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Handheld video games console - Game & Watch Multi Screen

Game & Watch Multi Screen

  • Object:

    Handheld video games console

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (manufactured)

  • Date:

    14/03/1983 (released)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nintendo (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Injection-moulded ABS; other plastics and metals; printed paper

  • Museum number:

    B.612:1 to 5-2016

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

'Game & Watch' consoles were a long-running series of games produced by Nintendo between 1980 and 1991. The original idea supposedly came from one of Nintendo's designers observation of a commuter fiddling with a pocket calculator whilst on a train. The 'Multi Screen' version of 'Game and Watch' introduced a second screen and a clamshell design, enabling games to take place across two scenes. This particular example was the first appearance of Mario in a handheld format. In it, Mario and his younger brother Luigi are working in a bottling plant, loading cases onto conveyor belts which travel in alternate directions, with the ultimate aim for them to be loaded onto a lorry. Dropping cases makes the foreman angry, if three are dropped then the game is over. Mario works on one screen, Luigi the other, the cases passing between their ends of the conveyor as they work their way up and down the ladders.

Physical description

Handheld video game, with original box, packaging and instructions. The console is made from plum-coloured ABS plastic, it has a clamshell-style opening on a hinge along its spine, it closes with an integral clasp. Its top is inset with a shiny metal plate, printed with an image of Mario and Luigi carrying a logo which says 'MARIO BROS'. On the reverse is moulded product information, and near the bottom is a small compartment for the batteries. When it is opened there are revealed two rectangular LCD screens, each printed with yellow conveyor belts, red scaffolding and dark grey ladders. The right-hand screen also has a blue window, red door and a yellow machine; the left-hand a red door and a blue 'EXIT' sign. Below the screens are a series of controls. These are marked (from left to right): LUIGI, ACL (time), ALARM, GAME A, GAME B, TIME, MARIO. The Mario and Luigi buttons would cause the characters to move up and down the on-screen ladders.

With the console is an instruction manual of printed paper. It gives information about the console's features and how to play the game. There is also a pink paper warning leaflet, advising users not to tamper with the console. The printed card box shows an artist's image of the game being played, and the same graphic of Mario and Luigi as appears on the front of the console itself. On the reverse are images of five other Game & Watch Multi Screen titles then available: Oil Panic, Green House, Donkey Kong, Mickey & Donald, Donkey Kong II.

Place of Origin

Japan (manufactured)

Date

14/03/1983 (released)

Artist/maker

Nintendo (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Injection-moulded ABS; other plastics and metals; printed paper

Dimensions

Length: 9.5 cm console, Width: 8.8 cm closed, Thickness: 2.6 cm closed, Width: 17 cm open, Thickness: 1.3 cm open

Object history note

Purchased in 2016 [2017/120].

Historical context note

Nintendo is among the world’s largest video games companies, originally founded in 1889 in Kyoto, Japan, as a manufacturer of hanafuda playing cards. Nintendo entered the electronic toy industry in 1966, producing a series of early light gun games, but not to great success. In 1974, they were able to secure the contract to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey home video games console in Japan, which marked their first entry into this market. Nintendo began to produce arcade games from 1975, although the company’s fortune was truly made in 1981 with the release of the Donkey Kong in 1981, the title character being designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, who also designed Nintendo’s signature character Mario (an early version of whom appeared in Donkey Kong as ‘Jumpman’).

The previous year, 1980, had seen the release of Nintendo’s first Game & Watch handheld console. The idea of simple handheld game supposedly sprung from Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi’s observation of a commuter fiddling with an LCD calculator whilst on a train. The Game & Watch series spanned several versions throughout the 1980s, until superseded in 1989 by the Game Boy. Many titles were released across the different versions, although the games were not interchangeable between them: each had a single, inbuilt game.

Descriptive line

Handheld video game, 'Game & Watch Multi Screen' with inbuilt 'Mario Bros' game; Nintendo, Japan, 1983

Production Note

This was the second Game & Watch game to star Mario after Donkey Kong was released in June 1982 (see B.393-2012).

Materials

ABS; Paper

Techniques

Injection moulding; Printing

Subjects depicted

Plumbers

Categories

Digital play; Product design

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Museum of Childhood

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