Astonishing Facts You Didn't Know About Nintendo
You might think you know everything there is to know about gaming goliath Nintendo, but it's not so cut and dry. These facts might change your perception, or at least give you something to talk about during your next Super Smash Bros tourney.
Nintendo Love Hotels
Nintendo hasn't always been just about gaming. Before they got into gaming, they were actually a playing card company, and it wasn't until Gunpei Yokoi (more on him later) invented the Ultra Hand that they started on their path to the NES. Before that, they tried their hand as a taxi company (fail), a rice company (fail), and more...but they also started a Nintendo Love Motel (mega fail, pre-Mega Man).
A love hotel in Japan is exactly what it sounds like. You can rent it hourly, and it is typically used for prostitution. It is well-known that the married Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi frequented the love hotel, and a local newspaper commented, "The only benefit Yamauchi might have derived from this is that this time he and his partners don't need to pay for the rooms, and that might in the end constitute a substantial saving." Yikes.
A Maintenance Man Invented The GameBoy
We're back to Gunpei Yokoi! Back in 1966, Nintendo president Yamauchi visited a hanafuda (playing card) factory owned by Nintendo (remember, they were in the business of manufacturing playing cards then). He took notice of an extending arm that Yokoi had made for his own amusement during his time as the machine maintenance man, and immediately asked that he develop the Ultra Hand as a toy for Nintendo. One thing led to another, and eventually Yokoi was responsible for the development of Donkey Kong, Metroid, Kid Icarus, and most notably, the Game Boy.
Players Could Call Game Counselors For Tips
In the '80s and '90s, if a gamer was stuck on a level or needed some advice about the game they were playing, they could call a hotline (855-PLAY) to get tips and help from Nintendo game counselors. With online walk-throughs and videos today, there isn't a need for this now, but it was handy in the days when phones were actually used for talking to other humans!
The Game That Was Never Released In The US
Though you might not know him by name, Shigeru Miyamoto created two of the most popular NES games, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. Interestingly, though, neither of these was his first game, and it's likely you never played his original game if you were in the United States.
Called "Devil World," the game was rejected by Nintendo of America because of strict content policies surrounding religious imagery. The game was a lot like Pac-Man, but with players killing little demons with crosses and the Bible. It has been released virtually in Japan and Europe, but it still hasn't made its way stateside.
Donkey Kong Was The First Game To Feature Jumping
You might think this is no big deal, but it was almost a full ten years after the release of Pong that Donkey Kong was released. It was an impressive feat in 1981 to have a character ("Jumpman," as he was named at the time) be able to jump over hurdles, let alone climb ladders. That's pretty cool!
Yamauchi Took Over Nintendo When He Was Only 22
Late Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi ran Nintendo for 53 years, but he was only 22 and had no intentions of running Nintendo at all when he started the job. In 1949, president of Nintendo (then a gaming card company) Sekiryo Kaneda had a stroke and called on his grandson, Yamauchi, to run the company. Yamauchi was in law school and abandoned that, and it's a good thing he did, because his leadership completely transformed Nintendo into the gaming giant we know and love today.
Remember The Magnavox Odyssey?
The NES was not Nintendo's first gaming console. That honor goes to the Magnavox Odyssey, which was actually originally a secret military project. It contained a game similar to Atari's Pong and was released in 1972.
Yamauchi Didn't Care For Baseball, But Nintendo Owned The Mariners
Even though then-Nintendo President Yamauchi didn't care for baseball and never went to a Seattle Mariners baseball game once before his death, Nintendo was the majority stakeholder of the team for some time. Nintendo owned the Mariners and Yamauchi gave them funds to that kept them in Seattle, which Seattleites appreciated. Given that Nintendo's ownership began in 1992, that's probably why there were so many Ken Griffey, Jr. games on the SNES. Nintendo still owns a 10 percent share of the team to this day.
The NES Was On The Market The Longest of Any Console
The NES originated on the market in Japan in 1983 and in the United States in 1985. A full decade later, in 1995, the United States pulled the product from the shelves, but in Japan, the product lasted TWO decades on the market, with Nintendo finally pulling the plug on the NES in Japan in 2003.
The NES holds the record for the longest-lasting gaming system in history. That's some staying power! Really makes you want to bust out Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt, huh?
The D-Pad Was A Nintendo Creation
The D-Pad (the cross-shaped directional button on the left) is a staple of gaming now, but it was developed by none other than Gunpei Yokoi when he was working on Game & Watch hardware. Nintendo patented the D-Pad, which is why Sony and Microsoft have had to go other ways with their directional pads.
Luigi Was A Byproduct Of Mario and Koopa
Luigi isn't as original as you thought. A lack of memory space resulted in Nintendo being unable to add any new colors to the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros. When designing the game’s second playable character, developers opted to recycle assets that used the same character model as Mario, but with the green color of the game’s Koopas.
Kirby Originally Had A Weird Freaking Name
We all know this puffy pink character as Kirby, but the truth is that he was originally going to be called something way weird: Tinkle Popo. Thankfully, it was changed to Kirby after Nintendo realized Tinkle Popo wouldn't go down well with American audiences. Mind you, he DOES look like something that would be called "Tinkle Popo."
Shigeru Miyamoto Is Mandated To Drive To Work
Though he's nearly 70 years old, Nintendo finds Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the most celebrated game creators of all time, too valuable to lose. Even though he would prefer to ride his bike to work, Nintendo insists that he drive, citing safety concerns around biking. But it makes sense, considering Miyamoto is one of the company's most valuable assets.
A Young Paul Rudd Was In An SNES Commercial
Everyone knows Paul Rudd is great, but now you know he's even cooler than originally thought, because my guy was in a Super Nintendo commercial! In the 1991 ad, the little-known Rudd strolled into an empty drive-in theater lot, noticed that the screen was perfect for his top-of-the-line, 16-bit graphics from SNES, and plays games by the light of the moon. Who knew?
The NES Zapper Started Out Much More Realistic-Looking
Anyone who remembers playing Duck Hunt is family with the grey and orange zapper gun, but did you know that the gun was actually much more realistic in its earlier version? The zapper for the Japanese Famicon system could easily be confused with a real revolver, which is why it was redesigned when it went on sale in the United States. This definitely sends a different message than the toy-looking zapper, so it's a good change for a child's toy.
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