• Aaron Main

Game & Watch - Super Mario Bros. Review

Believe it or not the first Nintendo handheld console wasn't the Game Boy, but instead the Game & Watch. An intriguing device that could play a series of mini games on a dim LCD display; kind of like those old Tiger Electronics toys. It was a success in Japan, with some Game & Watch systems making it stateside, as well.

Decades later, on the year of the Super Mario Bros.' 35th anniversary, Nintendo found it suitable to release a new Game & Watch for this special occasion. But this time with the full NES console version of the original Super Mario Bros. and a few more items of interest.

The new Nintendo Game & Watch is a beautiful handheld system designed in the near identical dimensions as the original. Sharing the same maroon red and shiny gold front, and swapping out that old, unlit LCD display with a vivid, quality screen, that can light up a dark room.

Coming in at $50, you'd expect this thing to have a lot of games and features. Instead, Nintendo is riding on the coat tails of fans' blinding nostalgia. In Game & Watch you'll find Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (aka Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan), Ball (a vintage Game & Watch game), and a clock -- hence the name "Watch" in the product name.

Super Mario Bros. plays just like the original on the NES. However, there are a few added features to this version...

The clock comes with 35 different animations throughout the day-- to commemorate Mario's 35th anniversary. These animations are non-interactive and cute to see, but only for the first dozen or so times.

If you hold A while the clock display is on, the system will switch over to the Mario Drawing Song, which sings a song while drawing Mario on screen.

Super Mario Bros. plays just like the original NES version. However, there are a few added features to it:

  • If you beat the game, you can unlock hard mode, which almost feels like a whole new experience and is super nerve wracking.

  • Holding the B button on the Super Mario Bros. title screen will let you change worlds, but only if you've been to that world before.

  • Holding the A button on the Super Mario Bros. title screen will give you infinite lives, so newer gamers, or those struggling with the mini controls won't be stressed out as much.

The system itself is so tiny, my big hands have been having difficulty during Super Mario Bros., which I've played numerous times in the past on the NES without such trouble.

Next there's Ball. Ball is a mini game that was in the original Game & Watch systems, and the only mini game to make a return for this version of Game & Watch. Ball has you juggling balls as Mario (the original had you juggle as Mr. Game & Watch). That's about all for Ball. Well, you can play as Luigi if you hold the A button on the Ball title screen.

The system itself is so tiny that my adult-sized hands have been having difficulty during play, but that's to be expected. The size does come in handy for moments when I'm on the move, or going for a walk or on a train; it fits in a pocket quite well. The A and B buttons are made of a soft rubbery plastic and very squishy, but firm enough to feel good. And the D-pad is great too. The system also comes with a USB C charging cable. Unlike the NES and SNES Classics, the system isn't hackable through the power cable.

Overall, the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. is definitely a system designed for collectors and nostalgia seekers. I couldn't imagine a kid asking for this for Christmas, but rather adults. It's also currently a hot item as it's extremely limited, and will likely sell out fast during the holidays. So if you even have a passing thought about picking one up, do so if you happen to see one in stores or online before they're gone or stop selling them early next year.


This item was purchased by The Age Of Z for this review.