Game & Watch (universe)
The Game & Watch universe (ゲーム&ウオッチ, Game & Watch) refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties concerning and modeled off of Nintendo's old Game & Watch series of dedicated handheld gaming devices, released from 1980 to 1991, with re-releases and new installments released on rare occasions afterward. The series popularized handheld electronic entertainment and set the stage for Nintendo's various portable consoles, primarily the Game Boy line. For predating even 1981's Donkey Kong, the Game & Watch series is sometimes labeled a critical forerunner in Nintendo's modern video game business. The Smash Bros. series debuted an original character representing the series as a unique and distinctive "mascot", Mr. Game & Watch, and included him as a playable character in Melee onward.
Even before Nintendo's future as a leading competitor in the video game market was shaped by the breakout video arcade hit that was the original Donkey Kong in 1981, the company had been finding some small success in the video arcade game industry since 1975. During this timeframe, one of Nintendo's first game designers, Gunpei Yokoi, is said to have realized the appeal of a portable device that doubled both as a watch and as a miniature game machine when he watched another passenger riding a Shinkansen bullet train using an LCD calculator as a means of passing the time. As head of Nintendo's "Nintendo Research & Development 1" team, Yokoi developed and released the first entry in what became a long-running line of dedicated handhelds under the Game & Watch name, Ball / Toss-Up, near the end of April 1980. As per the definition of a dedicated console, each Game & Watch device was a handheld with a single built-in game, and what became a long-running series of Game & Watch portables initially displayed very basic monochrome graphics on Liquid-Crystal Display screens. Also, as per the title of the product line, each game doubled as an electronic timepiece. A total of 59 Game & Watch games were developed and released between 1980 and 1991, including some games released after Yokoi's more famous handheld creation, the Game Boy.
The first Game & Watch game became the earliest Nintendo product to garner major success, even before the industry-defining success of Donkey Kong just a year later, and the entire series sold over 43 million copies. The series is credited with making handhelds vastly popular and setting up for Nintendo's future handheld console business with the Game Boy line, as well as inspiring various other toy companies, most notably Tiger Electronics, to create their own dedicated handhelds. The series of dedicated handhelds gradually became more technologically advanced over the years and went through several different models that were designed to deliver some more creative twists to each individual game, including a clam-shell design with two separate screens displaying graphics simultaneously. As many modern retrospectives note, this particular "Multi-Screen" design was a forerunner to Nintendo's modern dual-screened handheld platforms, the DS and the 3DS, and bore a very close resemblance to them.
The Game & Watch products themselves initially depicted cartoon-shaped characters resembling black silhouettes on white backgrounds, but as the series went on, several games within it based on external IPs unrelated to Nintendo, namely Disney's Mickey Mouse and the Popeye and Peanuts comic strips, were released. Starting from 1982, Game & Watch titles also began depicting Mario and Donkey Kong characters as Nintendo's business in video games took hold, and near the end of the series' release history, Balloon Fight and The Legend of Zelda also made incidental releases in handheld Game & Watch form. After the line was retired in 1991, Nintendo began to make occasional references to, and ports of, the Game & Watch brand; in between 1997 and 2002, four installments of a Game Boy / Game Boy Advance series called Game & Watch Gallery were released, each compiling several of the original games and offering them both in their original monochrome appearances and with "remade" versions featuring Mario characters and settings. More famously, a collective representation of the various black-silhouetted characters seen throughout the earlier games, Mr. Game & Watch, debuted as a surprise playable character in 2001's Super Smash Bros. Melee. After the success of Melee, Nintendo put cameos of this character in several other games, such as the WarioWare series, Super Mario Odyssey and Donkey Kong Country Returns. Mr. Game & Watch also reprised his role in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with an important plot relevance in the game's story mode, and has appeared in all Smash Bros. games since then as well.
On September 3, 2020, 29 years after the original Game & Watch series' discontinuation and as part of the celebration of the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. (and to an extent the 40th anniversary of the Game & Watch console series), Nintendo announced Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., a full-color screen Game & Watch system featuring ports of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels as well as a Mario-themed version of Ball. It has a limited release starting November 13, 2020 and lasted until March 31, 2021. In similar fashion, Nintendo announced the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda during E3 2021 as part of the celebration of the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, featuring The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and the Game Boy version of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening along with a Zelda-themed version of Vermin. It is set to release November 12, 2021.
Game & Watch is a franchise first introduced in the Smash series in Melee, featuring one character and one stage.
Melee features one stage-based, quite literally, on the Game & Watch platform.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (Game & Watch series)
Mr. Game & Watch was confirmed to return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the DOJO!! after Brawl was released in North America.
On the final character select screen (after all characters are unlocked), Mr. Game & Watch occupies the ninth column (miscellaneous characters) along with Snake, Sonic, and the random option.
Main article: List of SSBB trophies (Game & Watch series)
Main article: List of stickers (Game & Watch series)
The Game & Watch series gets a slightly larger boost in representation in Smash 4 with Mr. Game & Watch returning as a secret fighter.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Game & Watch series)
The Game and Watch series returns relatively unchanged in Ultimate.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Game & Watch series)
No new Game & Watch arrangements appear in Ultimate.
Main article: List of spirits (Game & Watch series)
Games with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series
Game & Watch series