Game and Watch Gallery
  • Genre:
    • Compilation
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Nintendo
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 02/01/1997
    • US May 1997
    • UK 08/28/1997
Score: 75%

This review was published on 11/19/2014.

Game and Watch Gallery is a video game developed and published by Nintendo for the original Game Boy. It was released in Japan on February 1, 1997, North America in May 1997, and Europe on August 28, 1997. In the early 1980s, way before the Game Boy, Nintendo released a line of handheld games that went by the name of Game and Watch. Designed by the late Gunpei Yokoi, each game came on a handheld unit specifically designed for it, and they used early LCD technology, the kind of stuff old calculator screens were made out of. Not being one to ever let anything be lost to the sands of time, Nintendo brought back those games and remade them for the Game Boy, dubbing them Game and Watch Gallery. Because of how simplistic the original Game and Watch games were, Nintendo put multiple games into a single Game Boy cartridge to make the deal more reasonable to modern audiences. What you have here is a quaint collection of classic games that are perfect for playing on the go.

Image

There are four games to choose from in Game and Watch Gallery. Each one comes in two versions; modern and classic. The classic version is, as its name implies, a recreation of the original Game and Watch game that tries to be as true to the original as is possible on the Game Boy. The originals will be fun if you grew up with the real thing and are feeling nostalgic, but are otherwise hard to enjoy nowadays. Most of your time will likely be spent on the modern versions. The modern versions replace the nondescript Game and Watch characters with Mario and his friends, improve the graphics, sound, music, and animations, and enhance some of the mechanics. As you can see, the modern versions are far superior to the originals, unless your nostalgia for the originals is too strong. Also, each game has easy and hard difficulties, both for the classic and modern versions, and an extra difficulty can be unlocked if a high enough score is reached. In addition to all of that, there is the Gallery Corner, a museum of Game and Watch history that you can unlock content in by getting high scores in the different games. Game and Watch Gallery goes above and beyond what is required of a remake by not only remaking one game, but remaking four.

Image

The first game is Manhole. It's a simple premise: there are four pathways with gaps in them, and the friendly dinosaur from Super Mario World, Yoshi, must frantically raise platforms into the gaps to prevent pedestrians from falling to their doom. You do this simply with the d-pad; no other buttons are necessary. Every time a pedestrian steps on a raised platform, it falls back down, requiring Yoshi to raise it yet again. It's possible for Yoshi to hold a platform while a pedestrian crosses to prevent it from falling, but this can only be done with one platform at a time, and multiple pedestrians eventually start crossing at the same time, preventing this from being a viable long term strategy. As time goes on, the pedestrians get faster and more numerous, making the task at hand more challenging. The game continues until you lose three times, just like arcade games of old. And like those old arcade games, the objective is to get as high a score as possible. It's a simplistic, fun game, and the modern version has added depth.

Image

Second on the list of games in Game and Watch Gallery is Fire. Yes, these names are awfully creative. Back then, video game names could consist of a single noun with no adjectives or anything. In this particular game, Mario and Luigi take on the role of firefighters as they attempt to save people from a burning building. The two accomplish this task by bouncing the falling victims on a trampoline-like mattress into a nearby carriage. Different people fall at different speeds, such as Yoshi babies fall faster than Toads. Similar to other Game and Watch games, things get tougher as you make progress, which eventually results in hazardous objects being thrown out of the building that the brothers must avoid, like bombs. I'm not sure who's throwing those bombs or why, but explosives are bad news bears. This game gets very frantic very quickly. Again, you're allowed to make three mistakes before your game is over, and you must last as long as you can to get the highest score. Fire is another super simple, amusing game.

Image

Octopus is the third Game and Watch game available. This one is far more complex than the previous two, featuring some ingenious mechanics. In the game of Octopus, Mario and Princess Peach are out on a lake in search of sunken treasure. The problem is that there's a giant octopus guarding the treasure. Mario must dive into the lake in his diving suit, collect treasure while dodging octopus tentacles, and then return to the boat with the money. This process is repeated over and over until you run out of all your lives. What's interesting about this particular game is the weight mechanic. The more treasure Mario places into his bag, the heavier he becomes, which slows down his movement. The safest method is to collect tiny bits of treasure at a time and make frequent returns to the boat to unload them, but the payoff for doing this is less than if you take a large haul back. It's a perfect risk vs. reward system that is quite exciting. Octopus is the most complex and in depth game in Game and Watch Gallery, though it's still simple enough to enjoy.

Image

Oil Panic is the fourth and final game in this collection. I'm surprised this one wasn't just called Oil, considering the names of the previous games. This one involves Bowser dripping oil into a tower, while Mario is inside trying to catch the droplets of oil in buckets, allowing him to safely dispose of the oil outside the tower and into the mouth of a hungry Yoshi. The idea here is that the oil droplets will ignite a fire if Mario misses them, and fires are bad. After Octopus, this is one of the most complex games in Game and Watch Gallery. It's also one of the most complex ones controls wise, as it involves more than the d-pad. Mario is holding two buckets and he is able to rotate them with the press of a button. Further, each bucket can only contain so much oil before it overflows. As if that all weren't bad enough, Yoshi casually strolls around, so he's not always where you need him to be. It counts as a loss if Yoshi isn't around to eat dumped oil. Oil Panic is another fun classic that may tickle your fancy if the other games are too simple for you.

Image

Portable games need to be good in short bursts in order to be viable and Game and Watch Gallery achieves that. All the games are fairly simple, but fairly fun. You never have to worry about waiting until the next save point before quitting any of the games, as it's not really about making progress. Rather, Game and Watch Gallery harkens back to the old days of gaming in which the goal is merely to obtain and beat high scores. The only issue with it is that it won't be enough to satisfy most people's needs. After all, there are only four games on display here, all of which are incredibly simple. Individually, none of these games would be worth it, and they're only just barely worth it when together. Still, the charming graphics, enticing music, and improved mechanics make this four-pack of simple games endearing enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

Word Count: 1,321