One of Nintendo's early promises with the Wii U was that the eShop would be home to great independent (or "indie") content. We saw some decent efforts at launch with Chasing Aurora, Little Inferno, and Trine 2: Director's Cut. However, in nearly two years since the console debuted in the US, the eShop has continued to grow with some really great (and, yes, some not-so-great) indie titles that bear further examination.
This post will explore a few of the more recent titles that could be worthy of your Wii U's hard drive space.
This beautifully moody side-scroller released 8/26 on the eShop at $9.99. It has a shadowy, dark aesthetic with excellent use of lighting that gives me a Limbo meets Metroid vibe (with a little bit of Dead Space character design thrown in for good measure).
Although there are a few reports of controls being awkward and a short overall length, this looks like a solid adventure worth your time. You can read more about its development on its Kickstarter page. Trailer below:
This combination rolling/side-scrolling/3D platform packs a ton of personality and runs $7.99 in the Wii U eShop. I've actually downloaded this one but haven't had a chance to dig in to it yet.
The developer actually did some cool video promos that you can watch on the eShop. Basically, they asked other indie game developers to play some of the game and then used Google+ Hangouts to video chat about their experience.
I haven't seen many other smaller developers use this sort of approach, but I loved that Nintendo was willing to let them add these videos directly to the eShop. In fact, they're a major reason I bought the game (although I checked a few online reviews first, too).
They make the comparison to Super Mario Galaxy, and, as you'll see in the trailer, it's an apt one.
Child of Light
While Child of Light is actually a cross-platform game, it's a beautiful, 2D, side-scrolling RPG built on the same "Ubi-Art Framework" engine that powers Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. It's a welcome addition to the Wii U's library, especially for those gamers whose primary console is the Wii U.
Of course, this one isn't really an indie game because it's published by Ubisoft, one of the largest games publishers in the world. So maybe it has no place on this list. Still, I can't help but feel like this game channels everything great about what it means to be indie in spirit, if not in financials.
Watch the trailer and tell me you don't agree.
Okay, so this list wouldn't be complete without the latest indie sensation that's only available on Nintendo platforms, Shovel Knight.
I probably don't need to say a lot at this point, but (in case you haven't been paying attention), this delightfully old-school platformer channels a mix of Castlevania, Mega Man, DuckTales, and maybe even a few other NES classics. It's a loving homage to the best of yesterday with a few tweaks to appeal to the gamers of today.
My biggest issue with this game is the fact that it's available on both Wii U and 3DS, and Nintendo STILL hasn't come up with an answer to Sony's brilliant "Cross-Buy" initiative. Why can't my $14.99 get me a copy of the game to play at home and on the go? I can't answer that, but it's a frustrating situation nevertheless.
But those are complaints against Nintendo's online infrastructure, not Yacht Club Games or their title. By all accounts, you're getting a great game on either system (and the 3D effect on 3DS apparently adds quite a bit, visually).
Oh, and the music. Fans of 8-bit chiptunes should definitely check out the music from Shovel Knight (if nothing else) because it completely nails it. Don't believe me? Watch the trailer.
There are certainly more titles on Nintendo's system than you might expect (thanks to the media's doom-and-gloom stories about the Wii U these days), and many of them are hidden (or not-so-hidden) gems that really round out the library nicely. I think it's safe to say that Nintendo is delivering on the indie promise they made at launch.
Of course, these are just some of my picks, but what's got your eye? Leave 'em in the comments below.