Greetings, fellow retro gaming comrades, and welcome back to The Last Official Release. Within this article and throughout these words, I explore the last official games ever to grace our favourite consoles. A full list of what I’ve already covered can be found at the end of this piece, but today, I’m covering something a bit different: Nintendo’s Game & Watch handheld series.
Released three years before Nintendo’s breakout hit, the Famicom, although seventeen after their ‘love’ hotel chain, Game & Watches were early electronic games for the company which were released between 1980 and 1991. Instead of utilising removable media for different games, each Game & Watch was a single title only. Starting with a game simply named ‘Ball’ (where the player juggles using two buttons – one for each hand) 59 different handhelds would see daylight until its eventual discontinuation. As well as the game its self, each unit also included a handy clock and/or alarm.
The series creator, Gunpei Yokoi (who went on to design the Game Boy) famously came up with the concept while watching a bored businessman playing with a pocket calculator while waiting for a train (who was no doubt typing profanities). The series went on to become a bit of a pop-culture phenomenon, and the multi-screen variants even inspired the design for the DS.
Fittingly enough, the final game was based around juggling too – just like its much older sibling. Released on the 14th of October, 1991, Mario the Juggler has you (shockingly) playing as the plumber himself as he juggles a bomb, a star and a heart. I couldn’t think of a more stressful combination. The longer you juggle this fearsome combination, the more points you’ll earn. Drop three items, however, and it will be game over. Here’s a video of it in action:
Although various Game & Watch titles have been re-released over the years from collections on the Game Boy to downloadable DSiWare versions, to the best of my knowledge, Mario the Juggler remains in its 1991 handheld form only. You can purchase Mario the Juggler if you chose – but choose wisely. While most Game & Watches go for a hefty sum these days, the final release goes for an especially hefty dollar amount. As of publishing, I saw prices on eBay ranging from $400-$700… loose. If you’re instead after something more complete, an enterprising fellow in France is currently trying to flog one for 15,000 Euros. Condition: “Comme Neuf”
I doubt many of us are willing to put down a month’s rent to experience Mario juggling, but it was an interesting choice of game for the final hurrah none-the-less. To begin and end a decade-long series with juggling is something developers should seriously consider more often.
Previously, on The Last Official Release:
PS1 – Schnappi: 3 Fun-Games
N64 – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
Game Gear – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
NES – The Lion King
Atari 2600 – Klax
Game Boy – Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji/Keisan no Tatsujin
Dreamcast – Karous