Game & Watch

Game & Watch

Synopsis of Toy

Yes, generation Game Boy, there were portable video games before your time. Not only that, but they told time and had a beeping alarm to wake you up in the morning. Can your atomic purple Game Boy Color do that? We didn’t think so.

Like the millions of Game Boys that would follow, each Game & Watch was stamped with the Nintendo logo. The former Japanese playing card manufacturer had moved into toys in the 1970’s, and in 1980, they unveiled the first in a long and profitable series of home video games. It was called Ball, and it was pretty self-explanatory. The tiny game unit had an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen and two control buttons—used to make the on-screen juggler move his arms left and right in order to keep the juggling balls in the air. Separate buttons let players choose between Game A or the more difficult Game B, while the “Time” button gave up-to-the-minute reports on… well, the time.

Four other Game & Watches appeared that same year—from the rescue game Fire to the one-on-one mallet fighter Judge—and a new craze was born. With only one game in each unit (two if you count the different versions), Game & Watch wasn’t as versatile as the later cartridge-based Game Boy, but hey, what we didn’t know wouldn’t hurt us. The games were still comparatively cheap (much less expensive than a full-fledged Atari VCS or Intellivision), and the ability to carry around video games in your pocket made you a king among kids.

Around the same time, Nintendo was attempting to break into the arcade industry, and they scored a major success with a 1981 game called Donkey Kong. The great ape soon found his way to a Game & Watch, starring in one of the first Multi Screen games. When Mario worked his way up the girders to the top of the lower screen, he reappeared at the bottom of the upper screen, where Donkey Kong and the fair Pauline awaited. Several of these Multi Screen games were produced, and the Game & Watch innovations continued. Donkey Kong Jr., Popeye and other games were available in mini-arcade cabinet Tabletop versions, while games like Boxing and Donkey Kong Hockey came as “Micro Vs.” sets with separate wired mini-controllers for each player.

Millions of Game & Watches were sold worldwide during the early 80’s, and though the mania cooled off as video games got too advanced for the little LCD screen to handle, Nintendo continued to release new Game & Watches for the rest of the decade. Appropriately enough, the series ended with another ball juggling game, Mario the Juggler, bringing the Game & Watch full circle after more than a decade.

The portable video game torch got passed on to the Game Boy, but the new-fangled machine didn’t forget its roots. As the 00’s began, Nintendo released a series of Game & Watch Galleries for the Game Boy Color, offering the classic hand-held games along with more advanced updates. And for those who still liked the old LCD hand-held unit, the company also began issuing a series of Mini Classics like Tetris and Snoopy, complete with time-keeping device and an alarm (something your Game Boy still can’t do, thank you very much).

Release History of Toy

1980 - Ball
1980 - Flagman
1980 - Vermin
1980 - Fire
1980 - Judge
1981 - Manhole
1981 - Helmet
1981 - Chef
1981 - Egg
1981 - Fire
1981 - Lion
1981 - Mickey Mouse
1981 - Parachute
1981 - Octopus
1981 - Popeye
1982 - Donkey Kong
1982 - Donkey Kong Jr.
1982 - Fire Attack
1982 - Greenhouse
1982 - Mickey & Donald
1982 - Oil Panic
1982 - Snoopy Tennis
1982 - Turtle Bridge
1983 - Donkey Kong II
1983 - Donkey Kong Jr. (Tabletop)
1983 - Donkey Kong Jr. (Panorama Screen)
1983 - Lifeboat
1983 - Manhole
1983 - Mario Bros.
1983 - Mario's Bombs Away (Panorama Screen)
1983 - Mario's Cement Factory
1983 - Mario's Cement Factory (Tabletop)
1983 - Pinball
1983 - Popeye (Tabletop)
1983 - Popeye (Panorama Screen)
1983 - Rain Shower
1983 - Snoopy (Tabletop)
1983 - Snoopy (Panorama Screen)
1984 - Boxing
1984 - CrabGrab
1984 - Donkey Kong Circus (Panorama Screen)
1984 - Donkey Kong 3
1984 - Donkey Kong Hockey
1984 - Mickey Mouse (Panorama Screen)
1984 - Spitball Sparky
1985 - Black Jack
1985 - Tropical Fish
1986 - Balloon Fight (Crystal Screen)
1986 - Climber (Crystal Screen)
1986 - Squish
1986 - Super Mario Bros. (Crystal Screen)
1987 - Bomb Sweeper
1987 - Super Mario Bros. (Special Series)
1988 - Balloon Fight
1988 - Climber
1988 - Gold Cliff
1988 - Punch-Out!!
1988 - Safebuster
1988 - Super Mario Bros.
1989 - Zelda
1991 - Mario the Juggler

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electronic games

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