(Cybertech) – Alongside numberous other games and products, such as Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Mario Kart Live Home Circuit, Nintendo has reintroduced a classic handheld device as part of Mario’s 35th anniversary celebrations. It has brought back Game & Watch, but with a few key differences to make it an essential purchase for retro games fans and collectors alike.
Modelled on the original single-screen handhelds (albeit with 1981’s gold casing, rather than 1980’s silver), the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. edition is as small and light as we remember and wonderfully 80s in style.
It has more buttons than the original Game & Watch devices, as you get more than the one LCD game to play, plus a D-pad that is brand new, but it still retains the look and feel of Nintendo’s classic portables.
Other things to have been enhanced for this modern edition include the display, which is now full colour and backlit. The brightness can be adjusted along with the volume through a tiny mono speaker on the side. There is also a rechargable battery – which is charged through USB-C.
An on/off button can be found on the side, while the “Watch” in the title is still served through a timepiece mode – albeit one with Mario jumping and doing Mario-style things in the background.
In terms of games, you get a Mario version of the first ever Game & Watch game Ball. His head has replaced the round noggin of the stick guy but the game’s concept is identical.
You must juggle two or three balls (depending on the mode) but simply moving Mario’s hands left or right in time with the balls. It’s basic and that’s the point – the original game was limited to set LCD positions so therefore only allowed up to three hand placements on either side. However, as the balls fly through the air more quickly, ensuring to get to each ball as they arrive at hand height gets trickier.
On top of that, you also get the NES classics Super Mario Bros. plus Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (otherwise known as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan).
We have to admit, we actually own copies of the same platformers on a number of systems now, not least the NES Mini and the Nintendo Switch (through Switch Online). Still, it’s great to have them on a portably you can literally fit into a pocket to take on your travels.
The emulation seems spot on (it’s more than likely the same as the aforementioned versions) and the games can be paused through the dedicated button or simply by switching off the handheld – it’s intuitive, simple stuff.
We loved the era of gaming that Nintendo’s Game & Watch is most remembered for. And, although we never owned Ball, we did spend hours on end on a Fire machine we got as a present (you had to catch people from a burning building). This brings back many happy memories therefore.
Our only main concern is that it’s perhaps a bit pricey for nostalgic reasons along, as it sports a couple of games we already have access to multiple times. But then it is a collectable too, with a reproduction version of the original Ball box as part of the packaging.
If you don’t mind the cover price, you do need to be quick with ordering one as it will only be available until 31 March 2021 or when retailers’ stock runs out, whichever is soonest.
Writing by Rik Henderson.