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RELEASE DATE (NA): April 25, 2014 GENRE: Compilation
// review by SoyBomb


Back once again is another edition of NES Remix, the title that compiles many of Nintendo's classic NES games and puts a spin on them by offering a series of challenges or fresh takes on the original formulas. Unfortunately, as before, most of these proclaimed "challenges" are actually just things you would normally do in the games; if you're familiar with them already, NES Remix 2 shouldn't pose too much of a threat.

I wasn't very keen on the first NES Remix, mostly because they chose the earliest and least tantalizing games from the days of 8-bit glory. Only a few were favourable, Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda. And, I admit, I did get a bit of a thrill out of learning how to play Excitebike. Others — such as Golf, Ice Climbers, and the gag-inducing unplayability of Clu Clu Land — were far more of a pain than a pleasure. For NES Remix 2, however, Nintendo had no more worldwide smashes from the extremely early days to fiddle with, and so the library offered here is quite palpable. Legendary hits such as Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 are assured highlights, but we can't forget other classics including Kid Icarus, Kirby's Adventure, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and Dr. Mario to round out the collection. These games are in fine condition here, although as I said, if you've played them before, the individual challenges Nintendo propose won't be very challenging indeed. There are fewer titles overall, but their quality more than makes up for their lack of quantity.

Not all the games presented in NES Remix 2 are gold. For some reason, they also tried to pass off Wario's Woods as a "game" when it's really an uninteresting glob of programming. This puzzle game starring Toad, who is forced to make monsters disappear in adjacent groups of three using similar-coloured bombs, is muddled by awkward controls. Running around picking up monsters everywhere, especially under NES Remix 2's timer, is unattractive concept. NES Remix 2 also features NES Open Tournament Golf. They just couldn't go without including another golf game, could they? Punch-Out!! (or, more specifically, the non-Mike Tyson edition featuring fewer ear casualties) is also here, but it wasn't quite my cup of tea, especially under time constraints. And I never really noticed how floaty Metroid's physics and controls were until I played it here. And still no love for StarTropics (although I can see why, as that was never released in Japan, which would make Famicom Remix seem weird).

Some of my complaints about controls can be attributed to the game's button layout. Instead of using Y and B to simulate the buttons on an NES controller, but no, they decided to literally use B and A. On the Wii U GamePad, it's awkward because they are positioned so that your thumb should point up and to the right, which, on the right hand, is uncomfortable and unnatural. Y and B would have been perfect, because the thumb points that way. Whoever decided on this control scheme at Nintendo HQ must have a deformed hand or brain or something. I wish there had been an option to modify the game's controls, but there isn't even an options menu at all.

I... think we're not in Kansas anymore.

The same system is in place for the second NES Remix game as the first. You're presented with a fixed number of games to play at the start, and as you successfully complete them, you unlock more challenges and games by earning stars. The better your performance, the more stars you earn. But the big seller in NES Remix 2 are, as they should be, the remixed stages, adding an unexpected twist to the games you love from yesteryear. This could be anything: maybe the viruses in Dr. Mario shuffle around or change colour; maybe you'll have to play as Kirby to defeat Whispy Woods while a wall of Boos home in on you; maybe Birdo will turn invisible in Super Mario Bros. 2; maybe you'll have to defeat some Octoroks in Zelda II... as Toad! You never know what to expect! Typically, they're pretty tame and won't require much of a shift in thinking. I think the only one that gave me a headache was a remix where you have to get to the exit in a stage of Kid Icarus but the screen keeps on panning away until it's just a mosaic of Pits running around. If you're a super player, you'll unlock a series of Bonus stages, some of which pull from Ice Hockey of the NES library. I never really knew much about that one, but I survived.

But that's not all! Likely to compensate for the fact that NES Remix 2 pulls from only 12 games (whereas NES Remix had 16), there are a couple of additional modes of play. First and foremost is Super Luigi Bros., a take on the original Super Mario Bros. that has you going from right to left instead of left to right in a mirrored world, and you must play as Luigi, the man with the mystery momentum problem. And, if you have both NES Remix games in your library, you'll automatically unlock Championship Mode. It's similar to the old Nintendo World Championships where you have a time limit to achieve goals in three different games (Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario) while seeking a high score to post against others online. Somehow I managed to hit 13th place on my first try. ...Wait, that's unlucky.

If I had to suggest between one compilation or the other, NES Remix 2 definitely wins on the selection of games alone. It's far more fun to chuff through the challenges of Kirby's Adventure, Super Mario Bros. 3, or Zelda II: The Adventure of Link than the relatively ancient mediocrity of Clu Clu Land or Ice Climber. And even the golf game presented here wasn't quite the frustrating experience of the original NES title, Golf. It's far from perfect and is finished far too quickly, but what's here is a sharp improvement. So... where's the SNES Remix now?

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