Club Nintendo Game & Watch: Ball

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Anybody who buys a reasonable amount of Nintendo games will probably be aware of the Club Nintendo Stars Catalogue. This is a store that allows a user to spend points of a range of items such as key rings to miniature statures to rare items such as a replica SNES controller specially designed for the Wii.

Stars are collected by buying a Nintendo system or game, generally you can pick up something like 500-1000 stars for registering a code included in a system box such as the WiiU or the 3DS while games will generally bag you 250 stars. In the past I have spent stars on “Nintendo Points” which can be redeemed on the virtual console to purchase digital games.

Some of the rare items cost thousands of points, one of which is the Game & Watch reissue of “Ball”. This classic was the first Game & Watch game Nintendo released, dating from 1980. I decided to save my points and bag myself the exclusive Club Nintendo gift.

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The system comes complete with a cardboard box, packaging and far too many manuals (multiple languages).

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The system itself is tiny, far smaller than I expected. For dimensions I’ve compared it to a 3DS XL (the blue console) and a DS Lite (White). The build quality is fairly decent, with a burgundy shell and a mock chrome faceplate. The buttons are rubber while the screen itself is a monochrome LCD display.

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As for the gameplay, don’t expect to be blown away, after all the game is over 30 years old. The premise is to catch the balls that you toss up into the air, in other words it’s juggling. Game A has the player throwing 2 balls and scoring 1 point per ball caught, each ball is tossed into the air and over to the opposite side of the screen. The left and right buttons are then used to adjust the position of the left and right hands in order to catch each ball. Game B is much the same but there are 3 balls in play and 10 points are scored for each successful catch.

As the system name suggests (Game & Watch), the system is also used as a watch. You can set the time and when not in play the LCD screen will display a demo and the current time.

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A Pilgrimage to the Nintendo HQ, Kyoto

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I have been a Nintendo fan since about the age of 6 so on my recent holiday to Japan I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit both the derelict and current Nintendo HQs.

My journey began on the day I arrived in Kyoto.  I had previously planned out routes to both buildings from so I had a good idea where in Kyoto they are located.  As luck would have it the now derelict HQ was literally a 10-minute walk from my hostel (Hana hostel) .  For the record Hana hostel is an excellent, very friendly place to stay.  The staff are very knowledgeable about Kyoto and can point out a range of points of interest, restaurants and things to do in Kyoto and the surrounding area.

During the short walk to the building we somehow managed to get lost and a lovely old Japanese woman who couldn’t speak a word of English understood me instantly when I stated “Nintendo”!  She proceeded to walk us, along with her grandchildren just up the road to the building.   The old HQ, which is hidden amongst houses, away from the busy streets of Kyoto is surprisingly larger than I expected.  After getting a few pictures of the building itself and a few posing shots we spotted one or two other passers by who may or may not have been purposely looking for the building but took pictures regardless.

The most important part of my Nintendo pilgrimage was seeing the old HQ, not just because of it’s history but because aesthetically it is far more interesting than the minimal, very corporate looking current HQ.  That journey would be left for another day.

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Although located only 30 minutes walk away from Kyoto station, I expected the journey to the new HQ would be slightly more difficult.  We decided to jump on the Kintetsu private rail line meaning we couldn’t use our JR passes.  As we would only be travelling 2 stops away (to Jujo station) the ticket price was around ¥120 (about £1).  After emerging from the underground we were once again lost so we headed for the near by convenience store to ask for help.  Yet again a local helped us out.  The middle aged man hopped on his rusty pushbike and proceeded to head towards the building.  We headed for an industrial estate filled with generic looking factories and just in the distance we spotted the familiar Nintendo logo at the top of a white square, unimpressive building.  Upon arrival we once again took a few photos of the building and a couple of posing shots.  After seeing the rather large security building just inside the entrance I decided not to venture any closer so we had a brief walk around the area then left, content and satisfied.

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