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Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory (DSiWare) Review

Review for Game & Watch: Mario

What is acceptable in terms of gaming prowess back in the 1980s is not necessarily going to be just as palatable thirty years down the line. Obviously there are major exceptions, such as classics like Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man and Tetris, but does Nintendo's own range of Game & Watch titles fall into the same 'legendary' category? Given how the Kyoto company has bundled several entries from the range into Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance packages, complete with spruced up visuals, putting the barebones editions as separate releases seems a rather unusual move. Cubed3's Adam Riley takes a look at Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory to see whether it holds up better than Game & Watch: Judge did.

The beauty of the late Gunpei Yokoi's Game & Watch range was that at the time there was no alternative on the market, making the dual experience of gaming and time-keeping a rather unique idea, and a device that was readily snapped up by Joe Public. In this day and age, however, where small Microsoft Word documents can actually have larger file sizes than many videogame releases from that era, something as primitive as Mario's Cement Factory really struggles to live up to the expectations people have. Thankfully, though, this effort definitely has more to it than the painfully mundane Game & Watch: Judge. Whereas that was extremely limited in its execution, this particular Game & Watch DSiWare release just about justifies its 200 Nintendo Points price point. Although, it still must be remembered that this, along with three others - (Ball, Flagman, and Manhole) - is available on the original Game Boy, as well as in the graphically superior edition that exists in Game & Watch Gallery 4 on the Game Boy Advance.

Whilst having the name of that Italian mascot in the title, simply looking at the game would in no way give any indication that the character that you take control of whilst dashing around the Cement Factory is indeed Mario. The LCD visuals are so crude and rudimentary that it is merely a black blob character moving in fits and spurts. You could say that Nintendo has faithfully recreated the classic look, yet on the other hand cynics might say Nintendo simply has not bothered to make any effort, unlike the aesthetic changes for the compilation releases. The same music as in Judge is used for the menu screen, whilst in-game it is merely a case of bleep and bloop noises as you move around.

Screenshot for Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Unsurprisingly, being developed by Nintendo's R&D1 team, this 1983 release has more substance to it than other Game & Watch releases, and was quite a special case in the early ‘80s, with it being one of the Tabletop G&W releases and then re-launched under the Game & Watch New Wide Screen range. Mario is busy working in a cement factory (clearly making a bit of money on the side during a dry spell in the plumbing industry...), and it is up to you to help him unload cement dumped from the conveyor belt at the upper part of the top screen into two sets of buckets, one above the other, and then right down into the trucks at the bottom of the screen. The touch-screen is redundant throughout, other than to show High Score tables at the end of play, with all controls being button-based.

Tapping an action button opens the base of the buckets and slowly, but surely, the cement makes its way south. Sharp reactions are imperative, though, since each bucket can only hold three lots of cement before overflowing (flagging up a warning and giving you a mistake icon each time it happens), meaning that Mario has to be manoeuvred to the two different levels in a stage, and right across to the two levels on the opposite side as well, if he is to discharge the goods into the awaiting trucks. This frantic movement is achieved by means of platforms, one set constantly moving upwards and the other down. Timing is of the utmost importance, since if Mario is moved out past the edge of a platform too early, the result is a him losing a life, whilst staying on the platform heading in either direction for too long leads to him being squashed or dropped from a dangerous height. This is the sort of game that could have worked well with two-players, but alas it is a solo experience only, with players given the option of the standard 'Game A' mode, or tougher 'Game B' one. Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory is most certainly better than Game & Watch: Judge, but it has still lost some of its addictiveness over the past thirty years.

Screenshot for Game & Watch: Mario's Cement Factory on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Whilst the gameplay may well have been addictive nearly thirty years ago, the limited movement and pinpoint accuracy seemingly required at times will merely drive gamers crazy.

Graphics

An effort has been made to have this look as close to the actual Game & Watch hardware as possible, which means it looks incredibly basic.

Sound

The main menu theme is pleasant enough, but there is nothing more than a few simple sound effects included.

Value

Players will quickly grow tired of the repetitive nature of Mario's Cement Factory, due to the lack of real replay incentive and the frustrations involved in the out-dated gameplay.

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Mediocre

About this score

Mario's Cement Factory is certainly the best of the three DSiWare Game & Watch titles so far, offering high intensity reaction-based fun, yet, as with the other two releases, it still lacks that special ingredient to keep gamers coming back time and time again, even if it does only cost 200 Points.

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11.04.2010

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Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Who says the DSi doesn't have a Virtual Console of its own? It's just that the only system available is Game & Watch.

TYD (guest) 13.04.2012 00:49#2

5/10 only?

I had so much fun with this game. I think Cubed3 underestimate Game & Watch games.

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