Review: NES Remix 2 for Wii U
Second verse, same as the first.
So, have you played NES Remix yet? Or, at the very least, read my review? If not, go ahead.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Done? Excellent! Then the first thing to tell you is that NES Remix 2 is, by and large, just what people were asking for and more or less what they expect. The question remains, however: Did they truly know what they were asking for?
The second NES Remix is quite similar to the first– so much, in fact, that it should come as little surprise to learn that in Japan, Nintendo went ahead and bundled the two games together on a single disc to sell at retail upon the release of the second. Though the selection of games varies, the core of both titles is virtually identical. As a result, one might find that some of the novelty found in playing the original for the first time has kind of faded with the second installment. But then, what new idea or franchise can’t that be said about as it moves along?
That doesn’t mean it’s bad, though; far from it, in fact, though it’s not quite perfect, either.
With the original NES Remix, we were treated to a “best of” series of snippets from early games in the NES library, games from a much simpler time, culminating in the then-epic Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Since then, games have grown in scope year over year, generation after generation. Even in the short period of time relative to the history of video gaming that the NES was at the forefront, considerable advances were made.
The result is that in moving from the simpler quarter-munching arcade game-inspired titles of NES Remix to the grander scale home adventures of NES Remix 2, you can notice a bit of a change. Interestingly enough, some titles represented here are– or at least feel– like they have much less to do than in the original game. Punch-Out!!, for instance, never goes any further than the Minor Circuit, and so you don’t end up seeing many of the game’s colorful personalities.
What’s more, some of the challenges range from extremely simple to downright baffling. Instances of the former include such “challenges” as performing a downward thrust with your sword in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link or hopping on and picking up one of Birdo’s eggs in Super Mario Bros. 2. Granted, these are but fractions of multi-part challenges, but are nonetheless going to feel a little too simple to anyone remotely familiar with the titles in question. It’s at these times that NES Remix 2 can feel a bit like “Tutorial: The Game.”
Speaking of which, for the aforementioned “baffling,” there are challenges were you literally do not do anything, at least where controller input is concerned. For instance, you’ll be tasked with watching the demo for Kirby’s Adventure; you can’t skip it, you just have to wait it out. Already know the game inside and out? Too bad; you have to just sit there and endure. It’s not always quite as grating as that, though; for instance, the final challenge in Punch-Out!! is to watch the Rocky-esque training montage with Doc Louis and Little Mac.
One thing I was less keen on were the inclusion of certain “forced progress” sections, which are pretty much as simple as “succeed” or “fail,” with no real middle ground. And yet, you’re still subjected to the same three-star ranking. Fortunately, the inclusion of Miiverse playback videos help to alleviate this somewhat. Those who choose to share their successful runs to Miiverse will show you how they achieved their scores, and even feature a controller overlay which shows precisely when each direction or button was pressed. It’s thorough, if nothing else.
In addition, the game also has a bit of a slight shortcoming in not presenting you with all the information you might need to complete a challenge. In one of the game’s main attractions and namesake challenges, you’re put in control of Princess Peach as she goes through Bowser’s castle in Super Mario Bros. 3. Despite the fact that she’s Super (or “big,” if you prefer), a single hit results in an instant failure, despite the challenge still otherwise being completable after doing so. You’re given no warning, leaving it up to the player’s trial and error to learn what they can and can’t do within the boundaries of a given task.
Speaking of which, the Remix challenges are once more the highlight of the package, and it’s just a shame that there aren’t more of them here. They’re still numerous, and present a wide variety of game-mingling scenarios, from Link fighting a Hammer Brother as Boos close in on him to gathering coins from Super Mario Bros. as a variety of other Nintendo characters. You unlock them by completing other games’ challenges and even other Remix challenges, but you’re still left wanting more… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s certainly better to have too little of a good thing than too much of a bad, which is what Wario’s Woods‘ part in the collection feels like, incidentally.
But if the Remixes are the highlight of the package, then the highlight of the highlight has to be the aforementioned taking control of Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. 3. From fighting Bowser to conquering those tiny airships in World 8 and more, it’s not only a blast to play, but seems to underscore why having Peach as a regular playable character in Mario titles is better than simply having her wait to be rescued.
On a related note, one has to appreciate the attention to detail involved here– including the addition of a somersault animation for Peach when she’s invincible. A very nice touch, indeed.
Beyond the core game, there are other features to indulge in as well. You once again unlock a variety of pixel art stamps for use in Miiverse posts by collecting the required number of Bits through completing challenges, with the best rankings earning more at a time. Just as in any other game featuring them, however, you can’t use them anywhere else, nor can you modify them in such ways as adjusting their size or which direction they face.
A second mode called “Super Luigi Bros.” is included, based on some of the Remix challenges from the first NES Remix. Here, one or two players (alternating) play through a version of Super Mario Bros. that (short of the text) is completely flipped so that you’re going from right to left, rather than the other way around. Plus, Luigi (the only playable character, even with two players) sports his more notorious physics from The Lost Levels, allowing him higher jumps at the cost of less traction and more slippery, less responsive controls. Even for a seasoned Super Mario Bros. veteran, it’s harder than one might think– at least, if your muscle memory is as trained on the original as mine is, making for a refreshing challenge.
Then, if you own both NES Remix titles, you gain access to the Championship Mode with online leaderboards, designed to emulate the Nintendo World Championships to a degree. Regrettably, it falls a little short in that regard, as the trio of Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris are now Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario. Dr. Mario works as a decent substitute for Tetris, but one could argue that Super Mario Bros. 3 isn’t different enough from Super Mario Bros. here for the whole package to feel as varied as the original. Personally, I’d have subbed Punch-Out!! for Rad Racer, but that’s just me.
While NES Remix 2 may have its shortcomings, it’s still a ton of fun and quite easy to recommend. There is a lot of great nostalgia to be enjoyed here for those who grew up with these titles, and it’s a great way to introduce younger gamers to a variety of classics which helped to influence how we play games today.
Suffice to say, if you enjoyed the first game, you’ll probably enjoy this one… quite possibly even more, particularly if the early-era NES games weren’t really your thing.
Despite not hitting every noteworthy or interesting title in the first-party NES library (Mach Rider, anyone? StarTropics? And poor Duck Hunt…), the NES Remix games have done a fine job of highlighting some of the best moments the console had to offer in an all-new way. My fingers are now crossed that we’ll see a “Game Boy Remix” or a “Super NES Remix” before too long.
Actually, I want to add one more grievance here: Without an “NES Remix 3,” I’m not sure if we’ll ever get to see a full version of Super Mario Bros. 3 to be played in its entirety as Princess Peach, and that would just be a huge pity. Here’s to hoping they find a way!
NES Remix 2 was released for the Wii U on April 25th, 2014 at a price of $14.99 in the Nintendo Wii U eShop. A review copy was provided by Nintendo of Canada.
It is also now available as one half of the NES Remix Pack at retail for $34.99.