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Nintendo (任天堂) (Ninten is translated roughly as "leave luck to heaven" or "in heaven's hands," do is a common suffix for names of shops or laboratories.) was originally founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce handmade hanafuda (Japanese playing cards). Over the years, it changed to a video game company and became one of the most powerful companies in the video game industry. Nintendo of Japan, the main branch of the company, is based in Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Nintendo of America, its North American division, is based in Redmond, Washington and Nintendo of Europe, the European division, is based in Großostheim, Germany.

Nintendo is the longest running company in the history of the video game console market. They have been in the U.S. market since 1985 and have manufactured four TV consoles; the Famicom/NES, the Super Famicom/Super NES, N64, the current GameCube, and five versions of their popular handheld console, the GameBoy.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Rise of TV Consoles
3 Early 1990s
4 1995
5 Current era
6 Portability
7 Happenings
8 The Hardware
9 The Software and Franchises
10 Franchises that were established on Nintendo systems
11 Arcade games released by Nintendo
12 Policies
13 See also


In 1950, Hiroshi Yamauchi, great-great-grandson of Fusajiro and future president of Nintendo, made a deal with Disney to produce playing cards featuring Disney characters, when Nintendo came to make western-style playing cards as well as hanafuda at that period. Even from its early history it was clear that Nintendo was focused on making entertainment for children. These cards sold millions of packs, and made Nintendo enough money to move into other ventures, particularly toys.

By the late 1970s, Nintendo had begun to lose market share to electronic game manufacturers such as Bandai, and they responded with the Game & Watch; series (small single-screen LCD games) which were created by the late visionary Gunpei Yokoi, as well as a series of arcade games. In 1980, Nintendo of America (NOA) was established by Yamauchi's son-in-law, Minoru Arakawa.

Rise of TV Consoles

Nintendo introduced the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the United States in 1985 after a successful launch of the Famicom in Japan. The NES is often considered to be the "savior" of the video game industry. Nintendo debuted Super Mario Bros, and later hits such as Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda, helping to boost a market which seriously diminished in the early 1980s (often called "Video game crash of 1983" or "The Great Video Game Crash of the 80's").

By the end of the 1980's the courts found Nintendo guilty of anti-trust activities because it had abused its relationship with 3rd party developers and created a monopoly in the gaming industry by forcing developers not to make games for any other platforms.

Early 1990s

Nintendo released the Super Famicom in November 1990 in Japan to fight against the Sega Megadrive and the PC Engine.

In September 1991, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in North America, to compete with the Sega Genesis. This became an intense competition for the 16-bit era.

In 1992, the SNES was released in Europe as the rival to the Sega Megadrive.

In Japan, the Super Famicom easily took control of the gaming market.

Despite a slow start, the SNES in North America eventually overtook the Sega Genesis, thanks to franchise titles such as Super Mario World, , Street Fighter 2, and the Final Fantasy series. Nintendo of America's stringent blood and violence policies was later eased up on in the mid '90's. Nintendo initially contracted with Sony to develop an addon CD-ROM drive to the SNES, but after Sony announced a standalone version of the drive, Nintendo terminated the contract and went with Phillips. Either way, nothing happened about the addon drive in regard to the SNES, but Sony took the time and research and began to spin it off into a standalone product, the PlayStation. Nintendo announced their alliance with Phillips at the same conference that Sony announced their CD-ROM drive.

The system did not do as well as the Megadrive in Europe. This isn't terribly surprising, as Europe has historically been Nintendo's weakest market. During the NES era, Nintendo of Europe found itself in the odd position of actually producing several titles for the Sega Master System. However, today Nintendo has formed a partnership with Sega, and the monopoly has ended.


In 1995, Nintendo found themselves in a similar competitive situation. Competitor Sega introduced their 32-bit Saturn, while newcomer Sony introduced the 32-bit PlayStation. Sony's fierce marketing campaigns ensued, and it started to cut into Nintendo and Sega's market share. In September 1996, Nintendo introduced the Nintendo 64 (N64). Nintendo had made a shocking move for their choice of the out-dated Cartridge medium, especially considering their competition's choice of emerging CD-ROM storage mediums. The first 3D Mario game was introduced as Super Mario 64, which was said to have set the measurement standards of 3D video games to this day. The N64 managed to secure a solid #2 spot under the #1 Sony PlayStation.

Current era

By 2001 the next generation consoles were being released. Sega had introduced the Dreamcast in 1999, Sony answered with the PlayStation 2, Microsoft joined the fray with the Xbox, and in November of 2001, Nintendo released the GameCube. Nintendo has continued with their popular high quality franchise titles, such as, Mario, , Star Fox, Metroid, Super Smash Bros, and a new series called Pikmin. As of March 2004, total U.S. sales of the GameCube has surpassed 7 million units, which put it in second place in total worldwide sales ahead of the Xbox. This was made evident when the price of the GameCube was dropped to $99.99 in September 2003. Nintendo continues to hold a strong market in all worldwide regions.


Introduced in 1989, and continuing strong today, were Nintendo's portable Game Boy systems. With several evolutions, including Pocket, Color, Advance, and Advance SP versions, the Game Boy is the single most successful, and oldest video game platform still in production. The Game Boy has been known for putting over a dozen other portable systems out of business (Including Nintendo's other attempts such as the Virtual Boy). Due to low battery consumption, durability, and a library of over a thousand games, the Game Boy has been on the top of the portable game food chain since its inception.

Slowing sales of the Game Boy were assisted by the introduction of the Pokémon game, which started a phenomenon of top selling video games, movies, merchandise, and TV shows. The Pokémon phenomena helped and continue to help rocket Game Boy sales all around the world.

In June 2004, Nintendo re-released eight separate NES games to the GameBoy Advance called the Classic NES Series. The current titles are:


2002, Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down as the president of Nintendo and named Satoru Iwata his successor.

In 2003, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, sued Nintendo, Pokémon U.S.A, and various other Nintendo affiliates over breach of contract and various of other charges relating to the Pokémon trading card game.

In early 2004 Nintendo announced a new portable game console, called Nintendo DS. It's expected worldwide release will be in late 2004. The Nintendo DS is going to be marketed separately from their Game Boy Advance and GameCube consoles, it will have two three inch backlit TFT LCD screens, separate processors and up to 1 Gigabit (128 MB) of memory. The Nintendo DS will not be compatible with the GameCube, but has been reported that it will play Game Boy Advance cartridges. It was unveiled at the E3 gaming expo in May 2004.

The Hardware

Nintendo's chief designer, and video game producer, is Shigeru Miyamoto. Mr. Miyamoto is largely known for creating Nintendo's most popular games. Miyamoto is considered by many to be the most talented video game developer in the industry. He is known for several franchise titles, such as Donkey Kong, Mario, Zelda, F-zero, Mario Kart, Starfox, and Pikmin.

Nintendo Power is a monthly news and strategy magazine from Nintendo. The first issue published was July/August of 1988 spotlighting the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2. They are still being published today with over 180 issues.

The Software and Franchises

Franchises that were established on Nintendo systems

In addition to its notable first party franchises, Nintendo consoles were where a number of popular console franchises began.

Franchises established on the NES

Franchises established on the Gameboy

Franchises established on the SNES

Franchises established on the N64

Franchises established on the GBA

Franchises established on the GameCube

Arcade games released by Nintendo


Nintendo is known for hard-line stance against
emulation of its video game consoles. It claims that mask work copyright protects its Game Paks from the exceptions that United States copyright law otherwise provides for software. Until mid-2002, the company also claimed that emulators have no use other than to play pirated video games, contested by some who say emulators such as LoopyNES (for NES) and VisualBoyAdvance (for GBA) have been used to develop and test independently produced software. The revival of the NES and SNES through emulation has gradually settled down, and NES and SNES ROMs are actually getting easier to find. However, Nintendo's opposition remains, due largely to its tendency to re-release old games within new ones, as with Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime, and the The Legend of Zelda Collectors Edition, as well as with the new release of many NES games, mostly first-party, for the Game Boy Advance. The enhanced remake idea sometimes curbs the need for emulation of NES quality games on the Nintendo GameCube.

For many years Nintendo of America also had strict censorship regulations on its games, and had a long list of objects, situations, and phrases that were not allowed to appear in Nintendo games. Among the banned subject matter was the appearance of blood, gore, nudity, religious icons (such as crosses), swearing, and smoking. This zero tolerance policy was popular with parents, but unpopular with older, mature gamers who felt they were being "babied." Upon the advent of a video game ratings system in 1994, the censorship practices were largely abandoned.

See also

External links