It’s probably not surprising that Nintendo’s second newest game and watch system is an absolute pleasure. I was pretty attracted to the Super Mario Bros. games & watches introduced last year, but The Legend of Zelda games & watches are expanding what made it so great in the first place, while retaining all of its original appeal. Masu-and the games included are definitely better than the Super Mario version.
Last year’s Games & Watches included the original Super Mario Brothers and Japan-only Super Mario Brothers 2 (known as Lost Level in the United States), but The Legend of Zelda and Watches Includes three legendary games The Legend of Zelda II for NES, and The Legend of Zelda: Awakening the Link for Gameboy. Nintendo had enough additional games to be able to play either the English or Japanese version of the first two NES Zelda, but the link awakening is available in English, but in French, German, Japanese.
Games & Watches: The Legend of Zelda
The great thing about this inclusion is that the Japanese version of Zelda and Zelda II is different from the version used here in the United States. I was familiar with the differences between the original American and Japanese soundtracks of The Legend of Zelda, but I had never experienced them first hand. In Japan, it was released on the Famicom Disk System. So there was more room for sound, thanks to the audio hardware built into the FDS. It produces a much richer and more synthetic sound than the Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda. Even the little things like the sound of a sword when Link’s mind is at full level are better than the version we got. I’m familiar with the NES The Legend of Zelda, so I might try it in the Japanese version just to experience the difference in what I’m familiar with.
What I didn’t know, and what I’m embarrassed to admit, was that the Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda II also had a different sound than the version I grew up with. When talking to people in a village town, their conversation spills over the entire screen, so there is a video game language created by Beepee Boopy. Playing Zelda II in Japanese isn’t hard to play in English yet, but it’s still very cool and worth checking out longtime fans who haven’t seen any difference.
The little screen that was crazy about last year’s Game & Watch is back and looks great. The colors are rich, lively, and absolutely vivid. There are no slimy stains or other ugliness. It’s just a little beauty. The viewing angle is a bit desirable, as the color will fade slightly in any direction with a difference of only 10 degrees. But it’s not bad enough to be a breaker in trading, especially as I’ve noticed that I’m holding it completely naturally without feeling uncomfortable.
Raising the speakers makes a surprisingly loud sound, but it doesn’t fade or sound quiet. It’s not very fidelity, but it’s better than you’d expect from such a tiny little speaker.
The Legend of Zelda Games & Watch includes a new timer mode that allows you to set the timer in increments of 1 to 10 minutes. When the counter goes down, Link fights the Zelda II enemies on the screen to the end, at which point he raises his hand and the triforce that makes up the number of timers flows into his hand. If you feel like it, you can press the face button and fight the enemy yourself. There is a small counter on the screen that allows you to track the number of enemies you have defeated during the timer. Basically, Nintendo has turned the countdown timer into a game.
The watch part of the game & watch is as attractive as Mario’s. Link fights enemies in the NES world. If you like it, you can rule him as well and fight them on your own. Press and hold the “A” button for 5 seconds to play Zelda’s reward music, giving you the full Zelda soundtrack and sound effects instead of the digital “tick” sound. It’s a bit disappointing that we don’t have an Easter egg like last year’s “Mario Drawing Song,” but since it’s just coming out, I’m sure someone will discover the surprise hidden inside before the end of the day.
Included with the three Zelda games is the fast and fun game & watch game Birming. This has swapped the heads of the links instead of Games & Watchman. There are two different levels of difficulty, and it’s a reflex game that tries to knock down “pests” as you lift your head from the bottom of the playfield. It’s basically LCD Whac-A-Mole. It’s fun enough, but given the built-in options, it doesn’t play much in the long run.
The Zelda Games & Watch package is just as nice as last year. This year, the box insert will turn into a stand, displaying games and watches. It’s a little use of what most people would otherwise throw away (not me, I’m a weirdo holding all his packages). Two small legs pop out from behind, and gravity sits at an angle sufficient to do hard work. Please note that the Game & Watch space is rather large and will not be locked in place. I’ll only mention this because I was about to have a heart attack when I moved it carelessly and the new review unit I had just sent was about to hit the floor. Thankfully, decades of games have sharpened my reflexes to sharp edges that I could catch right away, but be careful.
With a different color scheme than the Super Mario version, the Zelda Games & Watch form factor is about the same, with a few exceptions. The Zelda version adds a select button and a start button. This is very convenient (required to play the included game). This time there is also a Triforce lit up on the back. This is another cool and a little extra touch on devices that are already flooded with them.