I gave NES Remix a B- earlier this year, after losing interest in it rather quickly. When I bought it, I was expecting it to be similar to the WarioWare series, with quick, bite-sized challenges of increasing difficulty. In a way, that’s exactly what I got. However, instead of just a well-timed button press here or a tilt of the GBA there, these challenges required more effort and patience. In other words, you have to be good at these games. Did I really want to be devoting valuable time to games like Balloon Fight and Wrecking Crew, after not really caring about them in the ’80s? Those opposing forces really conflicted me, and before I knew it, I was getting frustrated trying to relearn these old 8-bit games.
But as I’ve learned time and time again, stepping away from games can often bring me back with a more open mind. After spending more time with it, digging deeper into its many challenges, my appreciation for it has definitely grown. While I still think that the game selection itself runs the entire quality gamut from poor to excellent, what the developer Indieszero has put together here is really quite impressive.
It’d be easy to say that they just wrapped a NES emulator inside another game engine, but when you stop and think about what it took to make all of this function the way it does, it’s pretty amazing.
As a sidenote, I think one of the best features of the Wii U is the Miiverse, with its individual game communities, excellent player interaction, and what was introduced first in Super Mario 3D World: stamps. NES Remix‘s implementation is cool in that you not only earn stamps and can use them in Miiverse posts, but they are displayed to other users, including best times and star ratings. Some of the scores I’ve seen from other players have been very impressive, as is the artwork I’ve seen. There are some incredibly talented artists out there, and I love discovering them.
My meager attempt — like the one pictured here — is just a tiny example of how you can blend hand-drawn pictures with stamps. It’s a lot of fun, the community seems to do a good job of policing itself, and the Wii U GamePad works surprisingly well for drawing.
I still have a considerable ways to go before I get 3 stars on everything, but even at this relatively late point in the game, I keep running into little fun surprises. For example, you can buy the old games featured in NES Remix on the eShop. That’s not the cool part, though. What’s cool is they created this fun Legend of Zelda-themed screen before taking you to the store. It’s a great touch that they didn’t really need to put in there, but they did anyway.
NES Remix also does a really good job of rolling out new content and challenges to the player constantly. Every time I think I’ve unlocked the last game, a new one pops up, or more Remix stages appear, and there are surprises beyond that. I loved the way Turn 10 did this in Forza Motorsport 4, and it’s just as effective and rewarding here.
I also like that there are embedded curve balls thrown into the Remix stages, so just when you think you know what you’re going to have to do, you’re asked to do things that you’ve probably never done in these games. Those moments are the most memorable, like the one above where Luigi not only has to get through one of Donkey Kong‘s stages that has been flipped horizontally, but then make it all the way back to the beginning. Some of the other stages seem borderline unfair at times, but you can tell that the designers had a blast coming up with all sorts of ways to really mess with our decades-old muscle memory.
In closing, this has been my go-to game for the past week. Whenever I have a few minutes, I’ll immediately turn this on and collect several more stars. It’s great being able to do everything from the GamePad too; this is precisely the type of title that’s perfectly suited for it. Although I still can’t get over how bad the controls are in games like Ice Climber, Urban Champion, and the original Mario Bros. (non-Super), this is still a great compilation that will make you look at the NES era in entirely new ways.
- Graphics & Presentation: B+
Classic sprites with subtle touches in the Remix stages, like drop shadows that add depth. Nice interface, good Miiverse integration, and a terrific loading screen give it a polished feel.
- Music & Sound Effects: B
Clean, crisp audio, plus some new music and interface sound effects. You’ll likely get very tired of hearing the Miss and Game Over sounds, though.
- Gameplay & Controls: B+
The games are preserved here and play just like you remember. They also control just like they did in the ’80s, which is to say that some are good and some are bad. Lots of content rewards throughout keep things fresh.
- Value: A+
$15 seems steep, but there are over 200 challenges to complete, and they will keep you busy for a long time, especially if you go for the perfect rainbows. Good Miiverse integration keeps you chasing those high scores.