If you want experience as many Nintendo games as you can our advice would be to get a Wii U quick! Ahhh the Wii U. The console that nobody wanted, nobody bought and everyone now sings the praises of. The system that has been used for quick port wins by Nintendo to fill gaps in the Switch’s first party output. Yeah, that Wii U.
Personally, we liked the Wii U for what it was. It had solid first party games and the only remaster of the BEST Zelda game with the HD version of Wind Waker (we will not be taking questions on this statement, thank you). It’s Nintendo’s first HD system so actually plays nice on modern TV’s. Not 4K nice or anything, but what did you expect from the house of Mario?
So with the Wii U back catalogue, you can actually play a lot of Switch games that have been ported at far cheaper prices. Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros U, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2 are all on Wii U and can be picked up second hand for a fraction of the price.
The little machine that could
But what we really love is the versatility of this little machine and the ease at which you can use it to play almost all Nintendo games. You see, out of the box, the Wii U plays Wii games. Some bundles even came with the sensor bar. It neatly upscales Wii games with the use of HDMI. We should highlight that it upscales and not re-renders. It just means Wii games are upscaled to fit HD TV’s, not that you are upping the rendering as you would with an emulator. Even so, that means with just a Wii mote controller, you can play all your fave Wii games with minimal fuss and they fit a little better on your HD display.
So that’s a pretty substantive library right there but that’s not the end of it. If you are quick (and we mean by March 2023), you can buy official copies of NES, SNES Gameboy Advance, N64, DS and even TurboGrafx-16 games using the Virtual Console. These are obviously emulated copies and are paid by title. Still, if you buy them, you own and can download Metroid Fusion to your hearts content. The emulation is good and there are 300 titles available.
Beyond that though, you can do more with the system with a little bit of help from the modding community. As you can tell by our previous articles, we are big fans of preserving titles using emulation and the Wii U makes a great emulation device. First off, let’s talk about the console that Nintendo have never given enough love for – the GameCube.
Bring on the ‘Cube!
Yep, this authors favourite system, is pretty much baked in to the Wii U, even though you can’t access it. At the most overly simplistic level, the Wii U has Wii in it and the Wii can play GameCube games. It’s just the disc and controllers that aren’t easily compatible. So, with a little homebrew and software modding, you can unlock the ability to play digital backups of all your owned GameCube games. If you can find a copy of the Wii U GC controller adapter, you can even plug in your original hardware to have a blat on Melee.
It doesn’t end there though. If you are modding your Wii U, ou can then go on and install Retroarch. For those not in the know, Retroarch is a software application that collects together sets of emulators for multiple systems and allows for nifty configuration as well as save states and other features. This means that you can then add your backups of your favourite Nintendo games for all the other generations.
With a little bit of googling and effort, you can turn a Wii U into a home console that can play every title in the Nintendo back catalogue with the exception of Switch games. You can even use original controllers on a lot of them. With second hand prices of Wii U’s hovering around the $100-150 mark and then just the cost of some external storage, you can open up a lot of potential for a reasonable price.
Get a Wii U quick!
Sure, all of the above is possible with a PC but to get Wii U emulation running, you need a fairly well spec’d PC to do this. It also means you don’t benefit from the games designed around the Wii U controller. The Wii U is also quite small and will neatly fit under your TV rather than a gaming PC device.
We are serious about being quick – knowing the second hand market, the prices of Wii U will start to shoot up as the support from Nintendo ends in 2023. We’d also expect the same to be true of the second hand software prices. If you CAN get one now, we think you’ll get yourselves a system that can do a lot at a good price.
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Rudy Manchego has been gaming since the days of the BBC Micro Computer and spreads himself thin with a love of retro, indie and mainstream gaming. He’s one half of the Jambags Comedy Gaming podcast and likes nothing better than kicking back with a nice pot of lapsang souchong, a good game and a background podcast on the intricacies of Spanish cheese making.