Throughout The Ages – Nintendo

Hey there guys and welcome to another ‘Throughout The Ages’. This week we’ll have a look at the company Nintendo. We’ll discuss the history of Nintendo in a nutshell, talk about their major achievements and future plans. Alright, let’s kick it off with a bit of a history lesson.

Nintendo is an international company based in Japan and was founded in 1889. The company started out as a manufacturer of handmade  hanafuda-cards, which are used in the Japanese card game with the same name. During the second half of the 20th century, the company moved into the toy industry with the Ultra Hand, an extendable arm developed by a maintenance engineer.  Gunpei Yokoi as he was called was then moved to a new division within Nintendo called ‘Nintendo Games’. Nintendo continued to produce several popular toys but found itself left behind by other toy sellers such as Bandai.
 
In 1973, its focus shifted to family entertainment venues with the Laser Clay Shooting System, which resulted in the birth of the ever popular Duck Hunt on the NES, using the same light gun technology used in Nintendo’s Kousenjuu series of toys. Following some success, Nintendo developed several more light gun machines for the emerging arcade scene. The arcades had to be shut down due to excessive costs, but Nintendo found its new market. And this is where it starts to get really interesting for us.
 
Nintendo began to produce its own hardware in 1977, with the Color TV Game home video game consoles. Four versions of these consoles were produced, each including variations of a single game, for example, Color TV Game 6 featured six versions of Light Tennis. Now that’s what I call vintage games. Shigeru Miyamoto was hired at this time to design the casing for several of the Color TV Game consoles. Miyamoto went on to create, direct and produce some of Nintendo’s most famous video games and become one of the most recognizable figures in the video game industry such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend Of Zelda.
 
The NES
In 1975, Nintendo moved into the video arcade market. Nintendo achieved some small success with this, but when Donkey Kong released in 1981 Nintendo’s revenues skyrocketed.  In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer or ‘Famicom’, known outside Japan as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In 1985, the NES launched in North America, and was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., currently one of the best-selling video games of all time. Then, a couple of years later in 1989 Nintendo released their first handheld gaming system, the Gameboy.
Nintendo 64
The NES was succeeded by the Super Famicom, known outside Japan as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). This was Nintendo’s console of the 16-bit 4th generation. Nintendo’s next home console, the Nintendo 64, was released in 1996 and featured 3D graphics and multiplayer up to 4 people. This console was another boost for Nintendo’s profits with popular games such as Goldeneye and The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Both games I mentioned are still considered as one of the best ever released, and I can only agree.
 
 
In 2001, the Nintendo GameCube joined the ranks. This console introduced optical discs instead of cartridges. Playstation already did this with their Playstation One, which worked with CDs as opposed to the Nintendo 64 which still used cartridges. Nintendo’s most recent home console is the Nintendo Wii. For this console Nintendo focused more on the fun factor of a game rather than the graphics. The Nintendo Wii became famous because of the way it’s designed. Players are supposed to move the controller to play games, rather than solely press buttons. This feature appealed to a lot of people of all ages, rather than just gamers. Personally, I feel like the Wii became the family console where the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 remain the more gamer focused of this generation.
Nintendo DS

Naturally, Nintendo also kept releasing new handheld consoles. The most notable after the original Gameboy are the Gameboy Advanced and the Nintendo DS(Dual Screen). The Nintendo DS features several new things such as a touch screen, movement based gameplay and 3D graphics.
 

Nintendo is obviously a very innovative company with lots of great people with great ideas working behind the scenes to bring us the entertainment we want. But what is Nintendo planning next? Well, in the very near future Nintendo will release its new Nintendo 3DS (I might do an in-depth article on this one, so keep on the lookout) and next to that, I’m sure the developers are working very hard on a new home console, since it has already been 5 years since the release of the Wii. So it’s just about time we get to see a new generation of gaming consoles, from all developers (looking at you Sony and Microsoft). I, for one, can’t wait to see what Nintendo will throw at us next.

 
/Niels

~ by Niels Van Hellemont on March 16, 2011.

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