Before the days of Game Boys and DS systems, Nintendo manufactured a small portable game device called the Game & Watch. These electronic games featured LCD screens that featured specific movements that could be controlled via various buttons and D-pads on the units. While they didn't feature the same type of full-range movement and controls of today's portable game systems, at the time they were quite revolutionary and wildly popular around the world. Nintendo recently released a recreated collection of a couple of these classic LCD games and packaged them into a DS release for Club Nintendo, but have now decided to release more of them individually and at a budget price on DSiWare.
The premise of Vermin is quite simple. You control the character at the top of the screen holding a mallet in each hand. You can move side to side using either the D-pad or the Y and A buttons. As the moles begin to tunnel up to the surface, your job is to get in position to have one of the mallets directly over its head as it pops up out of the ground. If you have your mallet in place, your character will automatically whack the mole. The catch is, you have to be in position to whack it at the exact moment its head appears above ground, otherwise it will make it completely out of its hole and you'll lose a turn. Lose three turns and its game over.
Game A features four different moles burrowing through the ground for you to take out and they'll start off at a very slow pace to get you warmed up. While the speed will increase, there will only ever be four moles to concentrate on. This makes Game A a nice place to start to familiarize yourself with the game's simple control scheme. If you're looking for a bit more challenge, you can choose Game B. This mode features all five moles burrowing through the ground, and not only are they moving at a much faster pace but also far more frequently. This game will have you on your toes in no time and can get quite hectic trying to figure out which hand to use on which particular mole in order to be ready for the next mole that's already on its way up through the ground. As in Game A, you get three misses before its game over.
The ability to save your scores and come back to try to better them is a great incentive, and when you couple it with the extremely simple controls of the game, you have an excellent game for those times when you just have a few minutes to kill. It might seem on the outside like the game offers up very little variety, but once you play the game, you'll soon understand how engaging it can be.
From a musical and visual standpoint there's not much to these LCD re-releases. The developers have done a nice job of recreating the overlay visuals that were painted on the screens of the original LCD units and the LCD displays are spot-on renditions of the original. Even the little bits of music and metallic sound effects are emulated to perfection, so much so that it can be difficult to tell the difference between this DSiWare release and the original Game & Watch unit. It's nice to see Nintendo put some care and effort into keeping these classic LCD games as accurate as possible, something fans of the electronic games will surely appreciate.
There's no denying the nostalgia factor involved in these classic Game & Watch releases and DSiWare is the perfect place to make these available as individual releases for those who've longed to play them again. Vermin remains one of the more simple yet addictive entries in the Game & Watch collection and yet another fine addition to the growing Game & Watch library on DSiWare.