Things you may not have known about one of the leading video games companies today
The gaming giant is now 131 years old. Before its success in the video game industry, founder Fusajiro Yamauchi first manufactured Hanafuda cards. The Japanese card producer was first established on Sept. 23, 1889, then called Nintendo Koppai. In the 1900s it became the biggest card-selling business in Japan.
Like most institutions that have stood the test of time, a lot of things have changed. Now known as Nintendo Company Ltd., the company has become one of the biggest names in the world of video games. It has brought to life the most iconic Italian plumber all of us love and adore, as well as countless other video game characters that ’90s kids and even gamers of this generation attribute themselves into.
Fans and enthusiasts may already know all of these facts about Nintendo, which is why we’re dishing out other interesting information you may not have been aware of about the multinational electronics and video game company.
The N in Nintendo could mean naughty
According to the book Nintendo: The Company and Its Founders by Mary Firestone, Hiroshi Yamauchi, the great-grandson of Fusajiro, was known for his affairs. Because hotels in Japan back then only booked rooms for a night, Hiroshi decided to open his own, which rented by the hour. It is said that he was a frequent guest of his own “love” hotels.
Meanwhile, the popular playing cards also had versions with sexy pinup models. At one point the company was party to some weird, vaguely pornographic games in the early years of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
Nintendo rice anyone?
Nintendo’s last unsuccessful venture of the ‘60s was an instant rice company, but, like the love hotel and taxi businesses, it soon closed as Hiroshi ultimately decided to focus on the company’s historic roots in gaming.
Gunpei the Game Boy
Gunpei Yokoi worked in maintenance on the assembly line in a Nintendo factory when company president Hiroshi came around. Hiroshi noticed a toy that Gunpei had built in his spare time, which became the Ultra Hand, a bestseller for the company. Gunpei was moved from the assembly line to the design suite, where he continued innovating portable video game consoles by turning a boring old calculator into Game & Watch, another huge bestseller. He later invented the Game Boy, the crown jewel of handheld gaming devices. Gunpei is also responsible for the “Beam Gun,” similar to other toy guns of the era, which fit perfectly in the arcade space. Without a doubt, he is one of the reasons Nintendo leads in the gaming industry.
Nintendo won an Emmy
In 2007, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences bestowed a belated Technological and Engineering Emmy Award on Nintendo for its “D-pad” innovation, the directional button that replaced the joy stick in home game systems.
Former Nintendo employee Howard Phillips once posted a forgotten brochure from the late ‘80s on Facebook, which demonstrated that the company played with the idea of a knitting machine peripheral attachable to the NES. The add-on and the design cartridges were apparently met with a tepid reception during an industry event and never released. The tagline would have been “Now you’re knitting with power.”
Mario was a landlord, carpenter, and janitor
During the development of Donkey Kong, Jr., a Nintendo employee pointed out that the famous plumber character looked a lot like Mario Segale, the Italian landlord of Nintendo’s US office. Thus, Mario was born. In his first special appearance in the said game, he was portrayed as a carpenter. But after a colleague remarked that his overalls made him look more like a plumber, legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto changed the character’s occupation. This alteration led to the Super Mario game to be set underground in the pipe-populated sewers of New York City.
Fast forward to 2013, when president Hiroshi Yamauchi passed away, The New York Times ran an obituary that quoted one of its own articles from 1988, in which Mario and Luigi were falsely described as janitors.
Happy Birthday, Nintendo!