During my visit to the Nintendo office in NYC I was able to preview Ultimate NES Remix, the 3DS release of NES Remix 1 and 2 featuring the best mini-games from both titles. I must admit, while I was aware of the upcoming title it wasn’t exactly on my “must buy” radar. Playing just a few mini-games quickly made me reconsider my position.
The first mini-game I played was a mode unique to Ultimate called Speed Mario Bros, in which you play through Super Mario Bros. at two times the speed. Sounds simple, until you realize the enemies are moving twice as fast and your double speed Mario is meeting them much quicker than you expected. It’s a fun mode that has you coming back for more, trying to top your score each time.
Ultimate NES Remix‘s big attraction, however, is the Famicon Remix mode. This mode let’s you play new challenges that are linked with the original NES versions of the games. Players might hear some different sounds, encounter different enemies or any number of changes that wouldn’t have been possible on the old system.
For instance, I played a remixed version of the classic Donkey Kong, the one that marks the first appearance of Mario (or Jumpman rather). This version, however, has a twist. Instead of playing as the iconic protagonist, you instead play as Link from the first The Legend of Zelda title — without the key the ability to jump. This means your only weapon is strategic thinking, since you must plan out your routes and use the ladders to avoid barrels as they come. The challenge was tough but it really gave a new spin to very familiar gameplay,
What I found interesting about the title as I played was that it retained all of the original controls, such as the frustratingly pixel-perfect accuracy you need to climb up a ladder in Donkey Kong, as well as preserving the hardware glitches, such as frame rate slowdown when too many characters are on the screen and software bugs. It makes the experience that much more authentic and doubly adds to the nostalgic factor.
I was also shown a pretty nifty feature of Ultimate, which is the regional online leaderboards. After you clear a challenge, you can upload the data of your run, and see how it stacks up against others in your area. I imagine this to be a great way to compete with friends as well, especially in Speed Mario Bros. in which you could compare scores and how much you completed of the mode.
Ultimate also features Championship Mode from NES Remix 2 (which I unfortunately didn’t have time to try out), which offers a series of challenges from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 and Dr. Mario based on the 1990 Nintendo World Championships.
The player is given 6 minutes and 21 seconds; in the first challenge of Super Mario Bros. the player must collect fifty coins, the second challenge involves collecting 25 coins in Super Mario Bros. 3 and finally, the player must earn as high a score as possible with their remaining time or until they lose in Dr. Mario.
My time with Ultimate NES Remix was both short and sweet, and I admit I had difficulty putting the game down. What really sells the title is its simple premise coupled with the sheer addictiveness of each “remixed” old-school mini-game. For those who decide to drop down the $30 this holiday season, you’ll be getting quite the package including 16 NES titles, and plenty of replayability.