, The Dreamcast Junkyard: James & Watch: Arm

James & Watch: Arm

As we've mentioned ad nauseum here at the Junkyard, we are massive advocates of the efforts of the myriad independent developers still supporting our favourite white box of joy. There have been some stunning post-mortem releases for the Dreamcast (2013's Sturmwind could easily pass as a PSN game, for example) and there are many more heading our way too. Elysian Shadows, Hypertension, SLaVE, AMEBA...they all look great and we're excited to see how they all turn out. However, here's an indie release you may not have seen before. James & Watch: Arm is a fun little title developed by Ben Lancaster and is slightly different to the other indie games mentioned here in that it eschews flashy visuals and in-depth story lines for a much more simple aesthetic - namely that of a Nintendo Game & Watch.

James & Watch was actually borne out of a story that was told on popular retrogaming podcast Retrogaming Roundup back in 2012. As detailed on the back of the professional-looking jewel case, James & Watch: Arm is based on the true story of the three James brothers, whom back in 1972 decided that it would be fun to throw youngest sibling Mike up in the air and catch him. The two older brothers quickly grew tired of this spin on 'catch,' and decided it would be more fun to throw Mike up into the air...and not catch him. The resulting broken arm is what gives the game it's subtitle.
As an indie title produced by one person, James & Watch: Arm is light on the presentation, but what it does have is charm - and spades of it. Playing on the events of that fateful summer in 1972, you take control of youngest brother Mike as he is thrown through the air, and at certain points in his flight path you get the option to alter his course either left or right. By judging where the randomly positioned older brothers are located at the bottom of the screen, you get thrown back into the air and repeat the process. Every time you successfully land on one of the brothers, you gain a point. Miss though, and you land in a crumpled heap on the grass and receive one broken limb. Land three times...and it's game over. As Ben succinctly put it - you only have two arms! Arm is pretty basic in other respects - it has only one screen and simplistic (albeit authentic) sound effects, but it does feature VMU graphics and VGA support. 
There are some nice details in Arm, such as the way the Game & Watch screen has the LCD ghosting of a real unit, and the package is also nicely presented (as previously mentioned) in a jewel case with high quality front and rear covers giving the back story of the game and the controls. The copy I have is number 5 of 69 special editions that were specially created for the recent Play Expo event in Blackpool, UK and came bundled with a commemorative mug. There will be further prints available once these have all been sold, but they will not be numbered. If you'd like to know more about James & Watch: Arm or even get a copy for yourself, check out the game's page here or contact Ben on Twitter.