Review: NES Remix 2 (Wii U eShop)

Sorry about the lack of a GHG update yesterday. I set out to finish the main portion of this game, and finish it I did. Finally!

Anyway, if you’ve been following the blog or my social media posts over the past couple weeks, you know that I’ve been putting a lot of time into this game. How much is a lot? I just checked my Daily Log, and yeah, I said wow:


At nearly 43 hours in — and I still don’t consider myself done with it — this little $15 eShop title absolutely consumed me. It was really just supposed to be a slight distraction between bigger games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Nier. Instead, it became one of the most memorable, challenging, and competitive games I’ve ever played.

Now, for those who haven’t played either of these games yet, they are essentially a collection of bite-sized challenges built off of classic NES games, such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Dr. Mario, Kirby’s Adventure, and Metroid. There are also lesser-known ones thrown in there as well, such as Wrecking Crew, Wario’s Woods, Pinball, and Clu Clu Land.

Each of these games has a variety of different challenges to complete, many of which have time and life limitations. Additionally, separate sub-challenges may be involved that require you to get through different types of obstacles within each title. All of them have a hidden running timer that records how long each one takes, and depending on your time, you are awarded 1-3 stars. If you do particularly well, you get a rainbow 3-star.

Acquiring those rainbow stars don’t really do anything, and they are there mainly for personal satisfaction and bragging rights. You can experience 100% of what both games have to offer by simply getting 3 stars on all of the stages.

Additionally, there are Remix and Bonus stages that can combine elements from multiple games, have enhanced graphics, and change up gameplay mechanics and level structures from what you may be used to. All stages, remixed or otherwise, run the entire range in terms of difficulty. Consider the original game challenges a warm-up for these.


I really liked 2013’s NES Remix, but it wasn’t quite as compelling and enjoyable as its sequel. While game selection certainly plays a part in terms of perceived quality, NES Remix 2 introduces some key improvements that elevate the experience.

My favorite new feature is that your best playthroughs are all recorded, as are those of other players within Nintendo’s Wii U/3DS social network, the Miiverse. This not only lets you share your best times with others, but you can now watch all of those really fast runs from the many talented players out there. While I would recommend figuring out how to best navigate each challenge on your own first, I think it’s a lot of fun seeing how other players achieve such incredibly low times. This helped raise my game considerably.

Contrast this with how it’s done in the first NES Remix, where you can see other times, but not how they were achieved. It gave you a time to aim for, but you had to go onto something else like YouTube to actually see them. Integrating it all into the game itself is an inspired touch.

I’ve noticed that the community is much tighter for NES Remix 2 because of this, even though both games are part of the same collective group. I’ve had a blast sharing my times, along with a slew of doodles I’ve done to go along with them, like these, which I drew for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Kirby’s Adventure, and Super Mario Bros. 3:




One thing the NES Remix games lack — and the sequel is no exception — are true leaderboards. The only way to see other players’ times is if they manually post them to the Miiverse. If not, you won’t see them pop up while in-game.

This is too bad. Hopefully if we see future installments, this is something they can add, because it would be great to see how your scores truly stack up against the rest of the world.


Speaking of leaderboards, however, one of the new modes — Championship Mode — does include rankings. This mode, inspired by the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, combines three challenges from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario. You have a little more than six minutes to get through the three games, and much of your final scores comes down to how well you do in Dr. Mario.

The neatest thing I noticed going from the main game’s challenges to Championship Mode is how the skills you learn there translate over. I actually felt like a much better player at all three games as a result. It’s a lot of fun, and after a few tries I’ve already worked my way up into the top 25. I have a long ways to go before I come close to catching the leader, though!


The other new mode in NES Remix 2 is Super Luigi Bros., which is a remixed version of Super Mario Bros. Inspired by stages from the first NES Remix, you take Luigi from right-to-left, along with Luigi-esque physics that really change the way the game is played.

Admittedly, I haven’t played through the entirety of this mode yet, since it’s not all that interesting to me. Championship Mode is, in my opinion, by far the one that is the more addicting of the two.


NES Remix 2 feels a bit easier than the original game. It might be because the games control better for the most part, but I do think they were much more lenient with star requirements this time around. I think this is fine, because the heart of the game is continuing to whittle down and refine your times as much as possible.

If you play the game this way, you’ll obtain all the rainbows relatively easily, but even if you want to just semi-casually 3-star everything, you shouldn’t run into too many issues. This keeps things fresh, moving the whole experience forward at a good pace.

NES Remix 2 is a great game. It represents one of the best values to be found on the Wii U eShop, and is one of my favorite games of the year so far. Highly recommended.

  • Graphics & Presentation: A-
    Beautiful 8-bit sprites with subtle updates in the Remix stages, such as colorful, painted backgrounds. Improved Miiverse integration and newer games give it a more polished feel than its predecessor.
  • Music & Sound Effects: B+
    Clear audio, remixed music, and one particular Super Mario Bros. theme late in the game is especially memorable. The Game Over and Miss sounds are the same as before, though.
  • Gameplay & Controls: A-
    Newer games means mostly better controls, with a couple titles like Wario’s Woods and Zelda II feeling more slippery than they should. Tons of content rewards throughout keep you coming back for more, and additional game modes provide even more to see and do.
  • Value: A+
    If you play to chase high scores, this will keep you occupied for many, many hours. $15 is a bargain for this much gameplay.

Overall: A



More Playing, Talking, and Drawing

When you’re tired, it’s tough to get in front of the microphone. However, I bought one for a reason, so today I did a Let’s Play — or Let’s Replay, rather — for the Zelda II section of NES Remix 2:

A lot of my posts and social media updates lately have revolved around this game, and for good reason: It’s a lot of fun, and its short bursts of gameplay that focus on achieving the lowest times possible is highly addicting. It’s hard for me to think of another series — besides maybe the license tests from the Gran Turismo games — that have made me so obsessively replay stages over and over like this.

20140723_kid_icarus_boxartAs I mention in the video, I’m currently working my way through the Kid Icarus levels, and for me anyway, this particular title feels like the Ice Climber of NES Remix 2.

The controls are slippery and seem almost broken at times. There is a very specific way that you have to do things in order for the controls to work correctly, so I suppose it’s just a matter of getting used to them.

I hate fighting so much with a game, though, and hopefully it clicks before too long. It’s highly regarded in the pantheon of classic NES titles, but one that I’ve never quite been able to get good at.

At any rate, sorry for the short update today, but I’ll have a new entry in my Industry Memoirs section by the end of the week. It’s been a while since I’ve written one of those, so I’m looking forward to diving back in!

In the meantime, here are a few more Miiverse sketches that I quickly did last night and this morning while finishing up my Zelda II stages:



It doesn’t look anything like the Master Sword, but without any reference material handy, this is about all I could come up with off the top of my head. I’ll draw a proper one soon!



For this one, I “increased” the resolution of the Link stamp, added some more detail to him, and attempted to make it look like the bolt was cutting through the numbers. I reduced the number of bits flying off of them since it was starting to look surprisingly gruesome.



Here’s an extreme close-up of the Triforce, or maybe it’s just a rock monument to the actual Triforce? Whatever the case may be, I made it look aged, with cracks and other rough details.



Finally, this is another one using stamps with the addition of a sunset, stairs from the alter, and other little bits. Hopefully the time on the sign — which is from one of the Kirby stamps — is readable on the small screen when it displays in-game.


Progress Report: NES Remix 2 (Wii U)

20140721_nes_remix_2_2I cannot tell a lie: I’m all sorts of addicted to this game.

Now, as much as I played the heck out of the first NES Remix, the sequel does just about everything better this time around, providing an experience that is more fun from the get-go.


First of all, the selection of games on display here is arguably better, mostly because they are newer and more refined in their gameplay and controls. Some, like Kirby’s Adventure and Wario’s Woods, were originally released in 1993 and 1994, respectively.

This is quite impressive given that the 32-bit PlayStation came out in 1994, two generations removed from the 8-bit NES. I always like seeing the differences between launch games and those from the end of a console cycle. It’s like night and day.


Anyway, another area that has seen noticeable improvements is the Miiverse. You can now watch replays from your friends — which are prioritized — and other players to see just how they got those low Clear Times. This is a terrific addition, and one of the best features of NES Remix 2. In my opinion, it’s always best to try figuring out how to get as low a time as possible on your own, but once you’ve hit a wall, watching ultra-fast runs really opens your eyes to shortcuts and other tricks.

Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it, though? These are two very different things that can be very difficult to replicate. I’ve retried stages many, many times in order to shave off a tenth of a second or two. It can be infuriating when you can’t seem to improve upon or even match the best Miiverse times, but it’s so much fun, and I find it nearly impossible to tear myself away from the game until I’m successful.


My mentality and approach to playing this has also changed. In the original NES Remix, I was perfectly satisfied and would move on if I just got 3 stars. I would eventually go back and rainbow star everything, but that wasn’t until much later. In NES Remix 2, I find myself almost obsessing over each stage, wanting to beat the lowest Miiverse times that appear for each one.

Doing things this way has made forward progress in the game a lot slower, but it has also given me a very deep appreciation for each individual title, and it underscores how well these old Nintendo games were designed. Even the ones that are just OK are elevated when the element of time comes into play.


Getting back to the Miiverse, another addition that makes a huge difference is that now the individual game and stage names are tagged in Miiverse posts. In the first NES Remix, if you were viewing updates outside of the game, you wouldn’t have any context, unless the person who wrote it put it in their post. Here, you can see which game and stage a post pertains to, so it’s a lot more helpful now.

I’ve been having a blast comparing times and doodling pictures for other Wii U players. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Miiverse is by far my favorite implementation of a console social network. It’s smooth, easy to use, and a lot of fun.


In terms of the actual Remix stages, I’ve barely scratched the surface. As I did with NES Remix, I’m going through all the individual games first before I take on the wacky and unique challenges to be found there.

I also haven’t really messed with the modes outside of the main game, namely Super Luigi Bros. and Championship Mode.


Any gripes so far? Yeah, one thing I’ve never liked in this series is that you can’t just forfeit a life and retry the current sub-stage you’re on. It’s annoying when your only options are to (a) restart the entire thing from scratch, (b) waste time trying to lose a life, or (c) wait for the sub-stage timer to end. Depending on the circumstances, this can take a long time, and a slight tweak in design could have made this so much more streamlined.

Another quibble is that occasionally, you’ll run into a challenge where one of the sub-stages is simply a long, drawn-out, non-interactive demo. I’m looking at you, Punch-Out!! and Kirby’s Adventure. Why they decided to put these in the game baffles me. If you replay these to improve your times, you will learn to hate them quickly.

Finally, I wish there were traditional leaderboards, with sorting options for friends, regions, and time periods. Currently, the only way to know what times your friends achieved is if they manually post them in the Miiverse. A more automated leaderboard system would have been so much better for a game like this.


Besides those things, however, this is one fantastic game. It takes the addictive formula of NES Remix and polishes it into a better experience. I look forward to playing through the rest of it, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that SNES Remix isn’t far behind!

For more first impressions of NES Remix 2, check out my YouTube video HERE.