The ill-fated Wii U had a number of issues that held it back from achieving the unreal commercial success of its revolutionary predecessor, the Wii. Right out of the gate, consumers were confused over the branding and questioned whether the “Wii U” was only a GamePad peripheral for the Wii; the system itself was heavily marketed toward young children and their parents, which didn’t help in furthering the old stigma “Nintendo makes kiddie games”; its unique hardware made it difficult for third parties to develop or port their own games onto the console. So on and so forth.
For all its quirks and woes, however, there was one thing that couldn’t be taken away from the Wii U. That is its own little library of quality, must-have video games that helped the little system that couldn’t stand out as long as it did. Nowadays, rather than sinking into obscurity forever, more and more of the Wii U’s greatest hits are seeing either a renewed shelf life or their legacy refined on Nintendo’s landmark hybrid system: the Switch.
Since the Switch’s launch, Nintendo has kept a steady stream of big name titles releasing on a near-monthly basis, and to further pad out this nigh consistent stream of heavy hitters, the gaming giant has since been porting some of their best work over from the Wii U. Games such as Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors came roaring back with a vengeance, packed with all the downloadable content from their last go-around under one deluxe, definitive package. Some, like the over-the-top Bayonetta 2 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (with extra Funky Kong action!), finally got the opportunity to shine on a brighter stage compared to their previous shot under a dimmer limelight.
Then there are those—like Splatoon, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Super Mario Maker—that weren’t ported, but were instead followed by amazing sequels that completely blow the Wii U originals out of the water in almost every conceivable regard. Enter Splatoon 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the recently revealed Super Mario Maker 2.
The Nintendo Switch launched in early 2017, and we’ve only just broken into 2019 with a good chunk of the Wii U must-haves already brought over. But we’re still missing a few key titles. That’s why I took the liberty of looking at all of Nintendo’s major releases on the Wii U that hadn’t yet gotten the port treatment and determined which titles I feel are more likely to make the switch to the Switch in the future.
For simplicity’s sake, we won’t go over Wii U eShop releases like Dr. Luigi and Pushmo World, nor will we discuss third-party games.
Let’s check out our possible ports-to-be!
1. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (2015)
The Switch has a niche little library of horror games, including Bandai Namco’s Little Nightmares, Red Barrels’ Outlast, and the growing presence of Capcom’s Resident Evil series. Few recall, however, that Nintendo has a little horror franchise of its own, and no, I’m not talking about Luigi’s Mansion.
Fatal Frame is a mature series of survival horror games co-owned by Koei Tecmo and Nintendo, with the crux of the gameplay revolving around using the Camera Obscura to fend off evil marauding spirits. Naturally, the Camera Obscura as a concept was a perfect fit for the Wii U GamePad, as demonstrated in the fifth installment of the series: Maiden of Black Water. This allowed the player to explore the haunted Mt. Hikami with the Camera in their own hands, using the GamePad’s gyroscope function to aim the lens around and take exorcizing snapshots.
While Fatal Frame 5 did utilize dual screen gameplay as its main draw, players are granted the option to play somewhat traditionally just as in past games via a single screen, with the camera viewpoint front and center when drawn out. With some minor adjustments to the UI, the game could function on Switch with a single screen just fine. Ubisoft had done the same when porting ZombiU to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, under the more appropriately titled “Zombi.”
With that said, while Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water could be ported to the Switch without a technical hitch, the original Wii U game did not launch under the most favorable circumstances internationally. Mixed critical reception aside, the game was doomed to a smaller audience in North America with an eShop-only release (further putting off potential players with nearly 14GB of data), so overseas demand for Fatal Frame Switch might be pretty minimal as is.
Will we ever see Black Water get ported, or will a new Fatal Frame entry take its place? Only time will tell.
2. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (2015)
Will it be tricky to pull off? Maybe. Is it outright impossible? I certainly don’t think so.
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was the super tuff pink puff’s only outing on the Wii U. For the GamePad-powered system, it was a perfect fit for the adorably claymation-stylized sequel to the Nintendo DS title Kirby: Canvas Curse, which saw the player use the console’s stylus to draw paths for the ball form-locked Kirby to follow.
While the Switch should have no trouble running the game, the stylus-dependent controls for Rainbow Curse risk being lost in translation, as there is no stylus marketed for or packaged with the Switch. That said, any old capacitive stylus that can be used for smartphones should be able to interact with the Switch’s touchscreen just fine, should a player not want to use their own fingers to smudge up the screen at least.
This, at least immediately, solves the problem from a portable perspective, but that still leaves some questions for Docked mode. There is no second screen in your hands to draw lines onto while Kirby rolls along on the main display, but that doesn’t mean there are no alternatives available. Motion control with the Joy-Con could simulate the same experience of drawing lines to make paths for Kirby if calibrated properly. Failing that, a traditional control scheme would simply allow players to draw lines by holding down a button and guiding an on-screen stylus with the circle pad.
And should that fail, the game could simply be re-released as a Handheld/Tabletop-exclusive via the eShop. It wouldn’t be the first digital-only Kirby title!
3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (2016)
2017 saw the simultaneous launch of the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In 2018, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition followed. This year marks a full-blown remake of 1993’s Link’s Awakening, leaving the confines of the Game Boy. At this rate, annual Zelda releases for the system are likely to be expected, with two games on the sidelines ready to fill such a role.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess first launched for the Nintendo GameCube and Wii in 2006, with developer Tantalus assisting in porting the game to Wii U ten years later. The proof is already there that the game can function just fine without the GamePad, while a possible Switch re-release could keep some of the quality of life adjustments that were made before, such as the Ghost Lantern, Wolf Link transformation being tied to a single button, and the reduced number of Tears of Light to collect.
If there is one thing that I would change, it would surely be the glaring accessibility issue surrounding the Cave of Shadows. The Wolf Link-exclusive gauntlet came with the Wii U version of the game, but it was tied exclusively to the Wolf Link amiibo, thus barring off players who hadn’t been so lucky in procuring one of their own. Perhaps this bonus dungeon could be made available to non-Wolf Link amiibo owners as a late game reward—thus allowing them to obtain the Colossal Wallet—and the amiibo would simply give players immediate access like in the original re-release.
Plus, a Wolf Link reprint would give players another chance at having the lupine hero accompany Link in Breath of the Wild and boost its health via the Cave of Shadows subsequently—a Switch re-release would save players the trouble of procuring a Wii U for it.
4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (2013)
As for the other mainline Zelda to hit the Wii U, it’s another remaster. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD brought a few improvements to the GameCube original that should definitely stick around for a hypothetical Switch re-release. Personally, I can’t imagine a Wind Waker anymore without the Swift Sail, a reduced reliance on Triforce Chart decryption, and a toggleable Hero Mode.
There are also certain features a Wind Waker HD re-release could take advantage of that weren’t present in the original Wii U launch. As the game preceded the rise of amiibo, a Switch version could easily make use of the litany of Zelda amiibo already available on the market, at the very least replicating their functionality from Twilight Princess HD: Link amiibo refilling arrows, Zelda amiibo refilling hearts or magic, Ganondorf amiibo doubling damage (which could stack on Hero Mode), and so on. Perhaps there could be a special use for the Wind Waker-themed amiibo as well!
Plus, with the Nintendo Switch embracing social media interaction through direct Facebook and Twitter posting, it gives players all the more reason to take dumb selfies with the enhanced Picto Box, just as they have recently done with the Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild. The only real casualty to a Wind Waker HD Switch version would be the Tingle Bottle item, as it relied on Miiverse for players to exchange bottled messages through the now defunct service. I wonder what Tingle would hand you as a reward for breaking him out of jail at that point… Perhaps something involving functionality with a brand new golden Tingle amiibo?
It would be cool if Nintendo threw together a Zelda compilation for the Switch at some point down the road, or at least packaged these two together to make the wait for the rumored Skyward Sword HD that much shorter. But that’s a whole other topic for another day.
5. NES Remix Pack (2014)
Well, why not?
Not quite an alternative to the old Virtual Console at the time, NES Remix & NES Remix 2 were great tributes to the vintage titles from the dawn of home video game consoles. With challenges pulled from a combined 28 NES titles, the compilation saw players complete missions based on spliced moments of gameplay, or “remixes,” that changed up a given title or mashed it up with another. An example of the latter saw Kirby face off against Whispy Woods à la Kirby’s Adventure with a ton of Boos closing in every time he looks away, or Link climbing the steel beams of Donkey Kong without being able to jump over the barrels.
A Switch re-release would be pretty novel, and trying to beat other players’ records on the online leaderboard would be fun. That said, the inclusion of multiplayer-centric remixes would certainly go a long way what with the Switch’s multiplayer appeal.
All that’s left to tie the package up would, of course, be the inclusion of both Super Luigi Bros. from the Wii U version, as well as Speed Mario Bros. and the Famicom remixes from Ultimate NES Remix on 3DS, and then we are golden.
Failing that, if Nintendo were to consider a possible SNES Remix…
6. Pikmin 3 (2013)
The ever elusive fourth installment in the Pikmin series continues to sit in this weird limbo of being “almost complete” and “not a priority.” Should the day Pikmin 4 finally touches down on our planet still elude us further into the unknown future, the next best thing would be to port Alph’s foray on the Wii U over in the meantime.
Pikmin 3 put three new Koppaite astronauts center stage—the aforementioned Alph, joined by Brittany and Charlie—on their desperate quest to save their home planet from famine. The game launched fairly early in the Wii U’s lifespan in July 2013, but it did benefit from extra downloadable content in the form of extra map packs up towards the end of the year. Naturally, a Nintendo Switch version would package the game with all the old DLC included, just as existing Wii U to Switch ports have done before it, so newcomers wouldn’t have to miss out on the definitive edition of Pikmin 3.
While the Wii U GamePad provided some added functionality to the game via the conspicuously familiar-looking KopPad, a port to the Nintendo Switch would thankfully be relatively seamless, as the game was perfectly playable to completion via Off-Tv Play in the past. With the Switch’s ability to play games on the go, we would finally get a bonafide portable Pikmin game!
7. Super Mario 3D World (2013)
There is absolutely no way Super Mario 3D World isn’t already destined for the Nintendo Switch. The writing on the wall is as clear as day.
First, the famous plumber’s other big adventures on Wii U have already been ported to Switch. We’ve got New Super Mario Bros. U plus New Super Luigi U, Super Mario Maker getting a sequel this summer that will include 3D World content, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker—itself being a spinoff of 3D World based on the Captain Toad stages. This all leaves 3D World as the only mainline Super Mario game remaining. If Super Mario Odyssey‘s number of units sold is of any indication—it sits quite comfortably as the second bestselling game on the Switch thus far, with nearly 14 million units—we can assume that Switch owners love 3D Mario.
Second, I shouldn’t even have to mention how the game’s four-player co-op already lends itself well to one of the Nintendo Switch’s selling points, being immediate multiplayer access thanks to the Joy-Con. Two players can sit down and enjoy the game together as one of four playable characters, each based off of their portrayals in Super Mario Bros. 2 way back in the day. Mario the all-rounder, Luigi the high jumper, Peach the floater, and Toad the quickster are all here, present and accounted for, with new power-ups like the wall-scaling Cat Suit and the duplicating Double Cherry.
There’s not much I can think of that needs to be added to a Super Mario 3D World Switch port, save for the cut 3D World stages from the Switch release of Captain Toad in favor of Odyssey-themed maps. The vanilla game was perfect already, although some stages that required GamePad functionality (be it via the touchscreen or blowing into the microphone) will definitely need fine-tuning.
8. Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (2016)
Many a developer has hopped onto the Nintendo Switch gravy train, and while Atlus is a big name who remains mysteriously absent thus far, a big splash from the SEGA-owned subsidiary is still to be expected on the horizon. We know Shin Megami Tensei V is on the way as a Switch exclusive, but likely not for a long while yet, given it has only entered full-scale development around this time last year. A Persona 5 port to the system could be a very real possibility in the near future, as Joker will be stealing the show as a new fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate within the two months, and we’re expecting big P5 news in the coming weeks.
With Fire Emblem: Three Houses set to launch in July, we probably won’t be entertaining this idea for a little while, but there is little reason to object against Nintendo and Atlus porting Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE onto the Switch at some point down the line. This interesting experiment of a four-way SMT, Persona, Fire Emblem, and J-Pop idol culture crossover was a must for RPG lovers on the Wii U, though its niche appeal (coupled with the poor sales performance of the Wii U) did no favors in boosting its visibility.
The GamePad was responsible for a few special features, but nothing that can’t be relegated back onto a single screen with the Switch. The map can be displayed on another corner of the UI, and the Topic social app could be accessed via the pause menu. Package in the Costume and Hunter Pack DLCs, and a Switch port of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE would be ready to go!
…that, and maybe with an English dub this time around.
9. The Wonderful 101 (2013)
With Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 behind us, plus the surprise Astral Chain and the anticipated Bayonetta 3 down the line, PlatinumGames has settled itself quite comfortably as a developer for the Nintendo Switch. While we know of two upcoming titles, there is one other possibility—another possible Wii U port that could make a wonderful addition to the Switch’s expanding library.
The Wonderful 101 brought champions of justice to the Wii U with a mixture of Saturday morning cartoon superheroics and that unmistakable Platinum flair, gaining itself a dedicated cult following that persists to this day. Despite its heavy reliance on the GamePad at the time, we know the game could be played traditionally via the Wii U Pro Controller in co-op mode, so any technical hurdles that might seem impossible for a Wii U-to-Switch transition should be a non-issue.
We know that PlatinumGames may have teased The Wonderful 101 for Switch in the past and that the studio has discussed the matter with Nintendo behind closed doors. Producer Atsushi Inaba also stated that he would love to see a Switch port come to fruition. So the question remains: will Wonder-Red and the Wonderful Ones be called on to Unite-Morph once more and fight off the looming Geathjerk threat?
We can only hope that day will come again soon.
10. Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015)
Xenoblade Chronicles came from humble beginnings on the Wii as a spiritual successor to Monolith Soft’s earlier works, before the developer became a Nintendo subsidiary. Since then, the series had grown and evolved considerably, leading up to the million-seller RPG that capped off the Nintendo Switch’s launch year: Xenoblade Chronicles 2. With its expansion pass promises fulfilled and the prequel Torna ~ The Golden Country released last year, this might be all we’re seeing for Xenoblade for a while, as the next new installment is a long ways away with development on a new RPG only just getting off the ground.
If only there were another entry in the series to tide Switch-owning Xenoblade fans over… Oh wait, there is!
Monolith Soft CEO Tetsuya Takahashi has spoken at length on how he wishes to port the more sci-fi-oriented Xenoblade Chronicles X over from the Wii U. Unlike the other games on this list, however, the challenge in porting XCX to Switch is much more obvious. The game is incredibly massive for a Nintendo title—the Wii U barely broke even to run it on its own in whatever format the game is obtained. Physical copies of X strongly suggested downloadable data packs to lessen the strain in properly rendering everything in-game, while the digital version of the entire game nearly takes up all the room in the deluxe Wii U’s hard drive, weighing over 20GB. In short, the game is very technically demanding.
Not to say the undertaking is outright impossible if we’re only looking at gigs, but it would be a hell of a behemoth to fit in a small Nintendo Switch cartridge. Whatever the case, I would love to once again journey planet Mira as my own custom avatar with Hiroyuki Sawano’s music backing the action, if it means I can do it all again in the comfort of my Skell from the comfort of my own bed.
11. Yoshi’s Woolly World (2015)
Perhaps it is too soon to think about our final port, what with Yoshi’s Crafted World coming out at the end of the month. Still, I would like to end the list on a high note with this utterly adorable game. I think platformer fans will want to sink their teeth into this one after finishing its aforementioned successor in March.
A spiritual successor to Good-Feel’s 2010 tight-knit Wii title Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Woolly World wove together a cutesy world of yarn and cloth, patched with the familiar gameplay stylings of Yoshi’s Island. As players ventured through each world in their quest to stop Kamek and Baby Bowser’s villainous plot, they could swap out their Yoshi’s color pattern outside of the basic green, pink, or blue hue with more thematic patterns. These patterns ranged from themes such as Burt the Bashful and cows to ones based off of previous Nintendo hardware.
Woolly World also had the cutest application of amiibo compatibility I’ve seen yet, allowing players to change up their Yoshi’s color pattern to that of the corresponding character: be it a mustachioed Mario Yoshi, a speedy Sonic the Hedgehog Yoshi (down to the red sneakers), or a fresh-looking Inkling Girl Yoshi. The 2017 3DS port Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World took this concept a step further by allowing players to create and share their own custom patterns.
All we need now is a definitive release for the Switch, bringing in the extra features introduced in the 3DS version into an HD console experience. Yes, I would absolutely triple dip for this game!
Nintendo’s triumphs these days stem from a textbook corporate example of lessons learned, as their many missteps with the Wii U have since been corrected with the runaway success that is a true hybrid console experience provided by the Switch. Ever since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the company has made a strong point in ensuring their games from the last generation were not punished for their shortcomings. This has only served to increase the appeal of the Switch with a meaty line-up of quality games partly made up of yesteryear’s greatest hits.
While I scoped Nintendo’s remaining Wii U offerings on whether they may be ported to the Switch during its projected long lifespan, I would like to know what you think. Do you agree with my analysis on which games might make the cut, or did I miss any in particular? Are there any third-party entries that should also make the jump from the Wii U to Switch? Better yet, what other Switch ports from different systems altogether would you want to see?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and come back soon as we’ll discuss why some other Wii U games might not be as lucky.