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Last year the House of Mario brought back the iconic Game & Watch line to help celebrate Mario’s 35th birthday, albeit with a modern twist. This new version of the influential 80s handhelds created by Game Boy designer Gunpei Yokoi retained one of the simplistic – yet extremely addictive – monochrome games seen on the original Game & Watch line, but added Super Mario Bros and the Lost Levels, which were playable in full colour, plus a charming digital clock screen. And following on from this initial effort to bring Game & Watch to a new generation, Nintendo are back with a Zelda edition, released to mark the Hero of Time’s 35th birthday this year.
The Zelda Game & Watch has more games than the Mario edition, with four games instead of three – The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Game & Watch classic Vermin.
The latter is especially a joy to play, with this old school Game & Watch title putting players in the shoes of Link in a whack-a-mole style game, which speeds up and up as time progresses.
Like the best Game & Watch games, it boasts simplistic gameplay which is extremely addictive and easy to pick up and play.
For me, having grown up playing on Game & Watch handhelds, these type of games are what makes the Game & Watch line special – and I’d much rather see a Game & Watch handheled released with a few classic black and white games, as opposed to just one plus a few more modern colour games.
However, that isn’t the route that Nintendo has chosen to go down with these modern Game & Watch devices.
I can understand why, as classic NES and Game Boy games may be an easier sell to a modern audience who don’t have the same nostalgia for the original Game & Watch line.
But this route does have its drawbacks. Like with the Mario Game & Watch, the small screen on the gadget makes it harder to play certain games than others.
This is especially the case with the two NES games included with the Zelda Game & Watch, which aren’t exactly comfortable to play for long sessions.
The good news is The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening – originally released for the Game Boy – is ideally suited to the new Game & Watch’s small form factor.
This Game Boy classic is an absolute dream to play on the Zelda Game & Watch, and if you’ve never played it before – and are looking for a way to experience Link’s memorable adventure on Koholint Island – then this is a great way to play it these days.
And given you currently can’t download the original Link’s Awakening from the Nintendo eShop, this might make the Zelda Game & Watch an essential purchase for you.
If you’re thinking of picking up the Zelda Game & Watch, then how much mileage you get will really come down to what you’re planning on getting it for.
If you’re looking to play the original NES Zelda games for the first time then there are undoubtedly much better ways to experience these 8-Bit adventures.
But if you want something that’s charming to have on display as an ode to retro gaming, or you’d like to play Link’s Awakening or experience an addictive pick-up and play game like Vermin, then the Game & Watch is an ideal purchase.
VERDICT: 3.5 / 5
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