Starting in 1980, the father of the Game Boy, Gunpei Yokoi, saw his simplistic, LCD family games adorned by the masses worldwide until the final one arrived in 1991. To celebrate the series’ 30th Anniversary, Nintendo has decided to put each of the individual Game & Watch releases on the DSiWare download service for a mere 200 Nintendo Points. One of the first to launch here in Europe is Game & Watch: Judge. Cubed3’s Adam Riley takes it for a ride to see if the engine is still purring nicely.
Nintendo stunned the world with its Game & Watch series thirty years ago, and many believe they were one of the key sources of inspiration for the similarly dual-screened Nintendo DS system. Whatever the case, these highly collectible contraptions have been dissected and released on a per-game basis on DSiWare, at 200 Nintendo Points a pop. As with the original, there is the option to merely use Game & Watch: Judge as a digital clock, either by viewing the time on the title screen, whilst listening to the mesmeric theme tune, or actually choosing the ‘Time’ option and watching in silence as the minutes and hours pass by, whilst two solid-black characters jump, dodge and fling hammers around.
Nothing is touch-screen controlled here, with the lower screen simply showing the game’s title and all the action taking place at the top, with the D-pad and face buttons taking the lead role throughout. Other than the standard ‘Back’ (to the DSi menu screen), ‘Help’ (with the contents of the game), and ‘Data Reset’ (self-explanatory) choices being available, players can choose from ‘Game A’ and ‘Game B.’ The aim on the former is to watch as the two on-screen men dance around on the spot, holding a hammer above each of their heads, then waiting for a countdown to finish before checking out the two numbers that appear. Should the number above your head be of the same value or higher than your opponents, the ‘hit’ button must be pressed. If your figure is less than the other, however, hitting the ‘dodge’ button is the way to. In both cases, if you ‘hit’ at the right time, or ‘dodge’ incoming attacks in due course, points are accrued over time, which are then stored on the game’s High-Score Ranking table. The amount of points gained comes from the difference in numbers that appeared in that specific round. Reach 99 and a winner is declared.
Upon playing one round in ‘Game A,’ there is also the chance to then use the ‘Score Select’ option to start from any multiple of ten, going up to the highest mark you have reached so far. Choosing this, though, means that no new High Score can be logged on the score-board. ‘Game B,’ on the other hand, strips away any options or introductory dancing and throws players straight into the deep end against a human opponent, using the D-pad rather than face buttons to go in for the kill or retreat. A careful eye must be kept on the 3-2-1 counter, followed by a quick check that must be carried out to see which the higher number is and an immediate attack / dodge response has to follow, as required, to obtain a higher score. It is definitely a test of players’ skill and concentration, but obviously becomes extremely tiresome and repetitive after only a short time due to the complete lack of variety, options, multiplayer, extras included, and so on. This is not a complete disaster for 200 Nintendo Points, but there are definite far better releases to spend your money on.
The test of skill has a sense of enjoyment, yet nowhere near as entertaining and engrossing at the other Game & Watch titles in the range.
Ultra simplistic visuals that represent the amazingly basic LCD Game & Watch units of old.
The main theme is very catch indeed, but sadly it is the only track available, with the rest of the game focusing on plain sound effects.
After beating your high score the first time, with ease, and pitting yourself against a human, there is nothing much to do since the highest score that can be achieved is simply 99.
Game & Watch: Judge is fun at the most basic level, but it has really not aged well at all. Considering this game, along with several others from the range, are available bundled together on other Nintendo formats for a very low price, there is simply no real reason to warrant making this purchase unless you have nothing else to spend 200 Points on!