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). Nintendo of Japan, the main branch of the company, is based in Kyoto, 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.

Table of contents
1 History
2 The Hardware
3 The Software and Franchises


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.

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 such hits as Metroid, and 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.

To keep up with the fierce competition of the 16-bit Sega Genesis and NEC Turbo Grafx 16, Nintendo released the Super NES (Snes) to US markets in September of 1991 (Nov 1990 for Japanese release of Super Famicom). Although it had a slow start, it eventually overtook the Sega Genesis, thanks to franchise titles such as Mario World, Zelda 3, Street Fighter 2, and the Final Fantasy series. Nintendo's stringent blood and violence policies (which was later eased up on in the mid '90's) continued to give it the apperance as the "kid's system", and was often approached skeptically by older gamers..

In 1995, Nintendo found themselves in a similar competitive situation. Former competitor Sega introduced their 32-bit Saturn, while newcomer Sony introduced the 32-bit Playstation. Fierce marketing campaigns ensued, and Nintendo was losing a large share of the market. In 1995, They introduced the Nintendo 64 (N64). Nintendo received much criticism at their choice of the dated Cartridge medium, especially considering their competition's choice of newer CD-rom storage mediums. The first 3D mario game was introduced as Super Mario 64, which was said to have set the measurment standards of 3D video games to this day. The N64 never overtook the #1 Sony Playstation, and managed to secure a solid number 2 spot.

By 2001 the next generation consoles were being released. Sega had introduced the Dreamcast in 1999, Sony answered with the PlayStation 2 (PS2), Microsoft joined the fray with the Xbox, and in September of 2001, Nintendo released the GameCube. Thanks to the popular high quality franchise titles (Mario, Zelda, F-Zero, Metroid, etc.) the GameCube assisted in squeezing out the Dreamcast and as of November 2003, it has surpassed the Xbox, but remaines #2 behind the PS2. This was made evident when the price of the GameCube was dropped to $99.

Introduced in 1989, and continuing strong today, is Nintendo's portable Gameboy systems. With several evolutions, including Pocket, Color, Advance, and Advance SP versions, the Gameboy is the single most successful, and oldest video game platform still in production. The Gameboy 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 Gameboy has been on the top of the portable game food chain since it's inception.

Dwindling sales of the gameboy was saved by the introduction of the Pokemon game, which started a phenomon of top selling video games, movies, merchandise, and TV shows. The Pokemon phenomena helped and continue to help rocket gameboy sales all around the world.

In 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, Pokemon U.S.A, and various other Nintendo affiliates over breach of contract and various of other charges relating to the Pokemon trading card game.

The Hardware

  • Game & Watch
  • Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom for short) (Japanese console)
    • Famicom Disk System (Japan only) - A large number of stores in Japan had "Disk Writers" with games stored in them that could be downloaded to a non-standard floppy disk for ¥2,000. Very popular in Japan, killed due to advancing technology that rendered the disks obsolete, and later, rampant piracy of said disks.
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (North American and European console version of the Famicom)
  • Game Boy - Portable black and white handheld system. The best-selling videogame system of all time
  • Super Famicom (Japanese console)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES or SNES for short) (North American and European console version of the Super Famicom)
  • Super Game Boy - Adapter for playing Game Boy games on the Super NES.
  • Virtual Boy - The Virtual Boy used a red monochrome 3D virtual reality like system. Fewer than two dozen games were released for it in the United States.
  • Game Boy Color- A version of the Game Boy with a simple colored screen
  • Nintendo 64 - Originally the Ultra 64, this system saw Nintendo fully embrace 3D game worlds, though their refusal to end their use of cartridges, which held less and were more costly than optical media, proved ruinous.
    • 64DD - Only released in Japan, this add-on system's games are on rewriteable disks. Games released include a paint and 3d package, F-Zero X, for creating new F-Zero tracks and a few others. An utter commercial failure, many speculated that Nintendo released it only to save face after promoting it pre-emptively for years.
  • Game Boy Advance - The new, more advanced version of the Game Boy. It was upgraded in 2003 with a backlight, a new design, and a new name: The Gameboy Advance SP. The SP stands for Special Project.
  • Nintendo GameCube - Nintendo's next-generation system; uses a proprietary DVD medium to prevent piracy and lock out third-party developers.
  • Triforce - An arcade system based on Gamecube hardware, developed in partnership with Sega and Namco.
  • Game Boy Advance SP - a fold-up version of the Game Boy Advance with a backlit screen.
  • Game Boy Player - An adapter for playing Game Boy games on the GameCube.
  • Nintendo GameCube 2 (tentative) - Nintendo plans to release its next video game console either before or at the same time as the Sony PlayStation 3.
  • Nintendo 256 (speculative)

Employed as Nintendo's chief designer, and video game producer, Shigeru producer. Mr. Miyamoto is known largly known for creating Nintendo's strong set Miyamoto is considered by many to be the most talented video game developer and of franchise titles, such as Donkey Kong, Mario, Zelda, Metroid, F-zero, Kirby, Mario-Kart, Starfox, and Pokemon.

The Software and Franchises


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 claims 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.

For many years Nintendo 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.

Nintendo has been accused of reverse piracy, especially for regional lockout. The company is also the originator of regional lockout.

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