With all the excitement around the launches of the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, Nintendo released yet another classic system for fans to quickly sell out of. One of the first handheld systems I ever owned was a part of Nintendo’s Game & Watch brand, Mario’s Cement Factory. When Club Nintendo released a special edition Game & Watch Ball, I made sure I got one. Now, they have released the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros as part of the 35th Anniversary of the franchise. While other aspects of Mario’s 35th has been underwhelming (in my opinion), this is without a doubt something that should be a part of every gamer’s collection.
There are three games available: The NES version of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (originally only released in Japan but did eventually make its way everywhere else in the 90s), and a variation on Game & Watch Ball, this time featuring Mario. For a 35-year-old game, Super Mario Bros still looks and plays fantastic on the small screen, which shouldn’t come as any surprise. While I did notice a few weird glitches here and there, none of it took me out of the experience.
If you’re like me and have never actually played (or remember playing) Lost Levels, it’s inclusion in this collection is really nice. Lost Levels is known for having some really tough stages and I definitely had trouble play. Thankfully, there is an easter egg to unlock infinite lives, something I will most certainly need to use. “Ball” is pretty simple but I could see myself spending more time with it trying to improve on my score.
For a $50 ($70 CDN) system, it would have been nice if Nintendo included a bit more. Having Super Mario Bros 3 as an unlockable or even a few more of the original Game & Watch titles could have easily been added to the mix and still been able to charge the same price.
With regards to construction, the system feels really well built and doesn’t come off as something cheaply made. Depending on how long you plan on playing and the size of your hands, the unit may get a bit uncomfortable. The longer I played, the more my hands started to cramp up. It’s doesn’t take from the experience but I had more fun playing a level or two, taking a break then coming back and playing a bit more.
There are a few nice, little touches they’ve done to this. You can swap easily and quickly between the games and not worry about losing your progress. I jumped from Super Mario Bros. to Ball and back without losing progress. Even the “Watch” part has some nice little treats, with changing environments and other bits of nostalgia peppered throughout the day.
I don’t know how long Nintendo will sell Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., but I suspect that they won’t last long after Christmas. If you have a Mario fan in your family, getting one is an absolute no brainer. That’s even the case if you suspect they’ll only play it for a few hours when they get it. While it might not have long-term appeal, I could see this being something people return to when they have hankering for a trip down memory lane.