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  • When it comes to gaming, there's one company that evoked more nostalgia than any other.

  • That, of course, is Nintendo.

  • It continues to publish and develop some of the most popular video game franchises in the world

  • and competes among the big 3 to this day.

  • This is the evolution of Nintendo.

  • Nintendo's origins can actually be traced all the way back to 1889,

  • when it was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi as Yamauchi Nintendo.

  • Mr. Yamauchi started off by producing handmade Hanafuda,

  • which is a type of Japanese playing cards.

  • In 1959, Nintendo, which changed its name to Nintendo Playing Card,

  • entered into an agreement with Walt Disney to use the Disney characters on their cards.

  • A few years later, the company's name was shortened to just 'Nintendo',

  • with nobody being 100% sure what the word Nintendo actually means,

  • though it's thought to loosely translate as 'leave luck to heaven'.

  • Over the following years playing cards became less popular among Japanese households

  • and in 1964, the value of the company's stock began to plummet from 900 to just 60 Yen.

  • Nintendo was in heavy debt and Yamauchi was desperate to find the next big thing.

  • So, they decided to invest in new ventures,

  • like packages of instant rice

  • A taxi service

  • And the not so very family-friendly love hotels.

  • Eventually Nintendo decided to venture into the weapons business

  • Uh, I mean the toy market,

  • and released Japan's first electronic toy in 1970,

  • the Nintendo Beam Gun.

  • This would become an ancestor to the NES Zapper that was later used in video games such as Duck Hunt.

  • In 1972, an American company named Magnavox created the first commercial home video game console,

  • the Magnavox Odyssey.

  • Nintendo developed and produced a light gun accessory for the console.

  • Two years later, Nintendo also secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan.

  • Having witnessed first-hand how popular video games were,

  • Nintendo began to work on building its own consoles.

  • Nintendo's first official console was a joint effort with partner Mitsubishi.

  • Released in 1977, it was given the unimaginative title of the 'Color TV-Game 6,'

  • with the number 6 denoting how many games could be played on it.

  • Soon after, they also released the 'Color TV-Game 15',

  • TV-Game Racing 112,

  • Block Kuzushi

  • and the Computer TV Game.

  • It's hard to imagine that games on these consoles really were this simple.

  • At the same time, Nintendo was also working on developing games for arcades,

  • many of which would later be ported to consoles

  • including Donkey Kong

  • and Mario Brothers.

  • The company's first venture into handheld electronic gaming came in 1980 with the Game & Watch.

  • The product derived its name from featuring just a single game,

  • as well as a clock on an LCD screen.

  • Multiple series of the Game & Watch were made.

  • Some looking drastically different,

  • like the Multi Screen that featured two screens and a clam-shell design

  • that would later be replicated in future handheld Nintendo consoles.

  • Until 1991, Nintendo released around 60 different Game & Watch games,

  • like Ball

  • Parachute..

  • Snoopy….

  • Donkey Kong Jr

  • And Mario the Juggler.

  • To keep gamers entertained, most games came with two modes,

  • 'GAME A' representing the 'easy mode',

  • and 'GAME B' representing a faster, harder version of the same game'.

  • The Game & Watch sold 43.4 million units worldwide.

  • FUN FACT:

  • Gunpei Yokoi got the idea to create the Game & Watch

  • when he saw a bored man play with his calculator in the train.

  • In 1985 Nintendo really started to stand out from the crowd,

  • as they released the much-loved Nintendo Entertainment System, or 'NES'.

  • It was Nintendo's first home video game console released outside of Japan.

  • A different-looking version had already been released within Japan in 1983,

  • known as the Family Computer or 'Famicom',

  • and while some games and art styles varied, the consoles were essentially the same in terms of performance.

  • To say the NES was significant is an understatement.

  • It helped to revive the video game industry after the crash in 1983,

  • going on to sell 62 million units worldwide

  • and set the record for the longest-surviving video game system in history.

  • It stayed on the American market until 1995,

  • and in Japan it wasn't discontinued until 2003!

  • Many of Nintendo's most successful game franchises were born on the NES,

  • like Final Fantasy

  • Castlevania

  • Metroid

  • and the Legend of Zelda.

  • Duck Hunt was also very popular,

  • but the most-sold game for the NES, with over 40 million copies sold, was, of course,

  • Super Mario Brothers.

  • The NES was praised for its simple, yet at the time, innovative controller.

  • Joysticks were the common method of control before Nintendo designed and patented their D-pad.

  • Even though the trend has now reversed, with joysticks often being preferred,

  • D-pads were much better for playing 2D games like Donkey Kong.

  • FUN FACT:

  • Donkey Kong was the first game that involved jumping

  • and is therefore considered to be the first true platformer.

  • In 1989, Nintendo offered more versatility to gamers

  • with the handheld, brick-like Game Boy that used interchangeable cartridges.

  • This meant that gamers could simply buy a game, rather than a new device,

  • each time they wanted a different experience.

  • Remaining popular until this day, the Game Boy was portable, durable

  • and came with hugely popular titles like Super Mario Land,

  • Kirby's Dreamland,

  • Pokémon Red and Blue

  • and Tetris.

  • Nintendo released a compact version, the Game Boy Pocket, in 1996.

  • It was notably smaller and lighter, and came in different colors.

  • This Game Boy had a black-and-white display, rather than the green-tinted display of the original Game Boy.

  • The battery life however was decreased from 15 hours for the original to roughly 10 hours.

  • Two years later, the Game Boy Light hit shelves exclusively in Japan.

  • The Game Boy screen was difficult to see in the dark,

  • and the Game Boy Light fixed that problem with a backlight.

  • Next came the Game Boy Color, released in 1998.

  • It came in colorful colors and like the name suggests,

  • the Game Boy Color could display games in color.

  • Many games were re-released with color like The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

  • and Tetris.

  • Other games included Pokémon Gold and Silver,

  • Super Mario Brothers Deluxe

  • and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Seasons.

  • Needless to say but the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color were a massive success.

  • In total 118.7 million units were sold.

  • FUN FACT:

  • In 1993, a Russian cosmonaut, named Aleksandr Serebrov

  • took his Game Boy to space to play Tetris.

  • The Game Boy is said to have orbited earth 3000 times

  • and was sold at an auction for $1,220.

  • The much-anticipated successor to the NES was the SNES,

  • released in 1991 in the United States with the new 'S' standing for 'Super',

  • hence the Famicom, released one year earlier in Japan,

  • also became the Super Famicom.

  • The SNES was a 16-bit console that saw a significant increase

  • in processing power, audio and more advanced cartridges.

  • At the time, Nintendo and Sega were going head-to-head in what is referred to as 'the bit wars',

  • with advertising campaigns taking jabs at each other and both claiming to have the superior console.

  • Eventually Nintendo got the upper hand and ended up outselling its closest rival,

  • with 49 million units sold, compared to Sega Genesis' sales of 35 million.

  • The third best-selling console at the time was the TurboGrafx-16,

  • which lagged far behind with sales of 10 million units.

  • Games that appeared on the SNES included the first Mario Kart game,

  • as well as sequels to popular franchises such as Final Fantasy 6…

  • Super Mario World

  • Super Metroid

  • Donkey Kong Country

  • and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

  • The SNES controller got a makeover too,

  • with rounded edges replacing the former rectangular design

  • and additional buttons being added to both the front and shoulders of the gamepad.

  • In 1995, the Virtual Boy was released, but it was a commercial failure.

  • You had to put your head in a mounted display, which was like a VR headset.

  • VR didn't add to games at all, it was just a novelty.

  • It was also uncomfortable to wear, not portable, too expensive,

  • and games were not in full color, but in black and red

  • Those colors were just unappealing,

  • especially when compared to the colorful games in other Nintendo consoles.

  • It featured a number of games, including Mario's Tennis,

  • Wario Land

  • and 3D Tetris.

  • But those games weren't played that much,

  • since people experienced dizziness and headaches from this thing.

  • The Virtual Boy is one of the worst-selling consoles of all time,

  • with roughly 770,000 units sold.

  • FUN FACT:

  • Nintendo claimed that a color display would have made the system too expensive

  • and that it would result injumpyimages, so the company opted for a monochrome display.

  • Nintendo began to face tougher opposition when they released their next generation of console,

  • the Nintendo 64 in 1996.

  • After all, they now had to compete with the very successful PlayStation,

  • which had already been out for 2 years at that point.

  • Despite quadrupling their bits to 64 and outselling the Sega Saturn,

  • with sales figures of 33 million to just 9 million,

  • the cartridge-based N64 was no match for the CD-based PlayStation,

  • which took over the crown as market leader

  • and sold more than double the amount of the other two combined.

  • In a trend that still holds true for many today,

  • Nintendo came to be recognized as a source of fun and entertainment for families,

  • rather than a serious gaming console for individuals.

  • Nintendo's games tended to have much more cartoon-like graphics and fantasy-based characters,

  • compared to the added realism brought by other machines.

  • Having said that, the N64 did take major steps forward in terms of its modern 3D graphics

  • and featured iconic titles that are still enjoyed today.

  • It had a fantastic library of adventure and party games like Super Mario 64…

  • Super Smash Brothers

  • Pokémon Stadium

  • Donkey Kong 64…

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time….

  • Mario Kart 64…

  • And GoldenEye 007.

  • The N64 controller was a controversial change, featuring a three-pronged design

  • with a central joystick, d-pad, face and shoulder buttons

  • plus a trigger button at the back.

  • FUN FACT:

  • The epic multiplayer mode for GoldenEye was a last-minute addition.

  • Developer Steve Ellies had access to the code written for a single-player game

  • and decided to turn GoldenEye into a multiplayer game within a month.

  • So thanks, Steve!

  • Three years later than planned, in 2001, the Game Boy Advance hit store shelves.

  • It had a landscape design and incorporated shoulder buttons,

  • which is why they called it the Advance.

  • With processing power similar to that of the SNES,

  • the Advance's game library was full of SNES ports,

  • allowing gamers to play the same epic titles while on the move.

  • This, of course, included the greats like 'Super Mario World'…

  • 'The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past'…

  • And games from the 'Final Fantasy' series.

  • Pokémon games, like Ruby and Sapphire were also big hits with Advance owners.

  • A compact, foldable version of the Game Boy Advance came out in 2003, known as the 'SP'.

  • The original Game Boy Advance received complaints due to the dark screen,

  • and the SP fixed that problem using a significantly brighter LCD screen

  • and an internal front-light.

  • It was also the first of Nintendo's handheld lineup that had a rechargeable battery.

  • The Game Boy Micro came in 2005 and was much smaller than the original.

  • The design could be changed with interchangeable faceplates.

  • The Game Boy Micro did not sell well,

  • because the Nintendo DS was already released at this time.

  • In total, the Nintendo Advance family sold over 81.5 million units globally.

  • A console you probably never heard of before is the Pokémon mini, released in 2001.

  • It was the smallest game system Nintendo created and themed around the Pokémon franchise.

  • In total, only 10 games were released for the Pokémon mini,

  • most of which were only available in Japan.

  • Although it's unknown how many units were sold, the Pokémon mini certainly wasn't a success.

  • It was discontinued a year after its release.

  • If the Nintendo 64 was up against it, then the Nintendo GameCube was even more so.

  • Released in 2001, it was up against the PlayStation 2,

  • and Microsoft's new system the Xbox.

  • The GameCube looked much more kid-friendly and like a toy in comparison to its rivals.

  • Despite its name, it wasn't even a cube.

  • It measured 5.9 by 6.3 by 4.3 inches.

  • Nintendo managed to sell 22 million GameCubes.

  • Instead of using cartridges, the system switched to using mini-discs,

  • and did not use CDs or DVDs like its competitors.

  • Whereas DVDs could store up to 8.5 gigabytes of data,

  • the GameCube discs could only store 1.5 gigabytes.

  • This meant that some cross-platform content had to be compressed

  • or features removed from games entirely.

  • Another major drawback was the lack of online gameplay.

  • Reportedly, the GameCube only had eight games with internet or local area network support.

  • The console didn't feature an internal hard drive either, and relied on the use of memory cards.

  • Games which players were able to enjoy on GameCube included Super Smash Brothers Melee

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

  • Mario Kart: Double Dash….

  • Super Mario Sunshine

  • Metroid Prime

  • Animal Crossing

  • and Luigi's Mansion.

  • Nintendo got rid of the 3-pronged controller design

  • and instead opted for a more traditional two-pronged version.

  • In 2002, Nintendo made a wireless controller,

  • called the WaveBird Wireless Controller,

  • even before Xbox and PlayStation managed to do so.