For many of us, the golden age of video gaming was during the NES era in the 80s and early 90s. This was when most of Nintendo’s cornerstone franchises first began to appear on the console, giving us plenty of cherished childhood memories of sitting in front of our televisions and playing our favorite games.
Nintendo has re-released the best NES games many times over, but tried something a little bit different by mixing up gameplay elements of NES games together with the release of NES Remix on the Wii U. Now the remixing comes to Nintendo 3DS with Ultimate NES Remix. Yet the results may not be what you might have expected.
Right from the start this is a package that glorifies everything about the NES days with 8-bit sprites, sounds, and color schemes. You have a choice of three different modes in Ultimate NES Remix. Each mode contains a series of challenges based off of different Nintendo NES titles. You’ll find plenty of classics like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out, and plenty of other familiar Nintendo titles. Those who grew up during that time will immediately feel the nostalgia, but will notice that some key games from that time period are absent. Because this is mostly focused on classic Nintendo first party titles, old-school gamers will be a bit disappointed to not see the likes of Castlevania, Mega Man, and a few other big games from back then.
The game’s basic challenge mode has you obtaining stars for completing challenges based off different NES games. The more stars you obtain the more titles and challenges you can unlock. The real highlight of this mode is the Remix challenges, which adds different stipulations and twists to levels from the different NES titles. You’ll see funny changes like Kirby defeating his Level 1 boss while being stalked by a group of Boos from Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s these mash-ups that give Ultimate NES Remix its charm and make playing through the challenges really fun.
Yet, this is also the game’s biggest problem. You never get to play these kinds of mixed up levels and challenges as much as you should. Most of the time spent will be going through all the different NES titles and accomplishing missions based off that game, much in the same way as if you were actually playing the selected game off the Virtual Console. This all too easily comes off as a guided tour of the game to entice you to buy them off the eShop rather than a remixed series of challenges. When you do finally get to play some of the remixed levels, it just ends so fast and you’re back to playing the basic games to unlock more remixed challenges. For a game that’s supposed to highlight mashing up all the NES titles together to produce interesting results, it seems like backwards thinking to not have these remixed challenges at the forefront of the experience.
There are two other modes that are included: Speed Mario Bros and Nintendo World Championships Remix. Some retro veterans will be satisfied with the challenge and rankings of both modes, but others will feel a bit cheated by how quickly the fun dissipates for both. You can keep going back and playing both modes over again for better scores and faster times, but this is completely contrary to what this game is supposedly trying to showcase. There is also the ability to unlock the Famicom versions of the games, which offer a tougher level of challenge and is a nice touch for anyone who loves retro gaming.
Unfortunately, this is not the Ultimate NES Remix most people would have hoped for. The fun idea of mashing up classic NES titles together for crazy and fun challenges just isn’t taken as far as it should have been. The remixed aspect is instead given a back seat treatment in favor of showcasing classic NES games and why they are so great to own again. It all comes off as eShop marketing rather than a joyful and nostalgic experience with classic NES titles. There are plenty of challenges to unlock as you play through each game and earn stars, but the fun factor is lost quickly when you realize you could just play these games elsewhere. Had Nintendo fully embraced the remix idea between their games, this would be a much more fun package to have in your 3DS collection.
This review is based off a retail copy of Ultimate NES Remix for the Nintendo 3DS which was purchased out-of-pocket.