"Throughout the "Iwata Asks" interview there was mention of the core concept of "an NES game with the latest technology" and while I haven't played too many NES games myself, I wonder if this concept also contributed to the smaller scope of the game..."
NES games were not smaller scope. Metroid 1 is a massive game. So was Zelda1 and 2. Mario 3 is still one of the biggest platformer games ever.
Perhaps is it the perception of smaller scope that was the problem here.
A flashy-first game is awesome when it comes out. A great-first game is awesome forever.
Plus, just for the hell of it: Kelly Brook at the 2008 BAFTAs