NES Remix 2 Review

A blast from the past - but in this mini-game collection, not all is as you remember...

NES Remix 2 Review
6th June, 2014 By Ian Morris
Game Info // NES Remix 2
NES Remix 2 Boxart
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Available On: Wii U
Genre: Mini-game

To a cynical eye, at times it might seem like part of Nintendo's master plan for world domination is essentially to get money for old rope. Releasing the same game over and over again, on several different formats, charging you again each time for the privilege of playing the same game on a different machine (although they aren't quite as bad as Ubisoft with Rayman 2), you could be forgiven for thinking that a game like NES Remix 2 would be something along the same lines - a collection of old games, bundled together for a decent price. But you'd be wrong.

Instead, NES Remix 2 is a fast paced, Wario Ware style mini-game collection, where each mini-game is effectively a chunk of an old NES game. Whether you're asked to beat 10 enemies in 30 seconds as invincible Mario, set off a chain reaction in Dr Mario, or send five enemies flying with Kirby's ice beam, NES Remix 2 offers up 169 challenges over 12 of the NES's finest and most iconic games. And Kid Icarus.

NES Remix 2 Screenshot

Oddly enough, Toad seems to fit in well in the Mario world

Originally released in 1986, the NES was Nintendo's first home console success, and with a range of titles from the console's lifespan, there's some unusual choices here, some of which may not be all that familiar if you aren't a gaming historian. From the pink puffball Kirby's first outing in Kirby's Adventure, to the colour matching Tetris alike Dr. Mario and the 2D sci-fi adventure Metroid, the full line up includes (deep breath): Super Mario Bros 3., NES Open, Super Mario Bros 2, Kirby's Adventure, Metroid, Dr. Mario, Wario's Woods, Kid Icarus, Punch Out!, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, and the lesser known Ice Hockey.

Each of these games is then split into its own tree of challenges, although, as the mathematical whizz kids amongst you will have noted, the stages don't divide equally across all the games. Super Mario Bros 3 comes packing 16 stages, while Dr. Mario only has a measly 6 - that's even less than the awkward match 3 puzzler Wario's Woods, too, which weighs in with 8. It's a bit of an odd system, especially as it doesn't seem to have been defined by the quality of the games.

Either way, there's still a huge amount of variety to sink your teeth into here. Each stage is made up of anywhere between one and four separate challenges, which take the base game, and break it down into a bite-sized task. There's no changes at all to the underlying game here - nothing to make it artificially harder, nothing to make it easier, and, sadly, not even any graphical updates, so the weird NES image distortion and sound dropping out are still present and correct. But they've still managed to put together some of the best, and most infuriating challenges you've ever played.

NES Remix 2 Screenshot

Sounds easy enough? LOL NO.

The tasks range from the "so easy you could do it with your eyes shut", to the "so frustrating you're expecting your eyeballs to explode under the pressure". Climbing to the top of one of Mario Bros 2's piles of greenery is easy enough, defeating three enemies using an explosive POW block is a little bit trickier, if only because you have to time it with the bird's jump, but the countless sections that give you those incredibly tricky, pixel-perfect jumps to clear, and ask you to do it first try, without making any mistakes didn't do our blood pressure any favours. Having to take on Kirby's bosses without any special powers wasn't easy, either. Thanks to the bite sized nature though, the occasional difficulty spikes only increases its one-more-go appeal, as you always know next time will be the time you do it. Or the next time. Or the next time.

The most innovative bits here, though, are the Remix stages themselves, which, as the name suggests, offer a rather different take on the Nintendo classics. Either mixing one game with another, or doing something... weird, to make your job that much harder, from turning the entirety of a Mario level into a silhouette, so you can't see where the floor stops and the cliff starts; to repeatedly turning your game of Dr. Mario into a greyscale, Game Boy style view so you can't tell what colour the pills are; or asking you to kill enemies as Kirby by only using his powers (i.e., you can't move or jump unless you're shooting forward as a fireball), some of these are really inventive - and others are just teeth grindingly hard.

Of course, a game like this lives or dies on its replay value, and so there's plenty of incentive to keep coming back here. In order to unlock the stages for each game, you'll need to play through their respective challenge tree, earning stars as you go, which in turn unlock new stages, new Remix stages, and brand new games to play on. The faster you complete each stage, the more points you'll get, and the more stars you'll earn (up to a max of three - or three rainbow stars if you're really speedy). Luckily, the star requirements are mostly fairly lenient, and even if you get stuck on a few games, you should be able to see the vast majority of things here.

NES Remix 2 Screenshot

Completing stages also nets you "Bits" - an in game experience points system that lets you unlock hundreds of stamps to use in your Miiverse posts.

However, it's this score system that also seems like a bit of an oversight. Ask anyone who's played an old school high score based game, and they'll tell you almost the sole reason for repeatedly coming back to it is to try and beat your friends' high scores. They'll pip you to the post, and you'll go back and refine your game until you beat it. It's that sort of addictive, "come back if you think you're hard enough" appeal that NES Remix 2 could have had - but instead of giving you a normal high score table, they've kind of gimped the support, to the point where the game will only even show you your friend's scores if they've made a publicly visible post on Miiverse for that particular stage. There's not even a local high score table for people playing on the same console, which is a pretty poor effort for something that should have been an integral part of the game.

It's also a bit of an issue that, depending on how you look at it, there's possibly less stuff here than in the original game. While NES Remix came packing 16 games, and over 200 stages, the sequel's down to 12 games and 169 levels. Seeing as the game costs the same as the original, Nintendo have thrown in a brain bending game called Super Luigi Bros - an inverse/flipped take on the original Super Mario Bros that sees you running from right to left instead, and playing as the portly plumber's lankier sibling to make up for the lack of stages. While it may sound like a minor change on paper, in practice, this is a game that will blow your mind - and it does help round the package off.

Still, whether you dip into Super Luigi or not, NES Remix 2 still packs plenty of fun - and more than enough hand-clenchingly frustrating moments to make it an entertaining package. While the Wii U's selection of downloadable games may not have quite reached the same standard as the Wii's (and you can see our pick of the Wii's finest downloadable games here), it's nice to see Nintendo giving bite sized games the love they deserve. If you're a fan of old school Nintendo games, this is a great chance to go back and take a different look at some old classics - or, if you're a more recent gaming convert, the perfect chance to discover some gaming history - with a twist - for yourself.

Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U

StarStarStarHalf starEmpty star
Back to the future
  • +
    Great one more go appeal
  • +
    Decent mix of games
  • +
    Remix stages are fun
  • -
    Some types of challenge repeat too often
  • -
    Rubbish games have too many stages, good ones don't have enough
  • -
    Needs more Dr. Mario love
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