Game & Watch
|Type||Handheld electronic game|
|Discontinued||1991 (2010 & 2020)|
The Game & Watch is a series of self-contained handheld LCD games by Nintendo where the first one was released on April 28, 1980, and which are often seen as the precursor to the Game Boy/Color, although new Game & Watch games were still released as late as 1991.
Despite their simplicity, Game & Watch handhelds were completely unemulated for a very long time due to a lack of information about their hardware and difficulties with dumping ROMs and accurately recreating graphics. After an extensive reverse-engineering effort by several MAME developers, MAME became the first emulator to support many retro handheld electronic games, including Game & Watch systems.
|PC / x86|
It was officially the 1st Game & Watch emulator, with support for almost all games. It started to comprehensively cover the Game & Watch games from around just before mid-2017 (e.g. 0.185 in May 2017) and emulated its first game in 0.186.
Since July 9, 2020, MAME supports at least one version of each Game & Watch model.
- It was officially the 2nd Game & Watch emulator. Just before mid-June 2017, it also started to emulate a few notable Game & Watch "Thanks to MAME for the ROMs and the info." (as stated in the readme).
Although Game & Watch emulation has recently become possible, it took quite a while to achieve due to the lack of information about the microcontrollers driving them and the high difficulty of dumping the ROM from a system. (To dump a game's ROM, the microcontroller often must be decapped, which is not only very costly and complicated but highly destructive to the system.) The lack of information on the Game & Watch's hardware leads to the false belief that it does not contain a CPU or ROM and therefore could not be emulated. Even though this was disproven after reverse engineering efforts of several MAME developers which led to support for all of the games. Emulation of the games had been progressing slowly due to the high amount of time and patience it takes to dump their ROMs and recreate their graphics.
Even when a Game & Watch game's ROM had been dumped, one of the biggest challenges with accurately emulating it was with how the Game & Watch displayed graphics. Rather than by sending output to an LCD display like most cartridge-based handhelds do, Game & Watch games (as well as most other handheld electronic games from the same time) displayed graphics by lighting up pre-drawn LCD segments, like a calculator. To recreate this as accurately as possible, MAME uses .SVG files traced from high-quality scans of the LCD screen, allowing graphics in supported Game & Watch games to be displayed crisply at any resolution without the loss of any detail. While this is the most accurate way to recreate the LCD graphics outside of obtaining the original art from Nintendo, it is a difficult and time-consuming process as not only does the LCD need to be scanned at a high resolution with all segments lit up to capture all of the graphics but the scans must be traced very carefully to faithfully recreate the original artwork.
The main way of playing these games outside buying any of the units second hand is MAME, its accuracy automatically makes it the recommended way of playing these games but if you really don't want to use it, there are other ways in the simulators list.
|Model||Year||Series||MAME support||ROMs||Emulators / Description|
|Ball / Toss-Up||1980||Silver||Good||Yes|
|Balloon Fight||1986||Crystal Screen||Good||Yes|
|Balloon Fight||1988||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Black Jack||1985||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Bomb Sweeper||1987||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Climber||1988||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Crab Grab||1984||Super Color||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong||1982||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Donkey Kong II||1983||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong 3||1984||Micro Vs.||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong Circus||1984||Panorama||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong Jr.||1982||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong Jr.||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Donkey Kong Jr.||1983||Panorama||Good||Yes|
|Donkey Kong Jr.||1983||Table Top||None|
|Donkey Kong Hockey||1984||Micro Vs.||Good||Yes|
|Fire||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Fire Attack||1982||Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Fireman / Fire||1980||Silver||Good||Yes|
|Gold Cliff||1988||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Green House||1982||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Headache / Helmet||1981||Gold||Good||Yes|
|Lifeboat||1983||Horizontal Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Manhole||1983||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Mario's Bombs Away||1983||Panorama||Good||Yes|
|Mario's Cement Factory||1983||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Mario's Cement Factory||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Mario's Cement Factory||1983||Table Top||Good||Yes|
|Mario Bros.||1983||Horizontal Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Mario The Juggler||1991||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Mickey & Donald||1982||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Mickey Mouse||1981||Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Mysteries of the Deep / Sea / Octopus||1981||Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Octopus||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Oil Panic||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Oil Panic||1982||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Parachute||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Pinball||1983||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Punch Out / Boxing||1984||Micro Vs.||Good||Yes|
|Rain Shower||1983||Horizontal Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Safebuster||1988||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Snoopy Tennis||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Snoopy Tennis||1982||Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Spitball Sparky||1984||Super Color||Good||Yes|
|Squish||1986||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
|Super Mario Bros.||1986||Crystal Screen||Good||Yes|
|Super Mario Bros.||1988||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Super Mario Bros.||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Edition||2020||Color Screen||None|
|The Exterminator / Vermin||1980||Silver||Good||Yes|
|The Legend of Zelda 35th Anniversary Edition||2021||Color Screen||None|
|Ball / Toss-Up||1980||Silver||Good||Yes|
|Tropical Fish||1985||New Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Turtle Bridge||1982||Wide Screen||Good||Yes|
|Zelda||1998||Nintendo Mini Classics||None|
|Zelda||1989||Vertical Multi Screen||Good||Yes|
List Note: underlined text = devices that are re-releases of G&W games that are technically not apart of the Game & Watch Series.
|Nintendo||Nintendo officially released virtual reproductions in the games and compiled them in the Game & Watch Gallery (and, later, Game & Watch Collection) series of games. These games had both "classic" and "modern" variations of these games. While these collections have a loss of "authenticity" (especially in the collections that are running on earlier hardware), these collections are Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS games for which emulators are widespread. (A few games are from the DSiWare series, though every game in the DSiWare series appears in another collection.) However, some of the games in the collection (notably Zelda) may need to be unlocked before play.|
|Pica Pic||Developed by Hipopotam, Pica Pic is an online collection of Game & Watch games under an authentic presentation (using Adobe Flash). While there seems to be no way to play these games offline, there are a few games that are exclusive to the website.|
|Madrigal Simulations||An offline, authentic presentation of the Game & Watch games, the collection of these games growing through time. Of particular note is that these are available to play through RetroArch through the gw-libretro core. There are also some that are not of the Game & Watch series.|
|Handheld Quake||A free simulator that simulates some Elektronika and Nintendo handhelds.|
Miscellaneous G&W Info
- The silver version of Fire has slightly different gameplay than the widescreen version.
- The three Panorama titles listed above are completely different games than the standard versions despite the same names.
- The tabletop version of Mario's Cement Factory is similar to the widescreen and panorama versions but has different artwork and slightly different gameplay.
- From an emulation point of view, the 2009 re-release of Ball is a completely new game with a different CPU and a different program compared to the original Ball release.
- List from Wikipedia of Game & Watch ports and remakes
- All 60 Games list detailing the Nintendo's Game & Watch series (Nice list with technical names and links to details and photos of 60 different Game & Watch)
- Super Mario Wiki covering Nintendo's Game & Watch series (Nice wiki-style page with many photos of different handhelds)
- Design, layout and artwork (Made by Lee Robson (hydef). Storage of background art files for LCD handheld games from Elektronika, Gakken, Konami, Nintendo G&W, Tiger Electronics, and Tronica.)