2013 was a great year to be a Nintendo fan, regardless of whether you purchased a 3DS or Wii U. The publisher released a variety of games that took full advantage of both systems, while at the same time offering a delightful mix of old and new adventures. That said, make sure you check these critically acclaimed titles off your must play list.
Long-time Nintendo fanatics adore the newest Zelda for a plethora of reasons. For starters, the game takes place within the same world as the 1992 SNES classic, A Link to the Past. In a loving homage to that wonderful smash hit, users view the action from a top down perspective while enjoying graphics inspired by the 16-bit action RPG. Of course, this brand-new adventure comes with its own plot, alternate worlds to explore and multiple dungeons filled with secrets and enemies to defeat, and there's plenty more. A Link Between Worlds features the ability to merge onto walls, as Link goes from a 3D hero to 2D painting, giving players the chance to complete puzzles and outwit troublesome monsters. All of these elements combine to form a potential game of the year candidate that will likely become one of most beloved Zeldas of all time.
Gamers longing for a 3D Mario adventure received a great one in the form of Super Mario 3D World. Nintendo took a page from the NES classic Super Mario Bros. 2 with the same four playable characters (Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach), the last three having signature abilities that make levels somewhat easier. The rest of this outstanding title is entirely new, with eight worlds full of challenges, from riding a dinosaur to running through a Mario Kart-inspired stage, along with bonus worlds that ratchet up the difficulty. Four-person multiplayer made a welcome return, while the option to collect Green Stars and Stamps had players revisiting levels for 100 percent completion. Throw in the chance to use not only the Wii U GamePad, but also the Pro Controller and Wii Remote/Nunchuk, and this is one of the more accessible Mario games in recent memory.
Most Wii U owners were disappointed to learn of Ubisoft's plan to delay Rayman Legends from an early 2013 to fall release. Thankfully, the wait was definitely worth it. First, it's one of the most beautiful 2D games in existence. The Glade of Dreams comes with a variety of stages overflowing with gorgeous detail, with lifelike creature animations and backdrops that would seem right at home in an art museum. Admire the visuals all you'd like, but there's more to Legends than eye candy. A fun mix of levels present exciting opportunities to complete bonus mini-games, gather collectables and partake in special musical boards that'll have you jumping and punching to the beat. On top of that, five-player co-op allows one person to utilize the Wii U GamePad while four buddies join the action with Wii Remotes. Speaking of the GamePad, players can call upon a character known as Murfy to cut ropes, rotate objects and tickle opponents via touch and tilt. The result is a superb game from start to finish.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes received plenty of headlines towards the end of 2013, but don't forget about LEGO City Undercover. Although it lacks a big-time comic book license, this charming open world adventure comes with memorable characters, plenty of humour and Grand Theft Auto-inspired gameplay for people of all ages. As undercover office Chase McCain, players don numerous disguises and control over 100 vehicles in their efforts to track down the evil Rex Fury. Go anywhere, encounter new LEGO play sets and take full advantage of the Wii U GamePad as you scan the environment for clues, place waypoints, check the map and hunt for bad guys. Load times are a little long, but once you enter this world, it'll be tough to leave.
Plenty of gamers criticized The Wind Waker when it debuted on the GameCube in 2003 due to its cartoon appearance. Perhaps everyone will appreciate Nintendo's cell-shaded creation now that it's on the Wii U. Suffice to say, this game has never looked better, with more pronounced colours that pop on high-definition displays. In addition, Wind Waker bests its counterpart with the map and inventory screens readily accessible on the Wii U GamePad, and a Swift Sail that makes navigating the high seas much quicker. On a side note, Miiverse functionality allows players to write messages, place them into bottles and throw these items into the ocean to get discovered by other would-be adventurers. Bottom line, you can't go wrong with Wind Waker HD, either as a long-time fan or first-time player.