So I was chatting to someone today about locating and buying the old Nintendo Game & Watch units, and decided it’d be good to share a few of the tips, tricks and ponderings I’ve discovered since deciding to add a Nintendo Game & Watch or two to my collection.
The first – and in my mind the most important piece of advice – is to decide early on if you’re buying to collect, or to use. The difference between the two changes your entire buying habit, and what you should be on the look out for. For the purposes of this article, there will be only a focus on the gamer aspect, if you’re a collector – chances are you already know what you want, and how to get it.
For the gamer
Due to the growing market for ‘retro’ gaming stuff, Nintendo Game & Watch handhelds have seen a marked increase in demand and as a result, cost. That means for the person who simply wants to own a Game & Watch to play and enjoy, there are a few things to consider in order to keep the cost down.
Firstly, ask yourself how important the condition of the unit is. If there are scratches, scuffs or other since of damage on the unit, it will likely drop the price substantially, even though the game is completely playable. In particular, try to find a unit that has a missing or replacement (not original) battery cover. Game & Watches are notorious for not remaining paired to their battery covers over the years, and as ones without an original cover or cover at all are considered less desirable for a collector, you can steal them away at a bargain price and call in sticky tape to solve the battery retention issue.
You can usually tell a mile away if the Game & Watch doesn’t have the original battery cover, as the cover color is different (usually white, as these are popular and found on eBay) or a different shade of the same color. Remember if you spot any of these battery cover irregularities, bargain, bargain bargain!. See what you can do. If the battery cover is missing or not the original, I’d refer to the below pricing matrix under ‘poor condition’ (it’s not really poor, but in the world of collectors it would probably be considered as much).
You should also try wherever possible to avoid eBay. Yes, eBay is a constant and reliable source of all things retro, but prices on the worlds biggest auction site are primarily driven by one thing; greed. Try to check out local garage sales, trash & treasure markets etc before going down the eBay road. It’s fine if you find one for the right price, but try not to let eBay dictate what you expect to pay. For the sake of having a benchmark available, at the time of writing this article, these are what I’d consider fair prices for a Game & Watch.
- Multi-Screen, poor condition, unit only – working. $50 – $70
- Multi-Screen, poor condition, unit only, popular game (Zelda, Mario Bros) – working $70 – $80
- Multi-Screen, excellent condition, unit + box – working $100
- Multi-Screen, excellent condition, unit + box, popular game (Zelda, Mario Bros) – working $100 – $150
- Single screen, poor condition, unit only – working $40
- Single screen, excellent condition, unit only – working $50 – $70
- Single screen, excellent condition, unit + box – working $70 – $90