Some time ago, Nintendo released NES Remix on the eShop for the Wii U. It was an interesting experiment, and a rather successful game- it took classic NES games and Nintendo properties, and it managed to make some great minigames out of them, ‘remixing’ the games so that each of them had a new angle, a new perspective, a new objective, breathing new life into these decades old properties that Nintendo has retreaded so many times by now, and managing to make them feel fresh again.
NES Remix is an attempt at doing the same thing again, only going bigger and better this time- like the first NES Remix, NES Remix 2 takes some well known Nintendo NES games, and it goes bigger and better- the games it uses are bigger names than the games the first one used, and they have at the very least aged much better than the first batch of games. NES Remix 2 also simply decides to tackle more games than the first one did.
The end result is a beautiful tribute to the 8 bit era, and Nintendo’s output back then, as well as what can only be described as the best modernizing these games have ever gotten. NES Remix 2 is, like the first game before it, ultimately the best way to enjoy the classic games that are included within it.
For those of you who didn’t get the first game, or who simply don’t know what NES Remix is, it’s got an extremely, almost deceptively simple premise: it takes all these retro games, and it strings them together for the player to tackle, but with an objective based mentality. So, you might be asked to play a level of Zelda II followed by Super Mario Bros. 3, but the game adds a new wrinkle of challenge to each that completely changes how you ever approached those levels and their respective games.
The challenges can be as simple as killing a certain number of enemies, to completing a level in a certain amount of time, and this somehow completely changes the dynamic and paradigm of each level. Over the last thirty years, players have played through these NES games so many times, they have all developed their own patterns of playing them. It’s almost like muscle memory to them, and NES Remix 2 challenges that muscle memory, and forces them to approach these familiar games with a new perspective. It’s like meeting an old friend whose alcohol tolerance is suddenly much higher than yours.
One of the reasons NES Remix 2 does better than the first game in this department is simply because, as the second outing, developers indieszero are a lot more assured this time around. They seem to have a better idea and feel for the kinds of challenges that would be appropriate for each level and each game, and that makes the entire package feel not only more cohesive as a series of challenges, but it also does a much better job of keeping the individual games it is tackling fresh and fun.
The other reason is simply that the selection of games this time around is better. The first NES Remix’s selection of games was an interesting pick, especially for retro game enthusiasts, but most games were so old that they had aged terribly, and barring maybe The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros., there were no standout big hits- it was games like Urban Champion and Ice Climbers, games that, sure, maybe people had fun with them thirty years ago, but no one really looks back upon now.
NES Remix 2’s selection is much less disappointing, and just better thought out- Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Mario Open Golf, Kirby’s Adventure, Punch-Out!!, Dr. Mario, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link bring some of the most well known latter day NES games to the Wii U, while other lesser known and slightly more annoying games in the compilation include Ice Hockey and Wario’s Woods.
Most of the games are done very well, even the less well known ones from the batch, and on the whole, players should be delighted at how every one of these games is refreshed. There are some games and some levels that simply aren’t as fun as the others in the package and don’t hold up- the Punch-Out!! levels stand out as a bit of a disappointment- and they probably hurt more precisely because of all the nostalgia associated with them, but on the whole, players of the original games should really appreciate how well the games have been handled and treated.
The best part of NES Remix 2, much like the first NES Remix before it, is the eponymous ‘Remix’ levels. Remix levels are literal ROM-hacks in a sense- they take a very familiar game and completely change how you play it. You might be asked to play as Samus in Super Mario Bros. World 1-2, or you might be asked to finish a well known level from right to left, instead of left to right. You might be asked to play through a level when it is completely darkened, or simply go through a ‘boss rush’ esque mode.
NES Remix also tips its hat to mobile games, as it remixes some classic NES platformers into essentially endless runner games- so like Temple Run or Dead Runner, where your character has to keep going forward in procedurally generated levels, until you die. All of this is very, very fun, and just like the Challenges are much better than the first time this time around, so too do the Remixes feel better, and players of the original games will really appreciate what NES Remix 2 has to offer.
But this brings me to the fundamental issue of NES Remix 2 as a product, which is the same as the first game- you can derive the most value from this game only if you have actually played the original games, and you appreciated them, and will enjoy the treatment they have received in this new game. Otherwise, a whole lot of what NES Remix 2 is good at- knowing winks and nods at your favorite 8-bit games- is simply lost entirely.
NES Remix 2 is then reduced to being just a challenge of minigame levels featuring Nintendoo characters, and though it’s a very good collection of minigame challenge levels, that is when the player has to take pause and ask whether the asking price is worth it.
It’s a great product, mind, and it’s certainly better than the original one. And if you were ever a fan of Nintendo, and their 8-bit glories, then it is definitely recommended as a must buy. But if you weren’t on board the Nintendo train back then (or simply not born yet), you might not fully appreciate what NES Remix 2 has to offer.
Ah well. Bring on SNES Remix, Nintendo.
This game was reviewed on Wii U.