Can you believe that Nintendo’s greatest mascot, a portly plumber with a plucky can-do attitude, has been caving in spines and taking names for 35 years now? Mario arguably helped turn Nintendo into a powerhouse brand, and through the decades he has been the defacto mustachioed face of the company.
An enduring beacon of positivity, gracing every single platform that the company has released games on and being a measuring stick for quality in the first-party video game space. What’s remarkeable is that Mario’s first adventures are still as playable today as they were in the 1980s. That magic formula of running, jumping, and collecting coins has stood the test of time, and has been at its best when it hasn’t been tethered to a TV.
Pretty much every Nintendo handheld has been home to a bit of the ol’ run ‘n jump Mario games, but the latest adaptation may just be the most retro take yet. In celebration of Mario, Nintendo has released the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. system, which is a tiny handheld that packs in the first two Super Mario Bros. games (and the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, which were known as the Lost Levels in the west), as well the classic Game & Watch game Ball.
It’s simple, it’s adorable, and it’s beautiful. It’s also absolutely tiny, giving me an ego boost for once when my delicate digits caress the handheld, but I love it. Make no mistake, the Game & Watch is an expensive curio but at least it’s brilliantly crafted. Nintendo’s odd colour scheme of dull gold and crimson red stand out beautifully, the D-pad is sublime and the screen blasts your eyeballs with vivid colours as your muscle memory kicks in on World 1-2 in Super Mario Bros.
There’s more to it, such as the built-in clock that contains all manner of Easter Eggs and nearly three dozens animations, and you’re able to easily grab around 7-8 hours of playtime from the device and you can charge it via USB-C, as Bowser intended. And that’s it really. Outside from the modding community that already has Doom working on the Game & Watch, the internals hide a more limited library of distractions.
As a portable time-waster, I do adore it though. It’s just big enough to comfortably fir in my pocket, having a few rounds of Mario is still enjoyable, and I don’t get tired of looking at it. The Game & Watch is more of a neat collectible than anything else, and on that level it succeeds as a beautifully-styled retro reminder of how far gaming has come in the decades since Mario ate his first world-altering mushroom.
If you want one for yourself, you can grab it from the Nintendo store for R1299.
Last Updated: November 23, 2020