Game & Watch
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Ball, the first title of the series.
|Product family||Game & Watch|
|Type||Handheld electronic game|
|Release date||April 28, 1980 (Ball)|
|Discontinued||October 14, 1991 (Mario the Juggler)|
|Units sold||Worldwide: 43.4 million units|
|Successor||Game Boy line|
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. This console inspired Nintendo to make the Game Boy. It was the earliest Nintendo product to gain major success.
Origin and design
In 1979, Gunpei Yokoi, traveling on a 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)
- Wide Screen (1981–1982)
- Multi Screen (1982–1989)
- New Wide Screen (1982-1991)
- Tabletop (1983)
- Panorama (1983–1984)
- Super Color (1984)
- Micro Vs. System (1984)
- Crystal Screen (1986)
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.
The Game & Watch Gallery series recreates the Game & Watch games in video game form, with modes that imitate the LCD displays and modes that modernise the graphics and include Mario characters. Game & Watch games have also been released through DSiWare.
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 a generic amalgam of characters in Game & Watch games. The Mr. Game & Watch name first appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The character was created as an homage to the Game & Watch series, and his moveset is made of elements from many different titles; for example, his standard attack is the bugspray from Greenhouse, and his neutral special attack uses the frying pan from Chef to launch food at his enemies.
In the Game & Watch games themselves, the player characters vary in appearance, as can be seen by official artwork and in-game graphics (such as the characters often sporting eyes, teeth and clothes, all of which Mr. Game & Watch lacks). However, in the Super Smash Bros. series, his trophies state his first appearance as "Game & Watch, 1980".
After his debut, Mr. Game & Watch appeared in the subsequent Super Smash Bros. titles, as well as in Game & Watch Gallery 4, wherein he was the manager of the "classic games" area alongside Mario. He also makes a cameo appearance in Donkey Kong Country Returns in the background of level 7-1, as a worker in a foggy factory, which could be a reference to the game Mario's Cement Factory. He also appears during certain stages in Rhythm Heaven Fever.
Mr. Game & Watch is never heard speaking in the Super Smash Bros. series. Instead, he makes beeping noises similar to those heard while playing Game & Watch games, although he does have speech balloons in Game & Watch Gallery 4. Other traits unique to the character are him being paper-thin due to having only two dimensions and thus not possessing depth and his very limited animation, both alluding to graphical limitations of the original Game & Watch games.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the game's main storyline, The Subspace Emissary, 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. On the Smash Dojo, it is stated that Mr. Game & Watch allowed this to happen because he has no concept of good and evil.
Game & Watch Games referenced by Mr. Game & Watch's moveset include:
- Ball - All throws
- Flagman - Up tilt
- Vermin - Down smash and all floor attacks
- Fire - Up special
- Judge - Side special
- Manhole - Down tilt
- Helmet - Dash attack
- Lion - Forward tilt
- Parachute - Neutral aerial (Melee) or up special (Brawl and SSB for 3DS/Wii U)
- Octopus - Up smash and Final Smash
- Chef - Neutral special
- Turtle Bridge - Back aerial
- Fire Attack - Forward smash
- Oil Panic - Down special
- Donkey Kong Jr. - Down aerial
- Green House - Neutral attack
- Mario Bros. - Forward aerial
- Mario's Cement Factory - Grab
- Spitball Sparky - Up aerial
- Tropical Fish - Neutral aerial (Brawl and SSB for 3DS/Wii U)
- Alarm from multiple titles - Pummel and edge attack
- List of Game & Watch games
- Electronika§Electronic toys
- Nintendo Mini Classics
- History of Nintendo
- Nelsonic game watch
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- "GAME&WATCH". Nintendo.co.jp. 2009-07-10. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
- "Retro Games Immortalised as Solar-Powered Miniature "Game & Watch" by Takara Tomy". Gigazine. January 18, 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
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- Spencer (November 18, 2009). "Platinum Club Nintendo Members Get Game & Watch". Siliconera. Curse. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- McWhertor, Michael (November 18, 2009). "Club Nintendo Offers Members Actual Game & Watch Prize". Kotaku. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- Winterhalter, Ryan (February 11, 2011). "Club Nintendo offering Game & Watch replica". gamesradar. Future. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
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- C-64: Mario Bros. II
- "Super Smash Bros. Melee guide: Mr. Game & Watch". IGN. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- Shadow Bugs - Trophy Description. Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo. 2008
- Marissa Meli (March 4, 2011). "]The 50 Cutest Video Game Characters - UGO.com". UGO.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Game & Watch.|
- GAME&WATCH at Nintendo official website (Japanese)