During the 35th Super Mario Bros. anniversary announcement, one of the surprising announcements was that Nintendo would be releasing a new Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. edition that would include Super Mario Bros. 1, Super Mario Bros. 2 (Lost Levels in the US), and the Game & Watch LCD classic, Ball with a Mario upgrade. You may be thinking does the world really need another handheld version of Super Mario Bros. 1 & 2 when these games are readily available on the Nintendo Switch. The answer is a resounding: Yes!
The original Game & Watch debuted in 1980 featuring only the LCD game Ball where the only objective of the game was to keep 2-3 balls in the air. Granted, today this sounds like a big deal,l but back in the ’80s through the early ’90s this was a big deal as the Game & Watch sold over 43.4 million units worldwide. No way Nintendo could generate that type of sales with a re-release which means the Game & Watch was up for an upgrade, and an upgrade it got.
The new Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. edition looks and feels very much like an original Game & Watch in terms of size and build quality. The entire unit is 4.4 inches (112mm) wide by 2.6 inches (67mm) high and .5 inches (12.5mm) deep. Make no mistake, Super Mario Bros. edition is small and features a 2.5-inch screen that while tiny, is very usable. Don’t be dissuaded in purchasing due to size as those with large hands will be able to wield this tiny handheld with ease and enjoyment. The screen itself is incredibly bright and displays the 8-bit graphics with relative ease while lasting a decent 8 hours on its Lithium-Ion battery which charges in 3.5 hours.
The included Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 (Lost Levels in the US) play exactly like their ’80s counterparts. Super Mario Bros. still features its 2-player pass and play gameplay and Super Mario Bros. 2 is still the hardest game ever devised. The third game, Ball, a Game & Watch original which for all intents and purposes is a juggling game that requires you to keep 2 (Game A) or 3 (Game B) in the air, and the longer you keep them up the higher your score. To keep in theme with the 35th Super Mario Bros. Anniversary, the character has been reskinned with Mario’s face. Despite being such a small device, the controls feel good but would have rather seen the B & A buttons be hard plastic rather than a rubberized version. This was done of course to match the look and feel of the original Game & Watch.
The Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. is more than a game. It also features a watch, as the name implies. Pressing on the Time button displays the time in blocks the full width of the screen. There are 35 animations that play as the time is displayed showing off some of Mario’s old foes like Goombas, Koopas, Bomb-Ombs, etc. Cute method of displaying the time but not very practical in the long term.
Should you buy Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.?
The Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. handheld is a lot of fun and very retro. If you’re a fan of Super Mario Bros. then frankly owning this little device is a no-brainer even for $49.99. At first glance the price point may seem a bit high, but given the quality of the build and quality of the screen we feel the price is on point. The device is small enough to carry around literally anywhere but not too small where playing becomes uncomfortable, even for the eyes. The Game & Watch versions of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 feel close enough to the original to be able to feel that you are playing on an original piece of hardware.
The Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. handheld is available Best Buy, Target, GameStop, and Amazon for $49.99. Stock continues to ebb and flow but you can check the status of stock on the official Game & Watch Nintendo site. For me, I am going to start another futile attempt at beating Super Mario Bros. 2.