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The Wii U a failure? Far from it

The time for tearful Wii U eulogies has likely been and gone (it felt like notice was already being served on Nintendo’s home console not long after it came out four years ago), but as production winds down now is as good a time as any to take stock of its legacy. Maybe you might look for it in its sales figures, which are notoriously poor – the 13.36m sold as of September fall well short of the 21.74 million GameCubes Nintendo shifted, making it comfortably the company’s poorest performing home platform. It’s edged ahead of Sega’s Dreamcast – itself with a tally of 9.13m sold – but looking at the sales alone the Wii U has been a disaster.

Is that where you find the true worth of a console, though? I’m not an investor or an analyst and, like the majority of people that come to a specialist site like Eurogamer, I’m simply someone who loves video games. I like some better than others, and there are a truly special few that find their way to my heart. I don’t judge my favourite films by their box office receipts, just as much as I don’t rate my favourite songs by how high they charted. Look beyond the sales, and by the one metric that matters to people like me – the number of games worth playing on any given platform – the Wii U was a resounding success.

That’s what happens when your console benefits from the attention of one of the best game makers around (and Nintendo had to double down here, seeing as any meaningful third-party support didn’t last beyond the launch window), but the Wii U was such a charmer not simply because it played host to Nintendo’s big first-party exclusives over the past four years. What made it special was how it shaped those games, shepherding in a back catalogue that’s distinctive, idiosyncratic and often plain wondrous.