural extension.
If the trailer above doesn’t highlight the absolute horror of this game – perhaps you should head down to your local CEX and pickup a copy. It’s well worth the experience of seeing the Wii U being utilized in such an atrocious way.