While we were bumming around the App Store last night, we happened upon a game done up in the style of Nintendo’s old Game & Watch portable LCD games. Investigating further, we found that it was actually a straight-up port of Game & Watch Helmet, complete with A and B modes!
It turns out that a developer called Mobile 1Up has produced five classic Game & Watch games for the App Store: GW Octopus, GW Fire, GW Chef, GW Parachute, and GW Helmet. The first four cost $1.99, and Helmet is free.
As far as we are able to remember (we lost most of our Game & Watch stuff a long, long time ago), these are very accurate ports; the graphics, sound effects, and timing of the originals are intact. That’s $1.99 worth of awesome, as far as we’re concerned.
What’s not so awesome is the fact that Game & Watch is an active Nintendo trademark, and we imagine that it’s only a matter of time before an army of lawyers descends on Mobile 1Up to kick over its sandcastle. On his blog, the developer writes:
“It definitely is a grey area – one has to ask: what is a clone or ripoff? Are color/gem matching games infringing someone’s intellectual property? Is an emulator or simulator illegal? It is a long heated debate that echos through the gaming industry and always will.
Mobile 1UP was created as a hobby (not a business) and the intention is to give everyone the pleasure of these classic games yet cover the cost of their implementation and hosting them. That is why gw-helmet was released for FREE – a gift to the community for their support.”
Three quick points here:
a) We are guessing that these games are turning a profit for Mobile 1Up, especially if the free one has topped the Japanese charts, as the developer claims.
b) Mr. Game & Watch appeared in Smash Bros. Brawl last year. This is not a dead character in any way, shape, or form.
c) IP law is indeed fraught with ambiguity, especially in video games, but there is a big difference between tweaking and/or reskinning a design and reproducing it as accurately as possible.
Ergo, we think Mobile 1Up will have to back down when Nintendo takes notice. It’s a pity, because these are still very cool games.