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Mr. Game&Watch
The logo of Game&Watch

The great Nintendo Handheld Games from the 80's ...!

Super Mario Bros. YM-901 - sort of FAQ
by sAner and Devster, edited by Gawaleus

I'm gonna tell you a bit about the actual game, where you got one, what came with it and wether or not it is really part of the Game & Watch series. Also I will be telling you all about the other accessories / prizes that people collect that were part of the YM-901 story. This piece is not quite an FAQ, but I've thrown in a few Q&A along the way. As always, if you have any information that you would like to share, just make contact with us here at Enjoy!

So what exactly is the YM-901 you say. Well first off it's a game, YM-901 is simply the Nintendo model number. The actual game itself is Super Mario Bros. or SMB as some like to say. It was part of the Game & Watch series, but had a twist.

What's the twist? The twist is you could not buy this game. The only way to get your hands on one was to be a winner in a competition that Nintendo ran to promote the Famicom (Family) Computer.

The competition was held in 1987 and 10,000 of these special YM-901 games were given out.

Well there are different opinions as to whether or not the game should be classed as a true Game & Watch game, i.e. if someone was going to collect the whole series, would you need this one to COMPLETE your collection.

Answer? Down to the individual really, but there are some strong arguments as to why you should include it in your collection (if you are going for every one). Being that there were 59 Game & Watch release, this Yellow Magic would make it 60/60. So if you ever heare someone telling you they have 40/59 collected so far, you know that they do not count the YM-901 towards the total.

Some reasons to say it is part of the series:

1) It has a serial number, all Game&Watch had serial numbers.
2) It is an LCD handheld game, made by Nintendo and was the exact same game that was released twice before in the G&W series.

Reasons not to count it:

1) You could not buy it in the shops.
2) You could not buy it in the shops!!! :-)

Ok, enough with the is it, isn't it argument, show me what it looks like:

ym901-03 YM901

Yes, we know it for sure now! There were exactly 10.000 copies of the Yellow Magic (YM-901s) issued in June 1987. As you know the games were given away as a prize in Japan in a Famicom contest. For a very long time we thought 11.790 copies were given away as a prize, but noone knew for sure. Now we know that exactly 10.000 units were issued.

The B licensecard pictured above (owned by Cedric Thonont a.k.a. Todbrowning), with the number 11.790 clearly visible, was the reason why most known collectors (including Michael Panayiotakis & Torsten Lindh) believed 11.790 copies were given away by Nintendo in that summer of 1987. Ruth (a.k.a. Redbuggy) from Australia presented a licensecard from another category. On that card the number 8.282 was visible. Now the amount of YM-901s' was heavily debated! Could there have been only 8.282 copies or even way less?

Paul Deveney -the Devster- provided us with a marvelous scan from a flyer / brochure for the F1 Competition and a picture of the other prizes that are mentioned in the famicom 20th aniversary book. Ruth -Redbuggy- then took the time to translate the available information from Devster and she found out there were 4 categories in which entrants of the contest could participate. There were four competition levels, so to speak. In each level 2.500 units were allocated as follows:

- the first 1-100 (Ruth believes this is related to ranking) got a trophy and a game (YM901s)
- the 101st to 1500th got a game but no trophy
- then there were an extra 1,000 units used as lucky prize (Ruth had problems understanding the condition to these lucky prizes, it had something to do with the last 2 digits of the race-time matching something)

This means there were 1.500 plus 1.000 units per category and because there were 4 categories, 10.000 units in total were issued.

So what does A, B or C mean? Well, there were three grades (next to the four competition levels). The three types of A, B & C license cards were awarded based on skills. "A" being those in the first 100 ranking, "B" from 101-1500 and "C" from 1501 to the remaining entrants. So the number on the blue card (11.790) and the number on the green card (8.282), is just the number of entrants being grouped into A, B or C grades. That was all! Because we didn't understand the Japanese text on the license card, we just assumed it meant the total number of YM-901s' issued. We were wrong.