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Useful Notes / Game & Watch

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Ball, the first of the Game and Watches.

When Super Smash Bros. Melee came out, there was a strange character that nobody except the most hardcore of Nintendo fans recognized. His name was Marth.


No, he's not the guy we're talking about today, we're talking about the guy that NOBODY recognized, or at least remembered. He was Mr. Game & Watch, the Smash representative of one of the first popular hand held game series: Game & Watch.

Back when Nintendo was in its early days (early for video games, at least), Gunpei Yokoi saw a business man playing with his LCD calculator on his way home. This inspired him to make a watch that doubled as a game to kill time with. Thus the Game & Watch, a watch and a game that looks slightly like a calculator, was born. It helped popularize handheld video games, started Nintendo's monopoly on handhelds, and catapulted Yokoi to a high position in Nintendo. From that position, Yokoi would create the Game Boy, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Dr. Mario, and Fire Emblem, before the... unfortunate mistake that the executives made with the Virtual Boy. In fact, the Game & Watch was Nintendo's first major success in the world of gaming (there was the long-forgotten Color TV Game home console and a few arcade games, but with one exception, nothing came out of them). Also, one of the templates for the Game & Watch was used in Nintendo DS. So, if you ever owned a handheld, you know who to thank now.

Some of the popular Game & Watch games:

  • Ball (1980): The very first game in the series. The player has to keep a number of balls in the air. Re-released in Game & Watch Gallery 2, Game Boy Camera, and on DSiWare, and was a reward offered through Club Nintendo.
  • Flagman (1980): The player mimics a sailor, who holds numbered flags. Appears in Gallery 3, as a mini-game in Wario Land II and as DSiWare.
  • Fire (1980): Perhaps the most popular game in the series, and the basis for Mr. Game & Watch's Smash Bros. design. Two firemen must bounce people from a burning building to an ambulance. Appears in Gallery 1, 3, and 4.
  • Octopus (1981): Three divers go under the sea to salvage treasure. A large octopus guards it. Appears in Gallery 1 and 4, and part of Club Nintendo's Game & Watch collection.
  • Egg (1981) (Later re-released as Mickey Mouse): Playing as a hungry fox, the player collects eggs from hens. Appears in Gallery 3. The original game saw a rare re-release with Mickey Mouse in place of the fox, as a tie-in game. This game was later ported in the Soviet Union as a tie-in to the popular Soviet cartoon series Nu, Pogodi!.
  • Helmet (1981): A simple Point A to Point B game, where the player must dodge falling tools. Playable in Gallery 2 and as DSiWare.
  • Lion (1981) Two men must keep wild lions inside a cage. Appears in Gallery 3.
  • Manhole (1981): The player must fill in the holes in a bridge to keep travelers safe. Appears in Gallery 1 and 4, also as DSiWare.
  • Chef (1981): As a busy chef, the player must avoid dropping various foods. Playable in Gallery 2 and 4, where Princess Peach is the chef. Downloadable through DSiWare.
  • Popeye (1981): As Popeye, catch objects thrown to his boat from Olive Oil while avoiding strikes from Bluto.
  • Donkey Kong (1982): Practically the same as the arcade game. Playable in Gallery 2 and 4. The D-Pad was created especially for this game, and would be used in virtually every game system, Game & Watch and otherwise, afterward.
  • Donkey Kong Jr. (1982): Appears in Game & Watch Gallery 3 and 4.
  • Greenhouse (1982): Playing as a gardener, the player guards precious flowers from insects. Playable in Gallery 3.
  • Oil Panic (1982): A boss and employee of a gas station must keep an oil leak under control. Appears in Gallery 1.
  • Turtle Bridge (1982) The player must deliver a package from one side to the other, across a bridge of hungry turtles. Appears in Gallery 3.
  • Mario Bros. (1983): Very different from the arcade game of the same name. Mario and Luigi are in charge of a bottling factory, and must get the cases of bottles through the factory belts safely. Playable in Gallery 3 and 4, where the bottles are replaced with cakes.
  • Boxing (1984) (Later renamed to Punch-Out!!): Similar to Urban Champion. Also available in Game & Watch Gallery 4.
  • Super Mario Bros. (1986): A condensed version of the NES game. Introduced the Auto-Scrolling Level to Mario, which would be embraced by future games in the main series. An Updated Re-release in 1988 would feature improved artwork, with Mario resembling his official character design rather than the original's more generic "Mr. Game & Watch" with a cap and mustache.
  • Zelda (1989): Another condensed version of the console game; the only Game & Watch title featuring Link, a definite ending and the ability to continue should the game be over as a result of the player character's death. Appears as the final game in Gallery 4.
  • Mario the Juggler (1991): The very last game in the series. Ball with a Mario twist.

When the Game & Watch celebrated 40 years in 2020, the same year Super Mario Bros. celebrated 35 years, a new Game & Watch system released which contained Super Mario Bros., and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels as well as a special version of Ball starring Mario. One year later, another new Game & Watch would release for the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda which was bundled with The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the original Game Boy version of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and a special version of Vermin starring Link.

For information about the series' gameplay, go here. The Game & Watch Gallery series has its own trope page.