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Review – Nintendo Game & Watch Collection (NDS)

I posted a photo of this game once I finally managed to acquire it to Flickr and it received the comment question “Is it worth it?”.  You see, Game & Watch isn’t your standard Nintendo DS game, it can only be acquired (in the US) through the Club Nintendo Points promotional system.  If you’re unfamiliar with how this works, most Nintendo titles on DS and Wii comes with little slips that include a code.  When you register the game on the Club Nintendo website, you get points.  I’m not positive but I think it’s something like 40 points per game.  In order to redeem the Game & Watch Collection, you need 800 points, or like 20 games.  There are other ways to get points such as followup surveys or Virtual console titles (worth less) but for the most part you’re looking at owning at around 20 games for a Nintendo console to get the points needed to get this one title.  To make matters slightly more complicated, there is a second Game & Watch Collection available as well as a bunch of other nifty Nintendo themed merchandise.

I’ve been saving for this cart for like 2-3 years now.  My personal opinion is that an actual playable game is “worth more” than some novelty cards.  The issue really here is that the game itself isn’t much more than a novelty on it’s own.  In the time it’d take you to play a round of Solitaire with the Mario Playing Cards, you’ll probably have maxed out the enjoyment that can be had from the Game & Watch Collection.  It’s pretty much as advertised, a DS version of the classic handheld versions of Oil Panic, Donkey Kong, and Green House.

I’ll touch on each of these games here however, in order of what I would consider to be best to worst.

Donkey Kong

Not quite the same Donkey Kong one might think of from the arcades but it’s more or less the same concept.  Climb up some sloped platforms while jumping over barrels to knock the big ape from the top of the building.  Keep in mind, this game follows the LCD Handheld age game mechanics.  That is, your movement is limited to maybe 20 static positions on the screen.  This makes the game more about timing than anything.  The screen “refreshes” ever half second or so, so all movement has to be timed around this sequence.  You can move your little man faster than the refresh but timing for jumping over barrels centers on this mechanic.

I rank it highest if only because it’s got the most engrossing gameplay without being overly demanding and based on luck (see Oil Panic).

Oil Panic

I commented previously in the Donkey Kong section about overly complex and based on luck.  The object of Oil Panic is to catch drops of oil as they fall from the ceiling in a bucket.  Your bucket can only hold 3 drips however so occasionally you have to dump the bucket out the window to a guy waiting below.  The catch is that the guy below moved back and forth from the left tot he right window.  This can be mildly irritating as the whole thing is timed to the LCD style switching of screens. Since the guy below can take 2-3 turns to get to one side or the other, this can lead to some mild frustration as drops fall and you have to wait for the guy to move to one side or the other.  So like i said, lucky timing.

Green House

I’m ranking this game the lowest for it’s generally overall simplicity and kind of lameness.  Basically, you have 4 plants to protect from bugs, one in each corner.  You move your guy around the screen spraying the bugs with bug spray as they approach your plants.  That’s pretty much the entire scope of the game and it’s about as exciting as described.

Overall these three games do do a decent representation of recreating the look and feel of the older LCD handhelds.  There are static color backdrops that would have been permanent overlays and the only moving graphics involve the black LCD bits that move from pre determined blocks on a timed interval.  It’s not a real time move.  This is one bit of disappointment with these titles.  It seems like it would have been simple to add a modern real time element and keep the same graphical feel, especially as a “bonus” feature.  Basically the original style game and an “updated” version.  I imagine part of the decision not to do this was that these are free(ish) and so they wanted to save costs.

My other major disappointment with this series is the game selection.  Possibly if I were more familiar with the Game and Watch games I’d understand better why they chose these three titles.  Maybe they were the first three, maybe they were the most popular back in the day.  Personally, I’d have preferred a selection based on more modern titles.  I’m pretty sure there are both Mario and Zelda games in the Game and Watch series.  Seeing these titles recreated on a modern system and being able to play what is part of two of Nintendo’s most popular flagship series of games would have been much more enjoyable all around.  At least they would have had more novelty for being Mario and Zelda.

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