Do you know what you missed out on if you didn't grow up in the late 80s or early 90s? A ton of really great video games. And Nintendo obviously shares this sentiment.
These years were the true golden age of Nintendo and that's when their best known and most established franchises first saw the light of day. And while most of them are alive and well today, perhaps even more popular than ever, Nintendo feels that everyone deserves a taste of what those days were like. With a modern twist.
That's what Ultimate NES Remix offers. It combines some of the titles found in Wii U's NES Remix 1 & 2 and is a look back at the golden age of Nintendo games that obviously aims to wrap us up in nostalgia. It's classic 8-bit graphics and gameplay all the way.
What then is Ultimate NES Remix made up of? A collection of levels and tracks from various NES titles like Super Mario Bros. Punch Out, Excitebike, Kirby's Adventure, Donkey Kong, and others, redesigned into a mini-game with its own objectives and goals. We're not talking about a small collection of maybe 3 or 4 mini-games from each franchise, rather it's a whole lot of mini-games that will challenge you.
The mini-games offer a variation thanks to the various games they have been derived from - usually the idea is to complete various small challenges that have been added to the scene. One example is Super Mario Bros. where you're tasked with finishing the first level as fast as possible or collect enouogh coins before the timer runs out. In some cases foreign elements have been added such as giving you a couple of clones of your character or that you only see silhouettes. Which makes it more difficult to track your whereabouts.
These challenges result in the mini-games typically offering about 10-30 seconds of gameplay - a perfect fit on 3DS. It's incredibly easy to pick up and play and put it away after a short play session. Great when you need to kill time between a couple of stops with the bus.
But don't for a minute think that just because the sessions are short that they are any less of a challenge. If there is one thing that old school games had in common it was their high difficulty level - and it was simply a means to give games lasting appeal. Those who enjoyed the original NES games back in the games will no doubt be happy to find this compilation just as challenging in spite of their modern additions.
Sure, the first few levels are fairly easy and serve as an introduction, but as you complete and unlock new mini-games, the grow more and more challenging. I had almost forgotten how challenging it could be to jump a few barrels in Donkey Kong or how frustrating it can be to land a few solid punches in Punch Out.
Nintendo have done a brilliant job reminding us how entertaining and excellent many of these titles were and are, and the mini-game format grants them new life - making them at times even more intense than ever before.
I never played the first two NES Remix titles, mainly because I never saw the point in buying something that appeared to be a collection of demos. But after spending a weekend with Ultimate NES Remix I must admit I was completely wrong in that assumption.
Having researched what the first two titles offered, I realised it's mainly more of the same here, and if you've played the two previous titles you should know what to expect. A good mix of timeless classics that will entertain and challenge you anew. The biggest difference is that while the two previous compilations appeared on Wii U this one lands on Nintendo 3DS and it really feels like this is where this sort of experience belongs. Turning on the TV and the Wii U to boot up a bunch of mini-games feels a bit cumbersome compared to flipping open the 3DS and jump straight into the action.
The 8-bit graphics, the MIDI sounds, the simple controls and the mini-game format may not appeal to everyone, and newcomers must at least hold an interest in Nintendo history to get much out of it, but for those of us who were there at the time it's a great nostalgic trip back in time. If there is anything to complain about it's that the selection of titles could have been bigger. The game has the word Ultimate in the title afterall, but the selection is on par with the the downloadable Wii U titles.
There's not a lot more to be said of Ultimate NES Remix. It collects some of Nintendo's best 8-bit titles in one handy package. Old and new. It's accessible and entertaining. Not since the Wario Ware titles have I experienced a game that only requires a few seconds for each bit-sized treat that manages to steal this much time away from me. And it's the perfect fit for a gamer who is looking for something to kill time with when on a train or waiting on the bus. Even if it is just as addictive on the couch or in bed.