Game & Watch

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Nintendo Game & Watch
Developer Nintendo
Type Handheld electronic game
Generation Second generation
Release date 1980
Discontinued 1991
Successor Game Boy/Color

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.


Name Platform(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Active Recommended
PC / x86
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.246
DSP Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.18
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.
  • See MAME driver which covers several of the Game & Watch series of games and those of a similar ilk from other companies running on the LCD game handhelds with Sharp SM5xx family of CPUs (SM5A/SM510/SM511/SM512) (Other companies that released similar games included Konami, Elektronika, Tiger Electronics, Tronica and VTech).
  • Arcade Italia's database of compatibility records for games on MAME.

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).

Emulation issues

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 led to support for a few games being added to MAME, emulation of additional games is 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 has been dumped, one of the biggest challenges with accurately emulating it is 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. In order 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.


For those who don't want to use MAME, this is your only option outside of buying any unit used.

  • 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 difficult-to-pirate 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 (by Hipopotam) is an online collection of Game & Watch games under an authentic presentation. While there seems to be no way to play these games offline, there are a few games that are exclusive to the website.
  • Madrigal wrote some simulations that give 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.
  • lcdgame.js is an open-source JavaScript library which currently supports authentic representations of Donkey Kong II and Mario Bros.
  • Handheld Quake is a free simulator that simulates some Электроника and Nintendo handhelds.


Game Collection DSiWare Pica Pic gw-libretro MAME
Balloon Fight
Bomb Sweeper
Crab Grab
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Circus
Donkey Kong Hockey
Donkey Kong II
Donkey Kong Jr.
Donkey Kong Jr. (Panorama)
Fire (silver version)
Fire Attack
Green House
Life Boat
Manhole (gold version)
Mario Bros.
Mario the Juggler
Mario's Bombs Away
Mario's Cement Factory
Mario's Cement Factory (Table Top)
Mickey & Donald
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse (Panorama)
Oil Panic
Popeye (Panorama)
Rain Shower
Snoopy Tennis
Spitball Sparky
Super Mario Bros.
Tropical Fish
Turtle Bridge

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.

The three Panorama titles listed here are completely different games than the standard versions despite the same names.

The table top version of Mario's Cement Factory is similar to the widesreen and panorama versions but has different artwork and slightly different gameplay.

The silver version of Fire has slightly different gameplay than the widescreen version.

Games exclusive to some collections

SM5xx CPU games in MAME that are not part of the Game & Watch Series


  • Merry Cook (same Chef G&W ROM)
  • Nu, pogodi! (same Mickey Mouse G&W ROM)
  • Explorers of Space (same Mickey Mouse G&W ROM)
  • Space Bridge (same Fire G&W ROM)


  • Double Dribble
  • Top Gun
  • Contra
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Gradius
  • Lone Ranger
  • Blades of Steel
  • NFL Football
  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy
  • Bucky O'Hare
  • Garfield


  • Shuttle Voyage
  • Thief in Garden
  • Space Rescue


  • Electronic Number Muncher

Tiger 72-xxx models:

  • Batman: The Animated Series

Tiger 7-xxx/78-xxx models:

  • Gauntlet
  • Robin Hood
  • Double Dragon
  • Karnov
  • Vindicators
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Batman
  • Space Harrier II
  • Strider
  • Golden Axe
  • Robocop 2
  • The Rocketeer
  • Altered Beast
  • Street Fighter 2010
  • Swamp Thing
  • Spider-Man
  • X-Men
  • Double Dragon 3
  • The Flash
  • MC Hammer: U Can't Touch This
  • Battletoads
  • Hook
  • Back to the Future
  • The Addams Family
  • Home Alone
  • X-Men - Project X
  • Home Alone 2 - Lost in New York
  • Sonic The Hedgehog
  • Robocop 3
  • The Incredible Crash Dummies
  • Street Fighter II
  • Wayne's World
  • Jurassic Park
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  • Super Double Dragon
  • Dennis the Menace
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Transformers - Generation 2
  • Operation: Aliens
  • Mortal Kombat
  • The Shadow
  • Skeleton Warriors - The Dark Crusade
  • Batman Forever - Double Dose of Doom
  • Judge Dredd
  • Apollo 13
  • 007: GoldenEye
  • Kazaam
  • Space Jam
  • Independence Day

Games in Pica Pic that are not part of the Game & Watch Series

  • Aerogun Field
  • Autoslalom
  • Barrier
  • Bartman
  • Castle Adventure
  • Caveman
  • Coffee House
  • Fishing Boy
  • G-Man
  • Merry Cook
  • Ncha! Bycha
  • Nu, pogodi!
  • Penguin Land
  • Plane & Tank
  • Pirate 777
  • Search Light
  • Space Bridge
  • Sub Attack
  • The Terminator
  • Thief in Garden

Games in lcdgame.js that are not part of the Game & Watch Series

  • Highway
  • Sea Ranger
  • Jungle Kong (Cresta)
  • Eagle n Chicken
  • Tom's Adventure

Games that are not part of the Game & Watch Series

  • Armor Battle
  • Banana
  • Baseball
  • Bomb Fight
  • Caccia al Ladra/Heatcliff
  • Cessate il Fuoco/Heatcliff
  • Chick Woggy (2 versions)
  • Condor
  • Crazy Chewy
  • Defendo
  • Donkey Angler
  • Donkey Kong (Coleco version)
  • Donkey Kong Junior (Coleco version)
  • Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game
  • Engine Room
  • Escape
  • Explorers of Space
  • Fowling
  • Frog Boaster
  • Galaxy II
  • Grab Man
  • Hippo Teeth (2 versions)
  • Hot Line (2 versions)
  • Las Vegas
  • Monkey
  • Monkey Jump
  • Motor Cross
  • Pac Man
  • Pancake
  • Penguin Land
  • Pirate
  • Roller Coaster
  • Safari
  • Sleep Walker
  • Sub Chase
  • Tennis Menace
  • Tom & Jerry Popper
  • Towering Rescue
  • Tron
  • Wild Man Jump