The Japanese company Nintendo has been around for more than a century and in its history has dealt with everything - they produced, among other things, instant rice and had a taxi service. But since the 1970s, they have recognized their opportunity in the entertainment industry, more specifically in the world of video games. Together with Mitsubishi, they made their first home console Color TV-Game 6, and after that, they started creating a portable gaming device.
Nintendo toy designer Gunpei Yokoi once saw a man on a train playing with an LCD calculator out of boredom, and the idea of a device that would serve as a watch, but would also be a device that could shorten time through entertainment, came to him. Thus, in 1980, Game & Watch was created, a portable device with a 4-bit processor and a small LCD screen, which worked with small LR4x / SR4x batteries.
Game & Watch was conceived as a device on which one game was played, exclusively in single-player performance. The first such game was Ball and it appeared on this day 41 years ago. There were two game modes. In the first mode, the player throws two balls in the air and must use the left and right keys to catch the balls so that they do not fall to the floor. In case the ball falls while juggling, the game is over. In the second mode, the principle of gameplay was the same, but juggling three balls at a time.
Game & Watch: Ball was part of the first Silver series of devices. Later, different and more advanced devices followed, with other games. Each device had its own game, and a total of 60 models were produced. Among the more popular games were Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and others. Interestingly, for Game & Watch: Donkey Kong in 1982, a D-pad control system was first developed, which is still used today.
The Game & Watch series was a great success for Nintendo and, with 43 million units sold, laid the groundwork for other portable consoles. Based on the Game & Watch series, we got a control system that was later adapted for the NES console, and the two-screen G&W models were the forerunners of the Nintendo DS console.
Games from the Game & Watch series have ended up on other consoles, and on the occasion of Super Mario's 35th birthday, Nintendo launched a redesigned Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. in 2020, with a color screen and classic D-Pad controls. Unlike the original Game & Watch, which ran only one game, this one came with three games, one of which was a tribute to Ball, with the juggler in that version being Mario.