Collectors rejoice! Nintendo’s celebration of the classic Game & Watch now has a second entry in the series. I reviewed the original Super Mario Bros. edition back in November last year and really loved it! Now, a year later, Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda hits our shelves and while preference will largely be based on which Nintendo franchise is your personal favourite (and we all know where my allegiances lie). That being said, the Zelda Game & Watch (a series also celebrating its 35th anniversary) is very much a similar nostalgic joy and there are even a few additions that may make this latest version even better than the first.
Terrifically tiny, cute cardboard cut-out
Much like the Mario edition, the packaging is simply great. Now, it may seem strange to comment on packaging as part of the review, however, the very fact that this is very much an item aimed at collector’s – means the box is actually quite important. Thankfully, the design is delightful. A clear plastic overlay with colourful Zelda images slides past a traditional-looking golden Game & Watch package, producing a simple 3D effect that oozes charm. and stacked alongside the Mario edition it looks great. Inside, you’ll find a short USB cable for charging and the actual device sits in a black cardboard box with the triforce symbol. The latter not only looks a bit better than the plain white box that held the Super Mario Bros. version, but it also sort of solves one of the issues I had with that one; I really wished there was some way to display the small Mario device. Here the black cardboard solves that problem, by including a few foldout flaps that can be folded into a little stand – allowing you to actually display the device. It’s probably not a long tome solution but it’s a great little update.
The D-pad is wonderfully clicky and responsive and while you’re probably not buying the device for long play sessions (the size probably dictates that) – the buttons and layout are a great traditional design that just works.
Like the first edition, the small size of the hardware may actually surprise you. It comes in at around 67mm x 112mm x 12.5mm and even in my relatively small hands, it feels tiny. Unlike the burgundy from the first one, the Zelda edition’s gold faceplate is surrounded by nice green trim and despite its diminutive size, it manages to feel like a really premium product. The screen LCD is bright and even the sound is pretty respectable and doesn’t sound to tinny or hollow. The D-pad is wonderfully clicky and responsive and while you’re probably not buying the device for long play sessions (the size probably dictates that) – the buttons and layout are a great traditional design that just works. Of course, much like the first one – this is a device you’ll have to save up for as it costs around R999.00 at the time of writing.
Captivating content collection
Like I mentioned above, I really suspect that most people that are interested in purchasing the little Game & Watch devices are doing so as a bit of a collector’s piece rather than one to actually play the included games for too long. That being said, for short bursts the games that are included look and feel great. This time around you can look forward to three The Legend of Zelda titles, namely the original from the NES (Famicom), the sequel, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and 1993’s Game Boy classic The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (which recently got a remake which you learn more about here). The games feature can be displayed in two screen sizes (the classic more square version and a slightly wider edition that fills the screen and doesn’t look too stretched). The games also include both the English and Japanese versions and Zelda aficionados will be able to enjoy the slightly different sounds from the different editions. I’m not the biggest Zelda fan myself but can confirm that all the games look good on the screen and they even managed to get that familiar Game Boy green on Link’s Awakening which probably makes it my favourite – and that one is probably the most accessible to play. Plus, the fact that you can pause a game and return later is a very good thing – if you know anything about Zelda II in particular.
That being said, for short bursts the games that are included look and feel great.
Along with those three, you also get a version of the Game & Watch’s Vermin game with Link’s face swapped in. This is basically a very simple electronic version of that ‘Whac-a-croc‘ game you’ve probably played at the local arcade growing up. The clock displays the time in an interactive version of the original Legend Of Zelda and this time you also have a timer that allows you to set a time limit and try to get a high score for most enemies defeated in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Each little addition is filled with character and will no doubt make long time fans very happy.
Lovely Link Zel-ection
Thankfully, for those of you that enjoyed the original Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch, you’ll be happy to know that the Zelda edition is definitely just as good and thanks to a few small editions – probably even better. And so I’m happy to use a similar summary to sign off… All told, the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda is device is a nostalgia-induced dream. Not only is it fun to play on, but it’s also wonderful to look at and is exactly the type of thing a collector would like to put on display. So other than a few small complaints this is a perfect gift for a fan, especially one with a particular fancy for the green-hat wearing hero from Hyrule.