Ball is a Silver Game & Watch video game released in 1980 by Nintendo. Being the company's first Game & Watch title, Ball is celebrated among the gaming community and within the company and has seen several re-releases and remakes. In Ball the user controls a character who must juggle several balls at once, making sure that none of them are accidentally dropped. This can be done by moving his arms left and right, which is controlled with the two face buttons. Both arms are moved at the same time instantaneously by pressing the left and right buttons; when one arm is moved right, the other is moved right and when one arm is moved left, the other moves left. It is this simplicity that made the Game & Watch series so memorable, iconic and lucrative.
Though Ball was not the most successful game in the franchise, selling an estimated 250,000 units, it is perhaps the most important. Had Ball been a failure, the future of the franchise and conceivably the company's video game business would have possibly been less likely to survive. Because of its success, however, many more Game & Watch games were developed and the game itself was remade or re-released several times. There have been many iterations of the game in the Game & Watch Gallery series and in 2009 Nintendo released the game on their DSiWare service for 200 Nintendo Points. In 2010 (2011 in North America) Nintendo remade the original Game & Watch unit and released them through their Club Nintendo service.
The contents within the original version's box were the unit, LR43 batteries, an ACL slip, and batter stickers (the latter two only for the second edition of Ball).
In Ball, there are only two buttons that are used when playing the game. The left button, placed on the left side of the screen, moves both of the character's arms left while conversely the right arm, placed on the right side of the screen, moves both of the character's arms right. The goal of the game is to juggle the balls and make sure that they don't hit the ground. This can be done by situating the character's hands underneath the balls. Once the hand and the ball connects, the ball will be shot upwards and curve to the other side of the character's body where the user must once again position the hand so that the two successfully collide. Once a single ball drops, the game is over and the user must restart it. In Game A the player juggles two balls and are rewarded one point with each successful catch while in Game B they are required to handle three balls and are given ten points for each catch. The highest possible score a user can obtain is 9,999 for Game A and 9,990 for Game B, due to 9,999 not being a multiple of 10.
The player can easily determine where the ball will fall because of the initial speed of it, which is quite slow. As the game progresses, the ball will start to speed up, but the game automatically slows things down after every 100 points obtained by the player.
The following are the specifications for the original Game & Watch. Note that in subsequent re-releases minor changes may have been made that alter these statistics slightly.
|Dimensions||Width: 95 mm|
Height: 63 mm
Depth: 11.5 mm
|Weight||51 grams. This is with batteries. The weight without the batteries is unknown.|
|Battery||Two Alkali-Manganese batteries (LR43 or SR43).|
|Battery life||With the clock, the battery lasts an estimated 6 months with LR43 batteries and 12 months with SR43 batteries. If the user plays the game only one hour a day, the system would last for six months on LR43 (battery life with SR43 is unknown). The user should notice when the battery's life has been depleted when the screen's display is hard to distinguish.|
|Input||Left button (controls character's arms as well as the hours on the clock), right button (controls character's arm as well as the minutes on the clock), Game A button, Game B button, time button (displays time), ACL (allows user to change the time displayed).|
|Temperature||Ball works properly in temperatures between 50° and 104° Fahrenheit (10°-40° Celsius).|
|Clock accuracy||The average daily difference is an estimated 3 seconds when under adequate temperatures (see above).|
Game & Watch Gallery versions
Ball has appeared in two of the Game & Watch Gallery games. Its first appearance was in the European exclusive Game Boy Gallery. In this game, the original version was present, though it had enhanced graphics. It later appeared in Game & Watch Gallery 2 for the Game Boy Color. This version featured the original version without the enhanced graphics and a new version that contained Mario characters.
In Game & Watch Gallery 2, Ball is one of the hidden games. To get the original version, you'll have to acquire a combined total of 15 stars. Stars are obtained by getting good scores in the various Game & Watch games. To get the modernized version, you'll have to get 25 stars. In order to get all of the options within the modern version, you'll have to get 100 combined stars. In the modern mode, there are four different modes you can play, each harder than the previous. Each mode will have to play as a different character juggling a variety of objects. The characters include:
- Yoshi: Yoshi's mode is unlocked automatically when you obtain 25 stars. In this mode, Yoshi will juggle Yoshi Eggs. After every 100 points, bombs will start to come down. You are advised not to juggle them, as they'll result in a game over.
- Mario: Mario's mode is unlocked after the player has acquired a combined total of 35 stars. His mode is slightly harder than Yoshi's. Mario will juggle various items from the Mario universe in his mode. Instead of bombs, fireballs will come down every 100 points which you are not supposed to catch.
- Wario: Wario's mode is even harder than Mario's. To get his mode, you'll have to obtain 45 stars. After every 100 points, spiked balls will start to come down from above. You are advised not to touch them. Some of the balls you are juggling will move off screen. Those balls might come back down, and they might not.
- Bowser: Bowser's is the hardest version of the game available, and you'll have to earn 100 total stars in the game to unlock it. Bowser will juggle various objects that relate to his theme, such as Koopa Troopas and Goombas. Each of the balls juggles differently from one another. As in Yoshi's mode, bombs will rain down every 100 points.
Club Nintendo version
In November of 2009, Nintendo of Japan announced that members of Club Nintendo would be eligible to receive Ball as a prize. The unit looks nearly identical to the original, though features the Club Nintendo logo on it and features a toggle that allows the user to increase or decrease the volume. This prize was only available to Club Nintendo members in Japan and was sent out in April of 2010 to those who accumulated enough points to reach Platinum Status. Unlike Nintendo of America, Nintendo automatically sent these units out to players who were eligible without the need for the user to register for it online.
Game & Watch: Ball was later released on Nintendo of America's Club Nintendo service, making it available to fans in the United States. Upon its release, it was required more coins than any other product: 1200. A pre-installed battery comes with every unit.
The developers of the Club Nintendo version noted that it was challenging re-releasing Ball because none of the original documents existed anymore. Nevertheless, the developers tried to make it as faithful as possible, making very few alterations. One of the changes the developers did make was a bit of wiring that stuck out of the original Ball that was hidden by a black strip. Even though the black strip is there (in an attempt to make it look as close to the original as possible) the wiring is no longer present. Another change is the addition of an option to turn the sound off, which was a luxury not available on the original unit.
Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.
One of the modes included in Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. was a version of Ball with Mario characters, similar to in Game & Watch Gallery 2.
- In the Game Boy Camera, players can take a picture of themselves, plaster it on the face of the character in Ball, and play the game as themselves.
- In the Super Smash Bros. series, Mr. Game & Watch's throw attack allows him to juggle his opponent the same way he did in Ball.
- In WarioWare: Touched!, a minigame makes the player use the stylus to move Mr. Game & Watch's arms in a game of Ball.
- The Nintendo DS game DS Rakuhiki Jiten is a Japanese exclusive dictionary where when you type something in, you'll get a description. When the player types in GAME&WATCH, they'll be able to play a version of Ball, a neat cameo and the only sight of an actual game in the title.
- In Pikmin 2, one of the treasures salvaged is a copy of Ball.
|Main article: Ball/gallery|
|Game & Watch series|
|Game & Watch Gallery series||Game Boy Gallery • Game & Watch Gallery • Game & Watch Gallery 2 • Game & Watch Gallery 3|
Game & Watch Gallery 4 • Game & Watch Collection • Game & Watch Collection 2
|Super Mario series||Mario Bros. • Mario's Cement Factory • Mario's Bombs Away • Super Mario Bros.|
Mario the Juggler • Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.
|Donkey Kong series||Donkey Kong • Donkey Kong II • Donkey Kong Jr. • Donkey Kong 3 • Donkey Kong Circus|
Donkey Kong Hockey
|License games||Mickey Mouse • Snoopy Tennis • Popeye • Mickey & Donald • Snoopy|
|Main series||Ball • Flagman • Vermin • Fire • Judge • Manhole • Helmet • Lion • Parachute • Octopus • Chef • Egg • Turtle Bridge • Fire Attack • Oil Panic • Greenhouse • Rain Shower • Lifeboat • Pinball • Spitball Sparky • Crab Grab • Boxing • Black Jack • Tropical Fish • Squish • Climber • Balloon Fight • Bombsweeper • Safebuster • Gold Cliff • Zelda|
|Related||Gunpei Yokoi • Game Boy • Game Boy Advance • Nintendo DS • Mr. Game & Watch|