Sophisticated Gamer

Game & Watch Super Mario Bros. puts '80s retro glam in your pocket

You might not get one for yourself, but you'd sure love to have one.

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Anyone who even kinda likes video games loves Mario. That's not hyperbole, that's just plain old facts talking. So if you're looking for something a little more clever than a gift card for the game-liker on your holiday wish list in the coming weeks, Nintendo has something rather unique prepared.

It's a retro-styled handheld gaming device called the Game & Watch, a reboot of single-game hardware that first dropped in 1980.


What's great about Game & Watch Super Mario Bros.

  • Red and gold '80s aesthetic
  • Classic Mario platforming
  • Cutest dang clock you'll ever own

The Game & Watch handheld retails for $49.99 and comes with two NES-era Mario games: Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. And don't worry, Luigi's invited to the pocket party, too — you can pass off the unit to a second player. It also includes a Mario-themed riff on the classic Game & Watch juggling game, as well as a digital alarm clock. If you've ever wanted the smile of Nintendo's iconic plumber to be the very first thing to greet your foggy eyes in the morning — and really, who doesn't — now's your chance!

But I have a Nintendo Switch already, you may be thinking. Well, even the Switch Lite is a bit of a chungus as far as handhelds go. You definitely couldn't get away with bringing one to Thanksgiving dinner and sneaking off for a breather once the inevitable election chat starts. But you could do that with the Game & Watch. Heck, you could slip this wee bad boy into your fanciest seeing-people purse. Think of it like mommy's little helper — but its-a Maaario!

You know you want one of these. Even the flippin' box is cute.


What's not-so-great about Game & Watch Super Mario Bros.

  • Small selection of games
  • It's pretty pricey
  • Limited availability

Fine. Nobody truly needs a Game & Watch. Most of its future owners will probably have several other ways to enjoy playing classic Mario games, at home or on the go. But as with most things Nintendo makes, the design is almost painfully cute. If you saw someone bust this out on the subway, you would look at it, and then you would covet it. To see it is to want it. The impracticality is an essential component of its charm.

Like many of Nintendo's recent retro offerings, such as the plug-and-play NES and SNES mini consoles, Game & Watch Super Mario Bros. is a limited-run product. Once it's gone, its-a gone. This means if you're a die-hard Nintendo collector — or you're shopping for one — you might have to turn to the internet shopping equivalent of Mos Eisley spaceport, the wretched hive of scum and villainy known as Ebay.

Game & Watch Super Mario Bros. is the perfect little indulgence. It's the type of thing you might not buy for yourself, but would sure love to have. You know that little twinge of selfish regret when you give someone a gift you'd kind of like to keep? This fun little handheld has that in spades.

The handheld releases November 13. You can pre-order one here.

Sophisticated Gamer is a series all about elevated gaming accessories you won't be embarrassed to show to your Tinder date. We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too.

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