The Nintendo Switch has a very impressive library, which has built up in the nearly four years in its release. It’s also sold millions of units, becoming one of Nintendo’s most popular platforms since the Wii.
But what makes the system something special is how there’s generated interest in older titles that many thought we wouldn’t see again. And several of those games hail from the Wii U, Nintendo’s previous gaming platform. It failed to deliver the goods with only around 12 million or so units sold, but many of the experiences it had have since carried over to the Switch with far greater success.
So what is it about Wii U games coming to the Switch that makes them so successful? Let’s take a look.
The Transitional Title
The first thing to consider are games that work well on one platform, but then pave the way for something better on the newer one. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild became both the final AAA game released for the Wii U and the first title released for the Nintendo Switch. And on both platforms, it garnered good sales, though obviously more on the Switch because of improvements to the visuals and gameplay.
This isn’t the first time that Link has been involved with a transitional title between platforms. Years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess effectively launched on both the GameCube and the Wii, with the latter version receiving motion-based controls to take advantage of the platform. It was a winning move that helped people enjoy their older system, while also investing in a new one.
Sometimes transition from an old platform to a new platform is all about finding that key title that connects them together, and makes it a little easier to make the jump.
The Little Things
One really effective move that comes with bringing older games to a new platform is what can be added to it. One title that stands out in this regard is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Some (including a friend or two) have argued that it seems silly to pay full price on a title that you enjoyed on a previous platform. And considering the free upgrades that come with PS5 and Xbox Series X titles from PS4 and Xbox One, respectively, that might be a fair point. But there’s no question that Mario Kart 8 found some neat additions since its transfer to the Switch.
This includes new characters, new tracks, a number of fresh improvements to the general gameplay and performance and, of course, that addictive online and local multiplayer. It’s named Deluxe for a reason, rather than just being a “quickie” port. And it still remains a best-seller today.
There are other titles that have seen a boost since their Wii U release. For instance, Super Mario 3D World feels worthy of buying all over again because of its improvements in performance, but also with the addition of the dazzling new expansion, Bowser’s Fury. We can’t wait to get our hands on this one.
For that matter, Bayonetta 2. The Wii U’s star action/adventure found a nice boost on the Switch, with better visual performance and gameplay tweaks. Not to mention that it too came with the original Bayonetta, just as the Wii U version before it.
Sometimes it’s the little things that help iron out a game to be something better.
Finally, there’s something about getting a little help in a game when you need it the most. As silly as it may sound, sometimes you just get stuck. And that’s when it’s good to have a little guidance, especially if you’re a younger player.
Case in point – New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. The launch title for the Wii U served its purpose back in 2012, but some players found the game to be difficult. However, in the Switch port, it does have guidance tools that make it slightly easier to navigate, especially since the multiplayer is kind of left out. In addition, two bonus characters were also included, adding tremendous value to an already worthwhile platforming experience.
Also worth consideration is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The Wii U version was a thing of beauty, but also far more challenging than most players expected. However, when the game came to the Wii U, it featured the addition of Funky Kong, who’s not only a blast to play, but also packs a surfboard that allows him to jump better than other characters. That, in turn, made most of the levels not as difficult to beat. A cheat? Well, maybe. But for some players that never got past a certain point in the game, it also served as a godsend.
Other games also saw tweaks that went above and beyond the original Wii U games in terms of an “all in one” experience. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition comes to mind, not only packing in all the Wii U DLC into the game, but also stuff from the 3DS version. Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore also got some cool new content, though some players did miss the thrill of the original version. And Pokken Tournament DX featured better accessibility with control schemes, creating a unique fighting experience for the Switch. Sometimes, it’s just making something that more players can enjoy, despite the little changes.
The Bottom Line
Look, not everyone’s going to be crazy about ports, or the idea of paying, say, $60 for a game that you enjoyed a few years ago. But Nintendo does pack these ports with some sort of value, in one form or another, that makes them worth exploring again. And players know this, which is why they’ve got no problem re-investing, especially in a game that they can take on the go – you’d be surprised just how much of an asset to them that really is. So, sure, the Wii U ports are quite effective. And, for that matter, it probably wouldn’t hurt to give the classic Wii ones some consideration as well. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor and Metroid Prime Trilogy aren’t going to make themselves, y’know.
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