back to article Nintendo revives Game & Watch portable proto-console, adds color to 2.36-inch screen

Nintendo has revived its first mobile device, the crap-tacular Game & Watch. For those of you too young or too faded-of-memory to know of the device, they were about the size of a four-bar KitKat, boasted a small LCD screen, a single game and whatever buttons were needed to play it. 1982’s Donkey Kong incarnation of the Game …

  1. Stumpy Silver badge

    I had so many of these as a kid. Happy memories.

    There's a pretty comprehensive list of the units released over at NinDB.

    1. Danny 5

      Funny

      I had a couple too, good times!

      Did you also piss about with the battery to purposely cause it to generate bugs? I did that when I got tired of the standard game to create a new kind of challenge, it was fun to have a bugged out version of the game to fiddle with.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Funny

        I had Mickey and Donald. It was crap.

  2. spudmasterflex

    “Nintendo’s sites outside Japan offer no evidence that the device will be offered to global customers.”

    Do what, it’s been for sale in the UK at exactly the same time as Japan.

    Smyths, Game and the Nintendo store all have them for sale since last Thursday in the UK

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      As they're Nintendo they wanted to keep it a secret until launch day so it's not yet available in the US as it doesn't have FCC authorisation.

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Available in UK

      Yep - I ordered one at the weekend for my son's Christmas (in the UK). He's a Nintendo-head. Not sure he's aware of the existence of this thing, but he keeps longing for a Game and Watch despite how prehistorically primitive I tell him they are...

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Landfill fodder

    Will keep all the crap Android phones company in the local landfill.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Landfill fodder

      Nah, these will all sell out and then go for a ton on eBay

  4. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Happy

    Memory lane

    I recall playing on one of the originals of these circa 83' - it belonged to a mate, no way my folks were going to spring for some "new fangled tech toy stuff" when we were living on a pretty tight budget.

    I remember saying to said mate in my 7-ish year old innocence "you know, someday they'll figure out how to get different games on one of these, like your Atari 2600".

    The smug bastard just smiled, knowing that he had said console, and was something of a local celebrity among us kids as a result.

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    MAME emulates these perfectly, and if you get the artwork they look amazing (SVG scaled to your screen!).

    I had two as a kid and they are spot-on emulated.

    Nintendo et al only "reimagine" something to keep their IP cash flowing, all those years people asked for it they weren't really interested (they did a couple of Gameboy ports that were half-hearted, if I remember correctly, but they've never bothered to offer them properly).

    I always think that companies like that should look at what people are so desperate to have that they "steal", and then offer those people that thing at a reasonable price. Everyone's a winner. Money for old rope, maybe even support of an open source project to make it happen and recognition of the preservation efforts of those involved, and users find it easier to buy a GOOD emulation / recreation of the thing they wanted rather than have to resort to software piracy.

    Fun fact: They run off a 32.768KHz 4-bit chip internally, with a pittance of RAM (literally bytes).

  6. karlkarl Silver badge

    This is nice for collectors but in terms of landfill...

    It would make more sense to buy a second hand Game Boy Micro (to save them from the land fill) for ~$20 (they have a similar size) and then purchase a ~$10 flash cart and then have access to the entire back catalogue of GB and GBA games. The Micros are fairly sturdy metal and easy to fix, you could keep them for a couple of generations ;)

    If Nintendo did want the money, they would open up an official ROM download store where each file was ~$5 and DRM free.

    ^------- I want to live in this universe please :)

    1. Bob Nugget

      Hopefully the same innards as the classic mini consoles

      As this will make an awesome little portable NES if they are! I pre-ordered one, no way it'll end up in landfill!

  7. Sykowasp

    It would be nice if they also came with a recreation of the original games.

    And it's a bit much for a couple of games, they clearly want to rinse buyers with dozens of different game variants, rather than one device that plays them all. Let's hope the device is hackable, but it's probably an all-in-one MCU with limited integrated flash.

    TBH the gameboy micro was already quite close to the format, they should have taken that design and updated it with current tech and had a download store for GB/GBA games they could have sold for a tenner apiece (wifi is cheap to add these days). Makes me wonder if they are also working on a Gameboy Mini console.

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    A spring cleaning found my old Nintendo Game and Watch double-screen "Mario Bros" game out of deep hibernation.

    Only need batteries to play... I'm happy.

    Fond memories of these!

    Now if only they can bring out the same, but in color flip screens. Donkey Kong flip screen FTW.

  9. Blackjack Silver badge

    So... can it be hacked?

    I had a Game & Watch in the eighties but even if 3 games for that price is not a bad deal I don't feel like buying this unless I can add more games to it.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: So... can it be hacked?

      Unlikely, they use a 4-bit tiny-RAM, 32.768 Khz chip with a fixed LCD display (i.e. they can only show the exact characters that they show, only in a few positions).

      You can emulate them on MAME, but they aren't exactly multi-purpose, mainly because of the display and (very) limited RAM (think handful-of-bytes, not kilobytes).

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: So... can it be hacked?

        But this thing in a Game & Watch case would be running hardware powerful enough to emulate a 1.8MHz 6502-like CPU as found in the NES?

      2. Matt 16

        Re: So... can it be hacked?

        This new G&W resembles the old ones in appearance only. The guts of this new device will be completely different, probably a SoC running a NES emulator, similar to the NES Classic Mini. If so, it will almost certainly be hackable to run other things - I relish the prospect of adding the other Mario NES titles to this at the very least.

  10. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Is it me, or did Nintendo miss a trick by not including, for novelty's sake, the Game & Watch version of Super Mario Bros. (Yes, it really existed)?

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      My Game&Watch Mario Bros was a foldable two-screen gadget, and you could let a friend to play the other screen for higher scores.

      Every G&W game they ever made should be included in this new device!

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        I had that one, actually. That was my second G&W after Donkey Kong, Jr. At a point I also had Octopus and the dual-screen Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong II as well as a similar device (Pop Game) made by (I think) Seiko, under the Moriaka Tokei label (called Lasso; it's been exported to other countries under names like Rodeo and Cowboy). FTR, I lived in Guam at the time so had ready access to Japanese imports including Nintendo Game & Watches. I would be interested to see those emulated in MAME in future.

        1. Blackjack Silver badge

          If you are on a computer try this:

          https://archive.org/details/handheldhistory

  11. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

    School kids of the 80s

    May struggle these days seeing the screen

  12. martyn_buttersmear
    Go

    Landfill? No chance!

    You’d be surprised how much some collectors are willing to spend for Nintendo items, especially limited edition items in pristine boxes. That goes for Game & Watch, and GameBoy. Take a look on eBay...

    I doubt it’ll be an actual 4-bit Sharp CPU in this if it’s also emulating NES Mario and Mario 2 (the Japanese version of Mario 2 - the “lost levels”, not the version we got in the UK and US which was based on another game called Doki Doki Panic.) Some kind of Arm SoC perhaps?

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