Platform: Wii U
Developers: Nintendo EAD
On Wednesday 18th December, Nintendo gave its final Nintendo Direct of the year, and in it announced the launched of a collection of minigames based on Nintendo Entertainment System favourites. This collection – made available on Wii U straight after the Nintendo Direct itself – would boast over 200 minigames of some of the most memorable moments of key games from Nintendo’s inaugural home console. But at £8.99 for a bunch of minigames that are over 20 years old, is NES Remix really worth your time and money, or is this just a cheap, dated version of WarioWare?
The main premise of the game takes much from the aforementioned game starring Mario’s arch-nemesis. Only this time, rather than the games being split by the type of action you have to do in the game, they are split by the games themselves. At the start 6 games are unlocked for you – Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, Excite Bike and Balloon Fight. The idea being that each minigame takes place in one of these games, with a set specific objective, or multiple consecutive objectives. Like Warioware the games are short, sharp bursts of fun, with you up against the clock.
When you complete a minigame, you are awarded a ranking out of 3 stars based on your clearance time, tapping into the Angry Birds perfectionist in all of us to pick up the maximum ranking on each minigame. More stars mean more unlocks of minigames, as well as unlocking different games to play – such as The Legend of Zelda and Ice Climbers. However perhaps what’s more rewarding, is collecting stars also adds to the special ‘NES Remix’ list of minigames.
The titular ‘NES Remix’ section is where the new content comes in – up until now, you’ll just have been playing snippets of old classics, whereas NES Remix minigames flip the challenge on its head. For example you might play Donkey Kong, with only limited visibility, or a Mario Bros level where the camera keeps on zooming out until you can barely see what’s on the screen. These new twists on classics really are quite clever in places and serve as a nice point of difference to the standard gameplay.
Constant playing of any game – whether you win or lose – will net you Bits, in addition to any stars you earn. These Bits, form as a sort of basic experience points system, and as this grows and you “level” up, you will unlock a stamp portraying a well-known Nintendo character / item in 8-bit glory. These stamps can then be used in-game for you to create MiiVerse messages with a little bit more of a retro feel. Already I’ve seen some pretty impressive compilations pop up, something I’m sure will continue. It’s a nice feature that is simple but again is another sign on Nintendo implementing Miiverse well into its games and growing the community.
And for those of you who aren’t as old as me – and therefore haven’t experienced most of the games the first time around, there’s also a useful tutorial section for each game, to help you understand the basics before you attempt any of the minigames. Whilst none of the games on offer are too taxing that they require long to master, this tutorial system does serve as a great little reminder or mini introduction to the 8 bit era, and certainly helps what should be an impulse play become very accessible to all.
All in all, it’s a great package, but it’s not without its flaws. Bluntly speaking, the game feels like it has missed a few opportunities. By far and away the best sections of the game are the NES Remix stages, as they bring something new, different and often clever to the table. And when you’re not playing on those levels, and just playing regular sections of a 1980s game, you can’t help but feel they are missing something, and there’s no doubting this game would have been even better had it just been Remix levels.
Also, the lack of any options to configure the buttons to your preferences – when something so simple would be greatly appreciated – feels like a misstep. The lack of any sort of multiplayer option – even in games where multiplayer actually existed in the original – again feels like a missed opportunity. Sure it goes against the Off TV Play plus point that the game has, but hey Nintendo, if you insist on using this controller for your games, then you need to figure out a way for us to enjoy multiplayer as well!
Fundamentally NES Remix will split opinion. There will be those that berate the lack of any complete titles in the game, as well as the lack of multiplayer. They will say that this points to a very cheap game, a cheap game that feels expensive at £8.99. However there will be others amongst you, the retro fans, lovers of nostalgia, gamers who love the old school difficulty who will lap it up. And so will those people who love a pick up and play challenge – the Angry Bird generation. These people will find themselves whiling away hours without noticing, enjoying the choice and fun that a wealth of Nintendo back catalogue moments provides. And they’ll most likely have a grin and a grimace on their face in equal measure – like I did – as I tried to get those ever-important 3-star rankings.
And I guess when you consider how highly people rated WarioWare on release; this is basically a more refined, iconic version of that, but for a fraction of the cost. As such it’s hard to argue against NES Remix as a purchase, although it does hint to a game that with a few improvements could have been something even better.
- Great mix of nostalgic titles
- Addictive gameplay
- NES Remix levels add a great new twist
- Good MiiVerse integration
- No multiplayer functionality
- Limited number of Remix Levels
The Short Version: NES Remix actually stands as a Nintendo example of an iOS game. Loads of pick up and play charm, mixed with the Nintendo magic. Memorable games, numerous challenges, and great MiiVerse integration creates a nice little package for a reasonable price. Some however will resent these being the same games they’ve played (and paid for) numerous times already. The remixed stages serve as a reminder to what this game could have been, but as such its content, whilst entertaining, will not be new and different enough for everyone.