Wii U review: NES Remix

The premise of NES Remix is simple enough – the objectives of classics like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Excitebike, Balloon Fight and more are revisited with slight twists. The earliest challenges for each game are little more than tutorials, and while perhaps some younger gamers may not be so intimately familiar with the NES era of gaming, the controls of each of these titles are both simple and intuitive that it makes these early entries seem unnecessary. Leading Link into a dungeon, having Mario jump over a couple of barrels, or even leading the Excitebike rider up a ramp hardly seem worth congratulating players for.

They are also a stark contrast to the often faster-paced and less forgiving challenges unlocked by achieving a certain number of stars - the game's ranking system, which are in themselves dependent on the speed each challenge is successfully completed with. This results in NES Remix’s greatest flaw – the lack of a staggering of difficulties. Either you play laughably easy scenarios, or you take on thoroughly challenging ones, the latter of which are split about fifty-fifty between demanding precise twitch timing or offering a more fair test of a player’s skills. These later stages incorporate more interesting concepts, like platforms that fade in and out of visibility or having Link climb the ladders and ramps of Donkey Kong. They also sometimes fail to convey proper objectives to players, which (understandably) may only further feelings of frustration.

There is plenty of variety in the play styles of games offered, from the platforming antics of Mario and his brother Luigi, to the hammering and lunges of the Ice Climbers, to exploring the fields of Hyrule with Link’s medieval arsenal, and even blowing up concrete walls in Wrecking Crew. NES Remix is inadvertently a display of which NES titles aged the best, with some games offering as tight of controls as they did during their heyday, while others fall short of the glory they were once touted for. Some of these games see ten or fewer challenges, yet others are in for the long-haul, pushing further into the double-digits.

There is no single ‘correct’ way to go about unlocking the many challenges of NES Remix. Often, even a valiant, yet unsuccessful attempt at a stage will result in the next one being unlocked, and reaching certain milestones in your star collection or overall numerical score will unlock new titles altogether. Miiverse stamps can also be earned by reaching these milestones, each depicting 8-bit versions of characters and enemies from the slew of titles represented in NES Remix. It’s not that NES Remix lacks replayability – far from it – it’s just that the stages offered are so inconsistent in both their degree of challenge and fun factor. A greater sense of adventure in crossing over these characters and environments might have also benefited the final product.

My rating: 5 (out of 10)

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