With 2021 heralding 35 years of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo has a full roster of games and events lined up to celebrate the landmark occasion. At the E3 2021 Nintendo Direct presentation, one of the most interesting and anticipated revelations is the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda retro handheld product.
How similar is it to last year's Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. limited edition handheld? What's the price and when is it coming out? Find out everything revealed so far about this retro-cool Nintendo gaming gadget!
Not the First Legend of Zelda for the Game & Watch
The Game & Watch line of handheld devices were a huge part of Nintendo’s early success in the video game industry. Debuting in 1980, there were literally millions of these LCD gaming units sold. Each Game & Watch unit had a different game.
An interesting anecdotal fact is that this is not the first time a Legend of Zelda game has been produced as a Game & Watch product. Simply titled Zelda, the Game & Watch game (model number ZL-65) was designed by Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo’s famous R&D1 studio. It is a dual-screen stand-alone game, chronicling a non-canon adventure with Link . The look of the LCD characters was inspired by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, with a side scrolling format.
But that is only one part of the game. After completing the lower half screen which involves defeating Moblins and other enemies, the action shifts to the upper screen. Here, the gameplay is more like a dungeon crawler, with Link battling a dragon while dodging its flame breath and tail attacks. Once the dragon is defeated, the game ends and restarts to the lower half screen, but the enemies and actions speed up until all Triforce pieces are collected from defeating the 8 dragons. This pattern continues endlessly, though the high score is recorded.
This Zelda Game & Watch version was created at the tail end of the product line before the focus became the Game Boy. However, it was remade in 1998 as a keychain Mini-Classics by Toymax Inc. and as a hidden bonus in Game & Watch Gallery 4 for the Gameboy Advance in 2002.
The Legend of Zelda Game & Watch Details
Based on the details revealed in E3 2021 Nintendo Direct presentation, the Game & Watch: Legend of Zelda has a few similarities with the previous limited edition Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. from 2020 in terms of design and game inclusion. It will look and feel like the old Game & Watch from the past, but it will have significantly modern technology.
The gadget itself will have a green and gold color scheme that is reminiscent of the classic gold cartridge Legend of Zelda for the NES. One significant difference concerning the gadget’s buttons is the addition of Select and Start buttons. The device will have an internal battery and has a USB charger. Although not shown, it will more than likely have save spaces for game progress.
Moreover, the handheld will be packing more than just one game from the franchise. Where the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. included the first Super Mario Bros., the Lost Levels (i.e. the North American version of the Japan only Super Mario Bros. 2), and Ball, this time the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda will include the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The first two games were for the Famicom and NES while the third game is from the Nintendo Gameboy. And yes, the device will have both the Japanese and the English versions, so you can choose which mode you prefer.
Aside from these games, the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda will also have a unique feature for its more mundane function. The Game & Watch was originally a clock doubling as a gaming handheld. This new one will pay homage to that role, but add a fun twist. It will have both a digital clock and a timer mode, and also scenes of Link and maps from the games. You can interact with these screens as well, allowing you to fight monsters as the time ticks away.
To add more value, Nintendo is also including the old Game & Watch game title Vermin, which let you whack pests with hammers. But instead of Mr. Game & Watch as the character, you use a version of Link instead.
Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda limited-edition device is currently available for preorder through Nintendo stores and retail outlets such as Best Buy and GameStop. The device is priced at $49.99 U.S. It will have a worldwide release on November 12, 2021.