Translations from Game Lab Vol. 200 -- April 2012 Issue

Photo Caption: Anywhere~ Game & Watch♪

Mana-Sama's Nostalgic Game inferno

~Part 13~

Mana's Hardware Collection

Game & Watch

Company: Nintendo
Release Date: April 28, 1980
Retail Price: 5,800 yen
*The above mentioned is their first work, "Ball"

The small giant, Game & Watch, contributed to the future of Nintendo

The Portable Console Solution for Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

How about this time I introduce the original portable game console. My first encounter with a handheld game console was the Nintendo Game & Watch. When I was a child I saw the fun commercial with the phrase "Anywhere~ Game & Watch♪" and even now I remember it clearly. Any child who got to buy a Game & Watch in those days was a hero.

After that, various Game & Watch series were brought into the market, but their first developments were 5 types "Ball", "Vermin", "Judge", "Flag Man", and "Fire", popularly known as the Silver Series.

Game & Watch was a wonderful thing, and the Siver Series from the early days was extremely high class; the design was very stylish and refined. Something like that was not pointless. I think game console designs that came out in those days were beautiful. Also, one advantage point was that when you weren't playing games on it, it became a clock, so they killed two birds with one stone.

I believe of the Silver series, "Fire" was by far the most popular. The people [in the game] had to jump down from a building on fire and then you could put people in an ambulance which you operated yourself; it was easy to understand and thrilling at the same time.

"Ball" was a juggling game, "Judge" was a battle where you and your opponent would make numbers appear at the same time on a big flag and you could strike them with a hammer. It was like playing a number version of Jan Ken Pon (*translation note: Japanese version of Rock, Paper, Scissors) but where you get to hit each other with mallets. In "Flagman", a flag man would appear on the screen and the point was to match the pattern of two types of things he would do in the game.

For a child's mind, the name "Vermin" didn't really hit home, but the contents of the game was like "Whack-a-mole". If you look up the word Vermin, it doesn't mean Whack-a-mole, but it appears to be the English word for a "harmful animal". "That wasn't a very good title for it, was it?" I thought to myself.

Also, on the topic of how "Fire" was so popular, later on it was released in the second generation "Gold Series, Wide Screen Type". Since it was only for Game & Watch, "Fire" left a strong special impression on here as well.

The Multiscreen Tied to Nintendo's Future

From the time of the transplanted version of "Fire", I remember Game & Watch becomes extremely diffused even in my surrounding area. Haven't all you readers also seen the Gold Series at least at one time? Also, with this series there was a metal fixture that you could fold back and it would stand on its own. It was great even as a room interior piece.

If we turn our eyes to traditional games, until then you could only move using left and right buttons along with up and down, but with the release of "Manhole" and "Lion" movement became more complex, which stretched the potential of games. Furthermore, in "Parachute" you could catch a parachute falling from the sky by boat, and in "Octopus" you had to go get treasure without touching the legs of a giant octopus at the bottom of the sea, then games such as "Popeye" were release where you're Popeye riding a boat on the water while Olive throws spinach at you and you have to catch it. It became easy to remember the contents of the games from the titles in this series.

Then after that "Oil Panic" was the start of the Multi Screen Series, and Game & Watch was released with connected top and bottom screens. At first, being able to do things on 2 screens some how or another was extremely shocking. Especially with the second one of the series, "Donkey Kong" where going up and down the screen instead of horizontal was really different. It was like they were able to skillfully transport the image of Arcade games. Furthermore, "Donkey Kong" was equipped with a cross-key. Surely you could say it was a strong image of "cross-key = famicon", don't you think? But, "Donkey Kong" was the world's first console equipped with a cross-key! For the first time you could use the cross-key to move freely left, right, up, and down on multiple screens. I remember feeling deeply moved when I played it. So, everything started from here. Then needless to say, but theres no mistaking the multiscreen was a corner stone for the Nintendo DS!

When you think about it, the multiscreen style of Game & Watch was an important asset that left behind a big achievement for the history of game consoles. From its earliest times it has had both refinement and potential, so I can't stop loving the Game & Watch Series.


I ran out of room so I couldn't touch on it, but there were also Game & Watch Super Color and Panorama Screens, but these series are not very well known. Maybe I will be able to introduce these some time. The Moi dix Mois 10 year anniversary live part 5 "Fragments of Philosophy ~Chapter 4 Creation Ceremony Festival~" is on March 24th at LIQUIDROOM. By all means, you are welcome to come. (Mana)

Translations by Sarah @