Game & Watch Gallery
3DS Virtual Console | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | $2.99 / £2.70
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24th April 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Game & Watch Gallery features a total of four different games, each with Classic and Modern versions, along with both Easy and Hard difficulty settings. The Modern re-creations usually pick up much faster than the originals do, but there are some universal rules that govern both versions. Changes in flow occur at regular intervals across all four games, while a faster tempo in the background music will relay feelings of anxiety as the risk of you losing your cool becomes that much greater. These can include an increased number of elements (like at the 20 mark) or a gradual increase in speed (50) as you make your way up to the 100 mark. Once this number has been reached, the speed will go down temporarily as you deal with the cycle of building circumstances again and again until you use up all your misses.
So, then, what are the four games on offer and how do each of them perform? First on the list is Manhole, a game where you must man four different manhole covers as pedestrians walk along the platforms under the expectation that the path is perfectly safe. The concept might seem a bit thin, but once you get into it, it can create some adrenaline. The Modern version can be considered a good improvement on the original for it doesn't drag it out as much and gets to the impending rapidity a lot quicker. Besides that, seeing Toad cry as he falls into the water is pretty amusing in itself. With all that said, now there's little point in getting Game & Watch: Manhole (also available on the eShop as a DSiWare title) since you'll effectively be getting less content than you would if you purchased Gallery. That slight digression aside, Manhole is somewhat addicting as it is and the Modern re-creation makes it an even more inviting experience.
Fire, the second game on the list, involves taking control of a two-man rescue team and using a trampoline to bounce survivors to the ambulance on the right. Despite the fact that this is clearly not their area of expertise, Mario and Luigi demonstrate a willing spirit by helping with the continuous flow of Yoshis, Baby DKs, and Toads jumping from a building up above. An act of desperation, yes, but don't worry. It's not because they’re fed up of being used and pushed around. Yoshi Eggs will also be chucked out of the castle window, which will reveal either Stars or Bob-ombs after they make initial contact with the trampoline. You can cash in the former for a bonus, but you must allow the latter item to fall to the ground to avoid incurring a penalty. These items are optional and not worth having a survivor injure themselves for.
Each character has their own rate of decline that needs to be considered, and when you could be dealing with 10 characters tumbling in the air simultaneously, great concentration is expected of players as you move further and further away from the 100-Point mark. In the Classic version, all characters fall at the same speed, but they can leap out at different starting positions on the building to throw you off. So even then, you'll still need to focus. For the very quick movements that are often required at these times, I found the A and B Buttons to afford the best amount of control and reliability in terms of being able to move from one end to the other on a dime. Plus, this means you could easily place the system on a flat surface and play that way. Overall, Fire is yet another game that becomes really enjoyable the faster it gets.
This next one was originally my least favourite one, but grew on me a lot. Octopus sees Mario donning a scuba suit (which actually makes him look like a totally different person) and recovering treasure guarded by four of the creature's six arms. His purpose in doing so is to please his ever-loving partner, Peach, who is apparently never satisfied despite having hunks of treasure handed to her as she rests in the safety of a boat. Even when Mario is in danger, she fails to show any kind of emotion. It would've really sealed the deal if she took the money and ran...err, drove away. While you're down there, you can continuously add treasure to the same bag, making it a lot harder to escape but potentially providing a major score increase.
Aside from not having a partner to keep an eye on the loot, the Classic version of Octopus is pretty much the same. Also exclusive to the Modern version is the ability to throw the bags of treasure at the creature's legs, allowing you an opportunity to escape whenever you find yourself cornered by multiple tentacles. The Modern version is very clearly superior to the original, but as a whole, Octopus is a surprisingly fun inclusion to the package.
Oil Panic is the most strategic-focused of all the games included in Gallery. You control Mario with two buckets in hand, trying to collect oil that Bowser drips from the roof of the castle down to the room below. At least, that's how things are set up in the Modern version. Pressing A or B will cause Mario to spin and change the positions of the jars, and this comes in handy when you have one bucket on the outside and one on the inside. Yoshi will be running back and forth along the first storey of the castle, while Luigi and Baby DK are sitting innocently and collecting their thoughts on a seemingly carefree day -- you know, in spite of the fact that Bowser is causing a ruckus a few inches away. Mario can hold up to three units at a time before he needs to chuck the oil out the window. To avoid spilling it onto your friends, you'll have to do it once Yoshi stops along the left and right edges of the storey below. One of the unique aspects to this game is the fact that you're given multiple allowances to work with. You can make three misses for causing an internal fire, and another three for dumping oil on your oblivious comrades. Also, if you're a little off as you chuck a bucket of oil out the window, Yoshi can use his tongue to make up for your lack of perfect accuracy. With nice progressive music giving players something to hum along to all the while, Oil Panic can be quite enjoyable in short bursts.
In the Classic version of this game, Game & Watch will find himself at a gas station, collecting oil from a leaky roof to throw down to a partner down below who's carrying a tin bucket. Once again, two innocent bystanders are down below, presumably stressed-out workers pumping gas into their cars. I say stressed-out because their reactions when you spill oil on them are pretty comical -- the girl, especially, who jumps into the air screaming at you for soiling her gown. Despite not having an actual background track, the sounds coming from the oil actually sound like they're making music which is kind of nice. I found the original to be a bit slower by comparison, but nevertheless it's still fun from time to time.
Each of the included games also have their own sets of tricks to keep in mind. For example, in Octopus, you'll receive a clue that it's time to move away from the treasure chest when the octopus' eye starts to blink. And in Manhole, pressing the A Button will allow you to move diagonally faster than moving twice with your Pad of choice. Also worth keeping in mind is that after meeting certain conditions, you'll get a chance to erase one of your misses mid-game, so that's something you'll want to watch out for as well. In Fire, for example, Peach will come into view on the left side of the screen and blow a kiss (or a heart) that you must catch in order to benefit from the effects.
None of these activities are really meant to be played back-to-back continuously over a 30-minute session, partly because you'll find sweaty fingers getting in the way of impressive score runs. However, each of these games still have their own level of merit to them, and to see tangibly how the Modern versions improve on the basics of the original games makes you appreciate Gallery that much more. Even if you don't start out as a big fan of one game in particular, you'll be surprised at how quickly it can grow in on you.
Though there isn't anything in the way of actual achievements to reward progress, players will feel motivated to beat their high scores. A table of rankings would have been better to allow room for bragging rights amongst friends, yet the engaging gameplay makes Gallery an easy choice for someone looking to put a few minutes into a mostly satisfying experience. Anyone feeling confident can actually strive to reach at least 200 Points in each game on the difficulty of your choosing. Stars off to the left and right of the Game Select menu are used to recognize your accomplishments, and give you motivation to aim for the maximum of five stars (or 1,000 Points).
With the addicting nature of most of the games on offer, Game & Watch Gallery is very replayable and you can easily get a lot out of the game for the extremely reasonable price tag it's listed at. To show just how far the Game & Watch series has come, the unlockable Gallery Corner area provides briefings on different titles released around the 1980's and what the objective was in each release. It's a nice little throwback bonus that serves more of an educational purpose than anything else.
Game & Watch Gallery is, all in all, a very robust package despite its seemingly limited substance. It's a great meeting together of old school gaming and simple, yet addicting experiences that make use of strategy, reflexes and great concentration in one portable package. Whether young or old, avid gamer or occasional user, this is one Game Boy title you'll definitely want to pick up on the Nintendo eShop.
26/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Fairly simple games that are engaging and lots of fun to play, often picks up at balanced intervals, great improvements on the originals
Presentation 8/10 - Modern versions add more charm and personality where the originals sometimes lacked, fun music that suits the overall atmosphere
Enjoyment 5/5 - Individual games grow on you a lot if you don't already find them addicting right away, included elements sometimes add a degree of depth
Extra Content 5/5 - Very replayable, lots of motivation to keep playing, medals mark accomplishments, Gallery Corner, practically a steal for the price
Equivalent to a score of 87% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System