NES Remix is typical of Nintendo’s approach to modern gaming. While it comes up with a fun way of airing some of its classic – and not so classic – NES titles, it also badly fumbles the key thing that makes its new game so alarmingly addictive.
NES Remix is effectively a one-trick pony, but it’s a one-trick pony with a lustrous mane of hair, gorgeous fluttery eyes and a glossy coat that just begs you to ride it. Developer indieszero takes the fact-paced gameplay mechanics from its Retro Gamer Challenge series and marries it to the 8-bit shenanigans found in 9-Volt’s Wario Ware challenges. The end result is a highly addictive set of challenges that will test both your reflexes and patience.
There are some great games in NES Remix, including the awesome Excitebike.
16 games from Nintendo’s NES catalogue have been included, from evergreen classics such as The Legend Of Zelda, Excitebike, Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong, to genuine stinkers like Baseball and Urban Champion. Each game has a large number of different challenges that all revolve around key mechanics found in the original game.
In Excitebike you might simply have to complete a single lap of a course, while Donkey Kong Jr might require you to hit two birds with available fruit. You might have to kill a certain amount of enemies while invulnerable in Super Mario Bros, or take out the classic bosses of Zelda. Each game throws constant curve balls at you, so while you might know the theme of a challenge, you won’t necessarily know how best to complete it. Each challenge awards you with up to three stars (with rainbow stars giving for particularly fast scores) and unlocking stars slowly unlocks you games (you start off with just 6) and Remixes.
The Remix stages are even more challenging and will really test your skills. One infuriating early level based around Super Mario Bros requires you to avoid numerous enemies while navigating a constantly scrolling and very empty playfield, while a bout based on Balloon Fight requires you to take down a large number of enemies in a very tight time frame.
Remix challenges are particularly tough, often obscuring your view.
While certain stages are insanely tough the star-based nature means that you’ll never find your progress halted. Indeed, this is one of the main strengths of NES Remix, you’ve always got a fair amount of options available to you as completing a challenge immediately unlocks the next in line. The pacing of the unlockable games is quite sensible as well, meaning it never feels like a grind while you’re unlocking stuff. It’s something of a pity then that many of the later games you unlock aren’t as good as the ones found at the beginning. While we’re perfectly happy with the amount of games on offer, it does seem a shame that many of the later games genuinely weren’t that fun to play in their original forms and while Nintendo and indieszero should be commended for what has been wrung out of them, they don’t feel quite as enjoyable as a lot of the earlier games or Remixes.
The biggest issues with NES Remix though are by far the most baffling ones. Considering the family based tag that has been attached to Nintendo’s console there’s no multiplayer on offer at all. When you consider the sheer competiveness that NES Remix actually offers it feels like a colossal oversight. Granted you can simply pass the pad between friends as you all attempt to beat a score, but it doesn’t really work in the same way. And then there’s the fact that Nintendo has created a high score-based game with no online leaderboard. Admittedly you can kind of post scores on MiiVerse, but it’s a flaky system that doesn’t work too well. Aside from unlocking all the games, there’s very little incentive to try and best your actual scores, which takes away a huge part of NES Remix’s appeal.
Later levels show graphical tricks, such as the stages shrinking as you play.
It’s a real shame that Nintendo drops the ball so spectacularly here and it just feels completely out of touch in today’s gaming environment. Maybe Nintendo had no faith that NES Remix would have any appeal to anyone but the biggest retro heads (after all it was released with virtually no fanfare at all) which may explain why the overall concept feels a little half-baked.
Get past the lack of leaderboards and the batch of later weak games and you’ll still find plenty to enjoy in NES Remix. The games themselves look excellent, effortlessly capturing the spirit of the original releases, while the sheer amount of variety packed into the large number of challenges should be commended. We’d love to see Nintendo adopt this approach with other consoles in its back catalogue – you don’t know what we’d do to get a SNES Remix – but we’re more than happy with the delightful surprise it has served up.