Arcade Era Game & Watch Games

So, Expanded Arcade Era Game & Watch Releases.

Our journey begins in June of 1982 with the release of Donkey Kong, and duel screen Game & Watch title.

It's a basic retooling of the classic 25M Barrels stage that opens the original Arcade title, with a few key differences. There are low-hanging girders that can block Mario's ability to jump, meaning he has to pay attention to barrel placement to make sure he can dodge them. Mario must also pull a lever to activate a crane, which he can then use to hoist himself up and loose one of the cables holding up the girder Donkey Kong is standing upon. The concept of a crane-based level would later be played around with as a concept for one of the new levels in D2K, but was ultimately left out in favor of other designs.

As noted in the Pauline post, she was originally called Louise in early marketing of the Game & Watch title, though that didn't carry over to the final product.

It was also the first appearance of Donkey Kong Junior, called at the time "Mini Donkey Kong".

All in all a fun follow-up tot the arcade game with enough differences to warrant its categorization as its own unique title.

Later, in October of 1982, the second DK-family Game & Watch title was released, in the form of Donkey Kong Jr.

This one is a bit less extravagant than its predecessor, featuring only one screen of gameplay. Interestingly, while the manual says it's Mario up there, he's wearing Luigi's colors on the box art! Junior must avoid snapjaws and nitpickers while traversing up to the second floor where he must time a jump to grab a swinging key. He needs four keys to free his papa, after which the scenario repeats.

Not quite as ambitious as the G&W version of DK, but still fun nonetheless.

In December of 1982 (we're still in 82?), Greenhouse was released.

More of a retro-active member of the DK family of games, Greenhouse is widely seen as the predecessor to Donkey Kong 3, introducing the basic concepts of the fumigator and the bugs attacking the greenhouse flowers. In it, proto-Stanley traverses multiple floors of the greenhouse in order to smoke out bugs that are attempting to eat his plants. It's actually closer in gameplay to Donkey Kong 3 than the later Game & Watch Donkey Kong 3 title would be.

Finally progressing into 1983, specifically early March, we come to the release of Donkey Kong II, the only official game to hold that name.

This one is way more ambitious than the DK Jr G&W released the year before, being a multi-screen release that tries to cram all of the original arcade Donkey Kong Jr into one title.

The bottom half of the bottom screen begins with a similar setup to DK Jr, jungle, vines, and snapjaws, but then progress up to Mario's Hideout type setting with girders and sparks. The Top screen emulates the final level of DK Jr, in which Junior must grab keys and take them up chains to undo the locks holding down Donkey Kong while avoiding lots of nitpickers.

It feels much more like a follow-up to the first DK Game & Watch title than DK Jr did.

Moving forward a whole week in March of 1983 brings us to the release of Mario Bros, which bares little resemblance to the Arcade title of the same name, but happens to predate it by a bit.

Multiscreen in a different way than the previous couple, this game opens up like a book, with a left screen and a right screen, one each for Mario and Luigi. The Brothers Mario are working at a bottling plant, and must coordinate to fill crates with bottles and get them to the delivery truck and shipped out without breaking anything.

It's a fun little game that tries my ability to pay attention to two screens at once, though not to the extent that The World Ends With You would decades later.

Next up, in April of 83, is Mario's Cement Factory.

This one has Mario managing the troughs of cement which pour into waiting trucks at a cement mixing site, all without falling to his doom because of the constantly shifting platforms.

It's only one screen this time, but the table-top version of the game was one of the early ones to do color in more than just a "we silk-screened the screen but all the liquid crystal is still black"" sort of way, which was kind of a big deal at the time.

October of 83 shows yet another version of DK Jr for Game & Watch, this time in the form of the Panorama Screen version of the game.

This one is actually unique, and not just a pastiche of the arcade game. Junior must traverse a largely original level layout, grab a key, and rescue DK. However, this time he actually uses the parasol as a power-up (eat it, Kirby! wait...) riding them to float over a pond, and making use of balloons (a DK game first appearance?!) as makeshift platforms to reach his papa.

An awesome game, I really must track down a physical version of this sometime.

November of 83 saw another Panorama release, in the form of Mario's Bombs Away.

I'm convinced that this wasn't actually intended as a Mario title and was just marketed as such due to the character's mustache. Either way, Mario has apparently shipped out to the Vietnam war and is shuttling bombs from one end of a field to another, avoiding enemy troops and trying not to accidentally kill himself.

Yeah. Nintendo doesn't really talk about this one much at all.

It wasn't until August of 1984 that the next DK-family Game & Watch game came out, this time the Micro Vs. System title Donkey Kong 3.

The game had two wired controllers that you pulled out from the snap-case that was the main mini-console so you could play two players, one as DK (Senior's first playable outing!) and the other as Stanley. The gameplay is a bit of a three-tiered reverse tug-of-war, with Mario and DK trying to use fumigators to send bees the other's way. There's also some resources management in that you'll occasionally have to refill your gas canister from the pump.

September of 1984 saw DK Sr's next playable outing (two in two months!) in the form of Donkey Kong Circus.

You play as DK Sr, balanced on a barrel, juggling pineapples between a couple flaming oil barrels, while Mario watches on from the sidelines. The asshole will point and laugh if you fuck up, cruel task-master that he is.

There is some speculation that this game serves as a prequel to the original, as it's been said that the reason DK took off with Pauline was in response to Mario mistreating him as a circus animal.

November 1984 saw the release of the last of the DK family Game & Watch titles, Donkey Kong Hockey, which is coincidentally also the first Nintendo sports spin-off game! (though not the first DK family spin-off appearance, that would be Pinball for the NES months earlier in February of 84)

The game was a one on one hockey match between Donkey Kong and Mario, but was functionally not a whole lot difference from the Game & Watch version of Donkey Kong 3.

Before I move on, I'd just like to give a shout out to the Donkey Kong Game Watch (note the lack of an &), released in 1994 to promote the gameboy Donkey Kong title, it's a fun little LCD game that tries to do some DK'94 stuff to varying degrees of success.

Anyway, moving on...

In February of 1997, Game & Watch Gallery was released for the gameboy. It's a compilation title of a few Game & Watch games, but with a twist; there are also updated "Modern" versions of the games in addition to their "Classic" modes.

Game & Watch Gallery only featured four Modern games, none of which were DK-family games, but Donkey Kong Junior is one of the characters featured in them! He appears in the modern versions of Manhole, Fire, and Oil Panic.

Later in September of 1997, Nintendo released Game & Watch Gallery 2.

Junior only appeared as a character in the modern version of Parachute, while DK Senior appeared as himself in the modern version of Donkey Kong. Notably, he's in his updated look (now with 100% more neck tie!) that he started sporting in the 1994 gameboy Donkey Kong title.

Game & Watch Gallery 3 was released in August of 1999.

The title features modern version of Greenhouse (replacing Stanley with Yoshi), Donkey Kong Jr, and Mario Bros (now in a cake factory instead of a bottling plant), among others.

The final (thus far) Game & Watch Gallery was released in October of 2002 for the GBA.

The game features many Modern takes of DK family G&W games, as well as featuring Jr as a character in some modern versions of others. These titles include Rain Shower, Mario's Cement Factory, Donkey Kong Jr, Donkey Kong 3, Mario Bros, and Donkey Kong.

Most recently, the character of Mr Game & Watch from the Super Smash Bros series has a slew of moves drawn from the abundance of G&W titles, including some that draw inspiration from Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Jr, and Greenhouse.

He also cameod in Donkey Kong Country Returns, toiling away in the back of one of the factory levels.

That more or less brings us up to date.

Again, let me know if I missed anything, and feel free to leave suggestions on what I should write up in the future.