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This Is The Portable Mario Fans Have Been Waiting For

The celebration of Super Mario Bros.' 35th anniversary continues. Nintendo has just released a new handheld device that is sure to strike a chord with nostalgic gamers — Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.

Prior to the Game Boy taking off, the Game & Watch line of portables featured some of Nintendo's biggest stars in handheld adventures. Back in 1989, the Legend of Zelda series made its handheld debut on a Game & Watch portable. However, the earlier Game & Watch devices were significantly more primitive than the one that was just released. The new Mario handheld features multiple games and full-color graphics on an LED screen, as opposed to the simplistic fixed images seen on the older Game & Watch's LCD screens.

The new handheld contains the original Super Mario Bros., which fans all know and love. It also includes the original Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2, which was released in North America as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Lastly, it includes a version of the very first Game & Watch title, Ball, complete with LCD-style graphics. The iteration of Ball seen on this handheld device has been re-skinned to feature Mario, but it still functions as a neat nod to Nintendo history.

As noted by The Verge's Andrew Webster, the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. handheld also features save states, which allow players to pick up and put down the game at any time. This is specially helpful when playing through SMB2, a notoriously difficult title. Also, as the "Watch" part of the name implies, the handheld features a Mario-themed clock display. Webster wrote, "The games are all solid ports, and the screen is nice and bright while the handheld has a great D-pad. I've found myself picking up the Game & Watch regularly to sneak in a level or two whenever I have a few spare minutes."

Polygon's Chris Plante wasn't quite as wild about how the system itself played, but he did comment on its importance as a collector's item. Plante wrote, "The Game & Watch is a throwback to a 40-year-old toy and a 35-year-old game, made for a specific but crucial audience: the fans who have been foundational to Mario and Nintendo's decades of success." In other words, the release of this all-new Game & Watch is something of a love letter to Nintendo's fans, and a perfect way to cap off the year-long anniversary celebration Super Mario Bros.

Speaking of which, Nintendo's original plans for the anniversary celebration were much grander, but had to be scaled back in light of the outbreak of COVID-19. Even so, this year has brought some exciting surprises for fans of the Super Mario Bros. franchise, including a battle royale game titled Super Mario Bros. 35. and the somewhat-controversial release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars.