At one point in time, all of the best RPGs were coming out on a Nintendo system. That changed pretty quickly when the Playstation came along, leaving the N64 with the bare minimum for RPG fans. Since then RPGs have evolved a lot, and while the Gamecube and Wii still received their fair share of RPGs, the Big N has not really gotten the same amount of love from a genre that defined itself on the Super Nintendo. Things look to be changing on the Switch, with games like Skyrim and Dragon Quest coming to Nintendo’s newest system, but before then let’s take a look at some of the best offered on the Wii U.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
An age old question – Is Monster Hunter an RPG or an action game? It’s a fair question, and if you don’t consider it to be an RPG I can understand your point of view. Wikipedia lists it as an “Action role-playing game” and Metacritic has it listed under the “role-playing” genre so for the purposes of this article we are definitively listing it as an RPG.
Monster Hunter 3 for the Nintendo Wii was a very good game that had all of the classic Monster Hunter gameplay fans have come to expect from the Capcom series. There are giant monsters you have to fight, armor you have to craft with ingredients from fallen monsters, and cat people who help you out.
Given a solid base to build on top of, Capcom was able to improve on the game in almost every way. The game featured HD graphics, full online and local multiplayer, and the ability to import your status to the 3DS version of the game. Also, the Wii U controller is more comfortable compared to the Wii’s control scheme.
If you picked up the Wii version of the game and enjoyed it, pick up the Wii U version, especially since the Wii multiplayer is no longer supported. In the era of the HD port, this reigned supreme as one of the best the Wii U had to offer.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
If you missed picking up Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for the Wii U, I wouldn’t blame you. The game received some hype and scores were good to decent, but it is also the most aggressively and unapologetically Japanese game on this list and possibly the Wii U itself. With a story that revolves around actors and models teaming up to save the world against evil that takes over the bodies of directors and photographers, you can be forgiven for second guessing this one.
If you are able to get past the weird, and in my opinion weak story, you will encounter a solid game with a unique aesthetic, side quests that reward you with attacks and character artwork, and a compelling take on the classic turn based battle system.
Gameplay is where TMS#FE truly shines. At a certain point in the game, your characters will develop the ability to chain attack based on the first attack, only if the enemy they are targeting is weak against that attack (for example if Character X attacks with a lightning Spell, Character Y will chain that attack with an ax attack). This adds an increased level of thinking, both with regards to which characters you want to have in each battle but also which attack you want to do as an initial attack. It encourages the player not to dismisser weaker attacks as they may have a longer chain. Combine this with random “improv” attacks obtained in sidequests, you have a battle system that will keep you going, even if the story doesn’t do much for you.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles had the misfortune of being released on a system that was all but dead. Due to Nintendo of America dragging its feet on release and having little faith in the game, if you did not immediately buy it, there is a decent chance you were greeted with a hefty price tag. Fortunately for fans, cooler heads prevailed and Nintendo gave us a remake on the 3DS and an amazing sequel on the Wii U.
Xenoblade Chronicles X has you playing as a custom character who awakens in a pod in a world unlike the space ship you fell asleep on. Although you start off fighting only smaller, aggressive monsters, you seen encounter giant herbivores. Combined with the giant mech suits you see in the city, it makes you wonder if there are giant carnivores just around the corner.
Big is the defining characteristic for Xenoblade Chronicles X. The world is big, the monsters are big, and the story is big. There is a war going on, and guess what? The war is big, too!
In the background of Xenoblade Chronicles X the Ganglion have declared war on the humans. In the beginning its unclear why they seem intent on killing any human they come across, and destroying the pieces of the arc ship scattered across the surface of Mira. You fight the aliens in the main story missions, and spend most of the time exploring the world, discovering new alien races, and upgrading your equipment before finally getting your own set of giant armor to fight the increasingly aggressive and huge enemies. Your time isn’t spent completely spent exploring the wilderness though, there are plenty of social missions in New Los Angeles which help builds the alien world of Mira.
Is it cheating to say one of the best games on the Wii U is actually a Super Nintendo game? For any other game then EarthBound that answer would be a yes, but EarthBound is a special situation.
Few people got to experience this classic on the Super Nintendo when it first came out, mostly because of the West’s then less than stellar appetite for RPGs in the mid-90s. Also, the North American version was a bit more expensive than other games because of the packaged goodies that came with it. It wasn’t until Super Smash Bros on the N64 that many Western gamers first learned of Ness.
Unfortunately for Western gamers, piracy was the best option for playing Earthbound. Physical copies have maintained their high price over the years and Nintendo has always been cagey about the series in America and Europe. Even after the game developed a cult following and a sequel was produced for the Game Boy Advance, America was still left out in the cold and gamers had to resort to, an admittedly excellent, fan translation of Mother 3.
However, all of that seemed to change with the Wii U. Not only was this beloved rereleased for the first time in North America, but the original Mother was released for the first time in the West as EarthBound Beginnings. EarthBound is the far superior game, but Nintendo’s change of position on giving American gamers this classic is something to be celebrated, and if you haven’t bought EarthBound on the Virtual Console; do it now, if only to improve our chances of getting Mother 3 released on the Switch.
Child of Light
Turn-based RPGs seem to be a dying breed. Sure there are a few examples, including a game on this list, and Pokemon is still one of the biggest RPG series in the world, but you are seeing far fewer as the genre evolves into real time battles. Even though innovation is taking the genre away from the simple turn based battle system, there is still innovation to be had in this sub-genre.
At first glance, the battle system looks simple: you have two characters, there is a time bar at the top, and you defeat all the enemies on the screen. Early on you learn that depending on when you hit your enemies it can knock them back and delay their attack, granted this is a simple change to the traditional battle system, but this simple change makes the game incredibly fresh and new.
While many people were big fans of the battle system, the first thing that you are going to notice about this game is how beautiful it is. Ubisoft Montreal did an amazing job. The bright, colored pencil style is something truly original and a sight to behold. The game may be short and simple, but it is well worth your time and money to pick up.
For its quality, beauty, and innovation, we are honored to admit Child of Light to the Just Pause ‘Ring of Honor’ as Wii U’s Best Roleplaying Game!
Come back next Thursday 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.