Stealthily announced a month or two ago, there is still some uncertainty about what exactly Ultimate NES Remix contains. Is it a new game, is it NES Remix and NES Remix 2 stuck together in one package, like the Wii U retail release, or is it something else entirely?
Although Nintendo detailed the game's contents a little during its Treehouse live stream last month, we've received an early copy of the game so we can clear up any remaining confusion. Essentially, Ultimate NES Remix is a bit of a "best of" collection, featuring some but not all of the content from the previous two Wii U eShop titles, essentially making it a way for those with a 3DS but without a Wii U to try out a large portion of the two rather excellent titles.
Ultimate NES Remix takes 16 of the games and all of their respective challenges from both Wii U titles, with an equal amount from each. Specifically, from NES Remix it takes Super Mario Bros., Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and Excitebike.
Then, from NES Remix 2, it takes Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Kirby's Adventure, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Punch-Out!!, Dr. Mario, Metroid and Kid Icarus. There's no doubt that this is, overall, a great selection of games and challenges, and most people probably won't miss the myriad of NES sports titles which all failed to make the cut — unfortunately some gems like Wrecking Crew and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels were also excised in favour of the other titles.
It seems like the included games were based mostly on popularity, but in the end this is still existing content that's been excluded without anything new to replace it, which is quite disappointing. Naturally, any and all remix stages featuring elements from the omitted games have also been removed, which means that a handful of challenges that were mostly focused on titles present here — yet included some minor features from other games — have vanished as well.
Another feature that appears to be absent is Miiverse integration, which was quite prevalent in the Wii U releases. There is no way to post your own messages or see those from others next to each of the challenges, and as a result even the rather amusing collectable stamps are nowhere to be found. Each challenge offers no rewards other than stars to unlock additional challenge; that's a pity, and we can only hope for an update to remedy this in future.
To somewhat make up for this, every single challenge in the game now features its own online leaderboard, though the only lists you can display are those of your region and your friend list, meaning there is no worldwide section. In addition both of these only display the top 8 players, meaning you can't even find out — it seems — where you are if you're not near the top. Just like in NES Remix 2, however, it is possible to download and watch replays from the displayed players, which is a neat feature and useful when trying to improve your own performance.
In general terms pretty much all of the (included) content is exactly the same as it was on Wii U, but there are two additional game modes as well. Just like those who own both Wii U titles, Ultimate NES Remix includes Championship Mode, which lets you play three games in a Nintendo World Championships-style fashion, attempting to clear a short goal in each as quick as possible.
This is basically the same as it was before, but the other mode is where the difference lies — NES Remix 2 included an edited version of Super Mario Bros. where you played as Luigi and the entire game was mirrored, but Ultimate NES Remix instead features Speed Mario Bros., another edited version of the same game where the gimmick is that it moves at twice the original speed. This is arguably not as interesting as the Luigi version, but still quite fun — it makes dodging Goombas and jumping over pits surprisingly hard.
All in all, from what we've played so far, Ultimate NES Remix seems like it's perfect for those without access to the original Wii U releases of the games — despite this the fact that the game is called "Ultimate" when there's missing content is a little disappointing, especially when there's a Wii U retail release featuring 100% of both games on the horizon in North America. It could be a solid collection for 3DS owners yet to take the plunge with Nintendo's home console, however; we'll have an in-depth review closer to the game's release, so stay tuned.