Nintendo Game & Watch Zelda review: The best modern Game & Watch yet | Games | Entertainment
Last year, the House of Mario brought back the iconic Game & Watch line to help celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary, but with a modern twist. This new take on the influential ’80s handhelds created by Game Boy designer Gunpei Yokoi retained one of the simplistic – yet hugely addictive – monochrome games seen on the original Game & Watch line, but added Super Mario Bros and lost levels, which were playable in color, plus a lovely digital clock screen. And following that initial effort to bring Game & Watch to a new generation, Nintendo is back with a Zelda Edition, released this year to mark the time hero’s 35th anniversary.
The Zelda Game & Watch has more games than the Mario Edition, with four games instead of three – The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Classic Game & Watch Vermin.
The latter is particularly enjoyable to play, with this old school Game & Watch title putting players in the shoes of Link in a whack-a-mole style game, which ramps up over time.
Like the best Game & Watch games, it features simplistic gameplay that is extremely addictive and easy to pick up and play.
For me, having grown up playing Game & Watch handhelds, these kinds of games are what make the Game & Watch line special – and I’d much rather see a Game & Watch handheld come out with a few classic games in black and white, as opposed to a single plus a few more modern color schemes.
However, that’s not the route Nintendo has taken to take these modern Game & Watch devices.
I can see why, because classic NES and Game Boy games may be an easier sell to a modern audience that doesn’t have the same nostalgia for the original Game & Watch line.
But this path has its drawbacks. As with the Mario Game & Watch, the gadget’s small screen makes it harder to play some games than others.
This is particularly the case for the two NES games included with the Zelda Game & Watch, which are not really comfortable to play for long sessions.
The good news is that The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening – originally released for the Game Boy – fits perfectly into the small form factor of the new Game & Watch.
This Game Boy classic is an absolute dream to play on the Zelda Game & Watch, and if you’ve never played it before – and are looking for a way to experience Link’s memorable adventure on Koholint Island – then this is a great way to play that these days.
And given that you can’t currently download the original Link’s Awakening from the Nintendo eShop, that could make the Zelda Game & Watch an essential purchase for you.
If you’re planning on getting the Zelda Game & Watch, the mileage you’ll get will really depend on what you plan to get it for.
If you’re looking to play the original NES Zelda games for the first time, there are undoubtedly far better ways to experience these 8-bit adventures.
But if you want something lovely to display as an ode to retro gaming, or if you want to play Link’s Awakening or experience an addictive pick up and play game like Vermin, then the Game & Watch is an ideal purchase.
VERDICT: 3.5 / 5