Ball also, though incredibly simple by today’s standards, remains a fun way to spend a few minutes chasing high scores. Boasting two game modes where you must see how many tosses you can manage between either two or three balls, Ball was last seen via a Club Nintendo re-release to celebrate Game & Watch’s 30th anniversary some years back, so it’s nice to see it back in a nicer package. What’s more, while Nintendo could have easily presented it with a new graphical style and called it a day, this version of Ball faithfully replicates the traditional green/black LCD look.
A lot of love has gone into making Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. the ultimate celebration of Mario, and you needn’t look further than how the digital clock function has been integrated. Accessed via its own dedicated button in between the Pause and Game Select options, it’s here where you can enjoy a series of color vignettes that change based on the time of the day. Sometimes you might see Mario run, witness him dodge various disasters, all as the scenery changes with every additional button press. The digital clock is full of hidden secrets and easter Eggs like this. It’s clearly the area where Nintendo’s designers were given the license to experiment and have fun.
From a pure aesthetic standpoint the new unit looks incredibly slick, recreating the basic shape and design of the original Game & Watch: Ball handheld only now with a golden brushed metal face plate bordered by a red plastic chassis (reminiscent of the Japanese Famicon). The face buttons used to switch between games and access the clock feel satisfying for the most part, as do the main A and B buttons. The D-pad is the absolute standout, though, utilizing a single piece of plastic that is responsive and easily trumps the broken out directional buttons featured on the Switch. Nintendo purists will want to play Super Mario Bros. here instead of the hybrid console.
My hands aren’t the smallest so I was initially quite fearful as to how comfortable holding the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. would be during long play sessions. On an average 3.5-hour charge via USB-C cable, the handheld has around 8 hours of battery life, so I was prepared for my palms to ache while testing. During my time with it, however, I tested the unit’s comfort in two four-hour bursts and never once had an issue. Also, at the highest brightness level it just about manages to last as long as stated. Veteran players are likely to finish Super Mario Bros. well before the battery runs out and commuters can rest easy knowing that 8 hours on a full charge is more than enough.
All three games also sound great thanks to a booming mono speaker built into the upper left-side corner of the handheld. Admittedly, that famous chip-tune theme only coming out of one side was a little distracting at first, but it’s loud enough that I eventually got used to it. If you were a Nintendo fanatic hoping to play through Super Mario Bros. or The Lost Levels using headphones, though, you’ll be disappointed. True to tradition, the unit doesn’t feature a 3.5mm jack input.