Mario vs Zelda – Which Has the Better Game and Watch Peripheral?

Mario vs Zelda Game and Watch peripherals

Mario vs Zelda – Which Has the Better Game and Watch Peripheral?

Regardless of age or gaming preference, asking any Nintendo fan what the company’s two premier franchises are is bound to yield identical results: Mario and Zelda. Both Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are instrumental games in cementing Nintendo as one of the most prominent and successful video game publishers and hardware manufacturers in the world. Any child of the 1980s likely remembers the time when both the Mario and Zelda franchises dominated pop culture via games, toys, animated series, and even breakfast cereals.

To celebrate a momentous milestone for both series and celebrate their legacy, Nintendo released special edition Game and Watch handhelds for each franchise corresponding with their 35th anniversaries. Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary coincided with 2021, and Zelda‘s arrived a year later. Both Game and Watch handhelds have similar contents and appearance, but taking a closer look at the two peripherals reveals that one franchise is the clear winner when it comes to its anniversary retro handheld.

Mario vs Zelda Game and Watch: Side-by-Side Comparison

Mario vs Zelda Game and Watch peripherals

At first glance, it’s obvious that both hanhelds share a lot in common in terms of form factor and design. Both have gold faces and the telltale red buttons and d-pad of the NES controller. Additionally, each features a color trim representative of its respective franchise, with Super Mario Bros.’ Game and Watch outlined in red and The Legend of Zelda version of the device featuring a green trim reminiscent of Link’s iconic tunic. Digging deeper than just surface comparisons, though, reveals that one device benefits from releasing a year later and Nintendo responding to fan reaction to the other.

SpecSuper Mario Bros. G&WThe Legend of Zelda G&W
Release Year20202021
Price (MSRP)$39.99$49.99
Full Games Included23
FeaturesClock, Classic Game and Watch Game feat. MarioClock, Classic Game and Watch Game feat. Link
Classic Game & Watch GameBallVermin
Currently AvailableSome Retailers, eBay (MSRP or lower)eBay (MSRP or lower)
Battery Life/Charging Time8 Hours/3 Hours8 Hours/3 Hours
Includes USB Charging Cable
Interactive Clock

Mario vs Zelda Game and Watch: 5 Must-Know Facts

Here are 5 must-know facts about the Mario and Zelda Game and Watch handhelds:

  • The Game and Watch device is one of Nintendo’s earliest successes in consumer electronics and video games, and its design and features would help to influence both the NES and Game Boy. The use of the Game and Watch as part of Mario and Zelda‘s 35th Anniversary celebrations signifies the importance of the device and both franchises in Nintendo’s history.
  • Both devices include full games from their respective franchises, a clock that displays various animations, and a classic Game and Watch game featuring their respective protagonists. The Zelda Game and Watch, though, is the only of the two to feature an interactive clock.
  • Trying to determine which of these 35th anniversary handhelds is better boils down to which Nintendo franchise fans prefer. Super Mario Bros. is one of the most important platformers, just as The Legend of Zelda is one of the most important adventure games, but Mario‘s sales far outpace Zelda‘s.
  • The Mario Game and Watch can still be found at retail in some cases, but the Zelda Game and Watch is much harder to come by. That said, both handhelds are available from third-party sellers and the secondary market via eBay, sometimes for less than MSRP.
  • The Zelda franchise’s anniversary arriving a year after Mario‘s allows its special edition Game and Watch to improve on any gripes fans have with the Mario version of the device.

Mario vs Zelda: Battle of the 35th Anniversary Celebrations

Super Mario Bros.‘ release in 1985 is one of the most important moments in gaming history, as is the release of The Legend of Zelda in 1986. Both games are responsible for helping to elevate Nintendo to being the premier name in video games for a decade and are still instrumental in the company’s continued success. The release of the special edition Game and Watch handhelds as part of each game’s 35th anniversary is symbolic of both the era in which they first arrived as well as their shared importance with the Game and Watch device as part of Nintendo’s rise to prominence in the medium of video games.

Mario vs Zelda Game and Watch: What’s Inside

The Mario Game and Watch includes the original Super Mario Bros. as well as the Japan-only sequel Super Mario Bros. – The Lost Levels. In addition to these two full games, the handheld features a Mario-themed clock with various animations, Mario artwork that displays when the device is in sleep mode, and a version of the classic Game and Watch game Ball featuring Mario himself. The Zelda Game and Watch, by comparison, features 3 full games — The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. Like the Mario version of the device, it also features a special clock, a Game and Watch classic (Vermin), and artwork from the series. The Zelda version’s clock is interactive while Mario‘s is not.

Mario vs Zelda: Which is Nintendo’s Premier Franchise?

In addition to the Zelda Game and Watch featuring more content and features, there are plenty of fans that would make the argument that it’s Nintendo’s best franchise. Though Mario predates Zelda by a year (and, arguably, without its success Zelda might not exist), the Legend of Zelda franchise is one of the most instrumental in signaling the beginning of a new era of gaming with the Famicom/NES. Still, if one looks at sales as a metric for which franchise is more instrumental in Nintendo’s success, the undisputed winner is the Super Mario Bros. series, which still holds the distinction of being one of the best-selling IP of all-time.

Mario vs Zelda Game and Watch: Pricing and Availability

The Zelda Game and Watch’s inclusion of more games and additional features makes it slightly more expensive than the Mario version of the anniversary devices, but it’s important to note that the Mario Game and Watch is still available from several online retailers and occasionally available in brick-and-mortar storefronts. The Zelda Game and Watch, on the other hand, is much more rare to come across at retail and is harder to find. That said, it’s entirely possible to acquire either device on the secondary market using sites like eBay, occasionally for less than their MSRP and still in brand-new, sealed condition.

Bottom Line

Both Mario and Zelda are incredibly iconic and important franchises in the wider history of the medium of video games, and it’s hard to argue against either franchise being deserving of celebration for reaching the milestone of a 35th Anniversary. Both Game and Watch handhelds released as part of these celebrations are niche collector’s items, but the Zelda version of the device is the undisputed winner for one key reason — it features more classic games from the series’ past and the device itself has additional featurs that make it more of a collector’s item and better celebration of its legacy.

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