Tech Up! Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.

By Jorge Ba-oh 15.11.2020 4

2020 marks the 35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo's ground-breaking debut into the world of 2D platforming. A lot has happened since then, with the break into 3D, spin-off games and galactic adventures.

Despite over three decades of tales from the Mushroom Kingdom, the simplicity and heart remains constant - even today. As part of the milestone celebrations, Nintendo have resurrected an old friend with a sprinkling of modern tech - the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. Does the handheld stand amongst the greats, or is it an anniversary cash-grab conception?

Image for Tech Up! Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.


Arguably the highlight of the celebrations has to be Super Mario 3D All Stars. The game is packed to the brim with mammoth milestones for the plumber. There was also the surprise release of an augmented 3D Mario Kart; a mixed-reality experience in the living room.But tucked away within the anniversary celebration is a Mario adventure that's simplicity in its purest form; the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. - The handheld is a classic A Game & Watch shell equipped with an LCD screen that plays the 1985 NES game and it's Lost Levels companion. Simple.

Instantly the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. package looks and feels nostalgic. These days Nintendo accessories and peripherals are typically cardboard centric, a little hefty perhaps. The Game & Watch instead takes is a nod to the past with a small box that resembles the original designs from the '80s. As a neat touch, the surrounding plastic has a print with Super Mario Bros. elements, too. The entire presentation is bathed in pure Nintendo nostalgia. Time to feel about 10 years old, again!

Image for Tech Up! Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.


Inside a little "special thanks to you" message greets the new owner along the flap, with a USB-C cable included for charging. Beyond the card shell is the Game & Watch in all its retro glory. Bathed in a Japanese Famicom gold and red finish, the handheld looks just like it did over thirty-five years ago. Right down to the lightweight build and smooth plating. The immediate first impression is that the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros looks the part - a piece of Nintendo history in the palm of your hands.

The D-Pad and face buttons take on a classic tactile feel with the action buttons being made from soft rubber. Those who are used to more contemporary controllers may find these buttons to be slightly alien, but many LED consoles from the '80s and '90s adopted this approach. It is interesting to see Nintendo stick to that classic mould to really hammer home the true nods to the past. The D-Pad also has the retro action, but fortunately isn't rubber. Instead, the d-pad is concocted from the familiar hard Nintendo plastic. Beyond the retro comes the contemporary parts - a colour LCD screen keeps things crisp and sharp, whilst a USB-C charger slot on the side can give at least 7 to 8 hours gameplay.

From nostalgic aesthetics to function. The handheld is a tribute to the original 1985 game, and so features the game that revolutionised 2D platforming - Super Mario Bros- in all its 2D glory. Playing these games on the small screen is an instant throwback and is surprisingly comfortable given how eyeballs are currently acclimatised to bigger screens.  

Image for Tech Up! Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.


Load up Super Mario Bros and the game is an instant dip through time. Run, jump, dodge, stomp. It is all instantly familiar and almost feels pure. Uninterrupted by home-screens and friend notifications - the game, the controller, video games in its most stripped back form. Granted, Super Mario Bros can be loaded up on a Nintendo Switch through Nintendo's online service at the click of a button, but there is something distinctively satisfying about playing a game on a stripped back device.

Also included is The Lost Levels. Think of it as a harder, far more challenging version. Striddled with challenging traps and a reworked Luigi who makes things that bit trickier to navigate. It's an interesting touch and something that perhaps Nintendo could have expanded on - at least with the remaining NES games. Where is Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario Bros 3, or Dr. Mario? These NES games are a distinctive part of the history of the franchise, so it is a shame they weren't included as part of the package.

Image for Tech Up! Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.


In the old days, one would use something called a watch or a clock to tell the time, rather than whipping out a phone. The Game & Watch takes a nod to that with an animated clock for that time-telling need. Need to know if it's time to watch this week's episode of The Great British Bake-Off? Just turn on the handheld and the current time is presented as if by some sort of magic. It's quite the treat!

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch is a retro collector's gem. It perhaps isn't for those who simply want to play the game as there are other options readily available, but for the Nintendo fan and retro game collector, the handheld is truly a one of a kind. Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch should truly take a special position on the shelf for the avid retro enthusiast.
  

Box art for Super Mario Bros.
Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (18 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

WANT IT!

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

A very tidy piece of kit. I do like how it suspends the game in sleep mode as well, although it would have been nice if they had included a few other Game and Watch games in there, or even the Mario Bros arcade game.

Nonetheless I am pretty happy with my purchase!

Oh how I desparately hope Zelda gets one next year for its anniversary.

Sasari said:
Oh how I desparately hope Zelda gets one next year for its anniversary.

I want more Metroid stuff! I feel like Zelda always gets a lot of love as it is!

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