Of all the home consoles Nintendo has ever released, the Wii U is probably the one they’d like to remember the least.

Part of the eighth generation of gaming, the Wii U competed against the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. As Nintendo’s first console to offer HD graphics (1080p), there were high hopes for the console to build on the Wii’s momentum by offering backward compatibility with Wii games and hardware.

Unfortunately, the Wii U’s time in the market was marred by both disappointing battery life for its GamePad and marketing that didn’t properly explain what the GamePad was for. 

Ultimately, the Wii U would go on to sell only 13.5 million units, which is often at least partially blamed on a lackluster lineup of games at launch. With no “must have” title, the Wii U struggled to quickly gain a foothold in the marketplace and compete against Sony’s deep exclusive lineup of games.

However, even without any must-have titles, that doesn’t mean the Wii U wasn’t home to games that were not great on their own, many of which are action titles. 

Let’s dive into what they are!

What is an Action Game? 

Action games are among some of the most popular titles on video game consoles and live as an umbrella genre to many different sub-genres. Action games are often characterized as games that require strong hand-and-eye coordination, fast gameplay, and combat. That typically leads action games to be looked at as platformers, fighting games, and beat ‘em ups, but that’s not to say other game formats won’t be lumped in on a case-by-case basis. 

Was the Nintendo Wii U Known for Action Games? 

Like most modern home video game consoles, the Wii U isn’t known for any one particular type of game genre. That’s not to say there are no great action games on the Wii U — on the contrary, as this list will show.

It’s just that the Wii U wasn’t known for being home to any one particular set of games that made it a must-have console. Thankfully, games like Super Mario 3D World are available on the Wii U and, as a platformer, it’s a definite action game that is a constant test of your reflexes. 

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Super Mario Maker - Nintendo Wii U
  • Create and play the Mario levels of your dreams
  • Play a near limitless number of intensely creative Super Mario levels
  • Nintendo has made Mario games for decades. Now… it's your turn!
  • Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) Content Description: Suitable_for_all_users, comic mischief
  • English (Publication Language)

One of the most underrated game creation titles ever made, Super Mario Maker is a side-scrolling platform game released by Nintendo.

MSuper Mario Maker is essentially a game that lets you, as the player, create your own Mario levels completely from scratch. Toss out your belief about what a Mario game level should look like and create something that is so intense, it takes hundreds of tries to complete. On the other hand, you can try something simple enough that everyone can beat it on their first try. 

All of your traditional Mario game staples are here, including goombas, koopas, power-ups, warp pipes, flags, shells, and so much more.

Super Mario Maker was released in September 2015 and by May 2016, more than seven million courses had been created by players on the Wii U. Combined, those levels had been played more than 600 million times and those numbers only continued to climb as Super Mario Maker sold more than four million copies.  

Given the fast pace required and incredible hand-and-eye coordination necessary to complete some of the most complex levels someone could imagine, Super Mario Maker is a platformer at its core, but it’s all action, all the time. 

Starting making your own Mario levels today with Super Mario Maker from Amazon here

A Metroidvania game that will absolutely test your reflexes every time you pick up the GamePad, Axiom Verge is a definite must-own for Wii U owners.

As a Metroidvania style game, Axiom Verge is better described as a side-scroller, very much like Metroid, but instead of Samus, your main protagonist is Trace. Waking up many years after an injury puts Trace into a coma, the world is now unfamiliar and Trace is hearing voices in his head. 

Metroid fans will find the gameplay very familiar as you start out with one weapon only to fill up your arsenal the more you play. Choosing the right weapon is going to be very important as the wrong one can mean you’re stuck replaying a level over and over. Should you find the “glitch gun” early on, you’ve got a whole new way to play Axiom Verge

The graphics of Axiom Verge are part of the charm as the retro look feels right at home on a Nintendo console. So too does the music which matches superbly with the gameplay. Axiom Verge is well-worth your time, and that’s proven by the 89 Metascore. 

Pick up your copy of Axiom Verge for the Wii U from Amazon here

Skylanders SWAP Force Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii
  • UPC: 047875847118
  • Weight: 748 grams, Starter Pack includes: 1-Video Game, 1-Portal of Power, 3-Skylanders Figures, 1-Character Collector Poster, 3-Sticker Sheets with Secret Codes and 3-Trading Cards
  • Warning: Choking Hazard - Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
  • Toys come to life, toys with brains, Blizzard Entertainment #84711
  • Toys come to life, toys with brains

The third title in the Skylanders series, Skylanders Swap Force, is one of the most interesting titles on the Nintendo Wii U.

Players are asked to bring real-life figurines to life with this game. Skylanders characters come on a USB device that can be placed on the “Portal of Power,” which is packed with time and can be used to call down in-game characters. It’s a fun and unique way to play, although some parents might view it as a quick cash grab by the developers. 

If you can get over the additional cost of purchasing extra characters, Skylander characters can now jump in Swap Force, which is new for this third entry. All characters have their own abilities and can swap certain parts of themselves with other characters in-game to bulk up their abilities. 

The game itself is a combination action game with hack-and-slash elements where you must hunt down collectibles and treasures throughout the various stages of the game. Even with the need for parents to buy additional characters of which there are close to 100, Skylanders Swap Force still earns an 89 Metascore for its solid gameplay and beautiful graphics on the Wii U.

Get your own Skylanders Swap Force starter pack from Amazon here

#4: Guacamole! Super Turbo Championship Edition

There is no shortage of Metroidvania-style games on the Nintendo Wii U, but none have the flair and the art style of Guacamole! Super Turbo Championship Edition.

The title might be a mouthful, but this game is set in a fictional Mexican-inspired world and it is a wonderful representation. Taking a familiar game format and turning it on its head can often lead to disaster, but that is not the case here.

In fact, the opposite is true, as the melee combat system is second to none, and the main character sets off on a mission to rescue El Presidente’s daughter. Throughout this journey, you’ll wander through absolutely gorgeous environments with rich and vibrant colors as well as a story that’s actually compelling. 

As Juan grows his abilities and continues on his journey to fight the big bad enemy at the start of the game, you can choose to either button mash your way through the game or be more tactical. As every good action game requires, Guacamole! requires strategy and excellent hand-and-eye coordination to survive every enemy encounter. 

The first game on this list to hit a 90 Metascore ranking deserves every bit of praise, thanks to a truly unique experience with a visual look that is a must-try. 

Wii U
The Wii U wasn’t technically known for action games, but it definitely had some good ones!
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Rayman Legends
  • Wii U showcase - Rayman Legends takes Full advantage of the Wii U and its new Controller's capabilities
  • 5-Player co-op gameplay - with 4 Wii remotes and the new Wii U Controller, up to 5 players can play at once
  • 3D boss battles - dragons and other epic creatures can attack from all angles, so you'll have to be on top of your game to defeat them
  • English (Publication Language)

Rayman and his friends Globox, the Teensies, and Barbara the Barbarian Princess are back (or new for Barbara) in the follow-up to Rayman Origins, Rayman Legends.

On the Nintendo Wii, Rayman Legends lives up to its name with some of the best-looking stages any platformer has dared to try. Along with its outstanding looks, Rayman sounds just as good by introducing a standout soundtrack. Combined with intuitive controls, everything about Rayman Legends feels right at home on the Wii U. 

Throughout the game, Rayman and his friends will fight, run, and jump (or just bop) their way around different levels looking for secrets all on a quest to save their world. The use of the GamePad for the Nintendo Wii helped Rayman reach its 92 Metascore, thanks to its unique ability to alter the environment or for use during co-op gameplay. 

Rayman Legends is a true platformer that requires you to play through from start to finish. To do that, you’ll find yourself needing fast use of your reflexes in hopes of avoiding obstacles, and there will be plenty of obstacles in your way. There’s danger at every turn, and with the terrific soundtrack, you’ll easily find yourself sitting down and trying to beat the ten-hour campaign in one sitting. 

Help Rayman and his friends by picking up Rayman Legends on Amazon here

Super Smash Bros. - Nintendo Wii U
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories
  • English (Publication Language)

The Super Smash Bros. series needs little introduction for Nintendo and even non-Nintendo fans.

One of the most unique fighting games around, Super Smash Bros has made dominant appearances on every Nintendo console it has appeared on.

As the fourth best-selling game on the Wii U, Super Smash Bros. has sold more than 5.3 million copies. Everything from the kid-friendly fighting style to the wonderful assortment of characters Nintendo has assembled helps make this game the fan service game it remains to this day. 

The Wii U version followed up the popular Nintendo 3DS Super Smash Bros. version with brighter colors, more moves for each character, and a party game that’s good for the whole family. The replay value is absolutely the strongest among all action games on the Wii U, and perhaps overall, no matter the genre. 

Unlike most fighting games where it’s one versus one, Super Smash Bros. enables up to eight players to join a game and fight. The levels are unique and fighting locations draw from many popular Nintendo franchises making it one of the best local multiplayer games on the Wii U. The 92 Metascore is just right for a game of this caliber. 

Starting smashing with Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U on Amazon here

Super Smash Bros for Wii U
Super Smash Bros. For Wii U was just as fun on the Wii U as any other platform!

To the surprise of almost no one, another Mario game will top the list of the best action games on the Wii U. Super Mario 3D World is an unparalleled platformer experience on this console, and for all the right reasons.

Selling more than 5.8 million copies, Super Mario 3D World was the second best-selling game for the Wii U. As the first 3D multiplayer 3D Mario game, you have the choice of playing as Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, or Toad, and there is just something adorable about this game that its 93 Metascore feels too low. 

The gameplay isn’t unfamiliar for fans of the Mario series, as players must compete in levels to reach and defeat Bowser. What makes this game so fun is the 3D touch which plays directly into the characters and their own abilities.

Do you want to jump higher? Choose Luigi. If you want to float through the air, Princess Peach is the right character for you. No matter which character you choose, the 3D effect is just fantastic and adds such a fantastic layer to the game that it feels like an entirely new Mario experience without giving up what made it great in the first place. 

Grab your copy of the best action game on the Wii U today from Amazon here

Final Thoughts

The Wii U isn’t going to go down in history as Nintendo’s best console and, thankfully, it doesn’t need to.

What will be remembered is that, even with disappointing sales, the Wii U still offered fans who took up the GamePad mantle a terrific set of action games that remain fun to play to this day. Picking up Super Smash Bros. For Wii U or Super Mario 3D World still feels magical enough to bring you back from time to time.

Even as these games have seen successors on the Nintendo Switch, their charm remains, and we’re all grateful for those memories.

Last update on 2022-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The 7 Absolute Best Wii U Action Games of All Time FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When did the Nintendo Wii U release in North America?

The Wii U North American release occurred on November 18, 2012.

Why did the Nintendo Wii U fail?

While there was plenty of praise for the innovative GamePad, the Wii U failed to offer a user interface that appealed to gamers as well as a disappointing library of launch games. 

How many Wii U consoles were sold worldwide?

The Nintendo Wii U sold 13.5 million units worldwide between its release on November 18, 2012, and January 31, 2017, when it was discontinued. 

What is the best-selling Wii U game of all time?

Selling more than 8.4 million copies, Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling game in Wii U history. 

What is the best action game for the Nintendo Wii U?

Super Mario 3D World and its 93 Metascore is the undisputed king of action games on the Nintendo Wii U. 

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