The NES is arguably the greatest video game console ever released. From platform games to sports to RPGs, the NES brought console gaming to the mainstream for the first time and revitalized the industry after the video game crash of the 80s. Nintendo has re-released many classic NES titles over the years — from the Game Boy Advance cartridges to the current eShop platform that is found across the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. The Nintendo Direct on December 18th was one of their biggest ones yet and Nintendo dropped a bomb on Wii U owners with the announcement of NES Remix.
NES Remix is not just a simple re-release of a classic NES title or a bundle of them. Think of it more as the ultimate fan service for those who enjoyed that era of gaming. It consists of over twelve NES titles that are broken down into segments that must be completed as quickly as possible. For instance, a segment may have you playing Super Mario Bros. and have you collect all the coins. You are then graded on your time, which gives you stars; the more stars you get, the more games you unlock. You are also graded on how fast you accomplished the feat, whether or not you died, and if it was done on your first attempt. Those ratings translate into unlockable stamps, which can be used to make Miiverse messages, similar to how Super Mario 3D World is set up.
I kept feeling something very nostalgic while working on this review. It took me a while to figure out what exactly it was, but then it all made sense: this game is a lot like the classic game show Nick Arcade. Nick Arcade was all about video games and the most interesting thing about the show was the “Video Challenges,” which had a gamer playing a full-fledged game for thirty seconds and try to beat a score that was set. It always amazed me and looked like a lot of fun. NES Remix almost feels like it not only pays homage to the NES but to Nick Arcade as well.
As you can see, the word “remix” is right in the title, so the games are obviously not direct ports. There is a selection of “remix” events that have the classic game in a new format. From playing a level of Super Mario Bros. in black and white to trippy effects, like an ever-growing Mario Bros. screen that only shrinks when you kill an enemy, the game becomes very creative in the missions. It’s always exciting to get five more stars to open up the next remix challenge because you never quite know what to expect in the next level.
The game, however, is not perfect. Some of the game choices boil down to personal preference and, while you aren’t forced to play them, you will have to eventually if you want more stars. I don’t like Balloon Fight at all, so having to play it in small segments while accomplishing a goal became very tedious and, at times, just not fun for me. With a variety of games to choose from, I’m sure there will be at least one that each individual player might not be a fan of.
Also, some of the challenges are very tough. Having to complete a level of Super Mario Bros. while running the entire time and not being able to stop can really push a player to their limits. Some may just give up in frustration. Also, while the game does feature Miiverse integration, it would have been nice to have a full online leaderboard instead of just a message popping up next to the mission with a time and a stamp design of a random player.
Minor quirks aside, NES Remix is a real treat that came out of nowhere. It always amazes me how Nintendo can keep things so secretive and, in this case, make no mention of it until the release day. Wii U owners that are 30+ years old will feel right at home revisiting old friends with new challenges and younger Wii U owners can finally see what all the fuss was about. More importantly, it’s not just a simple rehash of a classic game, but an excellent mini-game-based game that breathes new life into the vintage NES scene. If you are a fan of NES flagship titles, NES Remix needs to be on your Wii U.
Low Score: 7 / 10
- Some challenges are really tough
- Some games have limited appeal
- Full online leaderboards would have been nice
High Score: 9.5 / 10
- NES Classics turned into mini-games
- Very fun
- Large variety of games