Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NES Remix (Wii U eShop) Review

Next month, NES Remix 2 will be releasing on the Wii U eShop. With that in mind, why don't we take a look at the original compilation of Nintendo Entertainment System classics with NES Remix? Here's our review.

Nintendo's Retro Game Challenge

When you are a games manufacturer that has been around as much as Nintendo, you're bound to have your share of critics. Nintendo is often chastised for relying on nostalgia to sell many of its games. While the Wii U eShop offering NES Remix does little to argue against that, it's a worthy addition to anyone's digital library, and a perfect download for retro gaming enthusiasts.

With NES Remix, Nintendo has provided sixteen NES classics such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, Tennis, and Clu Clu Land, for instance. You start off with a select amount of games available to you (six to be exact), and as you progress you unlock new titles. However, these aren't full versions of these NES games.

Pick your poison, but no worries,
this is the good kind of poison.
Instead, the developer Indiezero (past works include Retro Game Challenge and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy) and Nintendo have created WarioWare style mini-games that put you in various scenarios based off each game. These scenarios implement some gameplay mechanic within the games for a brief mini-game of sorts.

Make thine arrow's aim be true...
For instance, in Super Mario Bros. one objective is to hit the block containing a beanstalk, another is to collect a specific amount of coins, or cut the drawbridge to eliminate Bowser. Each challenge puts one of your retro gaming skills through the wringer and then some. Of course, not all of the challenges are winners. There are some duds here and there.

No one ever said you had to ride a fair race.
These quick burst levels last anywhere between 5-60 seconds. Some of which contain multiple parts to them. A fun element of NES Remix is that each mini-game is timed. The better you do, the more stars you earn, the grading system of NES Remix. You can earn up to three stars, and if you're really good you can get a rainbow outline surrounding each star. Stars are the metric by which other NES classics are unlocked. It takes being fast, efficient, careful, and skillful to acquire the greatest of ratings. Times can be shared with friends, so there's an asynchronous level of competition to be had.

Make sure you eat the recommended
daily servings of fruit!
Each challenge bestows you with three lives to complete it. Losing all three lives with allow you to retry the challenge at the part of it you failed (pending it has more than one part), but you won't be able to receive the coveted three star rating.

By far the most impressive piece to NES Remix are the remix levels. These levels offer a fresh perspective to the various NES games featured in this collection. One remixed level has you on an Excitebike track, being required to drive in a pitch black arena. Your only source of light comes from your bike's headlights. Then there's a level where you're playing as Luigi who is forced to continually run. Your only option is to hit the jump button at appropriate times to avoid pits, enemies, and other hazards. Remix levels get even more interesting and off-the-wall when you reach the ultimate challenge, the Bonus remix stages. Such challenges from these levels include attempting to score 15,000 points with a disappearing ball in Pinball, doing tasks within the second quest's Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda, and popping every balloon while in slow motion in Balloon Fight.

The bigger they are,  the bigger the
splash they make in a pool of lava!
In addition to stars, there is another thing to collect from these mini-games. Each time a level is completed, you receive an amount of bits. The first time always yields the most bits. As the gauge goes up through gaining bits, you earn new Miiverse stamps based on 8-bit art from the various NES games each time the gauge fills up to its maximum level. There's already been some very clever Miiverse posts done by various players using these stamps.

Become a virtual philatelist with NES Remix.
You need to have an appreciation for the NES era and retro games in general to fully enjoy NES Remix. Even then, however, some of the games featured in this title just aren't really that much fun and possibly were never fun to begin with.  It's great that the games play the same as they did way back when, but dealing with frustrations in Golf and Ice Climber because of how antiquated the controls and/or gameplay are brings NES Remix down in quality a little.

Some games have aged better than others.
If you're worried about how much gaming you can find within the bite-size challenges NES Remix offers, don't be. In order to complete every challenge, unlock every game, and earn every reward there is, NES Remix can take upwards of 20 hours to finish. That's obviously only if you're able to deal with how retro these games truly feel. While there is a lack of traditional multiplayer, it is quite entertaining to pass the controller around between friends, giving each player a turn to beat a given level of NES Remix.

NES Remix may play more to those who are nostalgic for or simply enjoy classic NES gaming, but it's certainly not limited to that demographic. NES Remix slowly introduces gameplay concepts of each of its sixteen titles, meaning Nintendo could essentially be giving a whole new generation an appreciation of these historic titles (okay, Ice Climber is hardly historic). The arcade-like challenges, the time-based scoring, and the unique twists presented by the remixed stages mean that players will be investing some serious time if they wish to do so. While not all games and challenges are as successful as the last, NES Remix delivers a healthy heaping of retro gaming goodness.

[SPC Says: 8.0/10]

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