One thing that Japan’s Nintendo has in common with many traditional Swiss watchmakers is its current ultra-focus on nostalgia. There is no better kinship I can see between the eastern and western companies I admire right now than in how both Nintendo and many fine Swiss watchmakers are making “retro reissue” hip for consumers (again and again). Finally, a product released by the storied Japanese video game and console maker transcends into the world of watches — if just a little bit. Nintendo has just released for sale the anticipated “Game & Watch” system that honors the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. franchise. In essence, Nintendo Game & Watch is a small handheld video game system with just one suite of games Super Mario Bros. from 1985 (of course), but it also doubles as a small desk clock with an included Super Mario-themed digital clock feature.
Hearkening back to the mid-1980s, the world’s best video game equipment maker’s products had a neat red and gold look with black trim. In fact, “Game & Watch” is a historic name from 1980 and was also Nintendo’s first handheld system ever. Nintendo video games systems then looked like gadgets used by Ultraman (and they still do). Gray color dominated a bit later on as the Nintendo Entertainment System was starting to ship globally, around 1985. While Super Mario Bros. is by no means the only memorable game from that era, it is tough to say that Super Mario Bros. is not an absolute archetype of the best of video game playing in the 1980s.
The Game & Watch has a retro-inspired case design that looks very much like Nintendo’s early handheld portable gaming devices they are meant to honor. Nintendo’s more popular handheld gaming device was the Gameboy (revolutionary because it made it possible to switch games using cartridges on a portable system, as I recall). Even though the Nintendo Game & Watch device is very simple by today’s standards, what I like is its focus on doing one thing and being a safe way to show children what classic video gaming was like in a narrow way that doesn’t immediately tantalize them with other gaming options. The only way to get good at playing Super Mario Bros. is to play it over and over again.
I picked up one of these little video game gadgets not really to play the game, but rather to see what the digital clock is like. I think it will make a fun accessory on my desk, and I have to admit I think it would be fun to pick the device up and play a few minutes of Super Mario Bros. while regaining creative mental focus. Nintendo claims an eight-hour battery life (when playing the game — more for clock mode, I presume), and it uses a USB-C charging cable. Price is $49 USD. Now, if only someone made a Game & Watch strap… Visit the Nintendo Game & Watch website here.