Post Game Wrap-up: NES Remix

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Current Gaming, Post Game Wrap-up
Tags: , , , ,

NES Remix

As someone that’s long complained that Nintendo should do more to take advantage of their massive library of older games, it was quite refreshing to see the announcement and release of NES Remix for the WiiU. It was exactly the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that I like to see from Nintendo. The question is, does this game take full advantage of those NES games which made Nintendo what it is today.

The Set-up:
NES Remix is an oddball game. Each of the NES games presented are given in small chunks with a challenge attached. Sometimes, you’ll only need to complete one challenge when you choose a stage. Other times, you may have to complete numerous challenges. You’ll be given a certain number of hearts, generally three, to finish each stage with. If you fail a challenge or die, you’ll lose a heart. Fortunately, you ranking isn’t based on this, but is instead based on how long you take in each stage, meaning that being speedy is the key to getting the best rating (three stars with a rainbow border). Gaining more stars unlocks more stages and games for you to attempt.

NES Remix - Level Select
The Gameplay:
The roster of games included in NES Remix are:

Balloon Fight   /   Baseball   /   Clu Clu Land   /   Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong, Jr.   /   Donkey Kong 3   / Excitebike   /   Golf
Ice Climber   /   Mario Bros.   /   Pinball   /   Super Mario Bros.
Tennis   /   The Legend of Zelda   /   Urban Champion   /   Wrecking Crew

I’ll point out immediately that Baseball, Donkey Kong 3, Urban Champion, and Tennis are included in a bonus mode with only a few challenges per game.

There are really two game types in NES Remix. In the first, you will select a specific game, and then a particular challenge. Early on, these are extremely easy. In Balloon Fight, for example, in the first stage, there are three challenges, all consisting of popping an enemy’s balloon. And, with NES Remix, once the challenge is completed, it ends. I actually died while achieving a challenge, and it counted it with no negative effect on my ranking at all.

As you advance, the challenges do get harder. One of my favorites was from Super Mario Brothers. Each challenge is a particular section of the game, such as warping to world 4 via the warp zone. What was so entertaining about this was that each challenge was moving you through the actual game, culminating in getting by Bowser in world 8-4. It is challenges like this that make NES Remix shine, and it has quite a few of them.

As for completing the stages, as you complete one, the next will open up, though this also seems to happen even if you fail a stage. I’m assuming this was done to allow players to skip a particular stage that may have been giving them trouble, a feature I’m that I’m happy was implemented. There were a few that were very frustrating for me.

This was not one of them.

This was not one of them.

The second mode is the actual remix mode. In these stages, you’ll attempt a challenge from one of the games, but there will be a twist to it. For example, you may have to finish a level with a Mario that is constantly running forwards, or a level in Excitebike where all you can see is a small headlight spot in front of the bike. A few stages mix-up the challenges, meaning you’ll have to complete a challenge from one game, then a challenge from a different game. These stages are unlocked as you accumulate stars from completing stages in the first mode and will continuously unlock whether or not you’ve attempted the preceding stages.

In addition to gaining stars, with each stage you finish, you accumulate Bit Points which unlock stamps for use in Miiverse, much like Super Mario 3D World. These points are awarded even if you are replaying a level in an effort to improve your ranking.

Ultimately, NES Remix is a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed it for the most part. The challenges range from being ridiculously easy to quite tough while the incentive to get a three star/rainbow border rating and new stamps increases the replay value.

Where I felt the title was lacking is in the choice of video games chose to include here. Some, like Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Brothers were a given, while others like Ice Climbers, Mario Brothers, and Clu Clu Land are head scratchers. The problem is that these games are all presented as they were on the NES, but games like Ice Climbers and Mario Brothers have very finicky controls that render them almost unplayable now (totally my opinion here, if you played them in the NES heyday, I’m sure you’ll find them playable here). Given time with both games, I’m certain that issue would disappear for me, but in this setting, you’re not given that time, you’re thrown right into the mix. After a couple of tries, I completely stopped doing any Mario Brothers stages. There was no fun to be had there for me, only frustration. Their inclusion is made worse by the absence of Metroid, Kid Icarus, and other classic NES games that have held up very well as time has passed.



I feel that I must also cite the lack of true “remixing” of the games. The only crossover among games was two levels in which you play as Link in Donkey Kong. That’s what I would have loved to see more of, and it was almost like a tease that those two levels were included in this. The remixed levels, other than than two I mentioned, consist of odd twists to otherwise conventional levels. I realize that we were not promised a crossing over of game characters, but what little was included makes the absence of more such crossovers all the more glaring. I’m not saying this to diminish the twists added to the games, they were very clever and quite enjoyable.

NES Remix - Link Donkey Kong
Still, as I said, I did enjoy the game. There are enough stages and challenges for the games I did enjoy playing to keep me busy for sometime, and I’m still going back to it to retry stages where my ranking isn’t so great. It’s really a case of the idea being so intriguing that you can’t help but think of where it could have gone, and wonder why it didn’t go there, which is what I’ve spent quite a bit of time on here. Make no mistake though, this is quite a good game and if you are a WiiU owner, you are missing out if you haven’t purchased it. At $15, it’s a steal for what it offers, especially if you are already familiar with many of these games from your childhood, as I am.

In their most recent Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced NES Remix II. Judging from the trailer, it appears that virtually everything I had an issue with in the first installment has been addressed in the second. It makes you wonder if the first was more of a testing ground for the idea, whereas the second installment is the result of that testing. The trailer is below.

  1. zinger_AU says:

    Nah I’m still not sold on this. I guess I was never a big enough NES gamer to really appreciate it. I wonder how many newcomers have given this a go?

    • JAVGB says:

      That’s a good question about the newcomers. Of the 16 games here, I played 4 of them enough to say I was very familiar with them. I think that, with the finicky controls of many of these titles, the more experience you have had with these titles, the more you enjoy this game and not be put off like I was on a couple of them.

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