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File:1100412-game and watch super 8101.jpg


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.

Beat

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 videogames, 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.

Think it's boring? Think again. It was so entertaining, the success of this game helped popularize handheld videogames, started Nintendo's monopoly on handhelds, and catapulted Yokoi to a high position in Nintendo. From that position, Yokoi would create the Game Boy, the Dr. Mario series, 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 one long-forgotten 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.

The games consisted of you controlling some guy doing some simple task, whether it was rescuing people jumping out of a burning building with a trampoline in Fire! (You had to bounce them three times before they'd get to the ambulance), or moving a single manhole cover to make sure people don't fall down as they walk across holes. Points were awarded each time you prevented disaster (Such as when someone successfully walked across the gap in Manhole), and should you fail, you were marked with a miss. Three misses and you were done. The game would speed up and get more difficult as you went on, but there were methods to clear your misses, usually after two, five, and seven hundred points or similar, though the remakes on the Game Boy had you rescue a star (In Fire!, if you bounced it into the ambulance, you erase a miss).

Oddly enough, they were a major hit in Japan but relatively unsuccessful in the US, to the point where they never became as popular or widespread as overseas. Part of this was due to bad marketing (Nintendo of America used their own employees in commercials) and part of it was due to Nintendo not understanding how the toy industry worked, since they had marketed the Game & Watch machines as toys rather then consumer electronics. This was a mistake they made only once - their next attempt at American video games was with the NES, and we all know how well that went. On the other hand these games became a smash hit in Soviet Union, where the localized versions was license-produced as Elektronika IM. Very interesting fact: while Nintendo bought rights from Elektronika to make Tetris, Elektronika grabbed the Game & Watch concept, so it's not exactly known if it was done with Nintendo's permission or not.

The games were rereleased on a series of Game Boy games, in sets of four with both the old unaltered version and a new better looking, with a couple of bonus features, version, and tracked scores on each version separately. This was actually one of the first remakes for a console game (albeit, handheld), long before the days of SNES->GBA.

The mascot himself is a bit of an enigma. Still, we have some information due to his role in the Super Smash Bros games. As far as we know, he has no personality. Because of this, he's Nintendo's first everyman, as Mario's a year younger than him. By Word of God, he's True Neutral, as he has no understanding of good or evil. He may be a Disco Dan, as he still speaks in calculator beeps (with the exception of the "present" section in Game and Watch Gallery 4), he uses Limited Animation and he and his tools remain two-dimensional (except for a manhole cover). This probably isn't his fault; no game designer wants to be the one who updates him and gets attacked by his fans. His fighting style is, more or less, a mix of Confusion Fu and Hammerspace. And that's all we know on the monochrome enigma.

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. Available as D Si Ware, and has been recently re-released through Club Nintendo.
  • Boxing (1984) (Later renamed to Punch Out): Similar to Urban Champion. Also available in Game & Watch Gallery 4.
  • 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 D Si ware.
  • Donkey Kong (1982): Practically the same as the arcade game. Playable in Gallery 2 and 4.
  • Donkey Kong Jr. (1982): Appears in Game & Watch Gallery 3 and 4.
  • Egg (1981): Playing as a hungry fox, the player collects eggs from hens. Appears in Gallery 3.
  • Fire (1981): Perhaps the most popular game in the series. Two firemen must bounce people from a burning building to an ambulance. Appears in Galley 1, 3, and 4.
  • Flagman (1980): The player mimics a sailor, who holds numbered flags. Appears in Gallery 3 and as D Si ware.
  • Greenhouse (1980): Playing as a gardener, the player guards precious flowers from insects. Playable in Gallery 3.
  • Helmet (1981): A simple Point A to Point B game, where the player must dodge falling tools. Playable in Gallery 2 and as D Si ware.
  • 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 D Si ware.
  • Mario Bros. (1983): Very different from the arcade game of the same name. Mario and Luigi are in charge of a cake factory, and must get the cakes through the factory belts safely. Playable in Gallery 3 and 4.
  • Mario the Juggler (1991): The very last game in the series. Ball with a Mario twist.
  • Octopus (1981): Three divers go under the sea to salvage treasure. A large octopus, the closest thing to villian, guards it. Appears in Galley 1 and 4, and part of Club Nintendo's Game & Watch collection.
  • Oil Panic (1982): A boss and employee of a gas station must keep an oil leak under control. Appears in Galley 1.
  • Turtle Bridge (1982) The player must deilver a package from one side to the other, across a bridge of hungry turtles. Appears in Gallery 3.
  • Zelda (1989): A condensed version of the console game, the only Game & Watch game featuring Link. Appears as the final game in Gallery 4.
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