Game & Watch
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Ball, the first title of the series, released on April 28th, 1980.
|Product family||Game & Watch|
|Type||Handheld electronic game|
|Units sold||Worldwide: 43.4 million units|
|Predecessor||Color TV Game|
Game & Watch (Japanese: ゲーム&ウオッチ Gēmu & Uotchi; called Tricotronic in West Germany and Austria) is a line of handheld electronic games produced by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. Created by game designer Gunpei Yokoi, each Game & Watch features a single game to be played on an LCD screen in addition to a clock, an alarm, or both. It was the earliest Nintendo product to garner major success.
Origin and design
In 1979, Gunpei Yokoi, traveling on the Shinkansen, saw a bored businessman playing with an LCD calculator by pressing the buttons. Yokoi then thought of an idea for a watch that doubled as a miniature game machine for killing time.
The units use LR4x/SR4x "button-cell" batteries, the same type used in most laser pointers or handheld calculators. Different models were manufactured, with some having two screens and a clam-shell design (the Multi Screen Series). The Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS later reused this design.
The modern "cross" D-pad design was developed in 1982 by Yokoi for the Donkey Kong handheld game. The design proved to be popular for subsequent Game & Watch titles. This particular design was patented and later earned a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award.
Game A and Game B
Most of the titles have a 'GAME A' and a 'GAME B' button. Game B is generally a faster, more difficult version of Game A, although exceptions do exist, including:
- In Squish, Game B is radically different from Game A — the player must touch aliens to eliminate them as opposed to avoiding moving walls.
- In Flagman, Game B is a mode where you have to press the right button in a certain amount of time, not memorizing patterns.
- In Judge, Boxing, Donkey Kong 3 and Donkey Kong Hockey Game B is a two-player version of Game A.
- In Climber, Balloon Fight, and Super Mario Bros., there is no Game B button.
- Silver (1980)
- Gold (1981)
- Multi Screen (1982–1989)
- Tabletop (1983)
- Panorama (1983–1984)
- New Wide Screen (1982–1991)
- Super Color (1984)
- Micro Vs. System (1984)
- Crystal Screen (1986)
- Mini Classics (1998)
There were 59 different Game & Watch games produced for sale and one that was only available as a contest prize, making 60 in all. The prize game was given to winners of Nintendo's F-1 Grand Prix tournament, a yellow-cased version of Super Mario Bros. that came in a plastic box modeled after the Disk-kun character Nintendo used to advertise their Famicom Disk System. As only 10,000 units were produced and it was never available for retail sale, the yellow version is considered rare.
The Game & Watch games were renewed between 1995 and 2002 with the Game & Watch Gallery series, five Game & Watch collections released for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. They feature the original ports, as well as new, modernized versions starring the Mario series cast.
From 1998 onward, a number of third-party distributors have been licensed to re-release smaller LCD versions of ten separate Game & Watch games which together compose the Nintendo Mini Classics series.
Between July 2006 and March 2010, Nintendo produced two Game & Watch Collection cartridges for the Nintendo DS to be released exclusively for Club Nintendo members. The first cartridge featured three games from the Game & Watch Multi Screen series: Oil Panic, Donkey Kong, and Green House. The second compilation, Game & Watch Collection 2, contained Parachute, Octopus, and a new dual-screen game with Parachute on the top screen and Octopus on the bottom. Both cartridges are now available to the general public.
Between July 2009 and April 2010 Nintendo released nine separate Game & Watch ports for DSiWare including remakes of Ball (called Game & Watch: Ball), Flagman (called Game & Watch: Flagman), Manhole (called Game & Watch: Manhole), and Mario's Cement Factory (called Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory) among others.
In March 2010, Takara Tomy released officially licensed Game & Watch-styled keychains, based on the Wide Screen series editions of Octopus, Parachute, and Chef. They do not actually run the games, instead just display a demo screen. While the game cannot be played, the speed at which the demo runs can be adjusted. The batteries are recharged with solar panels on the unit.
Ball was rereleased exclusively via Club Nintendo to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Game & Watch, with the Club Nintendo logo on the back. Unlike the original release, this version includes a mute switch. For members of the Japanese Club Nintendo, after an announcement in November 2009, it was shipped in April 2010 to Platinum members. For members of the North American Club Nintendo, it was available for 1200 coins from February 2011. For members of the European Club Nintendo, it was available for 7500 stars from November 2011.
Nintendo's Game & Watch units were eventually superseded by the original Game Boy. Each Game & Watch was only able to play one game, due to the use of a segmented LCD display being pre-printed with an overlay. The speed and responsiveness of the games was also limited by the time it took the LCD to change state. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controllers were based on the controls in Game & Watch, and Game & Watch Multi Screen version became the model on which the Nintendo DS was based.
Nintendo Game & Watch was issued under different trademarks in different countries, resulting in different packaging. These have become rare and are also collectable.
Clones and unofficial ports
In the Soviet Union, clones of some wide-screen console games appeared by mid-1980s; they were sold under the universal Elektronika brand. The choice of titles included Octopus (renamed Mysteries of the Ocean), Chef, Egg (renamed Nu, pogodi! with the Wolf resembling the main character from the animated series), slightly different variants of Egg named Hunt (featuring a hunter firing at ducks) and Explorers from Space (featuring a space ship being fired upon), and many others.
Before the Game & Watch Gallery series, the Game & Watch Mario Bros. game was the only Game & Watch game ported onto a different system. In this case, it had been unofficially ported over to the Commodore 64 system. Since the arcade game Mario Bros. had also been ported over to the same system, the similarly titled Game & Watch version had to be rebranded as a sequel, entitled Mario Bros. II.
Mr. Game & Watch
Mr. Game & Watch is the mascot of the Game & Watch series, following his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, although the character was first seen in the Game & Watch game Ball. Mr. Game & Watch does not speak in the games that he is featured in, instead making beeping noises similar to those heard while playing Game & Watch games. Other traits unique to the character are him being paper-thin (due to having only two dimensions, not possessing depth) and his very limited animation, both alluding to the LCD screens on which Game & Watch games run. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the main storyline suggests Mr. Game & Watch is made of a primordial substance that can take on any number of forms. Mr. Game & Watch was harvested for this reason to create The Subspace Army. It is also stated on the Smash Dojo that Mr. Game & Watch allowed this to happen because he has no concept of good and evil.
Mr. Game & Watch has appeared in several Game & Watch Gallery games. In Game & Watch Gallery 4, wherein he was the manager of the "classic games" area alongside Mario, he was able to speak, unlike prior appearances.
He is a part of the playable rosters of Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. In all games, the character's special abilities include attacks derived from various aspects of the Game & Watch series (such as turning into the octopus seen in the game Octopus).
Mr. Game & Watch appears in several games in the WarioWare series, along with several other characters that bear a strong artistic similarity to him, usually as a brief cameo appearance. He also appears in the Nintendo DS title Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What To Eat? in the Game & Watch game Chef, after it is unlocked. In the title Donkey Kong Country Returns, he appears in the background of level 7-1, as a worker in a foggy factory; this could be a reference to the game Mario's Cement Factory. He also appears during certain stages in Rhythm Heaven Fever.
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