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Nintendo Game & Watch

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In the early 1980s, Nintendo asked Gunpei Yokoi to create a new toy for the company. He came up with the Game & Watch handhelds - small pocket-sized LCD games. As the name suggests, the Game Watch also features a clock (which also includes an alarm).

Approximately 59 Game & Watch handhelds were released between 1980 and 1991, many of which folded in half to protect the LCD screen. Some of these (such as Zelda) also featured double LCD screens. Many popular titles made their way to the Game & Watch series including Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Zelda and Mickey Mouse.

During its creation, Yokoi also patented the Directional pad (which he called the "control cross") that Nintendo have used ever since on their game system controllers, providing very accurate movement. It would have been difficult to incorporate a joystick on such a small unit.

Soon after the first wave of Game & Watch units were released, other toy companies began getting in on the idea - notably Tiger Electronics with their Star Wars games. Game & Watches were eventually superceded by handheld consoles with interchangeable cartridge games such as the Nintendo GameBoy (also designed by Gunpei Yokoi). Game & Watch units were only capable of playing one game due to the LCD being pre-printed with the characters necessary for that one game. The GameBoy, on the other hand, is able to display many games using a dot matrix display.

Game & Watch games later appeared on GameBoy and GameBoy Color multicarts GameBoy Gallery, featuring original games as well as some modernised versions. In the late 20th century, some new Game & Watch systems were being made by MGA under license from Nintendo and selling for about US $6.99. These were even smaller than the originals. Another notable development in Game & Watch history occurred in 2001 when the previously unnamed character who appeared in many Game & Watch games was given a name - "Mr. Game & Watch" - after his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Nintendo GameCube.

Nintendo Game & Watch Technical Specifications

Platform: Nintendo Game & Watch.

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