Friends, perhaps 1983 is the only time you will have the opportunity to see the likes of Snoopy, Popeye, Mario, and Donkey Kong together in a television commercial. The TV ad in question was for the line of Nintendo Game & Watch handheld electronic games – apparently being offered at your local Toys “R” Us back in June of ’83 – when this commercial originally aired in Chicago.
Now how I stumbled across this Game & Watch commercial is because of a Toy Tomb video by Willie of Arcade USA. He took the time to record himself playing 1981’s Octopus, which was part of Nintendo’s Wide Screen series – and featured Mr. Game & Watch attempting to steal treasure that is being guarded by an Octopus.
For myself, I was never fortunate enough to collect any of the titles in the Game & Watch series, although I was aware of them thanks to my local ShowBiz Pizza, which offered a few as prizes if you collected enough Skee-Ball tickets. Off the top of my head I can remember seeing the likes of Mario’s Cement Factory, Donkey Kong II, and Greenhouse at that fabled ShowBiz Pizza of my youth.
As I understand it, we have the late and great Gunpei Yokoi to thank for coming up with the Game & Watch. It has been said that the video game designer happened to take notice of a businessman who to waste time pulled out his LCD calculator and began playing with it. So it was that Yokoi felt that perhaps an LCD gaming device that also doubled as a watch might catch on. From 1980 until 1991 Nintendo produced 59 Game & Watch titles – with different ‘models’ like the Multi Screen, Tabletop, and Panorama to name a few.
I think that it is safe to say that it caught on – especially as Nintendo is releasing a Game & Watch for Super Mario Bros. on November 13th!