Friday, October 24, 2014


Game & Watch Dreaming

Between maining Mr. Game & Watch in the new Smash Brothers and a recent spate of classic desktop arcade reviews on Rerez, I've had Game & Watch on the brain lately.  And of course, my favorite way to play these games is in Nintendo's Game & Watch Galleries.

In the past, I've described the Game & Watch Gallery series as an entire arcade that fits in your pocket.  And that means more than just "a large number of games in one place" -- the Gallery series also delivers on variety, with games that offer a wide range of situations and play styles.  Maybe it speaks to how simple the arcade games of the early 80s were to begin with, but it still amazes me when a company uses the format to create an experience that can give the coin-ops a run for their money.

I've droned on and on about my favorite Game & Watch classics in the past, but of course, the really great thing about the Gallery series is the Modern modes -- the original gameplay jazzed up with bright, colorful characters and new twists.  Not only does it make some of my favorites even better -- Fire, Rainshower, Mario Brothers -- but it brings some of the duller games in the set to life.  Chef is kind of a ho-hum "catch the falling things" style game, but managing falling food with hungry Yoshis in Modern mode is a blast.  Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. are pale shadows of their arcade inspiration, but Modern versions bring them back a little closer to their roots.

I've been spending time lately with the Galleries on 3DS Virtual Console, and I've even dug out my GBA to play Gallery 4 (so good!)... but I want more.


If I had it my way, my 3DS would be my one-stop Game & Watch fix.  I have no idea if there's any financial point to making new Game & Watch products.  I would imagine not.  But a man can dream.  And this is my wish list.

Game & Watch Gallery 3

Gallery 3 wasn't really my favorite in the series.  Despite boasting fully 10 games, only a couple of them really "speak" to me.  Still, this is the one most likely to come true, and the completionist in me certainly wouldn't argue with having Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong II available on my 3DS.  Hopefully Nintendo will decide that they might as well throw it up there one of these days.

Game & Watch Gallery 4

Sketchy territory to be sure, but not beyond the realm of possibility.  Maybe it'll show up one day as some sort of Club Nintendo giveaway or a bonus freebie for the fans, like that Zelda: Four Swords download from a while back.  Or maybe this new 3DS will have the hardware to do a proper full-featured GBA Virtual Console and Nintendo will start selling games in the eShop.  (And speaking as a man who overpaid for an original model 3DS just to get those ten GBA games that Nintendo had no plans of selling normally?  Everyone should have the same opportunity I did to put Wario Ware on their 3DS.  Please make it happen.)  If both of these Galleries were on my 3DS, I'd be sitting pretty with a whopping 32 games.  What else could I want?

Game & Watch Gallery 5

Another Gallery, of course.  I mean, okay, this is probably never going to happen.  It's been well over a decade since the last Gallery.  Nintendo's learned that they can do just as well by re-releasing no-frills ports of their classics.  The closest I'm going to get to a new Gallery is those DSiWare re-releases they put out a couple years back.

But dammit, this is my fantasy.  Here's what I want.

Make this the definitive collection.  All of 'em.  I'm not even asking for new Modern versions, or even for the licensed Snoopy and Popeye and Disney games -- just put all the classics you can in there.  Bring back all of the Modern modes you already have.  Don't bother putting 3D graphics in them or anything; they can look like the Gallery 4 games.  And for all of our sakes, give us the dual screen games on dual screens. This is the thing Game & Watch fans have been screaming for ever since the DS came out.  Even when the DSiWare remakes came out, all of the games were single-screen.

And please, please give us the option whether or not we want to see the little LCD "shadows" on the screen.  Yes, you could see the unlit stencils on the original units whenever the light hit them just right, but this was a bug, not a feature.  I want the option to play these games the way they were intended, rather than the somewhat inadequate way that they were.  If I could change only one thing about Gallery 4, that would be it.

Ah well.  Only time will tell if Nintendo revisits their oldest portables.  Till then, at least I have Gallery 4.


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