Though I owned every Nintendo console ever made, my breadth of gaming during the NES era was limited. I owned three games: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and R.C. Pro Am. Beyond those I was relegated to whatever was in at the local game rental store. This meant that I never played the likes of Mega Man, Metroid, or the Legend of Zelda. Twenty years later I’ve started picking up these classics and more on the Wii U and 3DS virtual console. The truth for myself is that often my interest fizzles out after a few minutes, and I’m logging back into Star Wars: The Old Republic, or playing Mario Kart 8. Those classics were great experiences, but game design has moved on and so have my tastes.
Then Nintendo announced NES Remix, where the awesomeness that is the NES and modern game design were meshed into a great little package that’s given me hours of fun and made me fall in love with the NES all over again.
NES Remix is a console game that thinks it’s a mobile game. You play one of several NES games that are broken down into short challenges. Each challenge is a mini snippet from the actual game, such as the original Super Mario Bros. You might have to find the pipe that let’s you go down it, or destroy 10 enemies while you are invincible. In Excite Bike, you will have to perfectly land a jump, or crash three riders with your back wheel.
Depending on how fast you complete the challenge, you’re rewarded with 1, 2, or 3 stars. If you did especially good, you’ll get three stars surrounded by rainbow colors. My 3 year old talked very highly of Daddy when he got the rainbow colors. Collecting stars opens up new games (see below for a full list of included titles, or skip the list and be surprised).
You are also rewarded with Bits for objectives like finishing the challenge the first time. Getting 500 or a 1000 of these will unlock stamps you can use to post to Miiverse (an ingenious and interesting new addition to recent Nintendo games).
Where Nintendo flexes it’s creativity muscles are the delightful Remix stages. Nintendo let their developers go wild with the old ROMs, and they’ve mashed up these hallowed games into some seriously crazy stuff. For example, you are Link trying to reach Paulene in Donkey Kong, or Samus plunked down in SMB’s underground, destroying bricks with your blaster and gathering coins.
The magic in all these challenges is that they present old games in a modern way. Instead of spending hours trying to remember which rooms in Metroid I’ve already been through, I’m spending 30 seconds trying to find a single door. The unexpected side effect of this is it also teaches you how to play the game. I’ve never considered playing Ice Climbers before, but now I’m ready to hold my own (of course, until I threw the cartridge in the trash because, let’s face it, Ice Climbers just isn’t that good.
Family Gaming Assessment
“Nothing to see here!” Seriously, there’s nothing to be concerned with from a content standpoint. Even if the content was even remotely risque, which it’s not, this is true 8-bit graphics and all the visual anonymity that implies. From a difficulty standpoint, the bite-size form factor of the challenges means that younger gamers will often find them achievable, or if not they can move on to an easier challenge. The biggest hurdle I found with my kids was convincing them that games that looked this bad could still be fun.
For a game said to have been born out of a developer’s pet project, this is a polished delivery of retro-grade goodness. If you are a fan of Nintendo and remember the NES with fondness, NES Remix is a no brainer. But if you have no clue who Shigeru Miyamoto or Gunpei Yokoi are, you should still pick up these games (and also look them up on Wikipedia). Not only are the games a piece of history, they are genuinely fun. The classic gaming wrapped in a mobile package hits a perfect balance.
NES Remix is $14.99 each in the Wii U eShop. If you’ve played it, tell us what you think in the comments.
Full List of Included Games
- Balloon Fight
- Clu Clu Land
- Donkey Kong
- Donkey Kong Jr.
- Donkey Kong 3
- Ice Climber
- Mario Bros.
- Super Mario Bros.
- The Legend of Zelda
- Urban Champion
- Wrecking Crew