Nintendo and indie developers are still working on improving relations and the Wii U was a great step in the right direction. Sure, the Wii had Cave Story, but it took six years for Super Meat Boy to make it to a Nintendo console.
The Wii U definitely brought more indie games to Nintendo fans, but we are still missing out on such great games as Stardew Valley, Firewatch, and Hyper Light Drifter, and we never got our port of Gone Home. The Nintendo Switch seems to be the solution, but until then these five games should give you plenty of hope.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth – Buy Now
If the Wii U had gotten The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth it would probably top this list. With that said, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is an amazing game. It is one of the best examples of both the potential of indie game developers and the capacity of the video game medium to tell stories in a unique way.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a game that lends itself to playing only as long as you want. If you want to spend the next 5 hours playing The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, the gameplay lends itself to that. If you want to spend only 20 minutes playing before you have to leave for work or school, the gameplay also lends itself to that.
The mechanics of The Binding of Isaac make the game infinitely replayable and allow you to experiment with a diverse style of playing. The levels are randomly generated and a plethora of power ups requires you to change your play style for each new item.
Each player is going to develop an affinity for a specific character – my favorite being Azazel – and favorite item combinations, but the unpredictable nature keeps you from getting set on just a single strategy. If you want to truly test your skills as a gamer, the Challenges give you a wide variety of different scenarios to try out.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – Buy on 3DS
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse would feel at home in a list of Super Nintendo classics. The game features beautiful, varied levels with unique enemies, a wide assortment of fun power ups and collectibles, and extremely tight but simple controls.
The Shantae series stretches back to 2002 but you would be forgiven if this is the first time you have heard of the series. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was definitely a solid installment for the series, but its exclusive DSi release, initially, did not garner mainstream attention the same way a console release could. Thankfully, this third entry to the series brought it to the attention of the general public.
Shantae is a half genie who travels around the islands near her hometown of Scuttle Town using her hair as her main weapon, attempting to free her home town from the evil magic of Ammo Baron. Like many great retro games, the story isn’t the main focus, but make sure you pay attention to every conversation to experience the clever humor of the world.
Visually, Shantae and the Pirates Curse is one of the brightest and most fun games of recent memory. The island locations keeps things light hearted, although there are few treks to darker and scarier lands. Even in the dark times the cartoon aesthetic keeps things light and fun and keep you in the game.
Axiom Verge – Buy Now
From a super bright game to a super dark game, Axiom Verge is a a true throwback to the legendary Super Metroid. Although the palette may actually be a bit lighter then Metroid, the general atmosphere and visuals are darker, featuring piles of corpses and monsters from other dimensions.
Like other modern games inspired by the classics Axiom Verge is a lot harder than the original games it was inspired by. All the best games feature tight controls and gameplay and Axiom Verge is no exception. This makes the difficulty something that can be overcome with enough time, patience, and reflexes. Some bosses have more in common with bullet hell games; you are going to die a lot before you can beat this game.
Axiom Verge is the most recent game on the list which is a true testament to its quality. Hopefully it gets a Switch port, because there are still plenty of Nintendo fans who haven’t gotten the chance to pick up this beautiful throwback.
BIT.TRIP Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Runner2 was one of the first indie games to come out on the Wii U and a sign of the better support for the Wii U. It is an insanely fun rhythm game that has something for casual players and hardcore players alike.
If you want to give the game a play through on easy there is a very natural progression that keeps you going. If you want to make things a bit more difficult for yourself play the game on hard, skip the halfway points, and make sure you get every collectible. Granted if you do go that route just know you are going to have to replay the levels on easy mode if you want all three exclamation marks.
Runner2’s controls are simple, but perfect. Your character, which ranges from anything from a pickle to an 8 bit version of CommanderVideo, is constantly running and you have buttons for jumping, kicking, sliding, and shielding. These actions are timed perfectly to the music of each level, so much so that if you wanted to you could play with your eyes closed. Actually, take that as a challenge. Go play this game with your eyes closed!
Shovel Knight – Buy Now
It is tough to overstate the importance of Shovel Knight to the Wii U. Runner2 was the game that game that signaled to the gaming public that more indie games would be coming to the Wii U, but Shovel Knight seemed to be the game that made Nintendo take notice. There is a reason that Shovel Knight is the first indie game to receive an amiibo, and hopefully it’s a sign that Nintendo is going to take a more active role at catering to and promoting indie games and developers.
Shovel Knight is more than just an important game, it’s a great and fun game. Last week it was one of our top 5 Wii U 2D platformers and if you want to read more about how great it is, feel free to check out last week’s list. For its quality and importance to the platform, we are honored to admit Shovel Knight to the Just Pause ‘Ring of Honor’ as Wii U’s Best Indie Game!
Some Honorable Mentions go out to 1001 Spikes (see 5 Best Wii U 2D Platformers), Affordable Space Adventures, Super Meat Boy, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, SteamWorld Dig, EDGE, and Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition. Look out for our coverage of the upcoming title, Ghost Blade HD.
Come back next week as we continue our weekly series ‘Remembering the Wii U’.
Think we missed a game or you disagree with our choices? Leave a comment below or shoot us a tweet at @justpausegaming.