The History Of Nintendo


Nintendo Logo

Before Pong hypnotized audiences, Nintendo had released the “Color TV-Game” systems, which came packaged with six or fifteen games. It was around this time that Nintendo hired Shigero Miyamoto, who would become the most famous video game designer of all time. As Gunpei Yokoi was coming up with the mega-successful Game&Watch hand-helds, Miyamoto masterminded the world-changing Donkey Kong arcade game, introducing a moustachioed protagonist on a quest to save his damsel in a pink dress from a barrel-wielding gorilla.



Donkey kong

In the game, a user controls a character called Jumpman, who later become known as the iconic character, Mario. His mission is to traverse levels with multiple hazards to rescue his girlfriend, who would later be known as Pauline, from the grasp of the angry ape, Donkey Kong. Some of those hazards included barrels.

Nintendo’s American division was unsure it would be a hit at first, but their misgivings would prove wrong. The game proved a huge hit in arcades across the world. often times Donkey Kong is refered to as the first true platform game.

Two arcade sequels, Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3, were later released. The franchise lived on with the critically-acclaimed Donkey Kong Country series on the Super Nintendo and what’s commonly called Donkey Kong ’94 for the game boy. Since then, the character has switched from antagonist to protagonist, appearing in many Mario-related series like Mario Kart and Mario Party as well as his own games, such as Donkey Konga and Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast.

Everything changed in 1983 with the debut of the Famicom, released two years later in the Western world as the NES. Fearful of the growing stigma against video games, Nintendo astutely avoided the term all together, coming up with Famicom by condensing the English words family and computer, a naming tactic they would revisit in the late 1990′s. Super Mario Bros, starring the same protagonists from Donkey Kong, proved an immediate success around the globe.




1985 began an evolution for Nintendo with the introduction of the “Nintendo Entertainment System” (NES) in America. The system included R.O.B- Robotic Operating Buddy- and the games Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario Bros. Characters, Mario and Luigi, soon became the most popular video characters of all time. In 1988, the NES achieved the status as the #1 selling toy in America, and the Legend of Zelda became the first new generation home video game to exceed sales of one million copies. The game library soon grew to over 65 titles, which helped broaden the demographics of game players, including adults. At this point, Nintendo was flexing its muscles to become a dominant force in the entertainment industry. In fact, studies show that children are as familiar with “Mario” as they are with Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse (which are some pretty big shoes to fill). Also in 1989, Nintendo introduced the Game Boy, the first portable, hand held game system.


nintendo character mash up


After five solid years of success with the NES, Nintendo released the 16-bit Super Famicom in Japan. One year later the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was brought to America, along with the long awaited “Super Mario Bros.” Also with the SNES Super Scope, Mario Paint, and SNES Mouse, “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” arrive for the system.


nintendo 64 logo

1996 was an exciting year for Nintendo, but also a year of questions and uncertainty. With the launch for the Nintendo 64, Nintendo is entered uncharted ground with the first true 64-bit home video game system. Since Nintendo’s release of the SNES, stiff competition from companies like Sega’s Saturn, and Sony’s 32-bit Playstation, critics are asking if Nintendo is still the king of the hill of the video game industry. The company that changed the face of entertainment is in tough to new comers like first year Sony. The last few years had been won over by Sony’s growing alliance of fans, and it was important for Nintendo to come back strong. Judgement day would land on June 23 for Nintendo. So on that very day, thousands lined up in Japan to be the first to witness the N64 experience. More than 500,000 systems were sold on the first day. On September 29, Nintendo 64 launches in North America, and the entire shipment of 350,000 units were sold in the first three days. It was safe to say that Nintendo was still a solid player in the industry, but had obviously lost some ground to competition. In 1998, the release of the Game Boy color, and Game Boy Camera and Printer were introduced. But the big news is the release of “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” for the N64, which pre-sold more than 400,000 copies, the most by any video game ever.


Nintendo Gamecube




Already in 2000 Nintendo announced it was developing a new console called The Dolphin. The system was being developed in heavy secrecy, but finally in late 2001 the system was announced as the Nintendo Game Cube (GCN). The system was the second-to-last console to be released in the sixth console generation, a full year after Sony’sPlayStation 2 and in the aftermath of the Sega Dreamcast‘s discontinuation.

The system resembled its other major competitors by being a system using optical media for its game. However, unlike its competitors Nintendo used specifically designed and unique Mini-DVDs. This also resulted with the requirement to use Memory Cards in order to save game-data (which was not required on the cartridge based N64) but also was the only console to feature four controller ports (just like the N64). Nintendo also loosened its game-release policies and was able to gain more third-party support than in the previous console generation. In addition Nintendo had huge commercial successes with games like “Super Mario Sunshine”, “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker”, “Super Smash Bros. Melee” and “Resident Evil 4″ as well re-releases and updated ports of games previously only available on its competing systems.

But despite its considerable image and commercial boost the Game Cube could not restore Nintendo’s standing as the leading console manufacturer. The PS2 had gained immense momentum both as a game-system and as an affordable DVD-player and, in spite of initial criticism, Microsoft‘s Xbox console, released soon after the Game Cube, became a strong gaming platform due to the innovation of an internal hard-drive and greater technical flexibility than its competing consoles.






Nintendo’s Wii, first code-named Revolution, was an extremely different console compared not only to the Game Cube but other traditional consoles as well. Released almost two years after Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and less than a year before Sony’s PlayStation 3 the Wii made its mark quickly due to its unusual motion-sensing technology. Nintendo also opened the market to more casual gamers, inviting people with no prior experience with video-games with titles focusing on personal fitness as well as more child oriented titles.

Although Nintendo has received criticism for apparently abandoning its core demographic, the company continues to release games in its highly popular Mario, Zelda and Metroid franchises. In addition online-services play a much bigger part with the console through downloadable titles from the Wii Store. New titles are released through WiiWare and old games both from Nintendo’s older systems and from its competitors (Sega, SNK, NEC) are available through download on Virtual Console. In addition the system is fully backwards compatible with Game Cube’s games.


This was to be followed up with the Wii U the first Nintendo console to support high-definition graphics, capable of producing video output up to 1080p, and has 2 GB of RAM with half dedicated to the console’s operating system.


The Wii U received mixed reviews. John Teti of The A.V. Club’s Gameological Society considers the Wii U a compelling video game system which lacks focus, citing Nintendo Land as “ideas act[ing] in service of the technology” simply to show off features of the console. Ben Gilbert ofEngadget states that Nintendo delivers on its promise of releasing “a modern HD gaming console,” but notes that, “there are also some major missteps and half-baked ideas: a befuddling Friends List / Miiverse connection, a complete lack of many system-wide console standards (group chat, achievements, the ability to play non-game disc-based media) and a game controller that lasts only 3.5 hours,” and states that he cannot give a complete assessment of the console with online components such as Nintendo TVii missing at launch time. Similarly, TechRadarpraised the system’s Gamepad functionality and HD graphics, but criticized the limited battery power for the Gamepad, and that there was not much of a system seller around its launch period.[ Some industry figures have claimed that the Wii U is not an 8th generation console, with some citing the hardware as the reason. Reggie Fils-Aime, COO of Nintendo of America, however, has noted that similar comments were made in 2006 when the Wii first launched.

By May 2013, Electronic Arts announced that they were dialing back support for the console and had no games in development for it at the time, however they have partially reconsidered this decision a few days later, with EA’s CFO announcing that “We are building titles for the Nintendo console, but not anywhere near as many as we are for PS or Xbox”. At E3 2013, Ubisoft revealed that they were not going to make any more exclusives for the Wii U until sales of the console improve, though they stated shortly after that they are still “big supporters” of the Wii U, and plan to release as many Wii U games in 2013 as they did in 2012.  Bethesda Game Studios has announced that as of July 2013 they currently have no games in development for the Wii U, with Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines explaining the decision: “It depends on the games that we are making and how we think it aligns with that console, and how the hardware aligns with the other stuff we are making”.  At the end of July, 2013, Walmart subsidiary Asda, the second-largest supermarket chain in the UK, confirmed that they are no longer stocking the Wii U, but would still stock games “on a title by title merit basis”.

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