You would think the Nintendo Switch is lagging behind on the console wars, and you would be wrong. Doing their own thing, once again, the Japanese gaming company released the Nintendo Game&Watch handheld console.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5 are built around high-resolution gaming, ray-tracing, speedy load times, and high frame rates. The Series S is but a budget version of the new-gen consoles that retains most of its qualities.
Meanwhile, Nintendo quietly released a clock that runs Super Mario Bros. As if the company was saying they do things very, very differently.
The Nintendo Game&Watch premiered on November 13. It marks the 35th Super Mario Anniversary. The product is suffering from stock. Otherwise, it sells for about $40 – $60. Here’s an Amazon listing – the item already has over 80 qualifications, only three days after launch:
We’re overviewing the state of gaming and why we think Nintendo is right: underpowered consoles with quality games are better than maximum power with filler titles.
We covered the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 in detail during the launch weeks. Check the first impressions of both consoles if you’re unsure on what to buy:
Nintendo Game&Watch portable console
Nintendo’s new take on casual gaming is a watch. It’s cute hardware you can fit on your writs and looks like the original Game&Watch handheld console.
If you don’t know, the original model is also the original Game Boy, and the Game Boy is the third best-selling console of all time (Statista). Also, it has a color scheme that follows the Japanese classic Famicom console.
What can it do? You ask. Well, it’s a simple device. It comes with three built-in games, and there’s no way to install additional titles.
What games does it carry?
These games are the first Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Ball -a version of the 1980 juggling game with Mario as the star.
You’ve probably never played Super Mario Bros. 2 because it never was trendy.
Some countries know it as “The Lost Levels,” and others know it as “The Impostor Game.”
That’s because it’s an evil sequel that remixes the first game with super-difficult features. Some of those include killer mushrooms and extra-hard jumping action-set pieces.
Either way, here’s the original trailer for the Game&Watch console. It details the liquid crystal LCD of the device, plus its limited production status:
How does the Nintendo Game&Watch works?
Nintendo has released, re-released, re-imagined, re-created, and anything re-related with Mario games repeatedly.
There’s nothing wrong with that, though. After all, Mario is Nintendo’s property, and they’ve delivered some fantastic games during their run.
For example, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a 2020 best-seller title.
That said, the Game&Watch carries reliable ports of the classic titles. They look crispy, and you can play them on a traditional D-pad.
There’s nothing else to it, really. The lack of fireworks is nice, though, when every tech company tries to sell unrealistic 8K gaming hardware.
Other than games, the G&W device is being a watch. It has a “Time” button that switches between the games and the clock display. And it always displays time with Mario graphics:
Also, the in-game time changes along with real-life timing. So, for example, you could be running the Mushroom Kingdom at night.
It’s still a handheld console, though, and so it comes with a Nintendo AC adapter plus a USB cable. It takes 3 hours to charge and delivers about 8 hours of playtime. Here’s the official info about the Nintendo Game&Watch battery.
You can’t hang this on the wall or anything. It’s also about the size of your hands so that you can take it anywhere easily. So, it would be like…” hey, what’s the time,” and you would take the device out, and say, “it’s 3 pm…do you want to play Mario?
Here’s a deep-dive clip by Nintendo:
Who is this for?
At this point, Nintendo is just showcasing their creativity. As I said at the beginning, the Japanese gaming company does its own thing.
I would say the new Game&Watch is a novelty item, a collector’s thing. There’re many ways to play Super Mario Bros; some of them are free -like ROM sites. What I mean is, there’s never been a shortage of Super Mario titles.
If you’re a traditional gamer, though, you might feel inclined to the handheld device. That’s because Nintendo is selling to the same kind of public that’s buying the new trend of miniature consoles.
I think it’s Nintendo’s way to share their plans for the future. They will not compete against Microsoft or Sony in terms of graphical prowess, steady frame rates, ray-tracing, or 4K resolution. They have their own way to do gaming, and they even have a whole advertising campaing around that – My Way:
The current state of Nintendo
The Nintendo Switch has been the best-selling console in the USA for 21 months straight. It’s also amongst the best-selling consoles of all time, with over 63 million units sold (Statista).
They have no plans to release a “next-gen console” other than a Nintendo Switch 4K update. Apparently, it won’t be a handheld device, but it will pack all of those properties you would only find on Nintendo.
Still, that’s just a rumor. As far as we know, and from what we’ve seen, Nintendo doesn’t share the notion, every other gaming company seems to have. And the truth is, they are right: graphics don’t make a significant difference in video-games.
Here’s a graphic comparison:
Consider this: FullHD is the most common resolution for TVs worldwide. Is the second one 4K? No, it’s not; the most common TV resolution is even more modest, 720p. We’re talking about 21% each, according to Stat Counter.
According to recent Steam numbers, the main resolution of their users is 1920x1080p as well. 65.67% of Steam users have a 1080p monitor screen, while 4K is only 2.3% of Steam gamers.
So, why on Earth CPU, GPU, and console manufacturers are pushing 4K? It just seems like a 3%-of-the-population kind of thing.
General consumers don’t even care about graphics that much. If that were the case, Animal Crossing: New Horizons wouldn’t be a best selling 2020 title -only behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Pros don’t care about graphics at all, as higher graphics and resolutions push down frame rates.
So, as far as Nintendo has the momentum and continues to outsell the PlayStation and the Xbox, they can do things their way. That might all change, though, with the release of the newer-gen consoles.
Not every game reaches the Switch, though. More importantly, some newer, third-party titles won’t perform smoothly, or pretty, on the Switch console. When they do run well, though, you don’t even need a TV to play.
Check our latest gaming news:
Nintendo is, quietly, the most successful gaming company of 2019-2020. Video-game journalist, streamers, and fans continuously disregard Nintendo as if 4K gaming was the bar to measure everything.
However, I just proved to you that 4K is a technology most people are not using.
The company follows a simple philosophy, and it has yielded results. Their idea says modest consoles give great gaming experiences so long the games are worth it. The Nintendo Game&Watch is a follow-up of such a strategy.
Moreover, the game’s graphics, resolution, or frame rates are not the defining factor. Instead, what matters is the unique gameplay, the artistic style, the plot, and, most of all, the fun.
Maybe one day they will release a 4K Switch, but it looks like no amount of “next-gen” features intimidates the Japanese company.
There’s a trade-off to all this, though. Third-party games don’t get the same support or performance as Nintendo exclusives on the Switch.
Either way, what’s your take on this? Do you own a Switch? Do you think Nintendo has the right ideas? Moreover, what do you think of 4K gaming as a whole? Let me know in the comments below. If anything, if you liked what you just read, show us some support by sharing the article on your social media!