The Legend of Zelda review

Image for article titled Nintendo's New Game & Watch is a must-have for Zelda fans

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

My biggest takeaway from last year Game and Watch: Super Mario Bros. was that Nintendo could have, and should have included more games. It was a complaint that the company more or less addressed with the new Game and Watch: The Legend of Zelda, resulting in a better handheld for casual gaming. It’s undoubtedly a must-have for Zelda fans who delve into the origins of the series.

It was assumed that Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. was a one-off creation timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the NES game, but when the new Game and Watch: The Legend of Zelda was announced in June, it was clear that Nintendo had other plans. More Game & Watch handhelds are likely on the way for other popular Nintendo franchises like metroid and (dare we dream?) Pokemon, and I am now ok with that. I still think Nintendo could do more with these devices (like it did with the nes and SNES classic edition consoles), but the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda offers a more satisfying experience than its predecessor, assuming you’re in love with it. The Legend of Zelda franchise.

Much needed hardware upgrades

Although every Nintendo console from the NES onward includes some form of select and start buttons on the controller or gamepad, these were omitted on Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., both to better match the original retro handheld design, but also because the included games didn’t need it. With Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo added a set of Select and Start buttons because they’re actually crucial to gameplay for inventory management and navigation, not just for pausing the game.

The game & amp;  Watch: The Legend of Zelda adds dedicated Select and Start games that are essential for Zelda gameplay.

The Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda adds dedicated Select and Start games which are essential for Zelda gameplay.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

But aside from a few extra buttons on the front and a green plastic casing instead of red, Nintendo hasn’t changed much between its Game & Watch revivals. The new handheld still features a beautiful 2.36-inch color LCD display with adjustable brightness levels, slightly smaller controls than those included in the Game Boy but still very playable, and a power button on the side next to a USB-C port for charging.

Flip the handheld over and you'll find a subtly shiny Triforce design on the back.

Flip the handheld over and you’ll find a subtly shiny Triforce design on the back.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

Nintendo has also added a fun Easter egg to the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda handheld: a subtle glowing Triforce on the back. I’m not saying you should run around and drop $50 on the handheld because of that funny accent, but I’m not. do not say that either.

More games

The programming of games on Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. the handheld wasn’t exactly great. Yes, Super Mario Bros. is a classic and iconic title in gaming history, but the Japanese sequel, Super Mario Bros. 2can be incredibly hard and frustrating at times, and juggling Ball the throwback game was just a reminder of gravity portable gaming devices used to be.

Three full The Legend of Zelda games are included in multiple languages, along with a Game & Watch returning title that's fun for about 35 seconds.

Three full The Legend of Zelda games are included in multiple languages, along with a Game & Watch throwback title that’s fun for about 35 seconds.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

For Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo included three full games instead, along with another staple G&W title called Vermin now with Link as the vermin hero. There’s the original NES The Legend of Zelda which started it all in 1986 and spawned the “it’s dangerous to go alone” meme, the 1988 sequel Zelda II: Link’s Adventure which oddly added a lot of side-scrolling elements to the game, and the 1993 The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakeningwhich is the first Game Boy game to come to the new Game & Watch devices.

NES games are legitimately fun throwbacks, and while the graphics in each now look horribly dated, both are actually solid pick-up-and-play titles as you slowly whittle away at the bigger quests you’re on. . There’s also the added bonus that the Game & Watch saves your progress exactly where you left off, so if you can’t complete a dungeon in time, you won’t find yourself returning to the entrance the next time. you will come back. All included Zelda games work best on Game & Watch.

This time around the clock is actually playable, allowing you to control Link and kill baddies on a basic level.

This time around the clock is actually playable, allowing you to control Link and kill baddies on a basic level.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

This time around, Nintendo has also made Game & Watch clock mode playable. On the Super Mario Bros. version, all you could do was watch Mario run and jump independently through each level, but on Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda, you can take control of Link at any time and battle the bad guys in one of many self-contained levels that appear randomly with the time display built into its design. There’s no score tracking and you don’t get anywhere if you kill all the bad guys – they all respawn – but it makes a nice toy if you’re not in the mood to return to one of the full games.

The best Zelda and Game Boy game of all time

Feel free to tear me up in the comments, but I was introduced The Legend of Zelda series through Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy, and it was about the closest thing I’ve ever had to a gaming epiphany. I played the game on a two-week family road trip (I skipped memories for an endless amount of AA), and it’s one of the few games I’m always willing to come back and play again and again. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an amazing game, and Ocarina of time showed us that Zelda in 3D could be great, but the charm and simplicity of Link’s Awakening is always just a fantastic experience.

Best The Legend of Zelda game ever.  Prove me the contrary.

Best The Legend of Zelda game ever. Prove me the contrary.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

It’s also the best Game Boy game ever as far as I’m concerned, with depth and graphics that made the portable system perform better than I even thought possible. There’s a good reason Nintendo gave Link’s Awakening a massive facelift and re-released it on the Switch – it’s still a great game.

You can switch between the aspect ratio of the game box as it appeared on the Game Boy screen, or stretch it to fill the slightly larger G&W display.

You can switch between the aspect ratio of the game box as it appeared on the Game Boy screen, or stretch it to fill the slightly larger G&W display.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

For retro gaming purists, Nintendo has included the option to change the screen size from Link’s Awakening so it matches the squarer aspect ratio of the original Game Boy, but when stretched to fill the screen of the new Game & Watch, it still looks great and plays as well as the original. However, I’m not quite sure why Nintendo didn’t include The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX—the Game Boy Color version of the gameinstead of taking advantage of G&W’s new color display.

The perfect Christmas stocking

If you’re a die-hard Zelda fan, chances are you’ve pre-ordered the GSoul & Watch: The Legend of Zelda as soon as it was announced, and for $50, it’s a solid way to not only explore the origins of the series, but to play one of the best Zelda games again. It’s not the cheapest stocking stuffer out there, but it’s hard to imagine any Nintendo fan feeling disappointed to have received one over the holidays.

At the same time, it’s also proof that Nintendo could do so much more with these Game & Watch revivals. Thanks to some clever hackers we know that these devices rely on emulators that simply load locally stored ROM files, and although we already know the handheld could handle Game Boy titles, we now have official proof. Since the Switch is capable of playing SNES and N64 games, we also know that Nintendo has emulators for those consoles as well. A Game & Watch: Metroid would be great, but there’s really no reason Nintendo can’t pack one with a games roster that rivals its Classic Edition consoles.

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