Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. Review

Two classic Nintendo products combine for the latest contribution to the mascot’s 35th anniversary. Game & Watch was the original catalyst for the handheld video game market, its devices becoming markedly popular throughout the 80’s (Game & Watch itself is celebrating its 40th anniversary). As cartridges became the norm rather than a single game per system, the hardware gave way to the Game Boy and all of its successors.

The device has been revived for a lovely limited-edition console, which offers Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2 – known better in the west as The Lost Levels – and one of the original Game & Watch classics, Ball, as well as a clock feature. Not much new can be said about the content. Both Super Mario Bros. games are emulations of the originals, unlike the recent Super Mario Bros. 35, which uses the physics from Super Mario Maker. Ball now features Mario’s face (or Luigi) but is extremely basic by modern standards. Super Mario Bros. 2 remains one of the most brutal mainline Super Mario games, guaranteed to frustrate a lot of players.

There are a few art pieces like the one above that show up on the screen

Hopefully they won’t be frustrated to the point of damaging the console, as it’s very pleasantly designed. The gold and red exterior feels appropriately retro, and the material resists fingerprints very well. The buttons have a slight rubbery texture, but still press in with a noticeable ‘click’ and are well positioned to avoid accidental inputs. The slightly raised LCD screen reduces the risk of thumbs brushing against its corners and marking it with prints. The system is notably small but remains relatively comfortable even for someone with large hands.

The USB-C slot and power button are on the right side of the system, and each game automatically save-states when closed, either by putting the system in sleep mode or selecting another game. The only noticeable absent feature is a headphone jack, which makes it impossible to play with volume discreetly. Whether this is an issue will depend on if the player is frequently in public while playing, and if they care enough to listen to the 8-bit sounds of classic Mario.

It’s small and very light

The other feature is the clock, which shows the time in the form of Mario blocks. Mario automatically runs from one side of the screen to the other forever, and enemies appear constantly. There are plenty of neat easter eggs, and the system’s battery life means the clock can be left on and unplugged for several hours if desired, or left plugged in.

All in all, the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. is a well-made, lightweight system that Mario fans and collectors will appreciate. The other consideration is the price, and the RRP of £44.99 is perhaps too high for those who don’t care enough for the “collectible” factor. The system could have included the western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 to make a complete NES Mario collection, but instead it’s just the two originals and a simplistic Game & Watch original.

The time screen also features enemies not seen in the original Super Mario Bros.

This leads to the limited edition being passable for everybody else, especially considering there are plenty of other systems for Super Mario Bros. Nevertheless, for those looking to appreciate an amalgamation of two of Nintendo’s oldest gaming successes, the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. is a well-crafted product that’s unlikely to disappoint.

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