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The Game & Watch (G&W) series were handheld electronic games made by Nintendo and created by its game designer Gunpei Yokoi from 1980 to 1991. Most featured a single game that could be played on an LCD screen, in addition to a clock and an alarm. Most titles had a 'GAME A' and a 'GAME B' button. Game B is usually a faster, more difficult version of game A. The game Squish is a notable exception; here game B is very different from game A. Climber is an example of a game that does not have a 'GAME B' option.
Some of the titles available in Game & Watch format were games varying from Mickey Mouse to Balloon Fight as well as several Nintendo staples such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and Mario Bros.. For a more complete list, see the list of Game & Watch games.
Different models were manufactured, with some consoles having two screens (the Multiscreen Series) and a clam-shell design. The Nintendo DS later reused this design.
Gunpei Yokoi, travelling on a Bullet Train, saw a bored businessman playing with an LCD calculator by pressing the buttons. Yokoi then thought of the idea for a mini gaming machine that doubles as a watch for watching and killing time.
Sometimes considered the 60th Game & Watch, a yellow-cased version of Super Mario Brothers exists that plays identically to the New Wide Screen series version. Sources differ on how many units were produced. One webpage said 11790, one said 10000. In comparison with the millions of units produced of other G&W titles, this game is considered rare and thus highly valuable. It was not intended to retail but was given as a prize to winners of Nintendo's F-1 Grand Prix tournament. The plastic box this game was packaged in could be folded open and was modeled after the Disk-kun character that Nintendo used to advertise their Famicom Disk System.
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 Nintendo's Game & Watch units were eventually superseded by the original Game Boy.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 succeeding generation removed these restrictions.
The Game & Watch series also pioneers left-handed directional control, with a D-pad movement control on the left and action buttons on the right. This design would later be used for the Famicom control pads, and copied by virtually every other game console system. At the time, the position of the joystick on arcade systems varied, and home systems (such Atari 2600) tended to use right-handed joysticks.
Nintendo Game & Watch was issued under different trademarks in different countries, resulting in different packaging. These have become rare and are also collectable.
Interestingly, before the Game & Watch Gallery series, the Mario Bros. Game & Watch 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.
Mario the Juggler, released in 1991, was the last game created for the Game & Watch system.
Soviet wide-screen clones
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, Chef, Egg (renamed Nu, pogodi! with the Wolf resembling the main character from the animated series), slightly different variants of Egg named Hunt (a hunter firing at ducks) and Explorers from Space (space ship fired upon), and many others.
The Game & Watch games were renewed with the Game & Watch Gallery series of games for the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. They feature the original ports, as well as new, modernized versions starring the Mario series cast. Most recently, however, a Game & Watch Collection cart for the Nintendo DS was put up on Nintendo's "Club Nintendo" website. For 500 points, users of the Japan-only service can order such a product. The Collection includes three games, "Oil Panic", "Donkey Kong", and "Green House". All three were, suitably, multi-screen Game & Watch games.
Mr. Game & Watch
Mr. Game & Watch (Mr.•≤©`•ŗ£¶•¶•©•√•Ń, Misut®° G®•mu ando Wotchi?) is the mascot of the Game & Watch series, appearing in many of the various Game & Watch games made. He was originally called Hideo, but was given a different name in the 2001 video game Super Smash Bros. Melee, in which he was playable as the final unlockable character. He is Nintendo's first video game character, predating the Nintendo Entertainment System as well as the Game Boy. Later, he appeared in Game & Watch Gallery 4 as the manager of the "classic games" area alongside Mario; he could talk in this game.
In his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, all of his Standard and Special moves are derived from Game & Watch games, including Oil Panic, Judge (the move was renamed "Judgement" for reasons unknown), and even Turtle Bridge and Spitball Sparky. He also comes with a stage called Flat Zone (which is apparently an area in the larger "Superflat World" in which Mr. Game & Watch lives), which takes place inside the screen of a Game & Watch unit, including elements from Manhole, Helmet (which was called "Headache" in the United Kingdom), and Oil Panic. The trophy for this stage recommends playing the stage in Special Melee's Fixed-Camera Mode for a true replication of the Game & Watch experience. Event 45 in this game also plays tribute to the Game & Watch in general by featuring a red Mr. Game & Watch fighting a team of Mr. Game & Watches in Flat Zone.
Mr. Game & Watch returns in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. His role in the game's Adventure Mode, the Subspace Emissary, is unknown, though there appears to be more than one Mr. Game & Watch. Mr. Game & Watch's Final Smash (a powerful attack that a character uses after obtaining a Smash Ball item) transforms him into a giant octopus for a short amount of time. He can float around in the air and severely damage foes with his waving tentacles. Mr. Game & Watch has a new stage with him in Brawl, called Flatzone 2.