(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)
A Polish design studio has lovingly re-created old LCD handhelds to be played for free in a browser, right down to the consoles themselves.
Before there were smartphones — even nearly a decade before the first Game Boy — handheld consoles were a very different beastie. Using similar technology to digital LCD watches, each device could only play a single game, with a set number of positions for every artefact on-screen.
The most popular of these were Nintendo's Game & Watch devices; among the 60 titles produced in the series, Donkey Kong made his first move away from the arcade. The Legend of Zelda got a title and Mario got several, as well as a plethora of games such as Fire, which saw you controlling two firemen to bounce survivors out of a burning building; Octopus, in which you had to collect treasure by dodging the grasping arms of a giant octopus; and Parachute, where you had to catch a parachutist in a boat.
The popularity of Game & Watch inspired many imitators. We sunk many hours into Mini Arcade's Plane & Tank. The best bit was when you had progressed so far that the sky was thick with warheads, and you literally couldn't go any farther.
If you're hunting for a bit of nostalgia, here it is: 26 LCD handheld games, complete with their cases, that you can play online at website Pica-Pic, courtesy of Polish design studio and retro gaming fans Hipopotam. Each is perfectly re-created to the finest detail — not just the look of the games themselves, but also the buttons and modes. A particularly nice touch is that the buttons actually make sounds.
How to play varies from title to title. The 26 games are arrayed at the bottom of the screen, and you can scroll through to find one you want to play. Clicking the console opens it up, and mousing over shows you what buttons are tied to what keys on your keyboard. Pressing the Escape button pauses the game so you can move onto another one, waiting for you to come back (unless you refresh the browser).
As well as some of our old favourites (we spent too long mucking about with Plane & Tank and Caveman), it has a few Russian titles we'd never even heard of.
If you have an hour or two to spare, head over to Pica-Pic and relive your childhood.