Retro Pocket (DSiWare)

Game Review

Retro Pocket Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Through the Past, Darkly

Before Retro Pocket, Game & Watch fans were poorly served. If they wanted to enjoy those early Nintendo forays into gaming, they were out of luck. There was no way for gamers to get their hands on recreations of those originals, short of picking up the Game & Watch Collection, of course. Or its sequel.

But apart from those titles, the Game & Watch series was lost to the ages. Unless you grabbed one of many DSiWare remakes.

Apart from those though there was really no way to re-experience the magic of the Game & Watch series. Except for the Game & Watch Gallery on the 3DS Virtual Console. And the GBC sequel to that game. And...you know what? Come to think of it, Game & Watch fans have a mountain of options already, which makes Retro Pocket's half-baked knockoff mini-games all the more puzzling.

Retro Pocket features eight games, each of which is presented in classic Game & Watch style. To be fair, the games absolutely nail the visual presentation (with one exception to be discussed later), but whether or not that's something to be proud of is open to debate. In terms of audio, the games take some liberties, providing music and sound effects notably beyond the capabilities of Nintendo's early handhelds, but that's okay. There's nothing particularly bothersome as far as the audio goes, though neither is it memorable.

Where Retro Pocket stumbles is in the game selection itself. Whale Escape is a barely-masked clone of the Game & Watch title Octopus. Fireman is a somehow more boring revamp of Fire. And a whopping three titles here — Candy Factory, Watch Your Head and Egg Drop — borrow the central conceit from Oil Panic. We hope you like filling containers, emptying them, and then filling them again, because Retro Pocket will have you doing that a lot.

The game allows you to see all possible sprite positions, whether or not they're "active." This lets you see the potential path that hazards and enemies might take, but Retro Pocket doesn't care much for logic, and will have them warping from place to place without rhyme or reason. While Game & Watch titles relied on predictable patterns that got faster over time, Retro Pocket seems to rely on extrasensory perception.

The controls are decent, though there's an annoying bit of lag between pressing a button and seeing the result play out. Particularly egregious, though, is the pause menu. You press start to pause, and you'll need to pause when you begin each game in order to read the instructions. Press start again, though, and your game doesn't resume. You must press A to resume the game. That's odd enough, but if you press B instead, which is a common way to back out of a screen or a menu, you're booted back to the title selection screen without any confirmation, losing any progress you might have made in the game. Oops!

Each of the games has two play modes, with the high score retained for each one. In many cases Game B is just a faster version of Game A, but it does sometimes toss an extra hazard into the mix as well. Since the primary challenge of any Game A is staying awake, Game B is usually the better option.

In addition to the clones discussed above, there is Kung Fu Hero, which finds you beating off gang members who assault your girlfriend with beer bottles (yes, really), Postman, which is really fun if you like running in circles without earning any points unless the game randomly decides to give you some, and Fuel Drop, the lone highlight of the collection.

Fuel Drop relies on a colour-switching gimmick that the original Game & Watch line would not have been able to support, which frees it of being a lesser shade of an already-existing title. You rotate black and white fuel drums with L and R (also unique to this game) to catch correctly-coloured drops, and it's both relaxing and fun. Fuel Drop isn't enough to justify the purchase on its own, but if you do end up with this game, it's the best place to spend your time. Its unique presentation and controls make it stand out from its brethren, and it feels like it should be part of a much better mini-game collection than this one.

As it stands, Retro Pocket is both a far-from-necessary download, and a pale imitation of games already available. There's a lone standout in the form of Fuel Drop, but that's relative. If you're really craving Game & Watch remakes — in spite of the fact that these games have been remade already — then Retro Pocket might be worth a download. If not, there's nothing particular to this title to warrant a recommendation.


Retro Pocket may not have had any intentions of being original, but we do at least wish it intended to be fun. This collection of Game & Watch clones / homages is half-baked at best, and while it does indeed nail the visual presentation of the originals it forgoes entirely the addictive quality of the games, substituting it for tedium. Considering that the Game & Watch originals were already quite repetitive in their own right, that's something of an accomplishment, but it's not one to be proud of.

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User Comments (31)



Hokori said:

This and extinction squad on iPhone are clones of G&W games, extinction squad is a Fire clone



Retro_on_theGo said:

...Seriously? How do you mess up a tribute game!?
I have given up all hope for UFO and will no longer give them the benefit of the doubt with any upcoming games.
This doesn't really look like it's a 4/10 though.



Raylax said:

When you can't make a game that's decent even by LCD standards, it's probably time to call it a day.



Drobotic said:

And doesn't the Kung Fu guy look too much like Johnny from Johnny Kung Fu?Wow.Now UFO is copying themselves.



grumblegrumble said:

Oh WOW. I totally disagree with your review! This original selection of games created by UFO are way better than most Game & Watch games, and in my opinion, the great vintage music, combined with the 8 games (both with A & B modes) provides a great experience for old school video gamers. I give this game an 8/10! I urge you guys to go check it out for yourselves, look at other reviews on other sites before you make a rush judgment based on this one opinion above about this game. I think it's wonderful!



grumblegrumble said:

@Happy_Mask I have. I have all of the dsiware game and watch releases, plus a couple of originals in their cases. Yeah, these games are wonderful in their own right. Superbly created and masterfully done.



Undead_terror said:

What would be nice is to have every single game & watch game ever made into one collection, even the mcdonalds ones, I would love to play some of those sonic ones again.



Morpheel said:

You seem to assume Nintendo is the only company who makes LCD games and that this game is supposed to be exclusively a tribute to Game & Watch.



Freelance said:

I didn't think this would be that great as the G&W series has better artwork and presentation (my opinion). Why play this when you can just play G&W? I grew up with G&W so I have a soft spot for LCD games unlike lots of people here who probably were born long after LCD games went extinct.

If only Nintendo would release more DSiware of G&W titles. I really want Mario Bros.



CrazyOtto said:

I knew it would have a low score. Also, they already tried the Game & Watch tribute thing with Johnny Kung Fu.



crazyangrygamer4 said:

This looks good i havent seen any good DSIWARE Apear on the 3DSESHOP lATELY THAT ARE COOL YA IT MIGHT BE A kNOCKOFF OF GAME AND WATCH BUT ITS 8 IN 1 CANT BEAT THAT Sorry i had my caps on opps



Philip_J_Reed said:

You seem to assume Nintendo is the only company who makes LCD games and that this game is supposed to be exclusively a tribute to Game & Watch.

There were certainly plenty of other LCD games, but none that were nearly as ubiquitous as Game & Watch. And I don't mean to assume that this game is exclusively a tribute to that series, but with six of the eight games being more or less direct clones of G&W titles, I think it's fair to say it's weighted in that direction.



Barbiegurl777 said:

I agree with grumblegrumble I too have all the G&W titles on dsiware both by nintendo & UFO. I liked both. I love how UFO combined them all in one dsiware pack & released it all together. Love the games in this title.

LCD games rock! Personally I'd rather have those as oppose to some of the dsiware games they've been releasing lately.

I get alot of enjoyment out of LCD games. I played the crap out of my giga pet back in 2002 loved it. Had the 101 dalmation one right before I got my GBC at that time.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)



ShawnWilson said:

I'm gonna have to side with grumblegrumble on this one. Not about weather its actually better then G&W titles, but about not sharing the same view as the review. I think Retro Pocket deserves a better score then what it recieved and the only game out of the 8 of them I don't like is the one with the fire man, because it is really slow and it never gets challenging. Just sit there and rack up points. I'm gonna have to say myself that I would give this a 7 out of 10. I'm happy with my purchase of this game.



Neram said:

Uhh no thanks, I'll stick with Game & Watch for my repetitive LCD game fix. They could of at least been more creative with their homages, it just comes off as total clones.



grumblegrumble said:

@ShawnWilson I'm glad I have some support here. lol I guess it's all subjective. Some people will like it and some won't, as with any other game. There are other reviews for this game on the Internet already that give it higher scores. Don't get me wrong, though, I admire Philip's reviews and sometimes agree, too



Philip_J_Reed said:

I admire Philip's reviews and sometimes agree, too

That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.



Gridatttack said:

Dunno. seems kinda interesting for me. Still, the fact that they are many "fill containers and empty them" droves me off.



StarDust4Ever said:

I'm kind of a Game-N-Watch junkie. I didn't have a Nintendo growing up, but I had four Game-N-Watch games, and played them to death. I also own the Game-N-Watch Collection DS from Club Nintendo, and I will get the second one when I get around to tallying another 800 points. There are currently 9 G&W titles available for DSiWare, and the 18 dollars I spent on those 9 games were a far better value than the 5 dollars I spent on these 8, if my first impressions of the other 7 games are anything like the first, Fireman. One problem for me while playing the game was that the action takes forever to ramp up in difficulty. I booted the game, and not knowing which game to try first, I played Fireman. The game seemed really good at first, and was basically self-explanatory. The problem therein lies in the fact that Game-n-watch style LCD games were originally meant to be pick-up-and-play type games. They are basically like the candy of the video game world: delicious in small doses. Same principal for a lot of early Atari VCS games: gameplay lasting only a few minutes is like taking little bites of candy. An Epic RPG quest or a modern 3D platformer like Mario Galaxy is more like steak and potatoes: A full meal. You can literally play those for hours on end without tiring. But if you eat a meal's worth of candy, you get a bellyache. That's what happened with RetroPocket. What made the pick-up-and-play action of those early LCD games so addicting was that the difficulty and speed ramped up very quickly. They start off easy, but only those with lightning fast reflexes could survive more than a few minutes, and a single lapse of concentration or the blink of an eye can spell doom in those circumstances. Likewise, everytime you got licked, you would try try again, and there was a very high replay value and satisfaction in trying to best your old high score. My first round of Fireman lasted an entire hour. You get for misses with the falling victims and four misses with the window fires. A while into the game, I realized that instead of spraying the water only when fire appeared, I could basically run back and forth spamming the building with water to ensure the fire doesn't have a chance to respawn. I was determined to play until I used up all of my chances, and wondered for a long time how long I had to play before the game sped up or increased in difficulty. As it turns out, the difficulty never really increased, eventually turning the game into a battle of concentration and marathon attention span. I made it to 15000 points exactly. I had one hit remaining for the victims and one hit remaining for the fires. Another victim was falling to her death. I swooped in to save her, but then I saw my score at an even 15000 points and my hands were beginning to cramp, so instead of rescuing the maiden, I decided I'd had enough, and side-stepped out of her way. The lady came crashing down into the dumpster, followed by a GAME OVER screen. Somehow it was more satisfying to end my game watching my last victim fall to her death than it would have been to let the fire engulf the building. IMO, game-n-watch games should not last a whole freaking hour on a single credit! If it was a coin-op, they'd have gone bankrupt. Not sure if I'll go back to fireman, or at least not on Game "A". I ended up with the gamer's "bellyache" from dining on candy instead of steak. The 15000 high score was essentially meaningless because it's not a measure of how good I was, but how long I was willing to tie myself to the game. Still too exhausted at the moment to try another game. As a Game-N-Watch fan, I was sorely disappointed, so I believe the score is fair.



Morpheel said:

I remember reading somewhere that Fireman was the worst game of the bunch, have you tried the one Philip liked? Fuel something was it?

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