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The Evolution of Nintendo

Tuesday 21st February 2017

Whether you’re a gamer or not, we’re sure the word Nintendo brings back nostalgia no matter which generation you are. Nintendo has a gaming console that each generation has grown up with; whether that be the classic Gameboy or the not so retro Wii console. Now, they bring us the much-anticipated Nintendo Switch which is released on Friday 3rd March. Ahead of this, we decided to delve a little deeper into the history and the evolution of Nintendo to find out where it all began. Surprisingly, Nintendo goes way back before Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros became household names. 

1889 – Hanafuda Cards

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This is where it gets interesting. Nintendo actually began in the business of playing cards in 1889 in Kyoto, Japan where it was originally named ‘Nintendo Koppai’ by creator Fusajiro Yamauchi’. These cards were called Hanafuda Cards, they were hand made and were used to play multiple games, similar to the 52 deck playing cards we’re used to. Nintendo was solely in the card game industry until the seventies when they began experimenting with electronic games.

1949 – Hiroshi Yamaguchi

It was in 1949 when, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Fusajiro’s grandson began his 53-year run and transformed Nintendo from the hand-made playing cards company to what it is today – a global video game publisher. Who would have thought it, that Nintendo came from very humble beginnings. 

1975 – Donkey Kong

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Fast forward twenty years, and after dabbling around with toys such as the Ultra Hand, it was then that Nintendo took an interest in video gaming. The first game that they developed was in 1975 and called the EVR Race, shortly to follow was the infamous Donkey Kong in 1981. The princess-napping ape was first released on the Atari 2600 as well as in arcades.

1980 – Game & Watch

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With Nintendo securing themselves as a contender in the world of video games, they began experimenting with handhelds and launched the Game & Watch in 1980 – the predecessor to Gameboy. Your favourites like Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario Bros were all available on the Game & Watch.

1983  – The Video Game Crash

It wasn’t always plain-sailing for Nintendo though, its first console, titled the Famicom was released in 1983 solely in Japan. The same year of the Video Game Crash of 1983, plus complaints of the FamiCom freezing meant that it wasn’t a success.

1985 – Introducing the NES

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That was until 1985, when they redesigned and changed the name, bringing the world the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), sound familiar? With the NES, along came one of the greatest games of all time, Super Mario Bros. It catapulted Mario, Luigi and Princess Toadstool on to the gaming scene and became one of the fastest-selling games of all time.

1989 – Game Boy

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Nintendo’s second hand-held gaming device, the Game Boy revolutionised hand-held gaming and made the world go crazy for Tetris. Designed by the legendary Gunpei Yokoi and his team, it combined the Game & Watch console with the NES. So popular, that it’s still played today.

1990 – Super Nintendo Entertainment System

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Nintendo’s second home-console was in extreme competition with Sega’s Genesis. The SNES secured the first console version of the retro classic Street Fighter and Donkey Kong Country which probably led to its huge popularity, even still today amongst retro gamers.

1993 – NES 101

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A redesign of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

1995 – Virtual Boy

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Not heard of this one? It’s no surprise as it was Nintendo’s lowest-selling platform and is one of the few failed products by Nintendo. So what is it? It simulated a 3D view which in turn was found to be damaging to the eyes. It discontinued in early 1996.

1996 – Nintendo 64

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Nintendo’s third home console system, the N64 was the last home console to use cartridges. You have this console to thank for your love for masterpieces such as Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda, GoldenEye 007 and many more!

1997 – SNS-101

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A redesign of the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

1998 – Game Boy Color

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A more sophisticated design of the original GameBoy with colour screen.

2001 – GameCube

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Nintendo’s worst-selling console of all time, the sixth generation GameCube was the first console from Nintendo not to use cartridges and instead 8-cm discs. It’s best-selling games were Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash.

2004 – Nintendo DS

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Nintendo’s best-selling Nintendo game system, the Nintendo DS is an evolved version of the Game & Watch and the GameBoy. The handheld game has WIFI, touch screen and a built in microphone and gamers could play the fourth and fifth generation Pokemon games.

2006 – Wii

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The more simplistic of the five previous major home consoles, designed for those that play games rarely. This introduced the Wii sports thanks to its movement detecting Wii remote.

2011 – Nintendo 3DS

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Nintendo’s eight-generation hand-held video game has the ability to display 3D without the need for glasses.

2012 – Wii U

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The first Nintendo console to display HD visuals, Wii U comes with the Wii U gamepad which features a touch screen to be able to play away from the TV. It’s the predecessor to the much-anticipated Nintendo Switch.

2017 – Nintendo Switch

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The Nintendo Switch is about to transform your gaming experience, it is the first console to convert from a home games console to a portable system in an instant.

2017 – Nintendo 2DS XL

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New Nintendo 2DS XL plays all Nintendo 3DS games in 2D. With a large 4.88 inch screen, and weighing in at around 260 grams, it’s a new kind of Nintendo 2DS!

Get your hands on one from Game at The Harvey Centre!


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