Every new console release Nintendo is an event around the world. Each game Mario or Zelda ignites the fans. The ultra popular brand is a safe bet for all generations, and its history is full of funny anecdotes, secrets and revolutions. Small anthology with these ten examples.
1 – The origin of the name Nintendo
The choice of the name Nintendo remains a mystery even today. Founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi under the name Yamauchi Nintendo, the exact meaning of its name is unclear since no written or audio evidence exists to this day, but it is assumed that Nintendo means “leave luck in Heaven”.
2 – Nintendo originally sold card games
Obviously, consoles did not exist in 1889 when Nintendo was created. It was originally a company specializing in playing cards. In the 1960s, the company then branched out into several different industries, including taxis and instant cooking rice (yes, you read that right). It was not until 1972 that Nintendo set foot in the world of video games.
3 – The Game Boy was invented by an old maintenance man
Nintendo’s first portable console allowing multiple games to be played, and which is still cult today, was designed by engineer Gunpei Yokoi. Nothing surprising so far, but did you know he started his career at Nintendo as a maintenance man? Very brilliant, he quickly rose through the ranks and was noticed by the thinking heads of Nintendo. His invention revolutionized the world of video games.
4 – Donkey Kong is the first game in which a character can jump
Donkey Kong was one of Nintendo’s first cult video games, in which the player takes on the role of a hero named Jumpman whose mission was to save a princess kidnapped by a giant gorilla. The character is none other than the ancestor of Mario and his first name is no coincidence. Why Jumpman? Quite simply because he had the ability to… jump! A first in the world of video games.
5 – Final Fantasy was originally a Nintendo game
Released on PlayStation in 1997, Final Fantasy VII is one of the greatest games in video game history, but did you know it might never have been released on PlayStation? While the previous 6 games were released on Nintendo consoles, this seventh chapter should have been released on Super Nintendo at the time. But a development problem forced Squaresoft to take a drastic decision: to release the game on the consoles of the new generation. However, the company wanted to take advantage of CD-ROM technology given the size of the game and therefore proposed to Sony to release Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation rather than using Nintendo 64 cartridges.
6 – The NES is the console with the greatest longevity
History is an eternal restart for video game consoles: one generation replaces another, and so on year after year. But for the NES, the story is different. Sold in Japan in 1983, and two years later in the United States, it remained on the market until 2003 on the territory of the archipelago. 20 years of longevity, for one of the most beloved consoles still to this day.
7 – The GameCube is not… a cube
The anecdote may make you smile, but it’s the reality. Designed by Kenichiro Ashida at Nintendo, the GameCube has the following dimensions: 15cm wide, 10cm high and 15cm deep. It is the most compact console of its generation, and its presence on the market lasted only 5 years, with 22 million units sold.
8 – The best-selling Nintendo game is not a Mario
A Nintendo game has sold 82.9 million copies, a huge number the brand doesn’t owe to any of its many Mario games. Super Mario Bros., for example, only comes in second with 48.2 million copies sold. The game at the top is nothing else that Wii Sports ! Astonishing? Not that much: it was sold as a bundle with the Wii, which has sold 101.63 million consoles worldwide. Will a Nintendo game ever break this record?
9 – Tom Hanks could have played in the film Super Mario Bros.
In 1993, Bob Hoskins became Mario in the first film adapted from a video game. But another actor was to play the most famous of plumbers: Tom Hanks. In an interview for the American site io9, Jeff Ryan, the author of the book Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, says: “Nintendo got rid of Tom Hanks because he wasn’t considered a popular movie star. It was not worth its price! “ He asked for the sum of 5 million euros to put on Mario’s costume. A year later he was starring in the hugely successful Forrest Gump.
10 – The Legend of Zelda, the first game in which we could save
Released in 1986 in Japan and a year later in the United States, The Legend of Zelda is one of the most revolutionary games in history. While he allowed players to move anywhere on the screen with his hero Link, he also offered to save his games! A first at the time, which changed everything in the video game industry.