You’ll rarely come across a young person without first-hand experience with Nintendo. Their legendary games and beloved characters have touched the hearts of countless gamers across the world. In light of the recent and shocking death of Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata, come with us on a look into some of the most influential moments in Nintendo history!
1. Outta Luck
It’s little known that Nintendo didn’t start off as a game and console manufacturer. In fact, Nintendo, originally created in 1889 as Nintendo Koppai, was a small handmade playing cards company that expanded to make the next closest thing: toys. The transition from making card games of luck to the more modern toys industry started Nintendo’s path to becoming the greatest game company in history.
2. Extending An Arm
One day in 1970, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo president at the time, was visiting a Nintedo card manufacturing plant. He noticed a toy that the plant’s maintenaince worker, Gunpei Yokoi, had created to pass the time: a simple but addictively fun extendable arm. Yamauchi took interest in this invention and soon had “The Ultra Arm” manufactured, selling 1.2 million to kids across Japan. Heralded as a legendary inventor, Yokoi’s many creations have helped Nintendo earn its reputation as a legendary games manufacturer.
3. Mama Mia, It’s Miyamoto!
Back when arcade games were the big thing (so, 1980), Nintendo’s attempt to move one of their hit arcade games to America failed miserably. This prompted Hiroshi Yamauchi to search for bright ideas in his own company, leading him to a young staff artist named Shigeru Miyamoto. Assisted by Yokoi, Miyamoto invented and designed a new game that took the US by storm. It was called Donkey Kong and is also known as the first appearance of your favourite mustached carpenter, Mario! Miyamoto has since been the creator of huge Nintendo hits like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, making him one of the most important Nintendo employees in history!
4. Handheld Hero
In 1989, the new kid on the block was handheld video game consoles; most importantly, it was the release of the Nintendo GameBoy. Although it lacked the power and coloured display of the competing Atari Lynx, the GameBoy had an impressive 10-hour battery life and was packaged with the super addicting Tetris game. The console sold over 119 million units and was also the first console for the popular Kirby franchise, setting them at the front of the pack once again. This was another battle won for Nintendo!
5. Gotta Catch ‘Em All!
After being pushed out of the console spotlight by Sony’s PlayStation in 1994, times were tough for Nintendo. However, their success with the handheld GameBoy market wasn’t over yet, thanks to their 1995 smash hit, Pokémon. The addictive game compelled players to actually “Catch ’em all!” and even inspired a Pokémon anime series. The hugely successful release of Pokémon captured the hearts of players around the world, helping the GameBoy to sell over 120 million units in 12 surprising years of great success.
6. Showing Responsible Leadership
After disappointing sales from the Nintendo 3DS, huge price cuts caused massive losses for Nintendo that year. However, instead of cutting pay for employees, the company’s leadership took the toll, with even President Iwata’s paycut being cut in half. Even more, when the company faced poor feedback and dropping stock prices after the release of the Wii U, Iwata refused to lay off employees to make up for the company’s losses. The responsibility and incredible leadership shown by the core members have undoubtedly made a strong foundation for the company’s future.
7. The Comeback
After turning off “serious” gamers everywhere with the GameCube, Iwata stunned the world with never-before-seen gaming innovations, namely the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii. The DS sported a revolutionary second touch screen that created a sea of new ways to interact and play games, while the Wii’s return to “real games” entertained kids, families, seniors, and even the previously disdainful “serious gamers”. By staying true to their innovative beginnings, Nintendo once again revolutionized the world’s gaming market and placed themselves at the top.
8. Not Hardcore? Not A Problem!
Corresponding with release of the DS and Wii, a torrent of new games were released that persuaded a new audience to set foot in the world of games. This new audience was the casual gamer, which included the previously untapped market of girls and women. The hit games like Brain Age and Nintendogs suited casual gamers, rather than the typically more intense games for rival consoles.
9. The President
Following his retirement in 2002, the legendary Hiroshi Yamauchi elected Satoru Iwata, president of HAL Laboratories, which was responsible for several of the big names in Nintendo games, to be his replacement. Despite being the first president outside of the Yamauchi family, Iwata proved himself capable of filling Yamauchi’s shoes. Since 2002, Nintendo has released both the Wii and the DS, among other hit games. While his death has been an immense and tragic loss for the gaming community, Iwata has always reminded us what it means to truly love video games.
On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.
10. Moving To The Future
While Nintendo has had tremendous success by following their own innovations in the past, investors and fans have persistently questioned why Nintendo hasn’t moved into the massive and modern field of mobile gaming. After refusing to degrade their iconic games to mobile form for years, Nintendo has finally teamed up with Japanese company DeNA to create a “new concept” in mobile gaming. Although the release of their project “NX” won’t be out for several years, this huge and shocking decision could create waves for Nintendo once again.