Truthfully I have always loved you, Wii U. you were my first and still only HD home console I own. Media wants me to believe you are a failed console, with just a bit over 10 million units sold worldwide. But I have never been much of a numbers man, else the soon to be 84 boxed titles on my shelf would prove the whole “failed system” wrong. It’s all about personal experience, really. My own began three years ago yesterday, because I was lucky enough to bring my European Wii U home a whole day before the official release date. Let’s take a quick look at some of the 2015 Wii U happenings, shall we?

Splatoon

(or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ink)

I do love me some online FPS action. All the way back to the original Quake. So Nintendo took the world by storm with it’s new IP that had teams of four Inklings shooting ink at another team of four Inklings. Remember when there were only four maps in the game? Seems like ages ago! However unlike EA’s Star Wars Battlefront , after the initial investment I had to pony up exactly zero moneys for a continuous weekly upgrade on weapons, maps and equipment accessories. It is truly commendable on Nintendo’s part to give so much for just the original game’s cost. I wonder if this will continue all the way till the NX shows up? Somehow thanks to Splatoon, I was no longer sad for not having the yearly Call of Duty releases on my box. Besides, which other video game lets you take on a portable washing machine to war? Exactly. Mind you, there is also a bit of single player very much worth playing here and investing on the three amiibo lineup is also recommended to make sure you get the very best possible experience.

Yoshi’s Wooly World

We got this one incredibly earlier than you folks in America and I still suspect this was due to Nintendo wanting to make sure they had enough yarn Yoshi amiibo to go around. What else is there to be said? Only Nintendo could make such a charming platformer on this day and age. I’m really happy they did because it is incredibly cool to see HD being used for something other then photo realism.

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Devil’s Third

Meet the most devisive game I have ever played in the last decade. Read any professional critic and you will get a solid 5 out of 10 for Itagaki’s latest offering. However, talk to someone who actually plays the game online and you get a whole other score. Why is that? The answer is rather more simple than you think: Devil’s Third is an amazing third person/FPS hybrid online shooter, but you will have to get past the initial learning curve to get the most out of it. Yes, it is unpolished. Yes, the single player campaign is done by the books (it does pick up pace in the later levels mind). However, dig into the online mode, join or make a clan and this is where the game truly shines. No professional reviewer had an established clan base to play this game and as such, none of their reviews touch subjects like clan politics, alliances, wars declarations, the flow of territorial dispute and so, so much more. I would need a whole arTAYcle dedicated to this game to properly explain and even that is no substitute to actually playing it. One of the biggest plagues that truly affects this game is release scheduling: It was released just a few days before the mighty Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released in Europe and it will be released one week after Xenoblade Chronicles X in America. As if the tide wasn’t already difficult to sail as is, I fear many people will miss out on this game, one that falls squarely between Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Splatoon on the Wii U’s library of online shooting options. A gem in the rough, with wonderful music and intriguing online politics.

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Super Mario Maker

Is it a video game? Is it a development tool? Both, really. And a brilliant way for Nintendo to ensure there will always be new Mario levels to tackle for years to come. As expected, it as also quickly became a YouTube phenomenon. Nintendo is not one to be shy in giving players tools to explore their creativity, something that can be traced all the way back to titles such as Super Mario Paint on the Super Nintendo. But a fully integrated level designer whose workflow is like a video game developer’s wildest drag & drop dreams come true thanks to the Wii U’s Gamepad is sheer brilliance. Everyone who has a Wii U can become a level designer.

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Project Zero: Maiden of the Black Water

I will never understand why Nintendo of America decided not to release this in physical retail format over there. This scary, scary game is by far the finest Fatal Frame experience ever thanks to the awesome usage of the Wii U’s unique Gamepad features, turning it the series ultimate Camera Obscura. You can try out the first chapter for free on the eShop, should give you a taste of what I’m talking about. Sadly, sexy female ghosts scare me the most of all and as such I can’t play this one alone... or at night, even.

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Rodea: The Sky Soldier

I would love to write to you about Rodea but sadly apart from this video, I have yet to fully explore it. Yuji Naka’s latest offering was not built based on the Wii U, and as such this HD version looks very much like the Wii version. Fans of Nights Into Dreams will find a pleasing flight mechanic here and the plot is certainly interesting enough to make this one worthy of completion. It’s on my “to do” list. Maybe next year...

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Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Move over Mario Party, there is a new king of board games in town. Ok, so this is not the HD Animal Crossing we deserve, but it is still a good gateway to purchasing all the Animal Crossing amiibo and trading cards. Smooth move Nintendo. King of local multiplayer this holiday for sure. I will let this one “Slide”... (see what I did there?)

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Mario Tennis Ultra Smash

Meet the reverse Splatoon! I have no clue what went wrong here, Ultra Smash is the same awesome tennis game we grew to love, now in the glorious HD resolution. However and despite offering online functionality for the first time ever in the series, there is simply not much single player content. Splatoon too was bare bones when it started, but content kept pilling up. This one seems to be left as is, which is a real shame. Mind you, still totally worth it when you have some friends around.

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The eShop Realm

There are so many excellent digital offerings up for grabs on the Wii U it’s impossible for me to cover them properly. But I can’t stress out how incredible Runbow is, even more so if you have some friends around to join the fun. Don’t miss out!

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First Party DLC Support

It’s Ryu. On Smash.¯\_(ツ)_/¯*drops the mic*

Three Years Later And Beyond

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Xenoblade Chronicles X is just days away. I have cleared my whole December just to play it (with some time aside for Star Wars, of course). I will be quite lost in Mira for the foreseeable future. Speaking of said future, Starfox Zero should be a part of the games in the list above, but further polish means our due date is on April 2016. The amount of DLC support on Nintendo’s titles is also rather excellent, I mean, who could have guesses we would be getting a slice of Final Fantasy VII for Smash this holiday?

The toys-to-life craze is alive and well on Wii U with the latest offerings of Disney, LEGO and Activision all correct and accounted for (even some of them exclusive in Skylanders case) in the shops with new sets and figurines poping up every month. But besides that and the odd dancing video game, that as far as third parties support goes. Activision, I wanted to give you my moneys so baldy for Transformers Devastation and yet, you released the game on every platform under the sun except Wii U. This is my greatest struggle of being a Wii U owner: you miss out on so much AAA games it’s unbearable. Yet, every time I had a Playstation 4 in my hands so far, I backed out. I just can’t afford the time needed to properly experience two home systems at once.

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So I am actually looking forward big time to whatever 2016 will bring, probably the last year on Wii U’s short life span. Do I have any regrets? Am I a dissatisfied owner? Not by a long shot.

Nintendo still manages to provide in my experience the finest first party offerings out there. The Wii U remains the current gen console with the biggest number of exclusive titles. And perhaps the most important of all reasons, it is the last piece of Satoru Iwata’s legacy in his brave mission bring games to everyone. Most of the public did not understand the Wii U. Most of the third parties soon turned their back on the console and let it survive on it’s own. But I didn’t and I am really glad with my decision.

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Thank you, Wii U. You may become just a small footnote on Nintendo and the video games industry already long history, but for me, you turned three difficult years of my life into a endless number of happy memories.

And thank you for reading this far down! Now then, onwards to the eShop, there are 10 gigabytes of Xenoblade Chronicles X pre-download packs to install.

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Play Hard, Play Loud! ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ