Nintendo Game & Watch Super Mario review

November 14, 2020

10 word description: Two Super Mario games on a retro-style handheld gadget.

10 word review: Pricey but fun. Classic gameplay never goes out of style.

You will like this if you enjoy: Super Mario, retro gaming, handheld gaming gadgets, Nintendo, owning a gaming device that is stylish, retro, and reassuringly expensive. Red and gold, playing video games on a tiny (2.5″ diagonal) screen.

The good news: The two games Super Mario games are as good as they always were. The watch(clock) screen is overloaded with neat visual features and ‘secret’ (they’re mostly listed on the Nintendo website) time-specific effects. Controls (D-pad and two buttons) are responsive and solid. Device is very light but doesn’t feel cheap, which is a good thing considering the price. Rechargeable battery seems to last for ages. Volume and brightness controls exist.

The bad news: If I judge this device for what it is, rather than what it could have been, or what I might have wanted it to include, there’s nothing inherently bad about it. Yes, the screen is tiny but that’s kind of the whole point. It’s a modern version of a Game & Watch which nobody asked for, but now it’s here it feels like the essential Super Mario handheld we always wanted. The bad news is that it only has Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 2 (aka The Lost Levels) on it. If they’d wanted to, they could probably have fitted the SNES Mario World game on here, as well as Mario Kart and that Yoshi’s Island game from the GBA. Maybe a dozen other games too. But they haven’t, and I’m not going to mark this device down because it only has those two classic games on it. There’s also the painfully un-fun ‘Ball’ game which I can’t imagine anyone is going to play more than once. The clock is way more entertaining than the Ball game.

Arcadelife verdict: This is possibly the most inessential gaming device I’ve ever bought, plus one of the most entertaining retro gaming gadgets I’m ever likely to own. It turned up yesterday afternoon, and I’ve put in a few hours so far, enjoyed every minute of it, and the battery still seems to be about 90% charged. There are way more arguments against buying one of these than there are reasons to own one, and I agree with most of the negative arguments. But I still bought one. Because it’s a cool little gadget, it’s 100% official Nintendo (still counts for something) and I needed to do something to justify the recent publication of Arcade Life: Life versus Video Games. This device can be the epilogue that book hasn’t got, if you like.



I also write novels (and the Arcade Life autobiography)
This review was written on a Das Keyboard Model S

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