Review: NES Remix

Unveiled almost out of nowhere during the last Nintendo Direct (18th December 2013), a quirky game going by the name of NES Remix available to download straight after the presentation, it promised over two-hundred unique challenges based on exisiting NES titles plus tweaked variants of these classics all in the name of giving the player a retro experience unlike any other; naturally I jumped at the chance to purchase this acceptably priced slice of retro heaven owing partly to playing many NES titles regularly - thanks to writing VC Weekly - in the hopes of a new yet familiar experience. I certainly wasn't disappointed, upon loading up the title which has a rather nice title screen splashed with many 8-bit sprites with a catchy theme to boot I knew that this package would deliver on those promises set out by Iwata only mere moments ago; at first glance along the lovingly presented menu there's only one visible challenge so I jump straight into a remix of Super Mario Bros where you have to defeat fifteen enemies while playing as invincible Mario, which sounds simple - and it is - but upon completing it the real game begins as stages from original NES titles open up... 'How hard can this possibly be?' I think to myself.

As it turns out things can get very hard indeed once you get properly into the challenges, initially you will find yourself tackling simple tasks such as jumping over barrels in Donkey Kong, clearing a lap in Excitebike, reaching the 'Goal Pole' in Super Mario Bros or even bursting balloons in Balloon Fight; things do get progressively difficult however as while you will no doubt be able to tackle the more involved multi-step stages within a few tries it becomes something different entirely when you take into account the time limit. You are timed on every individual challenge so depending on how quickly you finish the game awards you with anything from one to three stars, these stars then accumulate unlocking more challenges so naturally you're going to want to try and aim for those elusive par-times - which it unfortunately doesn't tell you but you can guess - if you want to see everything there is on offer, if you happen to be super quick at a challenge you can even get rainbow outlines around your stars which might not seem to unlock anything extra in the game but it can be satisfying to gain them especially if you're the type of gamer who thrives on bragging rights.

Mario Remix WeeGee Goal Poal

For most people though I would think that simply beating the challenges, gaining enough stars to see everything plus maybe setting a couple of New Records among your friends will probably be enough, as you play though you will inevitably accrue an in-game currency of sorts known as 'Bits' which are your key to unlocking amazing 8-Bit stamps which you can then use in your posts within the games Miiverse community, after each stamp you get the number of required bits increases so naturally you'll need to keep playing for a good while if you plan to unlock all one hundred stamps which will take more than a few play sessions. Even if you get stuck on certain challenges, using up all three-to-six lives you will still get thrown a small amount of bits to add to the total, it's worth noting though that if you attempt a multi-part challenge and can't complete it just using the set amount of hearts then the greatest amount of stars you can ever hope for is just one so sometimes it pays to just redo those longer challenges from the start and practice some more.

One of the best things about all the titles being of 8-bit origin is the simplicity of the controls as they all only use the the d-pad plus A/B for the various actions, everything else is unused during gameplay but of course you have the option of using the left stick as well in place of the d-pad but you're unlikely to need it; naturally this means that all of the games including their remix variants play just like the classics for better in the case of Mario or worse for when you miss 'that simple jump' in Ice Climbers for the twentieth time. Of course it's all part of the charm though as you will rediscover parts of old games you used to play while also discovering new challenges which you probably wouldn't have thought would even exist before such as playing a level of Mario from right to left and then having to jump the 'wrong' direction to the goal pole, trying to defeat all the enemies in Balloon Fight while the screen zooms out infinitely or even playing Donkey Kong as Link who has no jump ability; all these challenges plus many more await you which provide entertainment in addition to new ways of understanding the games that little bit more.

DK Remix Link

Naturally there are many moments which you'll want to share with others so it's just as well that we live in the age of Miiverse which already has a thriving community with the game only being barely released a week at this time of writing, there are plenty of comments from gamers who fondly remember playing the games when they were first released, some from those who this is all a brand-new experience to plus plenty of amusing posts utilising the stamps that you unlock as you play; all of which only serves to make you want to keep coming back. There was even a competition running until the new year based on one of the remix challenges, naturally I tried my hand at it just to see but it's just nice to think that this could become a regular 'thing' again just like when Nintendo used to run competitions regularly during the nineties, there is a lot of potential through games like this so I can only hope that developer 'indies zero' - also responsible for Electroplankton and Retro Game Challenge - get commisioned to make more titles like this in the future; SNES Remix anyone? I'd certainly buy it!

My only real criticism lies in the complete absence of games like Metroid or Kid Icarus as surely if titles such as Urban Champion feature then lack of the former titles feels like a bit of a blow as they could have clearly worked but perhaps there were time constraints... who knows? Just so long as they appear in any potential sequel then I'm sure all will be forgiven. Aside from that though a really good job has been done here in making elements from every game enjoyable, even in the case of certain titles that weren't perhaps the greatest in their day but within this retro context they are actually playable at least for a short period of time.

NES Remix stage select

From a visual standpoint all of your favourite NES titles have never looked better as everything is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio but with some lovely borders themed for every individual game including all the additional challenge information, the remix versions feature lovely textured backgrounds plus small touches like shadows have been added to the sprites as well; other simple but clever touches include putting GameBoy and even Virtual Boy overlays on top of games like Ice Climbers for a few seconds, sparingly used but very effective. Aurally everything is on top form as well, if you enjoy many 8-bit compositions then naturally the soundtrack is stunning as you have all the classic themes for every game only this time they sound even better, couple that with the excellent title/menu music plus the sound effects which are always in keeping and you have one solidly presented package.

To put this simply, if you are a long-term gamer who fondly remembers the classics then you will absolutely be in your element here, even those who have a more casual interest in games will get some enjoyment out of it as the short times on the challenges mean that you don't exactly need a large attention span; it's all very much quick-fire gaming... take the 9-volt stages from Wario Ware, make the challenges more substantial and you're already half-way to getting an idea of what to expect. NES Remix is so much more than just the sum of its parts though, it almost represents an entirely new genre of retro yet modern gaming in itself featuring many reasons to revisit it many times over, that elusive 'one more go' on Excitebike or that push to beat a friends high-score on Mario plus the ultimate challenge of attaining every rainbow star, it's all waiting for you... so what are 'you' waiting for?

N-Europe Final Verdict

NES Remix is the game that you've always wanted but just didn't know it. If you miss the challenge that has been absent from gaming since the 8-bit era then buy this and relish every moment.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability5
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



Breathes new life into old games
Plenty of challenges
Very addicitve
Wonderful presentation


Lack of certain franchises

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