Game & Watch

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This article is about the Nintendo-produced Game & Watch product line. For the American-made Game Watch line, which included titles such as Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda and Mario's first game, see Nelsonic Industries.
Game & Watch
Game & Watch logoFirst Game & Watch: Ball
Ball, the first title of the series, released on April 28th, 1980.
Manufacturer Nintendo
Product family Game & Watch
Type Handheld electronic game
Generation Second generation
Discontinued 1991
Units sold Worldwide: 43.4 million units[1]
Media Pre-installed software
Predecessor Color TV Game
Successor Game Boy

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.[2]

Origin and design[edit]

In 1977, 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.[3]

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.

Titles available in Game & Watch form vary from Mickey Mouse to Balloon Fight, including Nintendo staples such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario Bros..

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.[4][5]

Game A and Game B[edit]

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.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • In Climber,[8] Balloon Fight,[9] and Super Mario Bros.,[10][11] there is no Game B button.

Series[edit]

  • 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.[12] 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.[11] As only 10,000 units were produced and it was never available for retail sale, the yellow version is considered rare.[12]

Mario the Juggler, released in 1991, was the last game created in the Game & Watch series.[13]

Releases[edit]

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.

In 2001, Nintendo released Manhole-e bundled with its Nintendo e-Reader systems.[14] Although an entire line of Game & Watch e-Reader cards were planned, they were never released.

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),[15] Flagman (called Game & Watch: Flagman), Manhole (called Game & Watch: Manhole),[16] and Mario's Cement Factory (called Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory) among others.[17][18]

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.[19]

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.[20] For members of the Japanese Club Nintendo, after an announcement in November 2009, it was shipped in April 2010 to Platinum members.[21][22] For members of the North American Club Nintendo, it was available for 1200 coins from February 2011.[23][24] For members of the European Club Nintendo, it was available for 7500 stars from November 2011.[25][26]

Legacy[edit]

The Game & Watch made handhelds vastly popular. Many toy companies followed in the footsteps of Game & Watch, such as Tiger Electronics and their Star Wars themed games.

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[edit]

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.[27]

Mr. Game & Watch[edit]

Mr. Game & Watch as he appeared in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

Mr. Game & Watch is the mascot of the Game & Watch series, following his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee,[28] 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.[29] 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.

Appearances[edit]

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.[28][30][31] 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.

Reception[edit]

UGO.com listed Mr. Game and Watch on their list of "The Cutest Characters", stating "Mr. Game and Watch is adorable because he’s completely oblivious to his condition."[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Iwata Asks: Game & Watch". Nintendo of America. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  2. ^ "Wii.com - Iwata Asks: Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary". Us.wii.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  3. ^ The Escapist: Searching for Gunpei Yokoi
  4. ^ "Nintendo Wins Emmy For DS And Wii Engineering | Technology | Sky News". News.sky.com. 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  5. ^ Magrino, Tom (2008-01-08). "CES '08: Nintendo wins second Emmy - News at GameSpot". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  6. ^ "gw / squish". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  7. ^ van Spanje, Martin. "#026: Judge - a Nintendo Game & Watch collection". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  8. ^ "gw / climber". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  9. ^ "gw / balloon fight". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  10. ^ "gw / super mario bros.". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  11. ^ a b "Nintendo Super Mario Bros Promo". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  12. ^ a b "Super Mario Bros. YM-901". 2009-01-02. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  13. ^ "Obscure Pixels - Nintendo Game&Watch". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  14. ^ "Game & Watch Collection: Manhole Release Information for e-Reader". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  15. ^ "Game & Watch: Ball Release Information for DS". GameFAQs. 2010-04-19. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  16. ^ "Game & Watch: Manhole Release Information for DS". GameFAQs. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  17. ^ "Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory Release Information for DS". GameFAQs. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  18. ^ "GAME&WATCH". Nintendo.co.jp. 2009-07-10. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  19. ^ "Retro Games Immortalised as Solar-Powered Miniature “Game & Watch” by Takara Tomy". Gigazine. January 18, 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Game & Watch". Iwata Asks. Nintendo. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  21. ^ Spencer (November 18, 2009). "Platinum Club Nintendo Members Get Game & Watch". Siliconera. Curse. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  22. ^ McWhertor, Michael (November 18, 2009). "Club Nintendo Offers Members Actual Game & Watch Prize". Kotaku. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Winterhalter, Ryan (February 11, 2011). "Club Nintendo offering Game & Watch replica". gamesradar. Future. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "Game & Watch: Ball". North American Club Nintendo. Nintendo. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  25. ^ Newton, James. "Game & Watch Gifts Added to European Club Nintendo". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "Game & Watch: Ball". European Club Nintendo. Nintendo Europe. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  27. ^ C-64: Mario Bros. II
  28. ^ a b "Super Smash Bros. Melee guide: Mr. Game & Watch". IGN. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  29. ^ Shadow Bugs - Trophy Description. Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo. 2008
  30. ^ "Mr. Game & Watch Biography". IGN. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  31. ^ "Ness, Dark Pit, Falco, and Alph confirmed for Super Smash Bros.". Metro. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  32. ^ Marissa Meli (March 4, 2011). "]The 50 Cutest Video Game Characters - UGO.com". UGO.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 

External links[edit]