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8 Great Eshop Games for the Wii U Worth Checking Out Right Now
While the Wii U hasn’t exactly been loaded with quality third party titles and only seems to get that solid Nintendo entry roughly once a month, it is certainly not lacking on the eshop and indie front. Many indie developers have been quick to pick up the slack left by Nintendo and most of the M.I.A third party developers, and have created some surprisingly deep and fun (as well as relatively affordable) experiences. And even though the latest Nintendo Direct – a trailer of which can be viewed entirety here – showcased a solid looking lineup of future eshop titles for Nintendo’s consoles, there are still plenty of gems to choose from right now, which are available with merely a few quick taps on your gamepad touchscreen.
These games are as diverse and unique as they are enjoyable. Some take advantage of the touch screen and motion sensing of the gamepad in a highly innovative matter, while others rely on more of a retro or traditional style. Whatever your gaming preference, however, there is seemingly something for almost everyone. In this article we will touch on some of the current best games in the indie scene, and elsewhere, that the Wii U has to offer.
* Keep in mind, we will only be focusing on Nintendo Eshop exclusive titles. Even if the game originated in the digital world of the Eshop, but a retail version came later (NES Remix, Wii Sports, etc), it is still included in the “retail” category and thus will be excluded from the list. With that in mind, let’s proceed…
1. Child of Light ($14.99)
(also on PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Kicking things off with an instantly charming side-scrolling adventure, this is a game that quickly differentiates itself from other RPGs. But with that said, it does share a least a bit of pedigree with old-school sidescrolling action RPGs such as Zelda II. With its unique graphic style that resembles a fairy tale storybook more than a video game, you would think this came from some edgy unknown indie developer, rather than the AAA juggernaut Ubisoft, which is famous for games like Splinter Cell and Far Cry 3.
You’ll find that Child of Light offers a fine balance of challenge and ease, as you blissfully drift throughout the trippy and visually appealing 2D worlds, while mere seconds later, grinding your way through some tough enemies that are crawling and flying about the landscape. It utilizes the touch screen of the gamepad to its advantage, without being too overbearing. Child of Light masterfully draws inspiration from many RPG and sidescrolling classics, while simultaneously proving to be a breathe of fresh air with its unique features and whimsical style.
2. Shovel Knight ($14.99)
(also on PC, 3DS, PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox One)
You’ll swear you’ve stepped in a time portal after playing this sidescrolling action game by Yacht Club Games. Then, once you’ve realized your weapon and tool of choice is a shovel, you may also feel as though been slipped some strange drug before doing so. But once you get over the initial quirkiness of this game, its true quality shines through, reminding us of why the NES was so memorable by giving us gamers a sort of present-day NES experience, that could easily hold its own with many retro classics.
The game provides a nice mix of old and new, as it is entirely its own game with its own unique concepts, rather than existing as a mere ripoff, or “homage” if you’d prefer, of old 8-bit sidescrolling games. It offers great controls, a catchy retro-style soundtrack, and a satisfying system of progression by providing a plethora of upgrades and collectibles. This is a diamond in the rough worth digging out, especially if old school is your thing.
3. Steamworld Dig ($9.99)
(also on 3DS, PC, PS4, Vita)
What would you get if you took the formula of Terraria, gave it a steampunk overlay, and added some neat new aspects? Why, you’d get this addictive little exploration game from Swedish developer Image & Form. The game certainly does bare resemblance to the aforementioned title by Re-Logic, though it does a great job of putting its own creative and interesting spin on things, providing you with some cool weaponry and mining equipment like high powered drills and even super-charged punches.
As you’d suspect, steam plays an important role in the game, and essentially acts as the “fuel” to power your abilities, making you into an increasingly strong and efficient miner with the means to slay all baddies in your path, and collect all the treasures you can carry. The game treads the line nicely of providing some sort of linear cohesion throughout without holding your hand too much, while giving plenty of free range to explore and do your own thing. And while its gameplay is more condensed than its Terraria counterpart, it certainly brings plenty of cool features to the table, and is a complete blast to play.
4. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams ($14.99)
(also on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams came largely on the heals of a massive renaissance of classic sidescrolling platformers; a genre that hadn’t seen such heights since the 90’s. And it was after playing through this quirky and colorful journey that my love of these retro type of games was further reinforced. I almost felt as if I was experiencing Super Mario Brothers for the first time again, 20 years later, but perhaps even more insane. And while this indie game doesn’t quite match that juggernaut, it certainly makes a case for being a contender, especially when considering its cheap price.
The graphics are imaginative, colorful, and appealing, giving it a sort of pixar or Tim Burton vibe. You’ll find it easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of this enchanted fantasy world – between the beautiful aesthetics, mechanics that are easy to wrap your head around, and addictive 2D platforming gameplay. While it may feel like a Mario clone at first, Gianna Sisters adds much of its own flavor as well, with its unique system of shifting between different “environments” that alter not just the atmosphere, but the stages themselves.
5. Unepic ($9.99)
(also on PC)
This game isn’t as mindblowingly innovative as some others that made the list, though for what it’s worth, it achieves something of equal importance; it takes a proven formula and builds upon it, and still provides at least a dash of its own style as well. In this case, you essentially have a sort of “Metroid-vania” style experience that relies on vast exploration, intense action, and a high-powered difficulty that can only be overcome through much grinding and enemy slaying.
Unlike your typical Metroid or Castlevania experience however, your protagonist is far more relatable; being just a random gamer, who has suddenly descended into the deep-dark pits of a seemingly endless dungeon. Wielding your typical dungeons-and-dragon type weapons and spells, you are forced to battle your way back to your own reality as you stave off an array of creepy enemies. The journey ahead is filled with perils and frustrations, but you will find yourself enjoying this dungeon-crawling grind from start to finish.
6. 1001 Spikes ($14.99)
(also on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, Vita)
Another retro throwback game in the same vein as Shovel Knight, this one often gets overlooked, probably because it’s so maddeningly difficult. But it’s still damn fun to play, and all the more gratifying when you’ve actually made it through a stage. While Shovel Knight reminded us of the overall quality of many NES gems back in the good ol’ days, this one seems to focus on reminding us just how infuriatingly tricky many of them were, and for that matter, perhaps taking the absurdity even further.
1001 Spikes is absolutely brimming with booby traps, pits, fire, deadly scorpions, and of course, lots and lots of spikes. All of these can, and will kill you frequently. Thankfully, you have a ton of extra lives at your disposal, and believe me, you’ll likely need them all. If you happen to thrive on self torment, or simply miss the days when games were actually difficult and relied on pure skill – well, this would be the game for you, my friend.
7. Little Inferno ($9.99)
(also on PC, Android)
This unique game was made by the creators of the indie hit, World of Goo, which quickly becomes apparent as both games share that cell-shaded cartoony vibe. But more importantly, the other major aspect that this game holds in common with its World of Goo cousin is its addictive gameplay, which isn’t too intimidating for the more casual player, yet entertaining enough to keep the core gamer interested.
However, that is where the similarities end, as the primary objective of Little Inferno is essentially the polar opposite of 2D Boy’s previous gaming creation. Whereas World of Goo had you building and creating, your goal in this game is to destroy and buuuurn, which provides a certain feeling of satisfaction and amusement. While perhaps a puzzle game at its core, the puzzle elements are scarce, as the game relies more on the thrill and simplicity of destruction and racking up points and unlockable items than it does elements of strategy. Though, by no means is that a bad thing.
8. Dr. Luigi ($14.99)
This puzzler from Nintendo is the successor to Dr. Mario RX on the Wii, and continues to capture the basic concepts and essence of the original classic on the NES. Even though it is quite similar to RX in many respects, it offers an interesting Luigi-branded spin on things, as it comes with a few new game modes. One of which is operation L, in which the pills are appropriately shaped like “L’s”. It takes a little getting used to but it’s fun to play once you do, and adds a refreshing new take on the classic structure of Dr. Mario.
Then there is the Virus Buster, which runs with the Gamepad’s functionality, and while slower paced, it still provides a healthy dose of fun in its own quirky way. RX players will also notice a return of the solid online mode, which adds greater relay value and works quite nicely, assuming you’re able to find somebody else playing. While this is not the most ground-breaking puzzle title ever, it is still worth a look, especially if you are a fan of the old school Dr. Mario entries.