Nintendo has made the first leap into the next iteration of "next-gen" consoles with the Wii U. After playing many of the launch titles with the new GamePad, I have recommendations for games you should get your hands on, and others that made me nervous.Must-owns
"New Super Mario Bros. U" (Genre: Platformer; Publisher: Nintendo; ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone): Every Nintendo console is judged by how it reintroduces its signature character. It may seem like a copout to take Mario and the crew back to his original 2D side-scrolling roots, but the GamePad encourages teamwork, and having up to five players jumping around collecting coins at once is addictive fun. It will be months before I tear the controllers away from my wife, and that is always a good sign for a Mario game.
"Batman: Arkham City -- Armored Edition" (Genre: Action; Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive; ESRB Rating: T, for Teen): One of the most celebrated games of 2012 gets the Wii U treatment, and if for some reason you are a gamer who didn't get to revel in this game's glory, now is your chance. Not much has changed from the PS3/Xbox 360 versions, but the inclusion of DLC packages and moving the Caped Crusader's investigation game-play elements to the GamePad makes perfect sense. This game for the Wii U has a higher "cool factor" than just about any Wii game ever released.
"Nintendo Land" (Genre: Party; Publisher: Nintendo; ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone): Twelve games are packed within this carnival atmosphere, and many are a twist on classic Nintendo characters such as Link or Yoshi. The game is marketed as family-friendly, but several of the offerings (Mario Chase, Luigi's Ghost Mansion, Donkey Kong's Crash Course, to name a few) are fun enough for a group of adults, so don't worry about how playful the games look. Hours of fun are packed into this title.
"NBA 2K13" (Genre: Sports; Publisher: 2K Sports; ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone): The best sports game this year not named "FIFA" gets stellar treatment on the Wii U. Point the GamePad toward your TV to check the fatigue of your players or use it to call plays and leave the screen less cluttered. Better yet, play it on the GamePad itself.Cautionary tales
"ZombiU" (Genre: Adventure; Publisher: Ubisoft; ESRB Rating: M, for Mature): My expectations were so high for this game (at last, serious M-rated content on a Nintendo console -- and zombies!) that once I got deep into it the disappointments were too many to overcome. The engaging narrative idea -- each time you die, you begin as a new character -- sucked me in, but gets overwhelmed by repetitive actions and a lack of feeling like you're in a true survival situation.
"Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge" (Genre: Adventure; Publisher: Techmo; ESRB Rating: M, for Mature): The earlier versions of this game teetered toward utter disaster, and the folks at Techmo went back to the drawing board for the Wii U edition. But eliminating the earlier problems -- too easy to kill, not enough ways to do so -- are replaced with all-new problems -- too difficult to enjoy, GamePad offers little enhancement -- that equate to a still-unsatisfying ninja adventure.
"Madden 13" (Genre: Sports; Publisher: EA Sports; ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone): The ability to draw routes for wide receivers on the GamePad rocks, as does taking the play-calling functionality off the TV and into your hands. But beyond that, this game feels like the 2010 edition of "Madden." Most of the new features from the other consoles didn't make it to this version, making it feel old.
"Sing Party" (Genre: Music; Publisher: Nintendo; ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone): No small joy about the Wii U for me is getting away from these types of games. You sing, you dance, you earn a modicum amount of points for your efforts. I guess if you're really into drunken karaoke parties or entertaining tweens, this game could be an OK purchase.