Collecting & Obsessing: Game & Watch


Throughout the 1980s, Nintendo's Game & Watch series of handhelds provided the soundtrack to innumerable school playgrounds across the globe. A pre-Game Boy attempt to capture the portable games market, Game & Watch titles were relatively cheap but sturdily built toys which came with a single game and, as the name suggests, a watch. For the best part of eleven years, Nintendo kept manufacturing these forerunners to its other handheld devices, only for the Game Boy and Tetris to emerge in 1989 and squash the whole enterprise flat.

Nevertheless, the spirit of Game & Watch lives on through the hundreds of individuals who collect the games. For this one-off piece, DS Fanboy decided to interview two hardcore collectors in a bid to understand their love of Nintendo's first portable phenomenon.

Both 35-year-old Michael Panayiotakis (founder of Mike's Nintendo Game & Watch forum and the author of a quite superb FAQ on the subject) and 38-year-old Andy Cole possess the kind of retrolicious Game & Watch collections that we would maim (and possibly kill) for. To find out what they love about this charming series, why they collect Game & Watch, and why they dedicate so much time and money to their hobby, hit the break for our full interview. Once you've done that, don't forget to browse our gallery for a pictorial history of the Game & Watch phenomenon!

%Gallery-25216%

First of all, could you each tell us about your collections and how long you've been collecting?

Michael Panayiotakis: Well, when I started collecting the games during 2002, I managed to get all sixty of them (fifty-nine games, plus the Special Edition Super Mario Bros. game) boxed and complete with all paperwork. The great majority of the games were mint, but some of them are almost impossible to find in such condition (for example, the Tabletop series and the early Silver games). When I completed my original goal, I had to set another one, so a year ago I decided to keep special editions and versions of the games only and sold most of the rest. Sealed games, games in their original blister pack, carded games, pocket-size editions, and rare versions are my thing now.

Andy Cole: I've been collecting since before 1998. I can't remember exactly when, but it started when I saw a Snoopy Tennis Game & Watch at a car boot sale. I bought it and then started looking out for more as I went to car boot sales every week. I soon had a small collection, and it was then that I checked on the 'net and discovered that there were many more collectors, as well as fifty-nine games to collect, most of which I hadn't even heard of.

From that moment, I was hooked. I spent the next few years collecting solidly, trading with other collectors via the internet, and buying from Ebay, as well as continuing to pick up games at car boot sales. In 2001, I got the last game I needed for a complete collection of fifty-nine games. After that, it was revealed that a 60th game, a special edition of Super Mario Bros., had been released in 1987. I was skeptical at first, as I couldn't understand how it gone undiscovered for all those years, but in the end I accepted it as a genuine item, and picked one up to reach the magic sixty.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.