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Game & Watch Gallery – Game Boy

Game & Watch Gallery – Game Boy

Game_&_Watch_Gallery_(NA)Platform: Game Boy

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): May 5, 1997

Genre: Compilations

Nerd Rating: 5 out of 10

Aggghhhhh, I don’t want to write this review.

Okay. Get yourself together man. You can do this.

Welcome, everyone, to my review of Game & Watch Gallery. My name is ZB, and today we’re going to talk about…uhhh, well, Game & Watch Gallery, of course!.

Why am I dragging my feet with this review? Well, there’s not much to say about it really. It’s a collection of four Game & Watch games, each with a modern and classic mode, making for a total of eight games. They’re all really simple, but who’s to say simplicity isn’t fun?

The best way to do this, I think, is to break it down game by game.  So without further ado…

Manhole:

MH-06

The classic Game & Watch mode of Manhole has you playing some nondescript bloke who’s charged with the agonizing responsibility of holding up platters (manhole covers, I guess) to bridge gaps so hapless frolickers can make it safely to the other side. Why these pedestrians lack the proper judgment (and depth perception) to realize they might fall to their certain doom…I don’t Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.50.42 PMknow. What I do know is there are four gaps and plenty of opportunities to commit accidental manslaughter. Being a mostly faithful port of an old Game & Watch game, it’s faithfully slow…mechanical…quiet. Beeps and blips punctuate an otherwise emptiness surrounding you, as a lack of music – and any other sound for that matter – puts you in a void where you forget where you are, what you’re doing, and who you are. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. Timing is a lot more precise here and a little more pattern driven than in the modern version. There’s an easy and hard mode for each game, but oddly enough I scored higher on hard and found easy way more difficult. Probably because I got the hang of it by the time I played the hard setting.  Who knows.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.49.10 PMThe modern mode has you playing as Yoshi. It’s a fun, lively update of this Game & Watch classic. The action is fairly fast-paced, with familiar Mario characters attempting to cross the gaps. While there’s a lot going on here, this one is a bit easier than the classic mode, as there appears to be a little more room for error – and an added button for diagonal movement. Not to mention you can have all four plates up at a time. With animation, fun Nintendo music to keep you engaged, and more organic timing, this is the mode to play. It’s a great time-waster, and it will challenge your reflexes.

Fire:

FR-27

Okay, this one is…more of the same? Kind of? It’s another D-Pad timing game, except this time you can only occupy three spaces as opposed to the four you’re given in Manhole. You control two Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.09.21 PMfirefighters maneuvering a trampoline to catch victims leaping out of a burning building. Despite the stilted, choppy nature of this game, there’s a lot happening on screen, so it can be tough to keep up as the rounds progress. Though it is simple and similar to the previous game, it does handle differently. The hard mode will pull some fast ones on you, so be on your toes, ready to make miracles happen! Alright, it’s not that bad. You’ll just need some quick thumbs to deal with those cheeky bastards with suicidal tendencies. Once again, the lack of advanced sound capabilities leaves this port silent, save for the signature beeps and blips. And let me tell you…the harsh beeps when you lose will make you ashamed of your failures (in all of the classic modes, really).

The modern update stars The Brothers themselves as they rescue Toads, Yoshis, and DK Jr.s (another rare DK Jr. sighting, by the way!). It’s largely similar to the original in terms of quality and handling – pretty much just a graphical facelift with a music track that is a bit of a mess. The biggest Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.06.45 PMgameplay difference is the addition of an occasional Yoshi egg, which contains either a Bob-omb or star. I don’t think you need me to tell you to which to avoid, right?

In the modern mode, you have to understand how each character bounces, so there’s a little strategy involved. The same goes for the classic mode, only every fire escapee is identical, so you can’t tell how they will bounce until you see it happening. As the game picks up in speed, it becomes quite challenging and pretty fun.

A quick side note: This was the game that inspired Puppy Love from Earthworm Jim 2. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Octopus:

OC-22

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 7.54.49 PMThe object of this game is to steal treasure while avoiding the deadly tentacles of a malicious octopus. This, like the others, is a timing game, only it plays differently. Since there are no other characters depending on you for their safety and well-being, you may take as much time as you need and carefully plot out your movements, which are incremental like in the other games. Despite this fact, Octopus is the hardest game in the collection (the original mode, anyway). The tentacle approach is waaaaay harder to judge in this one than the modern mode, and thus I fell victim to its wrath much sooner than I did in the latter – not to mention the grab happens way faster. You’ll need some patience if you want to get a high score.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.39.26 PM

Oh shit! She’s a gold digger!

In the modern version you control Mario while Peach waits at a safe distance on the boat. First off – stealing treasures? That’s Wario’s bag. What are you doing moving in on Wario’s territory, Mario? And second…what’s going on here Nintendo? You’ve got Peach demonstrating love for Mario as he brings back a sack of coins. He’s risking life and limb to satiate his love object’s lust for wealth. And does she break a sweat? No. Way to go Nintendo. Great message you’re sending to children. I’m sorry Mario…you should have left that Princess in another castle.

Anyway…

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.40.29 PMThis one is far easier; once you get into a rhythm, it kind of becomes a breeze. In the modern update, collecting gold four times before returning to the boat will trigger a special chime, resulting in a higher point award when you bring the treasure back to Peach. The original does not have such a bonus. Also unique to this one is an action button, which allows you to use your money sack to ward off the tentacles in tight situations. I don’t find this to be all that necessary or useful – nothing that a quickness of the thumb cannot solve (though it does help you move faster, as more treasure apparently slows you down). The squid in this mode will shoot ink at you, which does not happen in the original. Oh, and the music in the reimagined Octopus is nice and relaxing.

Oil Panic:

OP-51

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.42.35 PM

Oil Panic is a part of the Dual-Screen series, which were Game & Watch devices that would later serve as the inspiration for the Nintendo DS

This one is definitely the most involved and complex game in the collection. You control some kind of…gas attendant? I guess? Anyway, you carry a bucket, and your objective is to catch drops of oil leaking from a ceiling. Your bucket can carry up to three oil drippings. One more is just as bad as missing a drop, which counts as a strike against you. Just outside there’s a frantic fellow carrying an oil drum to and fro, and you must dump the oil into the drum to continue collecting ceiling drippings. Miss the drum and you’ll hit an innocent customer, also counting as a strike. Unlike the other Game & Watch games, you either need to miss a drop/overfill the bucket three times or dump oil on a customer three times to lose, giving you more room to fuck up than the usual “three strikes, you’re out.” I really appreciate how much gameplay they were able to squeeze out of such tight limitations, though easy is maybe a bit too easy. After a while you’ll probably get bored and start self-sabotaging your attempt to break the high score. At least that was the case for me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.36.42 PM

Somebody call animal services and have Yoshi taken away from Mario

Oil Panic’s modern counterpart is perhaps the most different from its original. You play as Mario, who’s in some kind of bunker where Bowser awaits his doom. You carry two buckets this time and can rotate if one is full, although moving over one space should suffice. Because you have an extra bucket, multiple drops will fall at a time, making the modern game a little more hectic. Each bucket can hold three drops, but unlike the classic mode, dumping a full bucket does not give you a five-point bonus. Once a bucket is full, you’ll want to move out of either the left or right window and pour the oil into Yoshi’s mouth (pretty sure this is animal abuse, by the way). Wash, rinse, repeat until you’ve either missed a drop of oil three times or dumped a bucket of oil onto DK Jr. or Luigi three times like in the classic game. The music here is very calm and casual, a stark contrast to Mario’s deadly situation. It kind of reminds me of a track you’d hear in Donkey Kong for Game Boy. Anyway, this one is fun, providing a deviation from the other, more similar games.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.40.27 PM

Jesus, Yoshi…we’ve got a crisis on our hands, can you please stand still?

Conclusion:

If the genre “Bathroom Games” existed, this would fall right into said category. What do I mean by this? Game & Watch Gallery is the perfect bathroom game – something ideal for playing whilst sitting on the toilet. A simple diversion, great for passing time while you pass-

Never mind.

Games like this and Tetris for the Game Boy really shine in such situations. Outside the bathroom, they’re just alright, but once you pass beyond the threshold into the situation room, they become the ultimate gaming experience.

Or during long car rides too. I guess.

Is it a great game? Well, you have to take into consideration the era in which the Game & Watch devices were released. They are packed with historical significance (We have the Game & Watch to thank for the invention of the D-Pad, after all) and were a huge success for Nintendo overall. I can definitely appreciate these games for what they are, but do I love playing Game & Watch Gallery? Well, let’s just say “love” is a strong word. They are fun, but ultimately they’re simple, repetitive, really just high-score busters. Like I said before, it’s hard to be critical because there really isn’t much to say.

I will say this: Game & Watch Gallery is a neat novelty game I can definitely appreciate having in my collection. It’s not a title I would seek out, but if it came taped to a $3 Game Boy Color with two other games…I’d definitely hang onto it – even if the other two ended up as trade fodder. Sure, it could have offered a lot more in terms of unlockables other than some lame still images, but it was the first entry in the series, so you can’t be too hard on Game & Watch Gallery.

Written by ZB

ZB

Since the tender age of four, I have been playing video games to occupy my free time. Raised on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for the classics. Also an avid collector, I have accrued such consoles as the Atari Jaguar, Super Famicom, Odyssey 2, Sega Nomad, just to name a few.

Got any questions, comments, concerns, or threats? Feel free to email me at zb@nerdbacon.com. I am happy to hear your feedback!

 
 

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