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Iwata Asks: Game & Watch

Stop It

Perfectly able to grasp the inherent value of the fishing game.
Jan 19, 2007
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Yamamoto: I'd be told "Mr. Yamamoto, could you go to this store" and I'd think "boy, I really don't want to..."

Iwata: Why was that?

Yamamoto: The staff at the store told me "your gift-wrapping is awful."

:lol :lol
That is simply brilliant, the thought of a game dev packing your game for you, it just shows how far we have come in 30 years.
ShockingAlberto said:
Cliffy B wrapping my copy of Gears for me would be pretty hilarious
:lol :lol :lol
 

nli10

Member
Nov 16, 2005
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ShockingAlberto said:
Cliffy B wrapping my copy of Gears for me would be pretty hilarious
I'm sure that some Indi devs have resorted to this more recently :)



So does anyone else here have the GBA cart with the G&W collection & gallery? I looked at it today (having had it on my desk to remind me to play for ages) and realised I've not unlocked 7 of the museum games due to needing more high-scores! The requirements for some were brutal...

I have the final game (Zelda) on two different G&W hardware - the wristwatch and the keychain. In fact we have 2 watches in the house and two unopened keychains I bought at a Miyamoto signing for gifts that I never gave.
 

Lijik

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Sep 16, 2008
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nli10 said:
So does anyone else here have the GBA cart with the G&W collection & gallery? I looked at it today (having had it on my desk to remind me to play for ages) and realised I've not unlocked 7 of the museum games due to needing more high-scores! The requirements for some were brutal...
I have it along with the first and second of the GB ones around my room somewhere.
The requirements for stuff in 4 was kinda insane, but at least you unlocked consistently cool stuff instead of like 6 different variations of Ball like in 2 :lol
 

warthog

Member
Dec 17, 2004
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Lord Error said:
Sigh, now I want to have the game, but the best I could find on ebay is this key chain:

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Game-and-Watch-MINI-Solar-Key-Holder-Octopus-Japan-/260630717422?cmd=ViewItem&pt=US_Vintage_Video_Games&hash=item3caecd23ee


Which while nice, and even made to work on solar power, is sadly not playable :(

Also, reading this is very discouraging:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090208215927AAZjOK5
You won't be paying 200$ for a game like that. Maybe only if it's boxed and in absolute mint condition. You should be able to get a loose 1 for well under 50$. I got a boxed Argentinian version, should be pretty rare :)

Interesting article at first sight, gonna take my time to read it in the morning.
 

Zoc

Member
Aug 13, 2007
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Datschge said:
Thanks for doing the translations, Zoc!


Fixed, as 1万 is 10.000, not 1000.
Oh, right! Thanks, I fixed it. I hate Japanese math. If anyone else catches any mistakes don't hesitate to speak up.
 

superbank

The definition of front-butt.
Apr 5, 2007
3,995
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Bentendo said:
The reason I initially became interested in the series was because of these miniature keychain Game & Watch units that were released in, I think, 1998 or 1999. I remember I got a Mario Bros. one where you just had to keep on moving right.
This one yeah?







Its seen better days but I bet it still works. Recently I was thinking of getting a new battery and playing again. This was my "game & watch" as a kid. :D
 

Zoc

Member
Aug 13, 2007
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Part 5 (final part)

The Reproduction of "Ball" for its Thirtieth Anniversary

Iwata: Mr. Izushi, which title do you remember best?

Izushi: For me, it was "Donkey Kong." We had to make the arcade version of "Donkey Kong" playable with the limited number of LCD segments we had to use. Even though I'm a terrible artist, I remember making sketch after sketch of my ideas. When I finally reached the stage where I thought "this could work," I had Mr. Kano make a cleaned-up version for me. "Donkey Kong" was also the first title that used the cross-shaped d-pad.




Iwata: A year before the launch of the NES, it was Donkey Kong that introduced the d-pad. wasn't it?

Izushi: Yes.

Yamamoto: It took a mountain of trial and error to make that d-pad. We'd give a prototype our engineers had done their very best to refine to Mr. Yokoi for his impressions, asking him "so? How is it?" He would just say "it's not ready." That happened over and over.

Izushi: We really did make a mountain of prototypes. Mr. Yokoi was very meticulous. He wanted players to have precise control without looking at their fingers. That was why we put a depression in the middle of the d-pad, among other things.

Iwata: I see. I think it's fair to say that his meticulousness led to the creation of one of the cornerstones of video game culture. Another innovation from "Donkey Kong" was the "multiscreen" system, with two screens.

Izushi: The multiscreen line was started about two years after the launch of "Ball," at a time when we felt we had to try something new. The order came down from above: "Use two screens!"

Iwata: Just the same as for the Nintendo DS. (laughs)

Izushi: At the time, though, we were caught completely by surprise.

Iwata: ... completely the same, then. (laughs) Still, in 1982, there was no such thing as a notebook computer, or any electronic device that folded up, was there?

Izushi: The folding idea was a natural one, though, since it was important to make something that could be played anywhere.

Kano: I wanted to do research on things that folded up, so I went shopping for compacts.

Iwata: Compacts? You mean the kind used to hold make-up?

Kano: Yes. I was doing research on the hinge that held the top and bottom screens together. Those compacts are still lying in a drawer somewhere at the office! (laughs)

Izushi: You mean you still have all that stuff? You really do have a lot of treasures, Mr. Kano. (laughs)

Kano: Well, the container sections on the bottom have all disappeared, but the mirror sections on the top are still there. Those were what I used as a reference for the multiscreen systems.

Iwata: So did the inspiration for the folding design come from those women's compacts?

Kano. That's right. Earlier, you asked me which title gave me the feeling that the winds were turning our way. I could just as well have said "Donkey Kong." Launching the multiscreen series with that title, only a year after Mr. Miyamoto had launched the arcade version of the game, really made everything feel like it was coming together.

Izushi: "Donkey Kong," which up to then could only be played in the arcade, could be played anytime and anywhere. We really felt that the customers would be happy about that.

Iwata: I see. I'll go even further and say that without the Game & Watch, portable game systems today would be very different, and the Game Boy and Nintendo DS never would have existed.

Yamamoto: I think so, too.

Iwata: And now, the title that started it all thirty years ago, "Ball," has been reproduced and reissued, and will be given as a gift to the 2009 platinum members of Club Nintendo. Mr. Kano, you accepted the task of developing the reproduction. You were at the heart of making and carrying out the plan.



Kano: Yes. I thought that "Ball" was the best choice, as it was the first title in the Game & Watch series, and thus the foundation for all the others. I also thought it was the best memorial to Mr. Yokoi.

Iwata: What was the most difficult thing about reviving a product from thirty years ago in the twenty-first century?

Kano: After all that time, the original design documents had disappeared. I had to track down the old staff for their copies. It was very difficult.

Iwata: What about the "Game Boy Gallery" edition from a while ago, which contained playable versions of the game? Wasn't it enough to have that software, combined with your know-how?



Kano: That software was useful as far as gameplay went, but the Game Boy version just wasn't the same as the real thing. The way the Game & Watch fit in your hand, the look of the screen, the feel of the buttons, and every other little detail were things I had to get right, if I wanted to take people back thirty years.

Yamamoto: Right down to the black pillars on both sides of the LCD screen.

Iwata: Ah, a unique aspect of the original design.

Yamamoto: There's actually a secret behind these.

Iwata: A secret?

Kano: Both sides of the screen used in the original "Ball" contained some extra wiring. It was necessary to hide it. We decided to add a printed filter over top to do that. On current LCD screens, that wiring is invisible, so there's no nothing to hide. But to make the reissue as faithful as possible, we included the printed filter. There's only one difference between the original version and the re-issue, and that's the mute function. The original had no way to mute the audio.

Iwata: So you did bring it a little up-to-date.

Kano: Yes, with a mute function you can even play on the train.

Iwata: And this reissue that you laboured over will soon be on its way to our platinum members.

Kano: Yes. These are the roots of portable Nintendo gaming, and I hope everyone gets a chance to try it out. Moreover, we put a lot of care into it, and it should last a long time. It wasn't easy making a faithful reproduction of something from thirty years ago, with no access to that era's documentation or materials.

Iwata: The materials are long-gone, too, aren't they?

Kano: Right. Along with my memory.

All: (laugh)

Kano: Sometimes the staff that were helping make the reissue would ask me "Why was this made this way?" and I would have to answer "Good question..."

Iwata: You couldn't answer because you couldn't remember! (laughs)

Kano: It's true. I designed it myself, but I often had to wonder "what is this and what is for?" It was quite a problem.

Yamamoto: We obviously finished just in time, if you'd already started to say to yourself "What is this? I don't remember this part." (laughs)

Kano: I suppose so...

All (laugh)
 

Freezie KO

Banned
Jul 9, 2007
12,655
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Thanks, Zoc!

It always amazes me that they keep so many original documents. And I'm in awe of Iwata's insight as a game developer as well. And then I think of how forward-thinking they were with the d-pad and clamshell design. Damn... so much to love about these interviews.
 

rainking187

Member
Dec 19, 2007
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I've still got my Mario Bros Game and Watch around here some place. Haven't played it in years though, could never find the right batteries.
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
Jun 18, 2009
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Incredible work Zoc. Man, I love these interviews. Iwata is probably my favorite man in the industry right now
 

Diablohead

Member
Jun 4, 2006
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This kind of makes me wish I never lost my Tetris and Mario Bros 3 watches, those ones which were like mini game & watches, but were a watch :p
 

j^aws

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Sep 24, 2004
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Zoc said:
Part 5 (final part)

The Reproduction of "Ball" for its Thirtieth Anniversary

Iwata: Mr. Izushi, which title do you remember best?

Izushi: For me, it was "Donkey Kong." We had to make the arcade version of "Donkey Kong" playable with the limited number of LCD segments we had to use. Even though I'm a terrible artist, I remember making sketch after sketch of my ideas. When I finally reached the stage where I thought "this could work," I had Mr. Kano make a cleaned-up version for me. "Donkey Kong" was also the first title that used the cross-shaped d-pad.

Thanks for the memory lane; this was my first handheld. I've been scratching my head for days - I can't remember where I misplaced this, with a bunch of other LCD handhelds from that era. Anyone remember the name of that triple-screen one from Bandai (I think it was blue and white, with a mech-theme game) - a third screen kinda 'flipped out'?

All those handhelds were great. They came in many guises and screen orientations (3:4, 4:3), and even ones that you used like binoculars for 3D effects (Tomy?)...

I do remember that Donkey Kong unit having a great D-pad, and the striking orange casing was very stylish, and still is. Good stuff.
 

Vic

Please help me with my bad english
Mar 2, 2006
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Iwata: And now, the title that started it all thirty years ago, "Ball," has been reproduced and reissued, and will be given as a gift to the 2009 platinum members of Club Nintendo. (in Japan)
So this is the reason behind this Iwata Asks and why it's never been translated in English.
 

Bentendo

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Nov 21, 2009
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Wow, the part about the black pillars is really interesting. You know, I've never even noticed them... were they in the several remakes between the original and the Club Nintendo version?
 

nli10

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Nov 16, 2005
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Lijik said:
I have it along with the first and second of the GB ones around my room somewhere.
The requirements for stuff in 4 was kinda insane, but at least you unlocked consistently cool stuff instead of like 6 different variations of Ball like in 2 :lol
I have 3 & 4 (but 4 in the Uk was just called Advance) and haven't unlocked everything on either!

I got as far as Lion on 3 and then just forgot about everything else so am only on 36 stars.

On 4 I had 96 stars by the time I'd finished playing tonight - I still love twitch gaming.


I would pay full price HAPPILY for a 3DS cart version of as many of the games as they could put in one place. They could even add 3D layers to the LCD & modern versions for fun too. It'd be a great tribute to Yokoi.
 

djtiesto

is beloved, despite what anyone might say
Jul 26, 2004
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Extremely interesting interview, as a fan of oldskool gaming I love to learn more about design methods and influences from the way companies did things waaay back when. It's kinda interesting how the DS was the end product of studying womens compacts. Thanks for the translations, Zoc!
 

wondermega

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Jun 27, 2009
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haha, even when I worked for Sierra (as a game artist) in the late 90s, they'd still ask people from the studios to volunteer to go out and sell games at stores around the holidays. We all kinda rolled our eyes when that happened...
 

lobdale

3 ft, coiled to the sky
Sep 16, 2005
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jgkspsx said:
So I picked up Ball on eBay. It's an amazing reproduction. But how do you set the time? What about muting it?
Hate to bring this back from the dead (wait no I don't cause it's awesome) but I also got my repro the other day.

To set the clock stick a paper clip in the ACL hole then use the left and right buttons to change the time. To mute, press the time button while you're playing a game!
 

Starchasing

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Sep 11, 2006
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wondermega said:
haha, even when I worked for Sierra (as a game artist) in the late 90s, they'd still ask people from the studios to volunteer to go out and sell games at stores around the holidays. We all kinda rolled our eyes when that happened...
why?
 

apujanata

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Jun 14, 2004
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Starchasing said:
"around the holidays"

Would you prefer to stay at home with your family on holidays, or volunteering to sell products at shops during those extra crowded, extra sweaty days of holidays ?
 

Starchasing

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Sep 11, 2006
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apujanata said:
"around the holidays"

Would you prefer to stay at home with your family on holidays, or volunteering to sell products at shops during those extra crowded, extra sweaty days of holidays ?
i work around the holydays anyways.. so if i didnt know my clients in person i would love to meet them once in a while