Are you a gamer of a certain age? We’re thinking in the ‘approaching 30’ age range or perhaps a bit beyond it. If so, Nintendo’s Ultimate NES Remix for the 3DS is going to be a pretty good indicator of how awesomely (or badly) your reflexes and hand-eye coordination have aged. For younger gamers, now you can see what we had to put up with before checkpoints. And saving.
That’s because, like the two previous NES Remix games in the series, Ultimate NES Remix is a collection of classic Nintendo games from the days when Reggies sold branded red and white game consoles that you had to unplug every few hours so that the transformer wouldn’t explode.
The short of it is that Nintendo have compiled a selection of their older titles, like Super Mario Bros. 1 though 3, Donkey Kong, Excite Bike and Kirby as well as Punch-Out!! (because screw you Glass Joe) and a few others, into objective-based stages that will require either reflexes of steel (in the later stages) or some phenomenal muscle memory to complete correctly.
You may be tasked with taking out a certain number of enemies, completing a race in a set time or jumping over certain barrels (Super Mario, Excite Bike and Donkey Kong respectively) but the whole point is to earn as many stars as you can. Earn enough and you’ll unlock a remix level, which blends elements of two or more of the nostalgia-fests that UNR is made up of. Thus you might be completing a Kirby boss fight while the Boos from the Mario games creep up behind you or saving Mario from Donkey Kong while playing as Luigi – you know, weird stuff that wasn’t present in the original titles.
But it’s the brevity of Ultimate NES Remix that makes it fun. You can pick up and play a couple of stages in under five minutes, with some of the challenges being completable in less than 60 seconds. It’s the kind of thing you whip out when waiting for the microwave or a load-screen on another game, plus you get bonus points when other gamers notice you going all hardcore and retro in public. Trust us.
And the 3DS controls suit these old-school titles to a T. It’s almost like travelling back in time to when we were clustered around a bulky TV playing pass-the-controller, except that your thumbs won’t hurt nearly as much when you’re done with UNR. Maybe that’s just us though, we’ve spent years developing those muscles. Either way, the game’s various bits run as smooth as you’d like.
There’s not need to stick to the snippets of gaming though, you’ve also got a Super Mario Bros. speedrun mode. Not in the sense that you complete it as fast as possible, though that’s a popular subject for YouTube videos, but the game itself is faster than usual. It works but it’s not the most pleasant experience. It was hard enough the first time around.
There is also the Championship Mode, which gives you a selection of challenges to take online, with leaderboards that let you demonstrate your skills to the rest of the planet. Well, the bits that are also playing Ultimate NES Remix, anyhow.
Ultimate NES Remix is a fine enough game, compact enough to let you snatch a moment or two of game-time without getting too draw in. It’s also challenging enough to test you, which is what you want from some old-school gaming. The Remixes are fun on their own and there’s a few hours at least, if you’re not attempting to improve your leaderboard standing in which case you’ve got a lot of game time ahead of you. The Super Mario speedrun could have been better though but overall this portable title is an entertaining look back. Get it if you missed the earlier games.