Zelda Game & Watch
Image: Nintendo Life

Yesterday, Nintendo lifted the lid on the one and seemingly only attempt to mark the 35th birthday of its Zelda franchise: a Game & Watch system which includes the two NES outings, as well as Link's Awakening on the Game Boy and a special version of Vermin.

What's odd is that Nintendo didn't include the original Zelda Game & Watch title, which hit stores shelves in 1989 – the same year that the Game Boy was released. The game used the Multi-Screen layout which would later inspire the Nintendo DS, with the LCD action taking place across two screens. The majority of the gameplay took place on the lower display, with Link battling monsters in a dungeon, while the upper screen was divided into inventory information and another small gameplay window. The game was later re-released as a much smaller keyring version.

While Nintendo has used the same Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch hardware design for this 2021 model, we're a little disappointed that it didn't include the Zelda Game & Watch and simply give players the option to toggle between the two screens. That would have been a happy middle ground, although we would personally have loved to see the original dual-screen design replicated for this modern release. There's just something about those clamshell systems which is strangely comforting.

Still, when you consider that the aforementioned Super Mario Game & Watch also didn't include a version of the LCD edition (originally released in 1986 as part of the 'New Wide Screen' range), we perhaps shouldn't be too shocked that Nintendo ignored the Zelda version.

On the topic of anniversaries, you know what else turns 35 this year? Metroid, which would have made a really cool 'modern' Game & Watch – especially as, unlike Zelda and Super Mario, no 'original' Game & Watch version exists. Do you think Nintendo will continue to release these devices, and will you continue to buy them? Let us know with a comment below.

Thanks to Ashley Day for inspiring this piece!