It's been so long since Nintendo actually manufactured its Game & Watch LCD games that most people probably don't know what they look like. They were small, roughly 2 inches tall by 3 inches wide, and remarkably slender. On either side of the tiny screen were buttons or a directional pad that would enable you to play the game contained inside the unit. The games themselves weren't extravagant--graphics were etched into the screen and animation was rudimentary--but they were very portable and highly addictive. It certainly didn't hurt that later versions featured popular franchise characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda.
Although you'll need a Game Boy Advance to play it, Game & Watch Gallery 4 contains 20 original Game & Watch games, as well as 11 modern remakes of 11 of those games, for a total of 31 games. The selection is impressive: The 11 original games with remakes are Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong III, Fire, Boxing, Rain Shower, Mario's Cement Factory, Chef, Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Octopus, and Fire Attack. The nine original games without remakes are Manhole, Tropical Fish, Mario's Bombs Away, Parachute, Bombsweeper, Climber, Safe Buster, Lifeboat, and Legend of Zelda. Most of the games in the collection have easy and hard difficulty settings, and some, such as Boxing and Donkey Kong III, are multiplayer capable with only a single cartridge and a link cable.
The games included with Game & Watch Gallery 4 don't really fit the modern definition of what constitutes a full-fledged video game. There aren't any levels to explore, and you won't need to earn power-ups or develop special abilities. Each game gives you a specific task to perform, such as catching food items or tugging clotheslines in order to protect your laundry from the rain--and that's pretty much it. You earn points for every success, and the game ends when you rack up three failures. Most people would refer to these kinds of games as minigames, which is a good way to describe them. The longer you play, the faster and more difficult the games get, until you reach the limit of your ability. This is what makes the Game & Watch series so addictive--no matter how good you get, there's always room for improvement, and there's always the desire to earn five more points than you did the last time.
A number of the titles in the collection share their names with familiar Nintendo NES and arcade games, such as Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong Jr. Not all of these games are identical to their namesakes, however. In Mario Bros., for example, you have to coordinate the movements of Mario and Luigi on two sides of a conveyor belt in order to assemble birthday cakes. Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong are roughly identical to their arcade counterparts, while Donkey Kong III is a combat game where you use bug spray to push angry wasps toward your opponent.
The variety is certainly staggering, but the visuals and audio are not. The modern remakes have colorful backgrounds and large character sprites but little to no animation. The music for these updated games is pretty catchy, however, even if it's well below the level of quality you'd expect from a typical GBA game. All of the classic Game & Watch games look identical to their original LCD releases, right down to the shadows left onscreen by inactive LCD areas. There isn't any background music for these games, and sound effects are literally just an assortment of beeps and blips.
Not that the graphics and sound matter much for a product like this. Nintendo has packaged a grand total of 31 games together into a collection that exists more for posterity than glamour. If you're looking at Game & Watch Gallery 4, chances are you know what you're getting into and don't care that the graphics and sound are modest and dated. The games are certainly strong enough to stand on their gameplay alone.