(Pocket-lint) - Nintendo had a rocky start to 2014 but an excellent rest of the year which has lead into a strong early 2015. While the 3DS and games for the handheld continued to perform well in sales terms, the Wii U was struggling, leading many - ourselves included - to proclaim it a flop.
We were wrong. Spectacularly so.
Signs of a recovery were seen slightly beforehand but the E3 videgames trade show in Los Angeles in June was the turning point for the company and the console, with such a strong future games line-up shown on the Nintendo stand that many thought the company had stolen the event.
A couple of those games have appeared on the market since, with many more to follow throughout this year, but already sales figures have started to rise dramatically - not to the levels of the PS4 or Xbox One, but certainly enough to give developers an excuse to revisit the innovative gaming machine.
We too have found reinvigorated love in our Wii U and are thrilled at the prospect of an exciting period ahead for the machine and, specifically, its games. And we think that if you buy one now you'll not regret it. Indeed, there are already a decent collection of triple-A games available for you to play, so we've put together our top 10 games that are available right now or coming very soon in order to give you an excuse to invest immediately.
Mario Kart 8
Almost our game of the year in the O2 Pocket-lint Gadget Awards, beaten by just a few votes by Alien: Isolation, Mario Kart 8 is arguably the best in the franchise's long history. It is not only our favourite game to spark up at parties, it proves why Nintendo has such a great reputation of making games everyone can and will enjoy. Fast, frenetic and, most importantly, fun, the game adds anti-gravity elements to courses to refresh what already was the best karting game series around.
READ: Mario Kart 8 review
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
While we wait for the first brand, new Zelda game on home consoles for a while, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD remaster (from the GameCube classic) is well worth a revisit. And if you've never played it before you are in for a treat.
The cartoon-style graphics look even better in high definition and the scope and size of the role-playing game will ensure you will be playing for weeks on end. Even the GamePad is utilised in enhancing the experience this time out and while criticised on its original release in 2002 for diverting in style from traditional games featuring Link, this version stands as one of the greatest on the platform.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Originally featured as a mini-game distraction in the brilliant Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a platform puzzle game that will suck hours of your time with its innovative levels and thoroughly addictive gameplay. You must manipulate the world to find a route through each level, collecting gems along the way and you'll find yourself replaying sections over and over again in order to get them all.
Who though a platform game where you can't jump would be so much fun?
Super Smash Bros for Wii U
While it's not a massive leap forward from the Wii version of Nintendo's cute and hilarious fighting game, Super Smash Bros on the Wii U is proof positive that the console can offer amazing visuals alongside slightly more gamer-centric trills. It works best on a GameCube controller old or new (via an adaptor) but can be played using either the GamePad or official wireless joypad and provides some outlandish multiplayer fun.
We particularly like the support for Nintendo's chipped toy figure range, Amiibo, allowing players to store upgrades and stats onto the NFC-enabled characters to put them into friends' machines too.
If Super Smash Bros is aimed squarely at gamers, Bayonetta 2 is a love letter to them. It is the hack and slash sequel to one of the greatest unsung hardcore games around and being exclusive to Wii U is perhaps one of the best reasons to get the console even if you own a PS4 or Xbox One.
Playability is king here, although to progress is a difficult feat to master. It's all about combos and quick actions as you fight from boss battle to boss battle in a flurry of incredible visuals and great sound design. Many have listed Bayonetta 2 as not just the best Wii U game this year, but the best game full stop. We also recommend you check out the first game in the series too.
Super Mario 3D World
It wouldn't be a Nintendo console without a Mario game or two and although the launch game, Super Mario Bros U, was an excellent 2D platformer, the subsequent Super Mario 3D World blew it out of the water. Oozing originality and offering multiple game styles throughout the lengthy adventure, this was the Mario we wanted.
Multiplayer platforming for up to four players was a huge bonus too, as were the cat suits that both provided a new challenge and plenty of giggles along the way. There are few games that live up to the classics, such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, but 3D World is comfortable in such company.
READ: Super Mario 3D World
We have to admit we've never been big fans of the Dynasty Warriors games in the past, but this take certainly piqued our interest thanks to the inclusion of the characters from the Zelda franchise.
Link, Zelda and the rest all switch from role-playing to enormous skirmishes across gorgeous battlefields and while a lot of progress can be made through button mashing, it soon becomes apparent that well-timed combos are the order of the day to reach later levels. There are also great boss battles to be won, most often by using smarts rather than just force. And we have to credit the development team for getting so many enemies on screen at once.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Back in our SNES-playing days we were big fans of the 2D side-scrolling Donkey Kong Country games from Rare and were thrilled to hear they were coming back again, and this time in HD. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze even exceeded our expectations, not just with sumptuous graphical vistas but also by proving to be a demon when it comes to difficulty. It might look kid-friendly with its cartoon graphics, but it is incredibly hard to complete, especially as you progress further.
Collaborative multiplayer ups the ante too, with a second player making levels even harder to traverse as you are both constantly in peril. And that is very much a good thing.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut
Although the Wii U has had some third-party support - with Bayonetta 2 being the best and Watch Dogs also recently being made available by Ubisoft - Square Enix dabbled with the console in its early days with a director's cut version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it did a great job.
As well as add the downloadable content from the original release of the game on other consoles, the Wii U reworking includes new style boss fights and GamePad-centric control features to the role-playing first-person shooter. The graphics also stand up well for a game a couple of years old now and you can pick it up reasonably cheaply if you shop around.
Although it's not due for release until May we recently got to play almost four hours worth of Splatoon in multiple game modes and feel it could be Nintendo's biggest game of 2015 by far.
It is the company's first real stab at a multiplayer online skirmish game, albeit in third-person than first, but it is as suitably Nintendo as they come. You are a child/squid who must cover the floor in ink along with three other team mates, while four rivals attempt to cover more with their colour instead. In squid mode you can swim through the ink but cannot shoot, while in person shape you battle. It's bonkers but drips in playability.
Single-player mode is good too, but it will be the multiplayer ink fights that will have you coming back for more.