Here is my essay that I wrote for English about the history of Nintendo:
The History of Nintendo
By Alex Kelley
The History of NintendoNintendo is the longest running gaming company in the world. It started making cards in Japan and is now one of the largest industries in the media world. Nintendo is and always has been flexible and innovative towards its customers.
In 1889, a man named Fusajiro Uamauchi started making playing cards in Kyoto, Japan, named Hanafuda cards. The name Nintendo Koppai was introduced to the company in 1907. The name “Nintendo” is made up of three Japanese kanji characters meaning “left to heaven’s hands.” Sekiryo Yamauchi takes over the company in 1929, after Fusajiro retired. Sekiryo made Nintendo the largest playing card company in Japan. Nintendo then got another president named Hiroshi Yamauchi in 1949. After the new management the company changed its name to Nintendo Playing Cards Co. Ltd in 1959. Nintendo started printing cards with Disney characters on them after making an agreement with Walt Disney. More than 600,000 cards were sold in Japan because of television ads.
Eleven years later, the 1970’s arrived. Nintendo now decided to start making toys instead of playing cards. The first toy by Nintendo was created by Gunpei Yokoi. It was called the “Ultra Hand” and was an arm extending device with a lever on the handle. When you gripped the handle, the “fingers” would close. The next challenge for Nintendo was the “Beam Gun,” which is a gun-like device that used opto-electric technology to knock down pre-made targets. When Nintendo made enough money in toys, they made factories specifically made for toys.
After showing they could make toys, they wanted to upgrade to the now popular video games. Nintendo purchased a bowling alley and set up Beam Gun ranges thus making one of the first arcades. Nintendo created the “Wild Gunman” game for these arcades. This wasn’t producing enough profit for Nintendo so they decided to return to making toys. Nintendo obtained the rights to sell a game system named “Magnavox Odyssey” in 1975. Two years later Nintendo teamed up with Mitsubishi to create the “TV-Game 6”, now called “TV-Game 15”, which included 6 different types of Pong. After the TV-Game release, Nintendo introduced the “Computer Othello.” This showed the people what the future of video games was. Nintendo started a team to develop arcade games.
When 1980 rolled around Nintendo produced more arcade games into the market, which weren’t successful. Nintendo’s biggest downfall in America was a game by the name of “Radar Scope.” No one liked Nintendo much after Radar Scope and stopped trusting them as much as Atari, the biggest video game producer of that time. “Nintendo of America” was losing strength and needed something to improve their sales. They created a few handheld games for the general public who didn’t want to spend quarters. The new game system was another creation by Gunpei Yokoi and was called “Game & Watch.” It was a normal watch that ran on watch batteries, but it had a game displayed in the LCD screen. Instead of graphics made of pixels, the Game & Watch used pre-drawn characters to simulate the game. Various games were Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Ball, Fire, and Parachute. In 1981, Radar Scopes’ creator, Yamauchi, wanted to bring the game back into the gaming industry. Yamauchi hired Shigeru Miyamoto, his friend’s son, for an artist on the Nintendo team. Yamauchi told Miyamoto to make a new game that could replace Radar Scope. Miyamoto didn’t know how to program the newest technology and asked the hardware and software designers to give him some pointers. He thought of an animated character named Jumpman that could run, jump, climb, and use a hammer-like weapon to defeat a gorilla named Donkey Kong, who kidnapped a princess. But the gorilla wouldn’t just be stupid--he would try to stop Jumpman with certain items. The game was called “Donkey Kong.” Jumpman was then named Mario, after Mario Segali, the landlord of Nintendo’s New York office. Donkey Kong was released in the U.S. but was rejected because arcade distributors couldn’t grasp the concept. When people started seeing the game, they thought it was amazing. The success of the game grew until it was Nintendo’s first big video game success. Miyamoto helped Nintendo get back into the video game history.
In 1983, Yamauchi went back to Japan to think of an inexpensive way to have the arcade enter the home. Even though Game & Watch was selling decently, this would be Nintendo’s biggest production yet. The name “Famicom” was thought of for the new system’s name. The Famicom, short for family computer, had better graphics and sound than any other games. “The console was also technically superior and inexpensive when compared to its competitors, priced at about $100 USD” (Wikipedia). This new system was a state-of-the-art 8-bit 6502 CPU system and it was the most advanced system for this era. Donkey Kong 3 was the first game for the Famicom. The system was just a computer that plugged into the television. The Famicom came out in Japan in July 1983. The starting games coming out for Famicom were Popeye, Donkey Kong, and Donkey Kong Jr. At the end of ’83, Mario Bros. came out. Nintendo sold more systems than the other companies even without third party support. In 1984, Nintendo developed more games such as Urban Champion, F-1 Race, Golf, Pinball, Donkey Kong 3, Excitebike, Devil World and games using a light gun like Duck Hunt, Wild Gunman, and Hogan’s Alley. Nintendo finally gained some Japanese third party support in 1985. But people weren’t interested in video games anymore. The video game industry was declining slowly but surely. Nintendo tried to bring video games back into style with the help of the now more intelligent Miyamoto. Miyamoto wanted to use Mario, the character in Donkey Kong, again. So he created a side-scrolling adventure named “Super Mario Bros.” Unfortunately, American retailers didn’t want the new game on their shelves because they still had to sell the old one and video games weren’t interesting anymore. Later in the year, Nintendo decides to release the Famicom to the U.S. but they wanted it to look like a computer for everyone more than a toy for children. They changed the name to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and released it to the Americans. After the first purchase in New York people become interested in the new system. Later the “Metroid” and “Zelda” games were released in the U.S. on the new NES console. The Legend of Zelda game was one of the first, best-selling games on the NES. Link, the main character, became a Nintendo idol like Mario (Donkey Kong) and Samus (Metroid). Japan was then introduced to a follow up to Mario Bros. with the title of “Super Mario Bros.” But unfortunately, America didn’t want to sell the game so Nintendo of America took a game named “Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic” and changed the Arabian-looking characters to look like Mario and Luigi and added two new characters: Toad, a walking mushroom looking person, and Princess Peach Toadstool, the princess from Donkey Kong.
In 1988 the Nintendo cereal was made and it was known for the best-tasting cereal ever. On the back of the cereal boxes were “Power Cards” that portrayed such Nintendo characters as Mario Princess Peach, Zelda and more.
The NES was making enough profit from both America and Japan that they decided to make a new handheld system. Unknown to Nintendo, this new system will be the longest-selling console in the history of gaming. The new system was called the Game Boy. The Game Boy was a portable gaming device like the Game & Watch but it was powered by AA batteries and had a LCD screen, was 8-CPU powered, and with four shades of gray. Once again created by Gunpei Yokoi, the Game Boy is released in Japan with “Super Mario Land and then released in the U.S. with “Tetris,” a puzzle game created by a Russian developer.
The Game Boy was selling excellently and the NES was sailing smoothly. Nintendo had brought the gaming industry back to America and the ‘90’s were here. Nintendo decided to make a movie to show off the newest game coming out later. The movie was called “The Wizard” and featured a boy who runs away with his siblings and was great at games. During the climax the boy goes to a gaming tournament where they show “Super Mario Bros. 3”, the new game coming out. After its debut and release, Super Mario Bros. 3 was one of the best-selling games ever.
Even though the Nintendo systems were fun, people got tired of the 8-bit world and started buying the 16-bit Sega Genesis. Nintendo counteracted this problem with the release of the Super Famicom in Japan and then the American release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Both of the systems were more powerful than Sega’s console and displayed more colors, had a better sound, and 3-D simulations. The system was booming. “Super Mario World” was the fourth release of the Super Mario Series and came out on the SNES, and it was sold out everywhere. After the release of Super Mario World in 1991, Miyamoto said “Who knows what Mario will look like in the future. Maybe he will wear metallic clothes!” (Anthony Eaton). Mr. Miyamoto didn’t know how right he was.
Nintendo teamed up with Sony to create the Super NES CD-ROM but the system was canceled. Nintendo then teamed with Philips to make the Philips CD-I in an attempt to catch up to SegaCD. Philips received the license to sell games on the CD-I that included characters such as Mario, Zelda, Luigi, and more. Sony was angry at Nintendo’s betrayal and continued making the CD-ROM system. Sony called their first system the “Playstation.”
In 1994, Nintendo decided it wanted to continue the gaming world by creating a new 64-bit console. This idea was code named: Project Reality. Nintendo announced that they would not use the CD-ROM tech on Project Reality, now known as Ultra 64. The Ultra 64 was on high demand and people stopped wanting to play SNES games. At the next Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Nintendo showed footage of Donkey Kong Country for the Ultra 64 and people were amazed by the awesome graphics on the system and game. The audience was completely surprised when they found out Donkey Kong Country was on the SNES and really not on the Ultra 64. The SNES was back and still selling games. Rare, Donkey Kong Country’s producer, was the top dog of the new age and was leaving Miyamoto behind. Later that year, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy which created a more 3-D feel by having an open screen where buyers could put their faces. But because the graphics were all red-based (displays only red), the Virtual Boy was the first Nintendo failure in Japan and America. Gamers were getting headaches and neck pain from the system after playing hours of the system. Nintendo went back to developing the Ultra 64.
Nintendo changed the name “Ultra” to “Nintendo” to build popularity for the console. “Nintendo 64 console is released in the United States at the MSRP of $199.95” (Moby Games). “The Nintendo 64, as it was called, was to use the same technology as an SGI Graphics workstation, allowing amazing realistic 3-D environments with an unprecedented level of detail” (Planet Nintendo). The 64 also came out with a new controller design that had a joystick, 10 buttons, and an opening in the back that a gamer could put a “Rumble Pack” or a memory card into. But despite the new controller look, the Nintendo 64 didn’t sell so well because the developers wanted to make games on CDs instead of cartridges. The N64 was released to Japan with “Super Mario 64.” The game didn’t look like anything anyone else had seen before. The game allowed the player to be submerged into a 3-D world. After the release of Mario Kart 64 in 1997, Nintendo still showed they were still at the top even though Sony’s Playstation was gaining casual gamers.
In 1998, Miyamoto created Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The game made it look like the player could enter the world of Hyrule, the Legend of Zelda’s main setting. The new Zelda game was proclaimed by many gamers as the best game ever. Even today people see it as the best game of all time.
Pokemon was a big franchise in Japan and was becoming a huge thing in the U.S. Pokemon Blue, Red, Snap, Pinball, Yellow, Silver, Gold and many more started selling great. Pokemon was starting to be made into merchandise like comic books, T-shirts, socks, toys, videos, movies, and even underwear. Pokemon was bringing in huge profits for Nintendo. The biggest Pokemon product was the Pokemon Cards, which was eventually banned from most schools in the U.S. for disrupting school and causing fights over the cards.
In 2000 in Japan, Nintendo announced its new project code named “Project Dolphin,” later named “Nintendo Gamecube.” The Game Boy Advance was also introduced to the public as a 32-bit handheld system with a 32 thousand color palette. With both new consoles arriving soon, Nintendo looked like it was going be as big as it was 15 years earlier.
Nintendo has come a long way and its next console, the Nintendo Wii, will show how much more innovative the gaming world can be. The Wii will have a remote control-looking controller that the player can move without much restriction. The Wii’s release in October will excite many gamers including myself. I plan on buying the system as soon as it comes out to further gain historical knowledge on Nintendo. Also, the Game Boy franchise is still continuing to grow as the new Game Boy Advance SP was released in March of 2003, and the newest installment as the Game Boy Micro, released in October 2005. A new handheld system that is not within the Game Boy series is the Nintendo DS which feature a normal Game Boy Screen and a touch-sensitive lower screen for more interactive play. The “DS” was released in March 2005 and a newer version called the DS Lite will soon be released on June 11 of this year. Nintendo is the longest producer of games in video game
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5. Turner, Ben. “Nintendo History.” PlanetNintendo.com 26 Mar. 2002. 10 May 2006. <http://www.planetnintendo.com/community/nintendo/>.