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One of Nintendo’s surprises last Christmas was the announcement of NES Remix and then it came out the next day after the Nintendo Direct. NES Remix is a downloadable eShop game that takes some of your favorite and “not so favorite” NES classics and reduce them to quick mini-games along with adding some twists to the gameplay. You would think a whole bunch of NES games are playable in this package, but turns out it is only limited to first-party titles and they also have to be released on the Wii U Virtual Console. This unique take on the NES era is a solid homage with it’s hits and misses.
NES Remix in another way is a shameless plug to buy the games that are featured in this package in their entirety on the eShop. There is even an eShop icon that you direct right away to it if you’re interested in playing them in their normal fashion than the bite-sized challenge form. The games are split in various challenges that are also tutorials in a way to learn the basics. For example, in Super Mario Bros, there will be sets of stages that get you accustomed to the mechanics such as defeating enemies with the star, finding hidden 1ups and vines, etc. Another example would be in Donkey Kong where where there are stages that test your jumping skills over barrels and using the hammer efficiently. It is an interesting take to learn the classics, but also a grind if you played these games to death before this release.
Then there’s the remix levels, the main attraction of this game. These stages spice up the gameplay of the NES games in a variety of games. Most of the twists are hit and miss such as limiting the player’s visibility, making certain enemies bigger, or disabling a certain ability, but other twists are pretty crazy. Yes, you can play as Link in a Donkey Kong level, hence the picture above, and since Link can’t jump in his own game, he can’t in Donkey Kong as well, which makes navigation a bit more harder than you think. Another clever trick the developers used in some of the remix levels is zooming out the gameplay screen to have multiple screens of the same thing going on. It will be trippy at first glance, but you’ll get used it playing a few more times. Those who love nostalgia will dig some remixes of the classic games, but as mentioned already, not all of them are home runs.
One of other major gripes with NES Remix is the unlocking structure. Not all of the games that are in this package are playable out of the gate and some points, becomes a grind to unlock what’s next such as remix stages or games you’re not thrilled about playing. The Legend of Zelda is one of those games that have to be unlocked, which is a shame, but at least some of the hits like Super Mario Bros. and Balloon Fight are available right away. Speaking of the game roster, not all of them are classics personally as some of the games have not aged well and too frustrating to play through. Ice Climber and Mario Bros’ frustrating platforming mechanics for example are a pain to deal with when trying to achieve certain challenges. Clu Clu Land has abysmal controls and it is also a pretty bad game as well. Other games such as Urban Champion, Donkey Kong 3, Baseball, and Tennis got the short end of the stick with not a lot of challenges, but it is probably for the best since they’re not good games either.
Most of the NES games did get minor graphical filters specifically in the remix stages. Backgrounds in certain Mario stages have different colors like the image above, but for the most part nothing significant was changed to the classics. The games run smoothly for the most part as well, but it isn’t tough considering they are NES games. Stamps that used for Miiverse can be unlocked by playing through the game normally, similar to what Super Mario 3D World had. The only new music tracks in NES Remix are in the title screen, which I really like, and the menu itself.
While NES Remix is a solid homage to the 8-bit era, it would’ve been better in a variety of ways. First of all, not all of the games included in this package are worth playing such as Clu Clu Land and Mario Bros due to frustrating controls and physics. The structure of unlocking content can be a grind especially if you’re forced to play through games that are not as good as Excitebike, Super Mario Bros, and The Legend of Zelda. Plus the remixed stages themselves are pretty hit and miss. Even for $15, NES Remix is worth playing based on nostalgia alone, but your nostalgic glasses may not like some of the games Nintendo put in this game. Hopefully we will see more games perhaps added by DLC or a full fledged sequel with better games (maybe based on a different console?). It was something I didn’t expect Nintendo to release at all, but it shows that even they don’t mind having their older games get changed up a bit.