The first item to be covered this month is Game and Watch variations. Now I get lots of enquiries from people who have a game that they're certain is a Nintendo Game and Watch but it doesn't have a name that's listed in the master guide (as seen in issue 25). The answer to this is simple, it's not Nintendo but a very close relative. What follows is a list of all known variations.
First off Mego/Time Out variations. Now these games only came out for the first Silver series of Game and Watch. Mego, a major toy manufacturer of the era (World's Greatest Superheroes, The Black Hole, Star Trek, Planet Of the Apes etc.) had a superb distribution network through all the US toyshops. Nintendo, who at this time were only just getting into the market, realized this was a great way to get their games some wide exposure outside of the usual electrical retailers. Time Out seems to be an electronic division of Mego used for all the new electronic games. The games themselves are identical to the original Nintendo games. They have the same colour casing and the games play exactly the same. The only difference being the games name and badging. All the games bear a Mego and Time Out logo and have the following names:
AC-01 Ball Released as Toss-Up.
FL-02 Flagman Released as Flagman.
MT-03 Vermin Released as The Exterminator.
RC-04 Fire Released as Fireman, Fireman.
IP-05 Judge Released as Judge.
As for rarity, all are pretty tough finds although Toss-Up does turn up in the UK with some regularity. Like the standard releases, Flagman and Judge are the hardest to find. I've yet to see a boxed Mego game so I can only wonder what the packaging looked like.
The next variation concerns a Gold series game, CN-07 Helmet. Now when this game was released in the UK, the name Helmet was thought to have a bit of a sexual overtone, so CGL, the UK distributors by this time, re-named the game Headache. I have a boxed version of this variation and the packaging is exactly the same as the US version. Only the name has been changed, on the box, instructions and the game itself. This game is very difficult to find and would command at least £250.00 for a mint boxed example.
Of the tabletop games there is an interesting variation. The first game, Donkey Kong Jr., CG-71 was also released in the USA by Coleco. At this time Coleco had already established a fantastic line of shrunk-down tabletop versions of popular arcade hits (Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian, Zaxxon, Frogger, Donkey Kong etc). It seemed only sensible to re-packaged the Nintendo game and include it in their line. Basically, where the Nintendo name would usually appear there is now a cartoon style sticker in place with the games name and the Coleco logo. Cosmetically the game plays exactly the same. If you like more detailed information and pictures of all the Coleco tabletops just let me know - it'd make an interesting article!
Another interesting variation has recently come to light, it's one of the Super Color games, BU-201 Spitball Sparky. A version has turned up, in the UK I believe, in an all white casing instead of the usual silver casing. I would imagine this is a prototype or a first-run manufactures test-shot. These are obviously incredible rare and hardly ever turn-up. There are probably several more of these to be found covering all the various series. This particular example reminds me of the Kenner Star Wars C-3PO carrying case. When this was being considered for manufacture Kenner wanted to make sure they could get a golden colour on the item, they tested different methods until they got it right. I would bet this is what was happening with the Spitball Sparky. The test-shot C-3PO's do turn up, in the $1000.00+ range!
Our last variation, to date at least, is a Micro Vs. System game. BX-301 Boxing or in this guise, Punch-Out! This is once again a simple name variation, probably to tie-in to the NES game. The version I have is on a plastic blister card, like all the last release games and is distributed by Micro Games Of America. I have seen a few of these carded games, they do turn up but usually in tatty condition. I'm happy to say my Punch-Out is mint carded! Just for reference, there were 15 different games released on cards by Micro Games Of America, theses are as follows; Balloon Flight, Mario's Cement Factory, Blackjack, Zelda, Bomb Sweeper, Climber, Donkey Kong, Gold Cliff, Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Jr, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong II, Punch-Out!, Donkey King Hockey and Donkey Kong III. There is definitely a carded Mario The Juggler but I don't think this was released by Micro Games Of America.
Do please get in touch if you come across any more variations but I would think that lot is pretty comprehensive!
Onto a couple of interesting eBay sales. The first wasn't even a Nintendo game but actually one manufactured by Tiger Games. It's certainly been released to capitalize on the then booming handheld market. The game in question is a multi-screen version of the classic Atari game Miner 2049er. It's a gorgeous looking game and I can only wonder how it played. The screen appears to be in colour like a Panorama game. The example on offer was absolutely perfect condition, with instructions in a perfect box - all round totally mint. It went for a very respectable $261.55 or about £175.00. If you ever come across one of these at a boot sale please buy it! The next game was a perfect condition Panorama Donkey King Circus, a very tough find. This pristine example went for a staggering $468.49 or approx. £315.00!!
Well that's it for this time, I hope to be back on track now and do please let me know if there's something specific you'd like covered, like the Coleco tabletops. Until next time then - happy gaming!
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