Y'know how you read reviews that call games "love letters" to other games? As cliched as that may be, NES Remix is a real deal love letter to the NES. It's crazy because given the immense commercial failure of the Wii U, Nintendo at the time was putting out some truly interesting games. And like Mario Maker, NES Remix is a game that manages to both celebrate the history and nostalgia of Nintendo, while managing to take these old games and push them forward into the future at the same time. What may come off as just a collection of Nintendo themed mini games is instead a truly incredible package that should be played by any and all NES fans.
I originally played Ultimate NES Remix on the 3DS, which had come bundled with my New 2DS XL system. At the time I had assumed that the 'Ultimate' in the title meant it had everything (and more?) from the Wii U release, but man, I was dead wrong. The 3DS version is apparently more of a greatest hits version of the NES Remix I & II releases that are bundled together in the Wii U collection. Turns out, I was missing out on some seriously cool stuff, so I'm thrilled to now be playing through this version.
If you're not aware, the basis of NES Remix is that you're given short mini-game sort of challenges to complete from a variety of classic NES games. Simple. You're graded on a scale of 1-3 stars, and the more stars you accumulate will unlock more NES games to play challenges from, as well as actual Remix challenges which are where the real forward thinking stuff comes in. This is stuff like turning Mario into an endless-runner kind of game (pre-Mario Run), or having you play through Donkey Kong as Link who can't jump. Some truly cool stuff.
Anyway, let's go nuts and I'll talk about all of the games included in NES Remix Pack as I play them...
Balloon Fight - Here's a game I never played back in the NES days. But when I did finally get around to playing it in recent years, I've enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. Of course it's basically Nintendo's own Joust clone, but I find that I actually vastly prefer it to Joust. The scrolling stages make a huge difference.
Donkey Kong - Of course DK is a classic. And I definitely enjoy it. I actually blogged about this game recently and how I do like it, but I get bored with it rather quickly. Thus, it lends itself perfectly to the micro challenges of NES Remix. It doesn't overstay its welcome with me here.
Donkey Kong Jr - This game kind of sucks. I've never been able to really get into this one. I don't care for the climbing mechanic.
Excitebike - This is an example of a game that I loved as a kid, but don't really like all that much now. I mean it's alright. But it feels pretty clunky to me. I'm pretty sure this was the first NES game I ever played. Maybe. I'm fuzzy. It was either this or SMB or Ice Hockey. Definitely those three were the first I was exposed to. Maybe all in the same day.
Golf - I'm kind of mixed on this one. I'm a longtime fan of golf games, from as far back as I can remember. We used to have Pebble Beach on our Tandy computer when I was a kid, and ever since I've found a relaxing joy in video golf. That said, I find this Golf a little too... I don't know if "touchy" is the right word? Maybe my plight is that I'm just not very good at it. Maybe the controls just feel too old school and demanding. It's kind of fun, but I find it tough to control (or get good at).
Ice Climber - Kind of like Golf above, this one is pretty fun but also very frustrating for me. I never played Ice Climber prior to NES Remix, so I have no nostalgic connection to it. The premise is fine, but I kind of hate the slippery controls. Jumping is a nightmare for me.
The Legend Of Zelda - The best. I love having Zelda as mini-challenges. It's awesome. Playing through all the challenges here turns Zelda into a kind of condensed micro-version of the game. So awesome.
Mario Bros - Meh. I've talked before about how I was exposed to Super Mario Bros and SMB2 before the original Mario Bros, and so it always felt so archaic to me. I could never really get into it.
Pinball - Wow, I played this game a lot as kid. A lot! It was one of the small stack of games that was at the summer cottage that my step-dad's family would meet up at, so it got a lot of summertime play. I used to be pretty good at this one, but now I'm struggling to do much of anything. I still have love for this game though.
Super Mario Bros - I mean this is a straight classic. Of course. It's still not my favorite SMB game. Even among the NES trilogy it'd be my least favorite unless you count Lost Levels. But it's still a great game and a lot of fun. And it fits the NES Remix thing so well because it's a game we've presumably all played a million times so turning it into bite-sized challenges just makes sense.
Wrecking Crew - Meh. It's weird but I really have a hard time getting into these super early single-screen style NES arcade type games. I say weird because I had an Atari 2600 before I had a NES and played lots of games like that, but I think once I got a NES I wanted everything to be Super Mario Bros or Zelda, so I just don't connect with these kind of games as much.