Nintendo has long been associated with family-friendly fare, and the Wii U continues that trend. Most games developed by Nintendo are premium games that run $60. But the online eShop offers access to many cheap downloadable Wii U games that are ideal for your family. Several of these games are under $20 apiece, to boot. Here are six games that are low on cost but high on family fun.

Art of Balance

ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): None
Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia
Price: $8.99

If your family enjoys playing Jenga, then you might find similar thrills in Art of Balance. This is a cheap eShop game that finds players carefully stacking blocks without letting the tower drop. It requires a steady hand and some careful planning. It also has multiple play modes for local multiplayer fun.

Two players can battle it out in a split-screen mode to see who can solve a stage the fastest. You’ll each have the same blocks and base, so it’s all about speed. On the other hand, the Tower Tumble mode lets up to five players alternate turns as each player places one block atop the ever-growing stack. The first to send it all crashing to the ground loses—but you’ll surely want to play again and again.

Trine: Enhanced Edition

ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol
Publisher: Frozenbyte
Price: $14.99

Trine is a fantasy adventure that stars three heroes with very different skills and strengths. Amadeus is a wizard who can create and levitate objects with sorcery. Zoya is a nimble thief with a grappling hook and bow and arrow. And Pontius is a powerful knight with brute strength. In other words, it’s a pretty perfect three-player game.

Each player can control one of the heroes, and the game demands the use of all of your collective abilities. It might mean that one player takes lead in a section, or that multiple players combine their abilities to solve a tricky roadblock. Using each player’s strengths to work together is key, and it makes this beautiful fantasy quest a fun one to play as a family.


ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Mild Fantasy Violence
Publisher: TOO DX
Price: $9.99

If you’re in the mood for frantic fun, Sportsball is an amusing, oddball option for the Wii U. Sportsball imagines a new kind of competitive sport in which players ride on the backs of very large birds, smash into their opposing players, and try to bounce a ball into the correct goal.

This isn’t a deliberate or slow-paced game. Everything happens so rapidly that it looks like utter chaos at all times. The two-on-two local showdowns are great for families and parties. Additionally, a fifth player can act like a television commentator and narrate the match into the Wii U GamePad’s microphone, which is then pumped through your TV’s speakers. There’s plenty of silly fun to go around.

Affordable Space Adventures

ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Mild Fantasy Violence
Publisher: KnapNok Games
Price: $19.99

Affordable Space Adventures is one of the most unique multiplayer games on the Wii U. It challenges up to three players to simultaneously control the same spacecraft. This means communication is absolutely vital if you want to avoid bashing into the walls.

You’ll guide the clunky ship through dark, shadowy corridors and hazard-filled rooms. Each player has a specific role. One player controls the ship’s movements, another commands the ship’s light and scanner, and the third can use the GamePad screen to activate various ship functions. You’ll need all of those capabilities to successfully navigate these challenges, which makes it a game that demands close cooperation.

Guacamalee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Price: $14.99

Guacamelee offers a whimsical, supernatural twist on the side-scrolling adventure. Players control an agave farmer who is slain while trying to protect the woman he loves. But then he’s brought back to life with a mask that allows him to transform into a luchador (a masked Mexican wrestler) and exact his revenge.

It’s actually a pretty funny, lighthearted affair, albeit one that can be challenging. You’ll have to leap through obstacle-filled levels and fight various enemies along the way. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone: you can have a second player hop into the game, and thus have double the power as you battle through the quest.


ESRB Rating: Teen
Content Descriptor(s): Violence, Blood
Publisher: Zen Studios
Price: $9.99

Pull, fling, and dominate: that’s the basic gist behind CastleStorm. But there’s so much more to the gameplay. You also have to properly smash your opponent’s hold while protecting your own. This action-oriented take on tower defense is not only a fun single-player game, but also an especially enjoyable local two-player experience.

You can play competitively with each player attacking and defending on opposite sides. You can also work cooperatively to battle against a computer-controlled opponent. And since the GamePad has its own screen, each player gets his/her own dedicated display. It’s not split-screen like on other platforms. The caveat there is that the TV-watching player will need a Wii U Pro Controller to play.

This article was written by

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor, and his work has appeared in more than 50 publications around the world. He’s also a work-at-home dad to a wild toddler.