Time comes for all of us, and soon it comes for the neglected Wii U’s eShop – Nintendo is shuttering the service at the end of March, apparently not finding the upkeep cost worth whatever value (monetary, moral, or otherwise) they get from keeping it up. It’s a sad affair all around, but we’re here to provide any and all info you’ll need in preparation.
WHEN DOES THE NINTENDO Wii U ESHOP CLOSE?
The eShop officially closes on March 27th. Currently, you can’t add funds to the eShop with Wii U prepaid cards, but you can link your Wii U account to your Switch’s Nintendo Account and add funds that way.
HOW TO ADD FUNDS TO BUY GAMES ON THE NINTENDO Wii U ESHOP
We have a full guide providing a detailed explanation for how to merge your Wii U and 3DS eShop balance with your Nintendo Switch. We highly recommend checking it out!
If you want a quick run-through, here’s the basic setup:
- On your Wii U, enable “Non-Nintendo Device Access” in the Settings (the system doesn’t recognize the Switch as a Nintendo device)
- Make sure your Nintendo Network ID and Nintendo Account are linked (check here)
- Add funds to your Nintendo Account either online or on the Switch
- Select “Merge Funds With 3DS/Wii U” to get them onto the Wii U eShop
With money on the Wii U eShop now, what do you do with it? Before getting to specific games, here are some broad suggestions:
- Check to make sure you have DLC – Have a game you want to buy DLC for? Make sure it’s purchased before March 27th. It’s now or never, whether it’s an old favorite or a new curiosity.
- Get any DS or Wii titles you want – While most retro consoles have their libraries available on the Nintendo Switch, the DS and the Wii are still missing. Pick up whatever titles from those consoles you need.
- Look for Virtual Console exclusives – While a number of Virtual Consoles titles are now available on Switch’s NSO emulators, there are several that remain confined to Wii U. Make sure to check for which.
- See if the game you’re looking at is on Switch or other consoles – A number of Wii U titles have made their way to Switch by now, or even Steam. Check to see what might be on there so you don’t stress about nabbing them.
- Check to see if any of your desired games ever had physical releases (and for how much) – While many games will still be able to be purchased physically, that doesn’t apply for them all – and some physical releases can be more expensive than the eShop price, or will increase after eShop closure due to scarcity.
NINTENDO Wii U ESHOP-EXCLUSIVE TITLES TO BUY
With these broad guidelines in mind, here’s a full list of eShop exclusive titles and DLC. As you can tell with even a cursory glance, there’s quite a lot, so we’re going to highlight a select number of exclusives that stand out for one reason or another.
- Affordable Space Adventures – Very few games on the Wii U ever took full advantage of what the GamePad had to offer, but Affordable Space Adventures certainly did. Featuring both solo and co-op play that utilized the GamePad as the control panel for your ship, tweaking systems as appropriate as you maneuver your spacecraft around. It’s probably the most vaunted indie Wii U exclusive, so if there’s one to pick up, look no further.
- Art Academy: Sketchpad – There was a full Art Academy retail title released for the Wii U (Art Academy: Atelier), but this once-holdover is nice for any artist looking for a budget digital workspace. For a small price, you can use the GamePad in one of its simplest and most intuitive usages to sketch your surroundings. Unfortunately, the Miiverse integration has been long shuttered, but you can still doodle for your own artistic satisfaction. And doesn’t that matter?
- BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2 Future Legend of Rhythm Alien – The Bit.Trip series has had a long and strong legacy on Nintendo consoles dating back to its origins on the Wii. While most of those indie classics have been lovingly preserved on the Switch in the form of the Bit.Trip Collection, this stylish shift for the series is the only part of the franchise that remains off of it (the sequel, Runner 3, debuted on the portable console.) Adding some bells and whistles to Commander Video’s rhythm-based running, it’s technically available on other platforms including Steam, but for the authentic Bit.Trip experience, it should be on a Nintendo platform.
- Chasing Aurora – Not only is this a Wii U exclusive, it was a launch title – this title from Broken Rules is a uniquely-styled and beautiful game about flight through mountainous alps. While it does have some limited single-player modes, but it’s in its multiplayer action where the game is at its utmost, providing 5-player local co-op and unique characters on the GamePad. Don’t miss one of the more gorgeous indie titles the system has to offer.
- Dr. Luigi – Remember the Year of Luigi? When they finally gave the greener Mario brother a chance to shine? It was, in retrospect, more marketing buzz than anything, but we did get some nice starring roles out of the fella, including this spin on classic Dr. Mario. Including online and local multiplayer and a silly mode where your pills are conjoined into an L-shape. It’s more novelty than complete experience, but it’s good to honor the better Mario brother (yeah, I said it).
- Fast Racing NEO – How long have we lamented the death of F-Zero? The franchise has been dormant for two decades, with not an entry in sight – but the much acclaimed Fast Racing NEO helped fill that void with thrilling, high-octane racing action and sleek futuristic cars with a unique color-switching mechanic. It got a sequel on Switch too, but if you’re looking for thrills on the Wii U this is the race you want to tackle.
- Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water – This game got a relatively recent port to modern consoles too, but was designed with the Wii U in mind, so for the horror aficionados out there this is the best experience. Like all Fatal Frame games, it involves mechanics using a camera and first person perspective, utilizing the GamePad in a pretty unique and inventive way. If you’re interested in the series at all, this is the time to pick up this one.
- Knytt Underground – From the same developer as Affordable Space Adventures comes a little arthouse exploration-based puzzle-platformer. Drawing on Nifflas’ previous Knytt games and his other design work, it offers two playable characters, multiple endings, and a whole array of secrets. While available on Steam and some other platforms from the previous gen, if you’re looking for it on Nintendo hardware this is your only option.
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars – Technically, this one is on 3DS too. But hey, that eShop is also shutting down, and you get the same game for the other console with purchase (which is incredibly interesting). Tipping Stars is the most recent entry in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, with 80 levels of guiding little Mario toys to their final destination. While the Miiverse integration is dead and gone, you can still have a lot of fun marching your minis for one last go around.
- Nano Assault Neo – If you picked up Nano Assault EX on 3DS, this makes a fine companion piece – another twin stick shmup from Shin’en Multimedia (who also made FAST Racing Neo, if you’re wondering about the similar subtitle). It’s a pretty slick and fun shooter with a unique cellular aesthetic, and while it does have a PlayStation 4 port, this is the only Nintendo console it appears on.
- NES Remix & NES Remix 2 – Nintendo got a little funky during the Wii U era, and there’s no greater demonstration of this than in NES Remix. These would involve taking snippets of old NES classics and “remixing” them with new mechanics or quirks, kinda like turning them into WarioWare microgames. It’s definitely one of Nintendo’s best and more clever spins on retro content, and we’re sad we haven’t seen anything similar on Switch.
- Pushmo World – One of the best little digital series on 3DS hit the Wii U in style, with the same simple but inventive push-and-pull portrait puzzles. The Wii U’s extra power allowed for more puzzles and the ability to make your own on the system, though the ability to share them has dissipated along with Miiverse. Along with the 3DS titles that will fade, make sure to pick up this one.
- Race the Sun – Sometimes, basic is better. Race The Sun is an endless runner about maneuvering a minimalist solar spacecraft through an abstract landscape. It’s got a nice sheen to the aesthetic as you dodge obstacles until either you crash or the sun sets. This is another one available on some other consoles, but this is the only Nintendo offering available.
- Star Fox Guard – Star Fox Zero wasn’t the only experimental Wii U title for the series – in fact, this was bundled with early copies of that game, but in case you missed it then you can pick it up on the eShop now. A unique tower defense game utilizing the GamePad to swap between various camera feeds and blast enemies, it offers both solo and co-op gameplay and is a pretty interesting spin, despite not being particularly long or Star Fox-y. Give it a look if you’re into clever GamePad implementations.
- Tengami – A beautiful title set in feudal Japan with a focus on seasons passing and nature aesthetics, Tengami comes from ex-Rare devs and utilizes the GamePad for arts and crafts puzzles in a pop up book. It was originally developed for iOS, so everything is very touch based, and while available on a handful of other platforms, the Wii U offers a rather nice place to experience its ephemeral beauty.
- Year Walk – The rare game focused on Swedish folklore, Year Walk is loosely based on an ancient Swedish tradition, a tale of a long footbound journey through a haunted and spellbinding world of myth and legend. It’s a great opportunity to indulge in a lesser known cultural mythology, and while it’s available on some other platforms, the Wii U’s GamePad acting as a second screen makes for the “definitive” experience. It’s well regarded and absolutely worth a look if you’re into adventure games.
Did we miss any essentials? Be sure to let us know! And be wary for the end of March, when the eShop closes service. If you’re looking for a guide to 3DS games to buy (as its eShop, too, is set to end on March 27th), check out our guide to the 3DS eShop closure:
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