It's inevitable with any new launch line-up that comes with a debuting game system. On the one hand, you have the "killer apps" that you MUST own, no matter what the cost. On the other, you have forgettable fare that's best left for an after-Christmas special, or something to rent out of sheer curiosity.
And so we come upon it again with the Wii U launch line-up, which consists of multiple games. Only a couple of those are from Nintendo, with the rest being filled in by ambitious third-party companies. So which ones should you buy? Here's an overview of each game, complete with our overall verdict. Happy purchasing, and we'll see you on the Nintendo Network this Sunday!
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Activision)
The series once again returns with unprecedented co-op and multiplayer modes, as well as an action-packed single player mode, where you battle against the vicious Raul Menendez.
Verdict: A great game on other platforms, this one should help the Wii U shine. Just don't expect too many people online until a couple of days in. BUY IT.
Skylanders Giants (Activision)
The Skylanders are back, this time with bigger characters, a larger quest, and plenty of mini-games to engage in.
Verdict: We haven't had a chance to test the portal connectivity yet (the game comes with a plastic one to place figures on), but if it's anything like the other versions, it should be a hit. BUY IT.
Transformers Prime (Activision)
The Transformers make their Wii U debut in a cartoon style similar to the show on The Hub, complete with varying missions and plenty of robot combat.
Verdict: This is a decent license, but the graphics didn't exactly look that dazzling in the trailer. This one may be a rental. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Wipeout 3 (Activision)
The Wipeout crew is back with an all new obstacle course and plenty of challenges galore, including ones that take advantage of the Wii U GamePad.
Verdict: Eh, the other versions were OK, and this one looks like it's got some decent features, but there's hardly anything long-term here. SKIP IT.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Disney Interactive)
Mickey Mouse once again ventures in the Wasteland, teaming up with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as they fight a new breed of painted enemies.
Verdict: The original was great fun, and the sequel has plenty of co-op factors to it, as well as beautiful worlds. Kids are sure to love it. BUY IT.
FIFA Soccer 13 (EA Sports)
Soccer hits its stride with the Wii U debut, complete with compelling management and thumb control features that bring a new degree of challenge to the game.
Verdict: This one was a lot of fun at EA's Gamer's Day event, so we have the utmost confidence that it'll be the same way here. BUY IT.
Madden NFL 13 (EA Sports)
Madden's back on the playing field, for the first time on the Wii U, featuring innovative GamePad-enabled features and plenty of football action.
Verdict: If you're picking up Madden, you might as well pick it up for one of the other consoles that has a more established, robust online community. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Namco)
Namco's tag-team brawler returns with various exclusive Wii U items that are Nintendo themed, along with an array of modes and plenty of talented fighters.
Verdict: The GamePad controls might be a little weird, but the hard-hitting action and interesting exclusive items should be worth checking out. BUY IT.
Tank! Tank! Tank! (Namco)
Namco's quirky multiplayer arcade game has you blasting enemies – and taking on each other – in spirited tank-based action.
Verdict: A decent arcade affair, but hard to swallow for a $50 price tag. Maybe when the price goes down, the audience – particularly online players – will pick up. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
New Super Mario Bros. U (Nintendo)
Mario returns to a Nintendo launch line-up for the first time in years with a trailblazing multiplayer adventure, with hundreds of bonus rooms and classic 2D action.
Verdict: You grew up with Mario, you love Mario. Why would anything change now? BUY IT.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge (Nintendo)
Ryu Hayabusa hacks and slash his way to the definitive version of the hit sequel, complete with more carnage, bonus challenges, and a playable Ayane.
Verdict: The graphics may hiccup, but there's no question this is the ultimate version of the game you'll want to play. BUY IT.
Nintendo Land (Nintendo)
Nintendo's multiplayer-oriented party game has you visiting rooms based on popular franchises, while engaging with friends in creative ways.
Verdict: This comes automatically with the Deluxe set, but regular players won't want to miss out on the shenanigans. BUY IT.
Sing Party (Nintendo)
Grab a mic (sold separately) and sing along to favorites hits from the past and present while you groove along with friends.
Verdict: Essentially, a deluxe karaoke-style set-up. Decent, but hardly innovates in the ways we know the Wii U can. SKIP IT.
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed (Sega)
A great single and multiplayer racing romp featuring Sonic and company, this one will take you through a variety of classic Sega arenas and new places.
Verdict: Considering we don't have Mario Kart U yet, this is the next best thing. Plus it has Wreck-It Ralph in it. Win? Win. BUY IT.
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper (Tecmo Koei)
The "let's kill hundreds of soldiers in one run" action game returns with new characters and plenty of customization options for you and your generals.
Verdict: Doesn't offer anything amazingly new in the series, though some will appreciate it for the stress relief angle alone. "NO ONE CAN STOP ME!" PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Darksiders II (THQ)
Death pays a visit to the Wii U, with an adventure that includes previously released downloadable content, as well as plenty of action.
Verdict: The original game rocked, so barring any sort of technical misfortunes, Death's trip will definitely be a successful one. BUY IT.
Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft)
Connor steps into the picture for this latest adventure, which takes you through the American Revolution as you hunt targets and complete objectives.
Verdict: Utilizing the Wii U screen in various ways, this looks like nothing short of a winner. Now someone grab us a musket. BUY IT.
Mass Effect 3 (Electronic Arts)
Commander Shepard's final go-around gets its shot on the Wii U, complete with most of its respective DLC and exclusive GamePad features.
Verdict: A fun take on the classic series, especially if you've never played it before. The GamePad being the in-game codex is also a welcome improvement, as is the digital comic that gets you up to speed on the series. BUY IT.
ESPN Sports Connection (Ubisoft)
Play through a number of sports-oriented mini-games – and get in a little bit of shape – with this latest ESPN-sponsored compilation.
Verdict: Decent for kids and sports fans, but there's nothing that stands out too much from this otherwise routine get-together of activities. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Just Dance 4 (Ubisoft)
Dance along to a number of hits from both yesterday and today with this dance simulation game – and bring some friends along for the ride.
Verdict: Nothing majorly different from other versions of the game, save for a couple of exclusive songs. Nothing that'll set the dance stage on fire. SKIP IT.
Rabbids Land (Ubisoft)
A collection of amusing mini-games featuring those troublesome Rabbid characters, this one should charm fans that will have to wait a while for Rayman Legends.
Verdict: Decent, but nothing that really stands out above other party-style games. Maybe it needs to be even sillier. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 (Ubisoft)
Ubisoft's latest exercise collection features a number of activities, as well as various adjustments you can make to your routines, to make them feel like your own.
Verdict: Hard to call, as we haven't seen it too much in action yet. If you need exercise right away, it's worth a rental. Otherwise, wait for Wii Fit Plus. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Zombi U (Ubisoft)
One of the premiere third-party titles for the system, Zombi U pits you in a terrifying battle with the undead, utilizing limited weapons and your GamePad.
Verdict: Innovative, genuinely terrifying, and providing the option to turn you into a zombie, this game is a must-have. BUY IT.
Scribblenauts Unlimited (Warner Bros.)
Featuring a variety of Nintendo characters and original situations where you need to create a solution, Scribblenauts Unlimited looks to continue the fun play of the previous games.
Verdict: Stylish and fun, and packing plenty of laughs depending what items you come up with, this one is looking like a winner. BUY IT.
Game Party Champions (Warner Bros.)
Another mini-game compilation that features various activities, Game Party Champions should be a hit with those who loved previous games in the series.
Verdict: Again, doesn't do enough to really push the Wii U system to new levels, though fans of party games may want to give it a go. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition (Warner Bros.)
Finally, we come to the return of last year's phenomenal action hit, complete with exclusive new Wii U features and all DLC included on the disc.
Verdict: If you've never experienced Batman Arkham City before, you won't find a better time. Otherwise, you can wait for the price to go down. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.