Oct 122012

It is entirely likely that if today’s average gamer is asked what the best Game and Watch game was, they will stare at you with glazed over eyes as they try to figure out if “Game and Watch” is the name of the new Skrillex album, or if you’ve just completely lost your mind. However, old farts like me will recollect the grandfather of Nintendo’s handheld gaming systems; the little LCD games that Retro Pocket pays homage to with its recent DSiWare/eShop release.

The Good
On the surface, Retro Pocket offers a wide array of options for adventure. You can save people from a burning building, the mouth of a whale, or from thugs throwing beer bottles at their head. You can also catch different things and put them in containers, or rotate drums to fill them with oil. Each game offers both an A and a B version, with the B version being the faster or more difficult version. The core principal behind all these games is the same, whereas they require proper timing of moving the character and pressing a button in order to succeed. As your score gets higher, the game play becomes progressively faster, and if you get hit by an enemy or obstacle and you will loose a life. Though most of the scenarios aren’t entirely original, the principal behind each mini-game’s gameplay holds true to the Game and Watch formula it is attempting to tip its hat to.

Visually, Retro Pocket is spot-on. You can see the little ghosted images of characters and items on screen, so you can get a good idea of paths you should take or avoid. There were even times it was easy to forget that this is a modern game on a current generation system, and not an ancient mono-colored device from gaming days gone by. The music for each game is actually a pretty decent retro sounding tune, but the actual instrumentation is far beyond anything the old school Game and Watches could have managed.

Definitely the best game in the lot, even though it is the least Game and Watch-esque.

The Bad
In actuality, the variety of games is misleading. After cycling through all of the titles in Retro Pocket, most players will feel like these mini-games are just re-skinned versions of the same game. Three of them in particular task players with gathering eggs, candy, or steel girders and depositing them in a receptacle. Others seem to miss the timing element by just a hair, giving an unwelcomed feeling of randomness to a series of games that is supposed to be built on the premise of learning the game’s pattern and performing tasks with impeccable timing. The Fuel Drop mini-game is the best out of the bunch, but the two-toned visuals make it stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of this collection.

In a day and age when a game’s worth is often gaged by how many pixels it has, this game is unfortunately just a little too retro to be well-received by the masses. Overall, Retro Pocket is decent handful of mini-games, but it is definitely targeted at older gamers trying to relive something nostalgic from their past. It offers a good presentation and, for the most part, emulates the Game and Watch experience well. Unfortunately, players that aren’t LCD gaming fanatics will likely find this collection to be a little on the bland side. If you’re so old that you hear “Deadmau5” and think of emptying a mouse trap, then Retro Pocket may be worth checking out. This is definitely a game that will remind people of how far video games have come in the last 30 years.

Retro Pocket

Effectively emulates the Game and Watch experience with only a few hiccups.
Cons: Mini-games are so alike they blur together, and some don't seem to work as they were intended.
Mini-games are so alike they blur together, and some don't seem to work as they were intended.
VerdictGamers who are looking for a quick $5 trip down memory lane will probably enjoy Retro Pocket, but if you've never experienced these type of games before there are better examples out there.

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