The Legend of Zelda LCD games

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LCD games are electronic games played on an LCD screen. Since the release of the Zelda Game & Watch game in August 1989, several LCD games based upon the theme of The Legend of Zelda have been licensed by Nintendo to be released for both Japanese and foreign markets. While Zelda (Game & Watch) was both developed and manufactured by Nintendo, later LCD games would only be licensed by Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda game watch (October 1989) is an LCD wristwatch game produced by Nelsonic as part of their Nelsonic Game Watch series, and Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce[a] is an LCD[1] fighting video game licensed by Nintendo[2] and produced by Epoch Co. for the Barcode Battler II[b] platform, and released only in Japan.

Game & Watch: Zelda[edit]

Cover of the Zelda Game & Watch.
Developer(s)Nintendo Research & Development 1
Platform(s)Game & Watch, Nintendo Mini Classics
ReleaseGame & Watch
Mini Classics

The Zelda[5] Game & Watch (model number ZL-65)[6] is a multi-screen Game & Watch system developed by Nintendo and released in North America in 1989.[3] Its gameplay was heavily inspired by Nintendo Entertainment System game Zelda II: Adventure of Link, and it featured an original story described on the manual.

Unlike the other LCD games, this was made by Nintendo and appeared on a Nintendo platform. The handheld console would be Nintendo's penultimate release before the release of the Game Boy (the last being Mario The Juggler).


Players control Link and fight through labyrinth chambers on the Game & Watch's lower screen. In the labyrinth chambers, Link faces Poe-like Ghosts, up to four Stalfos, and a Moblin-like Goblin mini-boss.[7] Stalfoses and Ghosts cannot be defeated and must be dodged and blocked with the shield respectively. The Goblin must be killed in order to complete the lower-screen labyrinth.[5] Once the Labyrinth is complete, stairs appear and the action shifts to the Dragon's Lair in the upper screen. Here Link battles a dragon on the right hand side of the screen while avoiding its fire and tail attacks. The left hand side of the screen displays the dungeon map and items such as the Tomahawk item[5]—unique to this game—that Link gains while fighting the dragon.[7] Upon defeating the dragon, the game starts again with quicker enemies and retaining the player's high score.[3] This Game & Watch game also features a continue button that allows players to continue the game in the event of the player's death.[7]


Eight unruly dragons are creating havoc in the world. After they kidnap Princess Zelda, it is up to Link to defeat them and rescue the princess.[3] The dragons have imprisoned Zelda behind a seal that requires all 8 pieces of the triforce to unlock. After defeating each dragon, Link gains one piece of the triforce.[5]

Development and release[edit]

The Zelda Game & Watch was developed by Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo R&D1.


Zelda is thought to have pushed the limits of what is possible on the Game & Watch LCD format, though the gameplay is far simpler than the NES original.[3] The game was noted in particular by Famitsu as having achieved the excitement and role-playing game-feel of the original series, but the game was criticized for being too easy if the player attained too many power-ups during play.[7] Retro Gamer rated it Number 5 in their "Perfect Ten Games" for Game & Watch, noting that "it did capture the feel of the world it was played in".[8]

Today the game frequently fetches high prices on the secondary market with auction values ranging from £25 to £60.[6]

Ports and re-releases[edit]

In 1998, Toymax Inc. was licensed to make the Mini Classics series, keychain-sized remakes of the Game & Watch series, one of them being Zelda. It has a significantly smaller screen size. This keychain version, along with Oil Panic and Donkey Kong, was only released in Europe. By early 2007, Stadlbauer and It's Outrageous! began distributing the Mini Classics version in select locations within the United States, using art from A Link to the Past and Four Swords Adventures.

In October 2002, Nintendo included a port of the game as a hidden unlockable extra in Game & Watch Gallery 4 for the Game Boy Advance. This Zelda minigame is the most difficult to unlock, requiring the player to have beaten all other games (and to have earned all 160 stars).[9] Due to limitations of the GBA hardware, the visuals were changed. To fit everything on-screen at once, the screen where the action is not taking place is reduced to about two-thirds of that of the original height.

The Legend of Zelda (Game Watch)[edit]

The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda game watch box.
Developer(s)Nelsonic Industries
Publisher(s)Nelsonic Industries
Platform(s)Nelsonic game watch

The Legend of Zelda[12] game watch is a multi-purpose wristwatch made by Nelsonic (re-released for European markets by Zeon in 1992) as part of their Game Watch line.[13] It tells the time and allows players to play a game. It runs on one battery, size #364 (black watch) or #392 (red watch). The game is based on the NES's original The Legend of Zelda, and it was manufactured in black, red, white and pink colors.


The player controls Link as he defeats enemies in caves to retrieve pieces of the Triforce. The game consists of four levels with four cavernous rooms each. In each cave, Link has to collect a boomerang and sword to defeat several enemies. Defeating all of the enemies in the cave grants Link a key to the next room which, on entering, causes Link to lose all of his weapons so that he can collect them again in the new cave. Once all enemies in the fourth cave are killed, the Dragon—the level's boss—appears. After Link defeats the Dragon, a Triforce fragment appears, giving him access to the next level. After collecting all four pieces of the Triforce, the game ends.[12]


Plot details for the game are scant to nonexistent. According to the manual, Link enters a cave where he is immediately attacked by Iron Balls, Ferocious bats, and fire breathing Dragons.[12] After obtaining weapons to defeat the enemies presented in each of the 4 caves per level, Link finds a key and fights the fire-breathing Dragon that serves as the boss of the level.[14] When the Dragon is defeated he leaves Link with a piece of the Triforce. After progressing through all 4 levels, Link collects all 4 pieces of Triforce and wins.[12]


The game was well received by critics for its stylishness as an article of clothing, but the game was considered to have been largely unsuccessful in evoking the original NES title. While the game was praised for its ability to give the illusion of multiple screens, the gameplay was criticized for its simplicity and the game as a whole was found to be "unrelated to its namesake" and generally "very poor".[13] Positive aspects touched on by reviewers included the game's relatively low price and its portability.[10]

Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce (Barcode Battler II)[edit]

Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce
Cover art for Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce (Barcode Battler II).
Developer(s)Epoch Co.
Publisher(s)Epoch Co.
Platform(s)Barcode Battler II

In 1992, Epoch Co. was licensed to print a series of Nintendo-themed cards for their Barcode Battler II platform. Card sets were printed with both Mario and Zelda themes.[15] Functioning similarly to an LCD e-Reader, the Barcode Battler II required players to swipe barcodes printed on cards across a visual input in order to enter characters, enemies, items, and spells into the console. The Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce set features 30 software-only cards,[c][16] and is based on the SNES's original The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.


Played in the C2 mode on Barcode Battler II, Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce set allows the player to play as either Warrior or Wizard. After choosing the hero card (either "Link" or "Link(Magic)"), the player scans it into the Barcode Battler II where its stats are recorded and displayed on the LCD screen. For each battle, the players choose an enemy and swipe it in to fight against the hero. The battle is conducted based on an algorithm within the Barcode Battler, and the results of the fight are displayed in new character stats on the LCD screen. If the enemy is defeated, the enemy card is discarded and the next enemy card is swiped in. At any point between fights, the player may choose to swipe in and discard one of the ten item cards. Item cards provide a variety of benefits to the hero including boosting weapon stats, restoring life, and increasing defensive stats. Discarded item cards may be returned to the player from the discard pile upon defeating a Wizard enemy. After all other enemies are defeated, the player must swipe the "Ganon" card to fight the final boss. If Ganon is defeated, the player has won.[17][citation needed]


Ganon has transformed the sacred land into the "World of Darkness" and is now plotting to take over the "World of Light" (i.e. Hyrule). To achieve this end, the evil priest Agahnim strives to sacrifice the daughters of the seven sages to break the seal holding Ganon in check.

Link must venture through the Worlds of Light and Darkness to defeat Ganon. Along the way numerous puzzles and monsters await.[18]


Both the Zelda no Densetsu card set and the Mario card set were released as Nintendo-licensed special-edition cards for the Barcode Battler II. The system itself was popular in Japan,[19][20] inspiring the creation of a comic book series as well as the commission of products for Falcom and NTV.

Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda[edit]

Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda
Game & Watch The Legend of Zelda.png
SeriesThe Legend of Zelda
Platform(s)Game and Watch
  • WW: November 12, 2021
Genre(s)Action-adventure, compilation

Nintendo released the limited edition Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda unit featuring a full-color pixel screen, fully playable NES/Famicom versions of both Japanese and international of The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Game Boy version of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening in various languages, and a new Zelda-themed variant of Vermin which looks very different from the Zelda (Game & Watch).

The size and shape of the external hardware is similar to the original Game & Watch Wide Screen series, but with the addition of a cross-shaped d-pad like the one featured in the Zelda (Game & Watch). This unit was released on November 12, 2021.[21][22] The Game & Watch has a very similar concept to the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., but it instead has 4 games and unlike the Mario one, it has a useable and playable clock and timer, a hidden game difficulty for the Game and Watch Game, and a light on the back of the handheld in the shape of the Triforce.


  1. ^ Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース
  2. ^ Japanese: バーコードバトラーII
  3. ^ Japanese: 専用カードソフト


  1. ^ Barcode Battler II Instruction Manual. Epoch, Co. p.1. 1992.
  2. ^ a b K. Takiya (1992). "バーコードバトラーII ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース". Epoch Co. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Retrospective: Zelda Game & Watch". IGN. 2006-05-17. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  4. ^ "The Return of Retro". Zelda Universe. 2007-01-30. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  5. ^ a b c d Zelda Instruction. Nintendo Co., Ltd. 1989.
  6. ^ a b Feature: Hardware - Watch A Go Go: Price Guide. Retro Gamer. Issue 10. p. 88. November 2004.
  7. ^ a b c d 第15回 ゲーム&ウォッチ(後編) ゲーム人生回顧録 - 乱舞吉田. Famitsu. 14 April 2002.
  8. ^ Retrospection: Game & Watch - Perfect Ten Games: Zelda (Multi Screen). Retro Gamer. Issue 55. Pg 50. October 2008.
  9. ^ "Game and Watch Gallery 4; Blast from the Past". GameFAQs. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  10. ^ a b Jarratt, Steve ed. News - Wrist action!. Total!. Issue 5. Pg.6. May 1992.
  11. ^ "The Legend of Zelda game watch". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  12. ^ a b c d The Legend of Zelda 8321. Nelsonic. 1989.
  13. ^ a b Bielby, Matt, ed. No. 1 Nintendo Game Watches. Super Play. Issue 2. Pg. 21. December 1992
  14. ^ Rice, Chris ed. Great Value Nintendo Merchandise - Lowest Prices!! SNESForce. Issue 10. Pg.75. March 1994.
  15. ^ Conveni Wars - Barcode Battler II. Epoch, Co. 1993.
  16. ^ マイコレクション Archived 2008-09-06 at the Wayback Machine. King of Games. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  17. ^ Nintendo Cards - Rules. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  18. ^ K. Takiya. ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース ストーリー. Epoch, Co. Nintendo. p.1. 1992.
  19. ^ Zelda Collectibles and Merchandise
  20. ^ Handheld Classics: Retro Roundup
  21. ^ "Game & Watch™: The Legend of Zelda™ System – Nintendo Product Details - Nintendo - Official Site". Archived from the original on 2021-06-15.
  22. ^ "GAME & WATCH: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA". Official Zelda Product Page. Retrieved 22 June 2021.