NES Remix Review: I Like the Remix, Baby

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Title: NES Remix
Price: $14.99
System(s): Wii U
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Nintendo and Indies Zero)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone” for Mild Fantasy Violence

I suppose I should begin this review by asking for forgiveness. You know, for quoting a New Kids on the Block song in the review title. But I am unapologetic. Partically because of my love for boyband music, but mainly because of my feelings towards NES Remix. The Wii U eShop hasn’t seen a lot of love in the past year, but finally Nintendo is stepping up with a good, unique, first party game and NES Remix is the first step towards making things right.

nes remix

Play them again, only faster and more accurately.

Think of NES Remix as a retro-themed installment in the WarioWare. While it isn’t actually part of the series, it comes pretty close, and many of the challenges resemble ones found in the WarioWare 8-Bit levels. The game is divided up into two parts. The first is a series of Remix challenges, which are unlocked by earning stars in the standard challenges. These feature redesigned versions of classic games, with various special gimmicks and visual effects.

However, they’re also quite rare, as the real meat of NES Remix are the challenges for the 16 classic NES games. Here’s the list of games included.

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

You aren’t actually playing full versions of these games, though. Instead, each Challenge gives a player between 3-6 lives and between 1-4 tasks to complete in a certain amount of time. If it is completed fast enough and without any failures, you can get three stars. Any hitch, however, knocks down the star total, which means a slower time of unlocking new Remix and Standard challenges.

There are 204 challenges total, and to unlock everything you’ll probably need to get at least two out of three stars for every challenge, so there’s plenty of replay value.

nes remix

Returning to the classics.

Of the over 200 challenges available, most are standard challenges for the 16 regular NES games. This means a player will start a challenge, and will then have a certain amount of time to complete between one and four objectives. If there’s more than one, then it’s typically asking the player to repeat the same objective four times, but each time it’s a little more difficult. Also, each challenge always sounds simple, but proves to be somewhat challenging, or even downright difficult, when it comes to actually pulling it off. That, combined with the chance to get 1-3 stars for your performance and Miiverse stamp-unlocking experience, means that each challenge will probably be played at least once. They’re perfectly bite-sized and hard enough to invite replays, especially if you have friends over and try to each one-up the other’s score. Sadly, there’s no actual multiplayer option.

The Remix challenges are what make NES Remix super special. Each one has some kind of special, graphical change, to start, which makes them a joy to look at. Not to mention there’s remixed music as well. The challenges here also take a bit longer to complete, and are sometimes even more complicated, than the standard challenges. Each one is just this incredible test and you feel accomplished when you complete them. Then, you go back and replay them a few times, because the first time you were too focused on completing the task to appreciate the changes.

Of course, the NES Classics games are a full-on return to the era of Nintendo-hard. This will be quite an eye-opener for some people. These games require precise movements and controls, and since the majority of people playing them did so on an original NES controller, getting accustomed to the GamePad controls will result in some initial frustration. And, most likely, it will result in some game-blaming. I’ve found, after much time spent on NES Remix, that once you figure out the quirks, you learn there’s no one to blame but yourself for any mistakes made.

The only problem I have with NES Remix is the fact that most things must be unlocked. When the game begins, you have one Remix Challenge, and the only NES games available are Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, Excite Bike, Mario Bros., and Super Mario Bros.. Each of the NES games available only has one Challenge open, and the rest become available after you beat the preceeding challenge. It’s frustrating. Especially once you know all of the games that are available, because then you might see a game you’d really want to play, perhaps right away, will require a few hours of effort before you can actually play.

I can understand the mindset behind this decision. Perhaps Nintendo and Indies Zero wanted to be sure people went through a natural progression, and didn’t just play the Remix challenges. What I can’t understand is why every NES game can’t be unlocked from the start. Give us the first challenge for all 16 games right away. Don’t force us to spend an hour playing and mastering games we don’t like, to get to one that we do.

Unfortunately, NES Remix doesn’t contain the full versions of any of the 16 NES games. That would have been an incredible bonus, but again, it’s easy to see why Nintendo made that choice. Each one is available for $4.99 alone as a Virtual Console title, so the company doesn’t want to miss out on that money. However, for most games the final challenge is actually going through a full level of the game, so at least there’s some semblence of normal gameplay.

nes remix

NES Remix is an entertaining reminder.

Sometimes, I like to compare NES Remix to a high school yearbook. We knew these games we’re now enjoying snippets of on our Wii U. Perhaps we even mastered them. Yet, as time went by, we moved on to bigger and better things. Maybe we didn’t always go back to savor the classics we loved. Now, with this mini-game collection, we can. We can remember the best parts, the greatest challenges, and regain our skillset. It’s like a crystalized, condensed, and, yes, even remixed version of Nintendo’s very best, which we can enjoy at our leisure. NES Remix takes all of the games you loved as a child and makes you realize how much you suck at them 20+ years later. It perfectly taps into our nostalgia and offers a game you’ll feel determined to master.

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