Published Dec 18, 2013Nintendo began in the '80s. No, not that one — the 1880s. But though it began as a 19th century playing card company, it's now of course known as the House that Mario Built thanks to the all-encompassing success of its first home gaming console, the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The NES, which hit North America living rooms in 1985 and single-handedly resurrected the home gaming industry from the ashes of Atari, laid the foundation for all of Nintendo's success that followed — it's no surprise the company's two biggest games of the past year, Wii U's Super Mario 3D World and 3DS' Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, are franchises that were first inserted into that iconic grey box.
Nintendo, more than any other entertainment company save maybe Disney, is fuelled by nostalgia for its early days, which is why they've not only kept their '80s era franchises as flagships, but even still use 8-bit art and chiptune sound as Pavlovian audio-visual reminders of their origins.
So the most surprising thing about NES Remix is that it took this many years to come out. That said, I honestly can't imagine kids today caring that much for it, as it doesn't update the Nintendo aesthetic like Super Mario Galaxy or even mash it up like Super Smash Bros.
Rather, this downloadable game takes 16 NES-era titles, breaks them down into bite-size greatest-hits and then remixes them. It distills the likes of Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda and Excitebike down into WarioWare-type mini-games that have you trying to complete over 200 increasingly difficult challenges (these are old-school games, after all, with old-school difficulty) as well as remixing levels: you can play Donkey Kong as Link, who can't jump like Mario, drive a darkened Excitebike level with only a headlight to see or play Super Mario Bros. as an endless running ice level starring Luigi, or play levels that are zoomed in, zoomed out or flipped backwards.
Unfortunately, there are a number of head-scratching inclusions and omissions — Clu Clu Land, Ice Climber, Urban Champion and Balloon Fight are there, but Punch-Out!!, Contra, Metroid and Super Mario 3 are not? – though an inevitable sequel most likely explains spreading the playlist thin.
But even if the compilation could have been a bit stronger, for those of us who remember inserting these NES cartridges the first time around — or retro-game fetishists of any age — the sense memory one gets from playing these familiar games is pure pleasure. (Nintendo/Indieszero)