When Nintendo released the original NES Remix last December, the first thing I and many others thought — after our initial reaction of “Wow, they released a game the same day they announced it” — was that it would be awesome if they made one with better first-party NES games. Well, it certainly didn’t take long to get our wish; just months after the original, NES Remix 2 has been released and it contains Nintendo’s best games for the NES. The quality of the base games naturally has a huge effect on the remixes and NES Remix 2 is a little shorter than the original but much sweeter.
The premise of NES Remix 2 is identical to the first game. Twelve NES games, plus a few quick cameos, have been utilized to create over 150 bite-sized challenges. Each challenge is ranked by time, giving you incentive to do it as quickly and as perfectly as possible. There are two types of challenges. Normal challenges place you in a specific part of a game and give you a quick objective or a series of quick objectives. Aside from that, the normal challenges play exactly like the original game. While some challenges feel like tutorials or retreads of the most iconic parts of a game, there are also creative ones that use the mechanics in ways the original game never required and feel like a new experience.
The other type of challenge is the highlight and namesake of the game. Remix challenges have the same general format as normal challenges, but they actually change the game. You might have multiple copies of your character to confuse you, play as one game’s character in another game’s level, play a Mario level like an endless runner, and that’s just a few of them! These are easily the best part of the game and, while just over sixty of the challenges being remixes is a lower percentage than would be ideal, there are enough to explore all the games in NES Remix 2.
Speaking of games, let’s look at what NES Remix 2 gives us: Dr. Mario, Ice Hockey, Kid Icarus, Kirby’s Adventure, Metroid, NES Open Tournament Golf, Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan, AKA The Lost Levels), Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA), Super Mario Bros. 3, Wario’s Woods, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Ice Hockey is the only new game that doesn’t get its own set of challenges, being confined to remix stages. As opposed to the simple pre-Super Mario Bros. games that dominated the original NES Remix, NR2 contains almost all of Nintendo’s most iconic NES games. While not every game has aged perfectly (Wario’s Woods really needed better controls), there are some timeless classics in the roster and the bite-sized challenges actually negate some problems in early non-linear games, like Metroid and Zelda II. Nintendo was not holding back this time and there are few complaints anyone can make about the game selection.
With how short many of the challenges are, length is naturally going to be a concern. The game is a little short — even trying to get three stars in every level can be done in five to seven hours. The game is shorter than the original, but it is more consistently enjoyable. There were very few times I wanted a section to end so I could move on; I usually wanted more when I finished a game’s challenges. It never gets terribly difficult, but the challenge is very balanced and never feels frustrating. While I certainly would have liked more challenges, especially remixes, the game isn’t terribly short for its price.
There is a good amount of replay in the game. In addition to the three stars you can achieve in each challenge that are necessary to unlock all of the stages, a nearly perfect blaze-through will give you rainbow stars. If you want to get rainbow stars on every challenge, it will add a good amount to your playtime. There is also a mode modeled after the famous NES Championship cart, where you play Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario for points and a ranking on an online leaderboard. There is also Super Luigi Bros., which is the entire Super Mario Bros. mirrored with Luigi, who has his distinctive physics.
There isn’t much to say about the graphics and sound in NES Remix 2. In normal challenges, the games obviously look and sound exactly like the NES originals. The remix challenges upgrade the graphics somewhat and there are some interesting effects used for certain challenges, but they certainly aren’t pushing the Wii U. Nostalgia is a huge part of the game, so the simple graphics really can’t be considered a flaw. If you remember the NES games, you know what NR2 looks and sounds like.
The NES Remix games do a great job of adding to and creatively using the games they are based on, but there’s no getting around that the quality of the base games is a huge factor in how good the remix is going to be. While NES Remix 2 doesn’t do anything dramatically different from the first game, the games used for it make it a better experience. While the series could definitely benefit from being longer and more (painful pun/hint coming up) Super, NES Remix 2 is still a fun and creative game that is a must own for anyone who remembers or is interested in the NES.