Underrated Systems – Game & Watch Series

Game & Watch

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But most gamers who are familiar with the Game & Watch series like them!” (yes, I can read your mind now). But, that’s the main problem with these systems; most gamers don’t know that these exist, especially as the Game Boy overshadows every handheld system imaginable. But, is the Game & Watch underrated? Let’s find out!

One of the main gimmicks of these systems are that these have both a clock, and an alarm built in. It has a game built in as well (obviously). Another main selling point is it’s design; it’s pretty small, and looks cool.

Game & Watch Image 1
This is my Game & Watch system. This plays Balloon Fight.

There are many variations of these systems. They don’t use cartridges; instead, if you want to change the game you are playing, you change the whole system. One system has a different game from another. A bit like the classic Pop Stations (but actually worth money, and released by a proper company).

The system I own is Balloon Fight, but most of the systems have an identical control scheme and look. Most have a D-Pad, one action button, an Alarm button, a Time button and a Start button (usually branded as a “Game” button). Some systems (like the Donkey Kong one) have two screens, and act like the DS (the game plays on both screens, and the player can cross over into the other screen).

Donkey_kong
The Donkey Kong Game & Watch System

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But, I will now answer the main questions people have about the system; how is the D-Pad compared to modern systems, and is the screen any good? The D-Pad (on my system, anyway) is pretty good, except it has separate buttons, compared to one piece of plastic on most modern systems. This takes a bit of time to get used to, but the buttons are very nice to use.

The screen is a segmented LCD display that comes pre-printed with an overlay. This means the screen has multiple images, and it flickers between them. When the screen does something, there is a small section of time where the moving sprite isn’t there. While screen is bad by today’s standards, it is fine for 1980 to 1991 standards.

Game & Watch Image 2

Balloon Fight is a really enjoyable game. You collect balloons and avoid diamond thingies. That’s it. While it doesn’t have a stupidly crazy story, it doesn’t need one. The game is fun, and that’s all that matters. The Action button makes the player go up when pressed, and the D-Pad moves the player left and right. When playing this game, it made me realize something; the control scheme is basically a more primitive version of Flappy Bird; except this game has much more to do.

While I can’t really talk about most of the Game & Watch games (I don’t own all of the systems, and I try not to use emulators), I urge you to try and play a system, and see what you think. I know there is a Game Boy game incorporating some Game & Watch games, but the sprites are butchered, and the original systems are better. I think this is a cool thing for most gamers to own, as it is really quite unique.

Editor’s Note:  For the youngin’s – Mr. Game & Watch from Smash has source material! Check it out!

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