(GB / Game Boy)

Game & Watch Gallery (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Game & Watch Gallery Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

More than a fresh coat of paint

Most fans of the Game & Watch series likely enjoy it for its simplicity. The nature of the original devices meant that certain allowances had to be made for the primitive visuals, sounds and rigid controls. All three of these things are charming in their own right, but what really made people fall in love was the simple addictiveness of the gameplay itself. You could play for a minute, or you could play for an hour. Sometimes you just played until the battery went dead. The games were that much fun.

One could be forgiven, therefore, for approaching flashy remakes of these with a little trepidation. After all, they didn't need any glitz to get our attention in the first place; they just needed to be good, solid, and simple. The timeless appeal of the originals can become lost so easily in a contemporary update that they frequently look more dated than their source material.

Breathe easy though, dear reader, because Game & Watch Gallery is one of those rare remakes that is truly better.

It consists of two things: straight, faithful recreations of four original Game & Watch games, and new, updated, Mario-heavy versions. And believe us when we say that the developers have done more than slap on some new sprites; these are easily eight distinct experiences.

The titles included are Manhole, Fire, Octopus, and Oil Panic. In their original versions (available in two difficulties, as are the remakes) they feature the same classic minimalist art style you'll remember from the Game & Watch era. The sounds, likewise, are recreated, limited to simplistic blips and bleeps. There is no music and no real animation to speak of – everything snaps from one position to the next, but that's okay. These games were primarily simple score-attacks, not artistic showcases.

Manhole will see you manipulating four manhole covers to keep hapless pedestrians from falling into the sewer. In Fire you control two firemen who bounce evacuees from a burning building into an ambulance. Octopus stars a deep-sea diver who must manoeuvre past the arms of a hungry cephalopod to steal some treasure. Finally, Oil Panic has you collect oil drops in a container and then dump them out the window to your waiting assistant.

Anybody who has played the original games will know what to expect from these versions. Not much has changed, though the backgrounds are obviously no longer in colour. Also, the dual screen nature of Oil Panic is approximated here in a way that might be confusing at first but ultimately comes to make sense as you familiarise yourself with the requisite strategy. Mainly, though, these versions are quite faithful, and a simple collection of these versions would probably have appealed to nearly any Game & Watch fan.

This is why the remade versions, featured side by side with the originals, are such surprising and welcome inclusions. As mentioned above, these star Mario characters instead of nondescript silhouettes. They also showcase excellent visuals, fluid animation, brilliant background music, and offer, overall, completely unique gameplay experiences.

Enumerating every difference here would take longer than a review has any right to be, suffice to say that they feel almost entirely new. Manhole, for example, originally had you simply replace manhole covers by moving the character over to them. In the remake you control Yoshi, who indeed does manipulate manhole covers in the same way, but they also stay in place without him until somebody walks over them. Yoshi can also replace a manhole cover when somebody is hovering in the air and about to fall Wile E. Coyote style, whereas in the original that would have been considered a miss. Because of these things, the game plays quite differently. Your priorities can change depending upon who is walking over the manholes at any given time, and you can never feel safe ignoring any area of the screen.

Another significant change comes in Octopus. In the remake Mario collects treasure for Peach – so far, so similar. But once you add in the fact that the amount of treasure you steal can weigh you down, the evasion of the octopus takes on an entirely different feel. It's also worth noting that in this version, you aren't totally helpless: when the fiend attacks, you can fight back!

The changes to Fire are a little more subtle but still easy to notice. The different bounce heights of evacuees make for an interesting game of continuous object management, whereas the original was more about bouncing people into the sky in the same order in which they appeared. Bombs to avoid also drop in, adding the new element of evasion to the experience.

Oil Panic probably feels the most like its original, but it still contains its share of differences, particularly the fact that Mario juggles two containers instead of just one. He can also spin around to swap their positions, leading to even more strategy.

The change in how these games feel cannot be overstated. When described they can sound quite similar, but playing them side by side, you will find yourself acutely aware of just how much time and energy Nintendo put into crafting remakes that would feel as timeless as the originals, yet play in very different ways.


If you liked the original Game & Watch titles, this collection is a must-have. Both the originals and remakes, which combine simple gameplay and subtle strategy, are here to enjoy, and the updates are so well done that we'd recommend this game even to those who don't like the Game & Watch series. The newer versions play differently enough that you're quite likely to consider them new experiences in and of themselves. The musical and visual presentation is just fantastic as well, and the entire package serves as a relic of a truly magical time in gaming. Or, perhaps, two truly magical times.

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User Comments (40)



Burn said:

Great review, I'll have to pick it up sometime. Btw, has anyone played the Club Nintendo exclusive Game & Watch Collection (1+2) on the DS? Even though they have two G&W games each, they're pretty fun. I'd like to see a review of either version sometime _



Corbs said:

We already have a review of the first Game & Watch Collection from Club Nintendo, and I own both so I'll try to do a review of the second release when we get a break in coverage.



FFL2and3rocks said:

I have the first three Game and Watch Gallery games, they were some of my favorites years ago. I hope the others eventually make it to the VC.



HandheldGuru97 said:

I think I played this at my grandparents house. I love manhole on the DSi. Will pick this up soon.



Philip_J_Reed said:

I did everything I could to avoid comparing this to the "buy it and shut up" approach of the Super Mario anniversary collection, I really did.



Gavin_Rozee said:

Hopefully NoE will announce this as a Thursday release here tomorrow.

Is it still worth buying if you own all 9 DSiWare G&W games, as well as Game & Watch Gallery for Game Boy Advance?



yoyogamer said:

The review doesn't mention the fact that you can unlock stuff by getting X points, making this more than just a score attack game.

Bring on the Sequels!



Supremeist said:

I was waiting for this review, and now I think I might pick it up. Looks excellent for the price.



Xkhaoz said:

This truly is a great deal on the eShop. I was surprised when I saw it had the $3 price tag.



Odnetnin said:

Whoa just realized this was a Chicken review. I think you've convinced me to spend my precious cash once again, haha.



Moco_Loco said:

This really sounds good. But...who allowed Chicken to review a good game? He's only supposed to review bad ones so we can laugh at how bad they are.



LztheQuack said:

Ah, Game Boy titles. A time when little content = a lot of fun. For shame newer games, for shame



Shugo said:

I'm very glad they put this on VC. One of the greater games of my childhood. My old cart has problems keeping save files, so now maybe I can finally keep my scores and gallery!

I'm definitely still disappointed that they haven't implemented Super Game Boy mode. This game definitely looked good with it; it has different borders for every game that mimic the original G&W hardware colors, not to mention the backgrounds became full-color.

And no doubt when they get around to Game & Watch Gallery 2 & 3, they won't enable the gallery link feature that completes the gallery when you link the newer games to the older ones. I appreciate finally having a GB VC, but a large part of the Game Boy experience was all the neat features the various hardware had to offer. Nintendo is totally dropping the ball on that...



TheGreenSpiny said:

Never did like these games... I bought one for the GBA I think, and was dissapointed that the remakes had the same terrible animation of the originals.

And what's up with all these Super Gameboy games? Nintendo's killing thier sales by not including these features.



sam322 said:

great review brutus!
I have a question, i've never heard of the game from before, nor played but i'm curious about the game. Do you think this game will suit me?



grumblegrumble said:

I got this the day it came out on VC for the 3DS and have no regrets. Really basic simple games..but if you're a fellow old skool game lover you'll love these



IronMan28 said:

Awesome game at an awesome price, I forgot about this game until I read this review, I have very fond memories of this one.



nick_gc said:

The 3DS eShop (in the UK at least) has a Game & Watch section where you can buy about eight games separately for about £1 something each. I hope this doesn't mean we won't get this game.



Supremeist said:

I just picked this up a few hours ago and played all the games, and I must say, it has a good amount of content for $3. These are the types of VC games I am hoping more for.



Moco_Loco said:

@nick_gc: You're probably looking at the DSi versions of the Game & Watch games, which I believe are pretty much the same as the originals. This game is a re-release of a Game Boy collection of these games, including the original version (minus color) of each game and a remake featuring Mario characters.



MeloMan said:

This is an amazing buy and I will be getting this ASAP. Nintendo really turns out gems when they feel like it.



Teh-Ray said:

It's remakes like these that should set the standard of how remakes should be made!



alLabouTandroiD said:

I didn't know / forgot about they actually did remake versions of these classics. Can't wait to download it.



BMS16 said:

What Game and Watch collection is your favorite?  The Club Nintendo DS collections, DSiWare, 3DS Virtual Console, Gamboy systems, or the original Game and Watch system? I don't know what to get. What's worth the money?



suburban_sensei said:

@BMS16: I would say the 3DS VC is your best bet. I owned both the Club Nintendo compilations and each only had 2 original G&W games...it was very lacking in content. For $3 on the 3DS VC you get, essentially 8 great games. That's a lot of bang for your buck.



Blue_Yoshi said:

I love Game & Watch games I used to play Manhole when I was in the baby carriage maybe even more I dont rly remember but I was shocked when my mom told me. Im even looking for an old school watch today do they still even make them?



Hokori said:

this game is great, I didnt know there were more games
I just thought it was 4 Modern and 4 classic, but get 800pts on all levels and unlock more



Dodger said:

@BMS If you are going to get a Club Nintendo DS collection, get 1. It has 3 original games (Donkey Kong, Oil Panic and Greenhouse) and all 3 are duel screen. If you have the coins anyway then it's a pretty good prize.

This is probably a better deal then the Dsiware ones. However, they are different games so maybe get both if any of the DSiware ones interest you. I really like Chef.



Bass_X0 said:

Hope the second one comes soon. It was released on both Game Boy and Game Boy Color. I think I'd prefer the b&w version for its assumed lower cost of £2.70 over a colour version for £4.50. As for this game, while it is good, it feels lacking in content when compared to sequels. I agree with the review but would give it 7/10 for only having four games.



Undead_terror said:

i have all the game & watch my 3ds can have,got all the dsi ones,both the club nintendo ones,got this and will get anymore of these gb ones when they come on the vc

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