The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

In with the old.

Nintendo's back catalogue is never-knowingly underexploited. In recent years the runaway success of DS and Wii has emboldened the company to keep remixing or simply repackaging classic titles in the confidence that there's no shortage of customers to hoover them up.

Take New Super Mario Bros. on DS. The game was released in 2006 as a reimagining of the 20 year-old NES classic for a new generation. Years later, it's still a big hit - in fact it was the second best-selling DS title in the UK in 2010.

But that was a new game. More brazen, and just as clever, was last autumn's marketing ploy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "Super Mario". For the purposes of the headline-friendly "25" figure, Nintendo seemd to be ignoring the character's previous gaming roles.

The world's press (including us) duly reported on this grand occasion and Nintendo marked it by sticking the contents of 1993's Super Mario All Stars SNES cartridge on a disc and into a shiny new box.

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No more jumping in-and-out of pause menus with maps and item controls squeezed onto the bottom screen.

The reason why Nintendo succeeds here is simple: a disproportionate number of its headline releases from the 8-bit era onwards compared with other contemporary tiles retain a timeless quality to their core gameplay.

If that sounds hopelessly vague, let me put it another way: strip away everything else from a Mario game but the character and there is still pleasure to be had from the simple act of control itself.

What 2009's New Super Mario Bros. Wii tells us, as much as anything, is just how right Miyamoto and his team got it in the first place, a quarter of a century ago.

Nintendo is also one of the great innovators, of course, in the areas of hardware and software. But the enduring quality of its classic titles ensures the Mario Karts continue to sell alongside the Wii Fits.

So it should come as no surprise to find a similar blend of old and new across the launch line-up for 3DS: the revival of Kid Icarus and Pilotwings; the re-release of Super Mario Land and Zelda: Link's Awakening via Virtual Console.

But for fans of a certain vintage, an early highlight will be the chance to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the move. This is for 3DS what Super Mario 64 was to the original DS the rebirth of what is considered one of the greatest games of all time on handheld.

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