Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. Review: Need more games

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Image of the item titled Nintendo's adorable retro handheld would be great with more games

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

After releasing the NDA and SNES Classic Edition consoles in 2016 and 2017, many hoped that in 2019, for its 30th anniversary, Nintendo would release a Classic Game Boy Edition too much. This is not the case. Instead, a year later to celebrate Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary, we get a revival of Nintendo’s Game & Watch range. As retro gaming gear goes, this is a perfectly pocketable Super Mario Bros. experience, but for $ 50 it takes more than three games.

Years before Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi created the incredibly successful Game Boy, he was responsible for a series of simpler handheld gaming devices called Game & Watch, so named because, in addition to a game, they also featured a digital clock at a time when this was a real selling feature. Unlike the Game Boy’s pixelated screen which could be used to display over a thousand different games, Game & Watch handhelds featured a segmented LCD screen with limited graphics capabilities. The gameplay was simple yet addicting, and as a result, the Game & Watch line existed for over 11 years before finally being completely supplanted by the Game Boy.

Although similar types of basic LCD screen games (such as Tiger Handhelds) are best known as the predecessor of Game Boy, GBA, DS, and Nintendo Switch, the Game & Watch line actually influenced the design of the NES boxy gamepad and introduced the world to the D-pad in the shape of a cross that is still found, in one form or another, on modern controllers. The Game & Watch line also included the first video games with Mario as the main character (not playing a giant ape’s second fiddle) and that’s probably why Nintendo decided to revive the material to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the game. first NES Super Mario Bros. Game.

The gold and red color scheme isn't my favorite, but I understand that it pays homage to the Japanese Famicom.

The gold and red color scheme isn’t my favorite, but I understand that it pays homage to the Japanese Famicom.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

With the new Game & Watch, Nintendo is really going retro with a shiny red gold finish that pays homage to the Japanese version of the NES known as Famicom. I don’t hate it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice if I had options.

The game & watch D-pad feels great, but would you expect less from Nintendo?

The Game & Watch’s D-pad is nice, but would you expect less from Nintendo?
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

The Handheld is not a direct copy of any of the original Game & Watch handhelds, but rather a compilation of the greatest hits that highlights the best hardware features of these various devices. Its four-way directional pad is a bit smaller than the Game Boy’s, but it still feels great. If a company is to deliver a great D-pad experience, it will be Nintendo.

The color screen is lovely and the gameplay is rock solid.

The color screen is lovely and the gameplay is rock solid.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

The only feature Nintendo didn’t pick up on its classic Game & Watch handhelds were the raw monochrome LCD screens of yesteryear. Now we get a 2.36-inch color LCD screen with excellent (and adjustable) brightness levels instead. It doesn’t contain as many pixels as the screen of a modern smartphone, but there are more than enough to make even the smallest text readable, and enough to match the NES’s 256 x 240 pixel resolution. . Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom look much sharper than they ever did on your parents’ giant 80s TV.

Rubber action buttons?  This is how the original Game & Watch device rolled up, and these feel great, even though they're not smooth plastic.

Rubber action buttons? This is how the original Game & Watch device is rolled up, and these feel great, even though they aren’t made of smooth plastic.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

Out of nostalgia (I guess), the new Game & Watch’s B and A action buttons are made of rubber, not smooth plastic, but they feel great and have a softer spring than the computer’s D-pad. poached.

The menu options on Game & Watch are basic, so three simple buttons are all you really need to navigate its user interface.

The menu options on the Game & Watch are basic, so three simple buttons are all you really need to navigate its user interface.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

The handheld’s simplicity means there aren’t a lot of menus to navigate, so a set of three smaller buttons is more than enough to navigate options like volume and brightness settings ( neither has their own dedicated button controls), set the time, or switch back and forth between the digital clock and games without losing your progress.

Charged via USB-C, the Game & Watch battery is good for around eight hours of playback, depending on the brightness of the screen.

Charged over USB-C, the Game & Watch battery lasts approximately eight hours of playback, depending on screen brightness.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

On the side of the Game & Watch, you’ll find a power / standby button and the device’s only port: a place to plug in a USB-C cable to charge the handheld’s battery which Nintendo says , will last about eight hours of gameplay, but it might take a hit if you increased the screen brightness. On the opposite side of the device is a small slot for its speaker, but what you won’t find is a headphone jack. If you’re playing in a place where the sound might disturb others, your only option is to turn it off completely. Since the Switch doesn’t even support wireless headphones, it’s no surprise that this isn’t an option on the Game & Watch either.

With Nintendo’s pedigree with portable games, the Game & Watch hardware looks like a decisive step towards the portable emulators we have seen it coming out of China. It doesn’t feel like the corners have been cut, and although it’s plastic, the slim device is reassuring and sturdy. Where it disappoints, however, is on the software side. Super Mario Bros. is an obvious classic and it deserves to be the star of the show here, and American gamers can finally experience the real Miyamoto designed Super Mario Bros. sequel that Japanese players have had. Not the oddly repainted version of Yume Kōjō: Panic Doki Doki that American players knew Super Mario Bros. 2.

The included ball juggling game provides the most authentic and authentic game.  Look at the experience, but the novelty wears off quickly.

The included Ball The juggling game offers the most authentic Game & Watch experience, but the novelty wears off quickly.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

Play juggling included Ball is a fun reminder of how far handheld games have come, though after three minutes the nostalgic charm has worn off completely and I’ll probably never touch it again. And while no one needs a digital clock in 2020, Nintendo has filled it with Easter eggs and fun animations, so you can use the Game & Watch as a desk clock.

But overall, the new Game & Watch feels like a missed opportunity for Nintendo to put a larger sample of retro titles in a handheld device. The pirates have already started Game & Watch reverse engineering and found that the standard ROM game files are loaded into the device’s RAM on the fly, which means that with just a little more memory (the original Super Mario Bros. game was only 32 kilobytes) Nintendo could have included a bunch of NES titles, or even recreations of every single-screen Game & Watch handheld ever released. Including even the Super Mario stars collecting about it would help better justify its price.

In fact, with the 35th anniversary of the original Tthe legend of zelda and Metroid Arriving in 2021, there’s a good chance we’ll see dedicated Game & Watch versions of these games released next year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but at $ 50 it’s an approach that feels like trying to enjoy retro gamers, instead of helping them celebrate why they still buy games. Nintendo today.

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  • Bring back that warm feeling of pre-Game Boy portable gaming.
  • Looks like an accurate recreation of the original Game & Watch devices, albeit updated with a nice color LCD display that makes Mario look great.
  • At $ 50, that seems expensive considering it only includes three games, one of which is a very basic Game & Watch return title.
  • Super Mario Bros. made Mario a household name and defined side-scrolling adventure games, but he’s showing his age. To put the Super Mario stars collecting on this device would have been a great alternative.
  • The digital clock might actually be the best feature, with Easter eggs to find and fun animations that change throughout the day.
  • The rechargeable battery gives you eight hours of battery life, or more if you lower the screen brightness.
  • No headphone jack or wireless connectivity, so if you don’t want to disturb others while you play, you’ll just have to turn the volume down to minimum.


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