Game and Watch games are what formed the heart of Nintendo. Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong, they all started as little Liquid Crystal Burned outlines on these diminutive handheld devices. It’s no bad thing then that these are getting a fresh airing via DSi Ware – these are the games you can download straight to your DSi.
I’ve just been trying out three of my old favorites: Judge, Cement Factory and Chef. I liked each of these for very different reasons originally, and the same is true of their DSi Ware incarnations. Each is lovingly reproduced to look and sound exactly the same as they did back in the day – so much so that my other half instantly remarked “hey, that sounds like the game my brother had when I was ten” and indeed it was the same game.
Judge is a reaction game. Each round begins with a count down, before a number is revealed for each player. You then have a split second to decide whether you attack or dodge. You can only successfully attack if you have the highest number.
It’s like snap, but the scoring incentivizes you to go on the offensive. Dodging an attack awards you one point, but landing an attack awards you the difference between the two numbers. Get it wrong though and your opponent gets two points. First to 99 wins, knife edge stuff.
Mario’s Cement Factory was a classic Game and Watch game that tasked the player (as Mario) to open up cement shoots so they don’t overflow and traverse the two central lifts to get to the different containers.
Just three buttons control the action, left/right and pull. The player needs to learn how to time their movement to avoid falling off the lifts. They also need a strategy to manage the four different cement shoots to keep things moving. This starts off pretty easy but soon gets more difficult as the game speeds up.
Chef is a simple premise that often crops up in Game and Watch titles – keep things from falling on the floor. Like Ball and Helmet a series of objects rains down on the player as they rush from one to the other trying to keep them in the air.
In itself this is a little frantic at first. This isn’t helped by the fact that each (cooking) item flies to a different height and speed. Add to this a mischievous cat who (un)helpfully prods items to send them back down quicker and you have to have your wits about you to do well.
As well as enjoying revisiting my childhood entertainment, it was also pretty special to be able to share this with my kids. They soon took to the games, and their simplicity meant that even my youngest could join in. The favorite so far is the two player challenge in Judge. I’m sure we’ll be downloading the rest of these Game and Watch games via DSi Ware before too long.