Going to do something different with today's review. Normally I like to stick to the stiff, basic formula of breaking down a game (if you can call it that) by categories such as sound, graphics, gameplay, etc, etc, etc. Those are gone for this article. My experience is going to be presented as one solid piece. Some may like it, some will pick on me for it (mainly my fellow co-workers), but stiff. This is my experiences with the Mario Game & Watch. Will it be a must have throwback? Or will it be just another novelty for you to throw back into your closet. (Click on "Read More" to read the full review.)
Friday, September 4th, 11:24AM in the morning was when I got up from a nap. The night before I had a long night of playing Madden 21 on my projector and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 afterwards. Hence why I napped that very morning, but that's going off topic.
I got up from my nap and checked out the good ol' EB Games website. I saw that Mario 3D All-Stars and the Mario Game & Watch were available for pre-order. I said with a tired and grumbling voice, "what the hell". I pre-ordered them on the spot and went back to bed for another few hours. I just happened to have the money that day to pre-order both of them, which is a very rare thing. I'm just an independent video game reviewer of 15 years after-all. Earning money is alien to folk like us.
So, what does this long winded and cheesy (or cringy to some folk) fact about my sexy life? The Mario Game & Watch pre-sold out a few moments after that excellent transaction. So, na na na na na! I got a Mario Game & Watch! Now, I could bore you with the little details about its dimensions and how much the thing weighs. I won't. I'll just bore you to death with the details that only need mentioning.
The system itself looks and feels very authentic when compared to an original run G&W. There are a few obvious differences between this new one and the classic. The rich LCD screen that displays full on video and gameplay. The fact that it can be charged up and not need those annoying clock batteries. It's the most convenient Game & Watch to date.
Content is pretty thin compared to a lot of the modern day compilation consoles, but it's still more than what you would get on the old Game & Watch systems. You've got Super Mario Brothers, Lost Levels, and a remake of Ball that now stars Mario Mario instead of Mr. Game & Watch. Emulation is very good and looks great on the little screen. There was no latency issues and I could make a lot of the tight moves like I could back in the day.
While the games look and run well, I was mixed with the buttons. The B and A buttons are nice 'n squishy and were comfortable to touch. The D-pad though, yeah the d-pad could've been better. It is too soft and squishy, but it doesn't feel as nice. The squishyness makes it hard to perform certain moves like the Mario slide and the great bean stalk shuffle. (The great bean stalk shuffle isn't a very important move though.) You have to really hold down the two directions to those moves going. However, if you don't care about using Mario's advance skills, you won't have that same problem.
While the NES games run good, it doesn't run perfectly. Mario and Lost Levels suffer from sprite flickering when too many things are on screen. Sure, it's nostalgic seeing that, but I don't want that in my damn games. It's annoying and I do not see why they needed to have that left in. Maybe some people just want to feel warm. To me it's just a reminder about how far we've come.
One surprising feature is that there's a level select feature, similar to the one from Super Mario All-Stars. Granted, you have to reach those certain worlds in order to unlock them for the level select. So, Nintendo can add in a handy continue feature but still not choose to use a version that doesn't have sprite flickering?
I had a ball with Ball. It's a fun little game and one of the best that the Game & Watch series had to offer. Sure, it's simple, but the challenge and concept is fun. Game A and B are both present, but you have to go through a menu to activate them instead of hitting the Game A or B buttons. It's not a hassle at all, it just takes away some of the authenticity is all. It feels more like something from the Game & Watch Gallery series for the Game Boy. That's not an insult, that series is top notch.
There are quite a few menus and options in the system itself. They aren't half-bad and were easy to navigate through. I like how you can switch between games on the fly and it'll just pause your current progress. Yes! Finally a Game & Watch with a pause button. The battery life is also decent. I've been playing it on and off for a few weeks without having to charge it. Granted I do not play it for very long. The charger cable is sadly very short, so just use your Nintendo Switch charger if you have one.
We've talked about the game, now let's talk about the watch. It's not as convenient as the original Game & Watch's watch. It only really appears when the games are on pause. Yes, that's the case even for Ball. You won't even know it is there half the time. You can also set the system to digital clock mode. I liked this feature a lot better than I thought I would. It displays a very fun and charming Mario themed clock with assets from the games. It's so satisfying seeing Mario knock the time around.
Overall, Mario Game & Watch is a neat little novel item that will satisfy the classic Nintendo fan. It's nothing more, nothing less than that. Just a neat, fun, little thing. 7/10