Like a school boy who has a girlâ€™s pencil case, itâ€™s all too easy to take the piss out of Nintendo Europeâ€™s Stars catalogue. But we shouldnâ€™t. Not just because bullying is bad, but because it isnâ€™t a total farce. Recently – well, a few months ago – 1,000 people got free copies of Spectrobes and Age of Kings on DS, while various GameCube games have been given away in the past. Furthermore, American Nintendo fans donâ€™t even have a reward scheme, although they have had some Nintendo-related McDonaldâ€™s Happy Meals in the past. And some Wii-branded goodies at the artery clogging Wendyâ€™s. And those freaky Xbox 360 games at Burger King.
But we digress. Over in Japan, collecting video game memorabilia is a popular pastime, so itâ€™s no surprise that their equivalent of the Stars catalogue – known as Club Nintendo – offers an array of goods ranging from Animal Crossing sticky tape to wearable Mario caps. The most sought after freebies though are two retro-themed DS games: Game & Watch Collection and Tingleâ€™s Balloon Fight. Thanks to the miracle of teleportation (read: a plane) weâ€™ve managed to get hold of a copy of each.
Weâ€™ll type about Tingleâ€™s Balloon Fight first, as thatâ€™s the newest of the two. Itâ€™s a remake of the ancient arcade game, which was also converted to the NES, and stars Tingle, the camp pixie chap from numerous Zelda games. This makes it the second game heâ€™s had all to himself, the first being the brilliantly titled Freshly Picked – Tingleâ€™s Rosy Rupeeland.
The objective hasnâ€™t changed, only now the action is spread over both screens. Tingle has a couple of balloons tied to his chest and by hammering the B button you can make him fly. The idea is to pop the balloons tied to odd looking birdmen without their sharp beaks popping yours. Once theyâ€™ve been popped the birdmen glide down to the ground and have to be knocked for six by crashing into them. Itâ€™s also possible to get them to land in water below so theyâ€™ll be gobbled by a fish.
There are a few hazards too, including lightening bolts, and between levels thereâ€™s a bonus round involving collecting rubies tied to balloons. As you can tell, thereâ€™s an ongoing balloon theme.
Itâ€™s a pretty basic affair – not a shock given its heritage – but there is a side scrolling Balloon Trip mode which is reminiscent of Yoshiâ€™s Touch & Go, and also a gallery where you can see images of Tingleâ€™s ghastly mug. If properly released we wouldnâ€™t want to pay more than a tenner for it, although Shigeru Miyamoto once joked about bringing back Balloon Fight in an interview so itâ€™s possibly more of a personal accomplishment for the designer himself.
What stands out the most about Game & Watch Collection is how authentic it is. Itâ€™s impeccable, really – you can even see the â€˜shadowsâ€™ of the LCD sprites that arenâ€™t lit. Almost fifty Game & Watch LCD handheld were released, but Nintendo have only bought three over: the legendary Donkey Kong, Oil Panic and Green House.
Donkey Kong doesnâ€™t star Mario, but rather JumpMan – last seen as an extra character in Super Smash Bros Melee. All three games have two modes; in Donkey Kong, mode B features additional objects that need to be avoided.
Oil Panic is a tricky beast, requiring a careful eye on both screens. First oil needs to be collected before it falls onto a fire, then it needs to be chucked out of the window so that a chap with a bucket – whoâ€™s constantly moving – can catch it.
Green House has the largest â€˜spritesâ€™ of the trio, and involves spraying bugs before they reach the plants and eat them.
True to the originals, you can even set alarms to wake you up in the morning. A full release with more games could potentially be pretty good, not to mention a nice nostalgic trip.
If you want to get hold of either then eBay and import places like Play-Asia and Yes-Asia are your best bet. Or you could jump on one of those fancy teleporters we mentioned earlier. You can find them in places known as ‘airports’.