Retro game compilations face two problems. For one, a lot of old games are clunky and obtuse by today's standards.
And secondly, when you have a bounty of different games to play it's tempting to bounce off to another game as soon as you get a teensy bit bored, stuck, or challenged.
The NES Remix series - first on Wii U and now on 3DS - sidesteps both of these problems gracefully.
Instead of dropping a handful of NES games onto a cartridge, it cuts these old games up into hundreds of bite size challenges where you might have to leap over barrels in Donkey Kong, dodge cannon fire in Kirby, or land an Excitebike bike.It's a me!
Each chunk teaches you about how the game plays, fixing the problem of retro games being impenetrable to newbies. And you're encouraged to hop between classics, making it purpose built for those with a 21st century attention span.
The challenges get quite hard, quite fast but they stop and start so quickly that you'll always be clamouring for another go. It also helps that these old games are stone-cold classics and it's not difficult to get utterly engrossed in Donkey Kong.
Plus, NES Remix is forgiving - you get loads of lives and unlimited continues, meaning anyone can finish a stage with enough patience and practice. But you need to be fast to get the most stars, which unlock further challenges.
There are also leaderboards where you can compete for even better times and scores with friends. And in a nifty feature you can watch a video clip of anyone's attempt - button presses and all.The last Metroid is in captivity
That's all relevant to the both the console and handheld versions of the game. But when you start to compare this 3DS edition to the two Wii U games that inspired it, you start to feel less impressed.
While it's dubbed the "Ultimate" NES Remix, many games are missing. All the best ones, like Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, Super Mario Bros 2, Metroid, and Punch-Out!! are present, of course.
But 12 other games - that's Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Donkey Kong 3, Golf, Pinball, Tennis, Urban Champion, Wrecking Crew, Ice Hockey, NES Open Tournament Golf, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, and Wario's Woods - are simply gone.
There's no extra content, and all the challenges, the remixes (special stages that mash-up multiple games), and championship mode (where you play three challenges for a big online leaderboard), are lifted directly from the Wii U games.
Okay, there is Speed Super Mario Bros., but that's just Mario played at double the pace. I'm not even counting that astonishingly lazy revamp as bonus content.The hero of time
There's also no stereoscopic 3D whatsoever, you can't change the controls, and you can't sync your save or vie for leaderboard positions with the Wii U version. And, as before, you don't get the full versions of the old games - just a link to the eShop.
NES Remix is a great concept, which bundles these must-play adventures into a collection that's varied, challenging, and addictive. It's perfect for younger players who want to see how Mario and Zelda got started, or retro fans who want a fresh spin on the classics.
So if you have absolutely no intention of buying a Wii U, this is just about a worthwhile addition to your 3DS collection. But if you've got Nintendo's home console, get the originals and leave this lazy port on the shelf.