Monday, January 20, 2014
'NES Remix' a refreshing way to play the classics
If I had to put on a list some of the best surprises of 2013, "NES Remix" for the Wii U would be on it.
It came out of nowhere during one of Nintendo's popular online presentations in mid-December. Its $15 price tag made me skeptical, but with plenty of eShop money in hand I made the plunge. I can safely say it's worth it, and that Nintendo could be onto something here.
"NES Remix" features a collection of classic video games -- bits and pieces from the likes of "Super Mario Bros.," "The Legend of Zelda," "Donkey Kong," "Donkey Kong Jr.," "Tennis," "Excitebike," "Ice Climber" and many more. It's aimed toward the hardcore audience, where gamers are asked to test their skills in a wide variety of the 200-plus timed challenges available.
For example in "Super Mario Bros," one must collect all the coins on the screen as fast as possible, or make it to the goal pole with Mario on auto run. "The Legend of Zelda" has players quickly defeating enemies onscreen, collecting rupees to buy items, finding hidden entrances, and other objectives. These two games are the best of the bunch. Being a pinball fanatic, I enjoyed playing through the few "Pinball" challenges, too, despite the randomness of the game.
However, other games are rough just like they were in back in the day. Controlling the player in "Tennis" and lining up the shot is still a pain. "Golf" still looks ugly onscreen. "Ice Climber" has awkward platforming that takes time to get used to. Games were tough back then, and newcomers will be able to experience the frustrations us veterans had to deal with.
Remixed versions of these classics are the highlight of the package and offer up some of the most creative challenges, including disappearing platforms in "Super Mario Bros.," unlit versions of games making it harder to see, and playing as Link in "Donkey Kong" -- who can't jump over barrels.
What's also nice is how fast everything is. Most challenges give you multiple lives, so if you mess up you'll start right over again in a snap. The lack of load times fits perfectly with the overall theme of the game.
While only a few games are available from the start, more are unlocked over time by racking up stars from completing challenges. A three-star ranking is possible on each one, and fortunately, these aren't hard to achieve. Those looking for a real challenge will enjoy getting the rainbow three-star ranking on each challenge. This requires near-perfect and perfect runs, and perfectionists will likely be spending many hours and retries attempting to get them all.
Some kind of leaderboards would have been nice for this game, but players can use Miiverse to brag about their best times to others. Points are earned from playing the game, and there are dozens of unlockable Nintendo stamps to place on these posts.
This could end up turning into a unique franchise if Nintendo plays its cards right -- maybe an NES Remix 2.0 with games including "Kirby's Adventure," "Metroid," "Super Mario Bros. 2," and others that didn't make the first cut. Or how about upgrading to SNES Remix and all those amazing games? The 3DS could see handheld remixes as well. Nintendo has a giant library to work with, and it's a refreshing way to play these classics all over again.
3 stars out of 4
This post was written by Jeff Hoard for Digital First Media. Reprinted with permission.