Nintendo

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Nintendo Company, Limited (Japanese: 任天堂, ニンテンドー Nintendō) is one of the most powerful companies in the video game industry.

Nintendo is a multinational corporation and the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, a Major League Baseball team in Seattle, Washington. Nintendo also purchased a sizable portion of Gyration Inc, a company specializing in gyros and motion sensors, in 2001.

Founded on September 23, 1889[1] in Kyoto, Japan by Fusajiro Yamauchi, the company initially produced handmade hanafuda cards, for use in a Japanese playing card game of the same name.[2] The company entered the video game business in 1975 by acting as the Japanese distributor for the Magnavox Odyssey. Subsequently, Nintendo began to develop their own units, starting in 1977. Nintendo's console video game became enormously successful in Japan, and products reached the North American market in 1985, (and in the European market in 1986).

Over time Nintendo has manufactured five "Color TV Brand" dedicated consoles, as well as five other home video game consoles. They have published over 250 games for their own consoles (and produced two games for the Atari 2600), directly developing at least 180 of them. Nintendo has sold over two billion games worldwide.

Nintendo's mascot is Mario, who was created by Shigeru Miyamoto.

History

Origin

Nintendo started as a small Japanese business by Fusajiro Yamauchi near the end of 1889 as Nintendo Koppai. Based in Kyoto, Japan, the business produced and marketed a playing card game called Hanafuda. The cards, which were all handmade, soon began to gain popularity and Yamauchi had to hire assistants to mass produce cards to keep up with demand.

Fusajiro Yamauchi did not have a son to take over the family business. Following common Japanese tradition, he adopted his son-in-law, Sekiryo Kaneda (Sekiryo Yamauchi, after the marriage). In 1929, Yamauchi retired from the company and allowed Sekiryo Yamauchi to take over the company as president. In 1933, Sekiryo Yamauchi established a joint venture with another company and renamed the company Yamauchi Nintendo & Company. In 1947, Sekiryo established the company Marufuku Company, Ltd., to distribute the Hanafuda cards, as well as several other brands of cards that had been introduced by Nintendo. Sekiryo Yamauchi also had only daughters, so again his son-in-law (Shikanojo Inaba, renamed Shikanojo Yamauchi) was adopted into the family. The marriage produced a son, Hiroshi Yamauchi, but Shikanojo soon abandoned his family and disappeared, leaving Hiroshi to take over the company. Subsequently, Hiroshi was brought up by his grandparents.

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi Yamauchi attended Waseda University in Tokyo. However, after his grandfather died suddenly in 1949, Hiroshi Yamauchi took office as the president of Nintendo. He was only 21 years old. He renamed Yamauchi Nintendo & Company to Nintendo Playing Card Company, Limited., and in 1951 he renamed their distribution company, Marufuku Company, Limited, to Nintendo Karuta Company, Limited. In 1953, Nintendo became the first company in Japan to produce playing cards from plastic. This was a huge hit and allowed Nintendo to dominate the card market.

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi paid a visit to the U.S.A, to engage in talks with the U.S. Playing Card Company, the dominant playing card manufacturer in the States. Yamauchi was shocked to find that the world's biggest company in his business was relegated to using a small office. This was a turning point where Yamauchi realised the limitations of the playing card business.

In 1959, Nintendo struck a deal with Disney to have them allow Nintendo to use Disney's characters on Nintendo's playing cards. Beforehand, Western playing cards were regarded as something similar to hanafuda and mah jong- a device for gambling. By tying playing cards to Disney and selling books explaining the different games which one can play with the cards, Nintendo could sell the product to Japanese households. The tie in was a success and the company sold at least 600,000 card packs in a single year. Due to this success, in 1962, Yamauchi took Nintendo public, listing the company in Osaka Stock Exchange Second division.

Following the aforementioned success, in 1963 Nintendo Playing Card Company Limited was renamed to Nintendo Company, Limited by Hiroshi. Nintendo now began to experiment in other areas of business using the newly injected capital. During the period of time between 1963 and 1968, Nintendo set up a taxi company, a "love hotel" chain, a food company (trying to sell instant rice, similar to instant noodles), and several other things (including a vacuum cleaner- Chiritory- which was later seen as a two-player game in WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ in 2003).[3] All these ventures failed, except toymaking, where they had some earlier experience from selling playing cards. Then the bottom dropped out. In 1964, while Japan was experiencing an economic boom due to the Tokyo Olympics, the playing card business reached its saturation point. Japanese households stopped buying play cards, and the price of Nintendo stock tumbled from 900 yen to a meager 60 yen.

In 1965, Nintendo hired Gunpei Yokoi as a maintenance engineer for the assembly line. It wasn't known however, that Yokoi would soon become famous for much more than his ability to repair conveyor belts.

Toy Company

Riddled with debt, Nintendo struggled to to survive in the Japanese toy industry; it was still small at this point, and dominated by already well established companies such as Bandai and Tomy. Because of the generally short product life cycle of toys, the company always had to come up new product. This was the beginning of a major new era for Nintendo.

In 1970, Hiroshi Yamauchi was observing a hanafuda factory. He noticed an extending arm, which was made by one of their maintenance engineers, Gunpei Yokoi, for his own amusement. Yamauchi ordered Yokoi to develop it as a proper product for the Christmas rush. Released as "The Ultra Hand", it would become one of Nintendo's earliest toy blockbusters, selling over a million units. Seeing that Yokoi had promise, Hiroshi Yamauchi pulled him off assembly line work. Yokoi was soon moved from maintenance duty to product development.

Due to his electrical engineering background, it soon become apparent that Gunpei was quite adept at developing electronic toys. These devices had a much higher novelty value than traditional toys, allowing Nintendo to charge a higher price margin for each product. Yokoi went on to develop many other toys, including the Ten Billion Barrel puzzle, a baseball throwing machine called the Ultra Machine, and a Love Tester. Another invention of his, in collaboration with Masayuki Uemoura from Sharp, was the Nintendo Beam Gun Game, the precursor to the NES Zapper.

The 1970s also saw the hiring of Shigeru Miyamoto, the man who (along with Yokoi) would become a living legend in the world of gaming and the secret to Nintendo's longevity; his creative vision was instrumental in determining the path Nintendo's future (and indeed, the industry's as a whole) would follow. Yokoi began to mentor Miyamoto during this period of time in R&D, teaching him all that he knew.

Electronic Game

Nintendo at this time saw how successful video games were and began to dabble in them. Their first step in that field was to secure the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan, which they did in 1975. At the time, home video game consoles were extremely rare — even the seminal Atari PONG console had yet to be produced. After experiencing reasonable success at this, Nintendo began developing its own video games, both for the home and for arcades. In 1970s, Mitubishi Electric propose joint development of "Colour TV Game Machine". In 1977, they released "Color TV Game 6" and "Color TV Game 15" (6 and 15 indicates the number of games).

Their first video arcade game was 1978's Computer Othello; a large handful of others followed in the next several years, Radar Scope and Donkey Kong being among the most famous of these. The early 1980s saw Nintendo's video game division (led by Yokoi) creating some of its most famous arcade titles. The massively popular Donkey Kong was created in 1981 with Miyamoto as its mastermind, and released in the arcades and on the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and ColecoVision video game systems (although Nintendo themselves generally had no involvement with these early console ports). This release method would be used on several later Nintendo arcade games of this same period, including the original Mario Bros. (not to be confused with the later Super Mario Bros.!) In addition to this arcade and dedicated console game activity, Nintendo was testing the consumer handheld video game waters with the Game & Watch.

1983–1989

In July 1983, Nintendo released their Famicom (Family Computer) system in Japan, which was their first attempt at a cartridge-based video game console. The system was a booming success, selling over 500,000 units within two months. The console was also technically superior and inexpensive when compared to its competitors, priced at about $100 USD. However, after a few months of the consoles selling well, Nintendo received complaints that some Famicom consoles would freeze when the player attempted to play certain games. The fault was found in a malfunctioning chip and Nintendo decided to recall all Famicon units currently on store shelves, which cost them almost half a million USD.

By 1985, the Famicom had proven to be a huge continued success in Japan. However, Nintendo also encountered a problem with the sudden popularity of the Famicom — they did not have the resources to manufacture games at the same pace they were selling them. To combat this, Yamauchi decided to divide his employees into three groups, the groups being Research & Development 1 (R&D 1), Research & Development 2 (R&D 2) and Research & Development 3 (R&D 3). R&D 1 was headed by Gunpei Yokoi, R&D 2 was headed by Masayuki Uemura, and R&D 3 was headed by Genyo Takeda. Using these groups, Yamauchi hoped Nintendo would produce a small number of high quality games rather than a large number of average quality games.

During this period of time, Nintendo rekindled their desire to release the Famicom in the USA. Since the company had very little experience with the United States market, they had previously attempted to contract with Atari for the system's distribution in 1983. However, a fiasco involving Coleco and Donkey Kong soured the relationship between the two during the negotiations, and Atari refused to back Nintendo's console. The video game crash soon took out not only Atari, but the vast majority of the American market itself. Nintendo was on its own.

Nintendo was determined not to make the same mistakes in the U.S. that Atari had. Because of massive influxes of games (games that were regarded as some of the worst ever created), gaming had almost completely died out in America. Nintendo decided that to avoid facing the same problems, they would only allow games that received their "Seal of Quality" to be sold for the Famicom, using a chip called 10NES to "lockout" or prevent unlicensed games from working.

In 1985, Nintendo announced that they were releasing the Famicom worldwide — except under a different name — the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) — and with a different design. In order to ensure the localization of the highest-quality games by third-party developers, Nintendo of America limited the number of game titles third-party developers could release in a single year to five. Konami, the first third-party company that was allowed to make cartridges for the Famicom, would later circumvent this rule by creating a spinoff company, Ultra Games, to release additional games in a single year. Other manufacturers soon employed the same tactic. Also in 1985, Super Mario Bros. was released for the Famicom in Japan and became a large success.

Nintendo test marketed the Nintendo Entertainment System in the New York area on October 18, 1985. Following immediate success, they soon began shipping the NES nationwide in February 1986, along with 15 games, sold separately. In the U.S. and Canada, it outsold its competitors on a ten to one scale. This was also the year that Metroid (Japan) and Super Mario Bros. 2 (the Japanese version) were released.

In 1988, Nintendo of America unveiled Nintendo Power, a monthly news and strategy magazine from Nintendo that served to advertise new games. The first issue published was July/August edition, which spotlighted the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2. Nintendo Power is still being published today with its two-hundredth issue recently issued in Feb. '06.

In 1989, Nintendo (which had seen a large amount of success from the Game & Watch) released the Game Boy (both created by Gunpei Yokoi), along with the accompanying game Tetris (widely considered one of the greatest and most addictive games of all time). With a good price, a popular game and durability (unlike the prior Microvision from Milton Bradley, which was prone to static and screen rot), the Game Boy sold extremely well. In fact, it eventually became the best selling portable game system of all time, a record it holds to this day. Later, Super Mario Land was also released for the Game Boy, which sold 14 million copies worldwide. 1989 was also the year that Nintendo announced a sequel to the Famicom, to be called the Super Famicom.

By the end of the 1980s the courts found Nintendo guilty of anti-trust activities because it had abused its relationship with third-party developers and created a monopoly in the gaming industry by not allowing developers to make games for any other platforms. They changed this rule during the Super NES era, allowing Sega to start a massive console war against Nintendo with the Sega Genesis and Game Gear. This would occur once more in 1996, when Sony released the PlayStation.

1990–1995

The Super Famicom was released in Japan on November 21, 1990. The system's launch was widely successful, and the Super Famicom was sold out across Japan within three days. In August 1991, the Super Famicom was launched in the U.S. under the name "Super Nintendo Entertainment System" (SNES). The SNES was released in Europe in 1992.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System followed in the steps of its predecessor, sporting a relatively low price and somewhat high technical specifications for its era (although its processor was technically slower than the Genesis it competed against). The controller of the SNES had also improved over that of the NES, as it now had rounded edges and several new buttons.

In Japan, the Super Famicom easily took control of the gaming market. In the U.S., due to a late start and an aggressive marketing campaign by Sega, Nintendo saw its market share take a precipitous plunge from 90-95% with the NES to a low of approximately 35% against the Sega Genesis. Over the course of several years, the SNES in North America eventually overtook the Sega Genesis (in annual, but not cumulative, sales figures), thanks to franchise titles such as Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Street Fighter 2, and the Final Fantasy series. In the U.S., the Genesis outsold the SNES. However, total worldwide sales of the SNES were higher than the Genesis.

In 1992, Gunpei Yokoi and the rest of R&D 1 began planning on a new virtual reality console to be called the Virtual Boy. Hiroshi Yamauchi also bought shares of the Seattle Mariners in 1992.

In 1993, Nintendo announced plans to develop a new 64-bit console codenamed Project Reality that would be capable of rendering fully 3D environments and characters. In 1994, Nintendo also claimed that Project Reality would be renamed Ultra 64 in the US. The Ultra 64 moniker was unveiled in arcades on the Nintendo branded fighting game Killer Instinct and the racing game Cruisin' USA. Killer Instinct was later released on the SNES. Soon after, Nintendo realized they had mistakenly chosen a name for their new console that the Konami corporation owned the rights to. Specifically, only Konami would have the rights to release games for the new system called Ultra Football, Ultra Tennis, etc. So, in 1995 Nintendo changed the final name of the system to the Nintendo 64, and announced that it would be released in 1996. They later showed previews of the system and several games, including Super Mario 64, to the media and public.

1995 is also the year that Nintendo purchased part of Rareware, a choice that would prove to be a wise investment.

In the mid-90s Nintendo of America eased up on its stringent policies on blood and violence. After Sega created the Mega CD (Sega CD in North America) add on for its 16-bit machine, Nintendo initially contracted with Sony to develop an add-on CD-ROM drive for the SNES, but afraid that Sony would get all the profit from the CD-ROM media, and also surprised at the failure of Sega's Mega CD, Nintendo terminated the contract and went with Philips. Nintendo announced their alliance with Philips at the same conference that Sony announced their CD-ROM drive. Nothing happened about the add-on drive in regard to the SNES, but Sony took the time and research and began to spin it off into a new product, the PlayStation. Philips took a similar route and developed the far less successful CD-i. Since Philips had already gained license to create games using Nintendo's exclusive characters, games from series such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda appeared on the CD-i, though most fans discard them from being part of the series due to their entirely third-party development and poor quality. The deal between Philips and Nintendo eventually fell through, and the CD-i was seen as another ill-fated attempt by Philips to enter the computer market.

In 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in Japan. The console sold poorly, but Nintendo still said they had hope for it and continued to release several other games and attempted a release in the U.S., which was another disaster.

Also in 1995, Nintendo found themselves in a competitive situation. Competitor Sega introduced their 32-bit Saturn, while newcomer Sony introduced the 32-bit PlayStation. Sony's fierce marketing campaigns ensued, and it started to cut into Nintendo and Sega's market share.

1996–2001

On June 23, 1996, the Nintendo 64 (N64) was released in Japan and became a huge hit, selling over 500,000 units on the first day of its release. On September 29, 1996, Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 in the U.S. and Canada, and it too was a success. Many feel that the advertising onslaught by Sony at this time did not truly begin to take effect until many of the consumers who held out for the N64 console became frustrated at the lack of software following the first few months after the system's release. What also greatly contributed to the extremely competitive climate that Nintendo was entrenched in was the fact that many third party companies immediately began developing and releasing many of their leading games for Nintendo's competing consoles. Many of those third party companies cited cheaper development and manufacturing costs for the CD format, versus the cartridge format. On December 1, 1999 Nintendo released an add-on to the Nintendo 64 in Japan, titled the Nintendo 64DD, although it never saw the light of day in the U.S.

Nintendo followed with the release of the Game Boy Pocket, a smaller version of the original Game Boy. About a week after the release of the Game Boy Pocket, Gunpei Yokoi resigned from his position at Nintendo. Gunpei Yokoi helped in the creation of a competitor system named the Wonderswan, utilizing the skills he gained in the creation of the Game Boy.

In 1996, Pocket Monsters (known as "Pokémon" in the North America and Europe) was released in Japan to a huge following. The Pokémon franchise (created by Satoshi Tajiri), was proving so popular in America, Europe, and Japan, that for a brief time, Nintendo took back their place as the supreme power in the games industry.

October 13, 1998 was the day that Game Boy Color was released in Japan, with releases in North America and Europe a month later. Days before Game Boy Color was released in Japan, Gunpei Yokoi - the original creator of Game Boy - died tragically in a car accident at the age of 57.

Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance in Japan on March 21, 2001. This was followed by the North American launch on June 11 and the European launch on June 22. Nintendo released their GameCube home video game console on September 14, 2001 in Japan. It was released in North America on November 18, 2001, in Europe on May 3, 2002 and in Australia on May 17, 2002.

2002–Present

In 2002, Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down as the president of Nintendo and named Satoru Iwata his successor. Also, Nintendo and Chinese-American scientist Doctor Wei Yen co-founded iQue, a company that manufactures and distributes official Nintendo consoles and games for the mainland Chinese market, under the iQue brand.

During this same year, Nintendo's aggressive business tactics in Europe would catch up to them. The European Commission determined that Nintendo had engaged in anticompetitive price-fixing business practices dating at least as far back as the early 90s. This resulted in a heavy fine being laid against the company- 18 million euros, one of the largest antitrust fines applied in the history of the commission. [1]

In May of 2004, Nintendo announced plans to release a new brand of handheld, unrelated to the Game Boy — featuring two screens, one of which was touch-sensitive. The Nintendo DS, released on November 21, 2004, received over three million pre-orders. In addition to the touch screen, the DS can also create three-dimensional graphics, similar to those of the Nintendo 64, although its lack of hardware support for texture filtering results in more pixelated graphics than on the Nintendo 64.

President Satoru Iwata merged all of Nintendo's software designers under the EAD division; this was done to allocate more resources to Shigeru Miyamoto. As of 2005 Nintendo's internal development divisions are comprised of the following four groups (read Nintendo development divisions for more information):

  • Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
  • Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development Tokyo
  • Nintendo Integrated Research & Development
  • Nintendo Software Production & Development
  • Nintendo Technology & Development

On May 14, 2005, Nintendo started up its first retail store accessible to the general public, Nintendo World, at the Rockefeller Center in New York City. It consists of two stories, and contains many kiosks of GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS games. There are also display cases filled with things from Nintendo's past, including Hanafuda playing cards, Nintendo's first product. They celebrated the grand opening with a block party at Rockefeller Plaza.

At E3 in May of 2005, Nintendo displayed the first prototype for their 'next-generation' system, codenamed the Nintendo Revolution (now known as the Wii), though hiding its controller until the Tokyo Game Show later that year.

On January 26, 2006, Nintendo announced a new version of their Nintendo DS handheld, called the Nintendo DS Lite, which is designed to be smaller and lighter and feature a brighter screen. It was launched in Japan on March 2, 2006.

On May 25, 2006, Reggie Fils-Aime was promoted to President and COO of Nintendo of America, Inc. The then President Tatsumi Kimishima was promoted to Chairman of The Board and CEO. [2]

On June 11, 2006, Nintendo released their update to the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo DS Lite, in North America, also on this day Nintendo opened its official US press site to the public which continued until June 17, 2006.

On June 23, 2006, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS Lite in Europe.

On July 7, 2006, Nintendo officially established a South Korean subsidiary, Nintendo Korea, in the country's capital, Seoul, which replaced Daiwon as the official distributor of Nintendo products in South Korea.

In early August of 2006, it was revealed that the Nintendo corporation (along with Microsoft) was the target of a patent-infringement lawsuit. Levelled by the Anascape corporation, the suit claims that Nintendo's use of analog technology in their remote game controllers constitutes a violation of their patents. Microsoft is also named in the lawsuit, for the same reasons. The lawsuit seeks to bring damages to both corporations and possibly force them to stop selling controllers with the violating technology; this is similar to the earlier lawsuit against Sony by the Immersion corporation. [3]

Nintendo 64

For more information, see: Nintendo 64.


In 1996, Nintendo released a third console, the Nintendo 64 (N64), which featured vastly improved three dimensional graphics and a new, compact analog stick (called the control stick). Nintendo chose to remain with the cartridge medium, a surprising move, especially considering their competition's choice of emerging CD-ROM storage mediums. This may have adversely affected the number of games published on the Nintendo 64; CD-ROMs are cheaper to produce than cartridges, meaning cheaper costs for the third party publishers — since Nintendo did not choose to use CD-ROMs, publishers would be more swayed to publish for Sony's PlayStation, which did use CD-ROMs. However, Nintendo retained the cartridge in light of the fact that compared to CD-ROMs, there are little to no load times and that cartridges are to an extent more expandable and can have data directly saved to them, hence abolishing the absolute need for a device such as a memory card. Despite these advantages, the drawbacks were also rumored to be the impetus for Squaresoft (now Square Enix) developing no games for the system, including their well-known Final Fantasy series, and moving over to the Sony PlayStation, and later the PlayStation 2.

Nintendo used the code names Project Reality and Ultra 64 prior to the system's actual release, and these names are still used by some people. Ultra 64 was also the planned final name for a short time, but was changed to Nintendo 64 because of trademark conflicts with the software publisher "Ultra Games." Nintendo also touted new "innovative" and "groundbreaking" elements of the Nintendo 64 — such as its four controller ports, an analog stick, 64-bit processor, and online capabilities.

The first 3D Mario game was introduced on the N64 as Super Mario 64, which has been the archetype for almost all 3D console games to this day. Other popular games were GoldenEye 007, Super Smash Bros., a fighter featuring characters from Nintendo's most popular franchises; and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time—widely considered to be one of the best games of all time. This system's games are also significant as it was here that the power of the second-party was first recognized: Rareware produced several of their most lauded games for this console (including the aforementioned GoldenEye, and also Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong 64, and Banjo-Kazooie.)

Nintendo GameCube

For more information, see: Nintendo GameCube.


The Nintendo GameCube, originally codenamed "Dolphin," is Nintendo's fourth home game console and their first disc-based console. It was released in Japan on September 14, 2001, the U.S. on November 18, 2001, in Europe on May 3, 2002, and in Australia on May 17, 2002. The European launch boasted 20 titles at launch, which included Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Luigi's Mansion, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and International Superstar Soccer 2.

Nintendo continued many of their popular franchises on the system, including Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Metroid, and Super Smash Bros.. The Nintendo GameCube is also responsible for several new franchises, including Pikmin and the third-party Baten Kaitos. The GameCube revived the Metroid series with the release of Metroid Prime and its direct sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes; although the games are no longer in the same style as the older Metroid games with the introduction of three dimensional graphics and first-person shooter-style gameplay. Nintendo had also gained exclusivity rights for the Resident Evil series and Capcom has released several GameCube-only Resident Evil titles, including Resident Evil 0. Eventually Capcom backed out and allowed a few of the Resident Evil titles to be released on the PS2 system, including the once GameCube exclusive Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 0 and the Resident Evil Remake still remain exclusives, on the other hand. The GameCube also saw Square Enix once again make games for Nintendo- except that it wasn't for their flagship mainstream Final Fantasy series. Instead, it was a Final Fantasy spinoff called Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

In the current console war, the Nintendo Gamecube is in firm second place behind the Sony PlayStation 2 in Japan, while taking third place behind the Microsoft Xbox in the American, European and Australian markets.[4] As of June 30, 2006, Nintendo has sold 21 million Gamecubes worldwide.[4]

Wii

For more information, see: Wii.


As with other console manufacturers in the industry, Nintendo has developed a new games console, Wii (pronounced "we" and formerly codenamed "Nintendo Revolution"). The console is scheduled for release at US$249.99/CA$279.95 on November 19, 2006 in North America, at JP¥25,000 on December 2, 2006 in Japan, at AU$399.95 on December 7, 2006 in Australia, and at GB£179.99/€249.99 on December 8, 2006 in Europe. All apart from the Japanese launch pack will include Wii Sports. With Wii (as in we; everyone), Nintendo has made its plans clear that it hopes to change the way people watch and play video games by taking gaming into a new direction, instead of merely upgrading hardware for the benefit of graphics. The double "i's" in the Wii title symbolize two Wii Remotes and also two people ("bowing" at the end of trailer), further emphasizing the communal nature of the system.

The console is Nintendo's sleekest yet, about the size of three DVD cases stacked together; however, Nintendo has stated that the unveiled system is just a prototype and the final product may be even smaller. One of the many (though mostly still unknown) revolutionary aspects of the system comes from its unconventional and unique controller (sometimes known as the Freehand controller and Remote Controller, nicknamed the Wii-mote), which in its basic form is shaped like a television remote control. The controller is based on the technology that Nintendo acquired when they purchased large portions of Gyration Inc in 2001[5] and includes a number of features, most notably the direct pointing device. This allows the system to understand six axes of movement (x, y, z, pitch, roll and yaw), allowing the console to identify the position and tilt of the controller in 3D space. The controller additionally features a port located on the bottom that several accessories may use. So far, Nintendo has shown an analogue stick (called "nunchuck" by NCL president Iwata during the 2005 TGS keynote) that can be used concurrently with the main controller, a casing transforming the controller into a gun (similar to the "zapper" gun sold with the Duck Hunt game for the NES), and also a simple controller, similar to the SNES controller, all of which slot into the port. Nintendo has also confirmed that the Wii will not support High Definition, unlike Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3. However, 480p resolution will be standard on every game (1 step lower than HD, but better than standard resolution). Nintendo is not focusing primarily on graphics for the new generation, but will instead concentrate on the quality of gameplay. It will not be graphically equal or comparable to the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but it will be significantly more powerful than the GameCube, PS2 and Xbox. Their goal for the Wii is to make it so anyone who picks up the controller can play, even if they have never played a game before.

Thus far, it has been confirmed that Wii will be able to play NES, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, TurboGrafx 16 and N64 games, which will be downloadable for a fee through the Internet through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Nintendo is calling this service the Virtual Console. Nintendo will also launch a new service called WiiConnect24, which will offer game updates and downloadable demos for Wii and possibly Nintendo DS even while the machine is powered off. Wii will also be backward compatible with GameCube discs, and will boast a "docking station" for GameCube accessories. Wii was originally confirmed to be able to play DVDs with a separate attachment but this feature has recently been removed from official documentation. Wii will also wirelessly interface with the Nintendo DS in some way. Also confirmed is that the back of the console will have two USB ports, a first for a Nintendo Console.

A partnership between Sega and Hudson Soft announced at the 2006 GDC will also give Wii access to the backlog of the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Hudson Soft's TurboGrafx-16 gaming consoles. This essentially gives Wii users access to games from the entire 16-bit era.

Until E3 2006, only a small amount was known about the Wii's games lineup. However, during its press conference Nintendo unveiled a flurry of new games for the system as well as showed, for the first time, gameplay footage of games that had thus far only been announced. Spearheading Nintendo's Wii lineup are and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (also available for the GameCube), both of which will be available (alongside Wii Sports) when the system launches in Q4 2006, & Pokémon Battle Revolution. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, previously confirmed as a launch title, will now be released in 2007. The frantic minigame collection WarioWare: Smooth Moves will be released shortly thereafter.[6] Super Mario Galaxy is a long-awaited new Mario platformer that will be released "within the first six months" of the system's launch.[7] A new entry in the popular Super Smash Bros. series, titled Super Smash Bros. Brawl, was shown and has a loose 2007 release date. Games for which footage or other press materials was presented but were not given release dates include the arcade racer Excite Truck(now confirmed as a launch title), the action/beat 'em up Project H.A.M.M.E.R., a new entry in the long-running strategy/RPG franchise Fire Emblem, and the survival game Disaster: Day of Crisis. Games not shown in any form but confirmed to exist at some stage in development include Wii versions of the popular Animal Crossing and Mario Kart franchises.

Among third party releases slated for the Wii are Red Steel from Ubisoft - an FPS that lets you use the unique controller to wield a gun and a sword, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, a game based on the Pixar movie Cars, and Pangya Golf and Sonic and the Secret Rings (formerly known as "Sonic Wild Fire") in which the player will use the controller's tilt function to control Sonic the Hedgehog. Also announced was Trauma Center: Second Opinion (A remake of the popular Nintendo DS game Trauma Center: Under the Knife) by Atlus and Elebits, an original game developed by Konami. It should also be noted that several games from video game giant EA are in development, such as Madden 07.

Handheld consoles

Game Boy

Main articles/the Nintendo handheld console lineage:

Introduced in 1989 and created by Nintendo employee Gunpei Yokoi, Nintendo's portable line of Game Boy systems continue to have a strong following even today. The Game Boy started strong, mostly attributed to the million selling game that introducted people to the handheld market, Tetris (which is considered by many as being among the most classic video games ever created). With several redesigns and improvements, including Pocket, Light, Color, Advance, Advance SP, and micro versions, the Game Boy is the single most successful, and oldest portable video game platform still in production. Nintendo may be retiring the Game Boy line in favor of the Nintendo DS [5]. The Game Boy 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 Game Boy line has been on the top of the portable console market and Nintendo has been the dominant market leader since its inception in 1989.

With the release of Game Boy Micro Nintendo started to sell Game Boy Advance SP with a similar backlight screen as well. These were called "Brighter Game Boy Advance SP" on the packaging.

The Game Boy Player is an accessory which allows people to play Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games on the TV through the GameCube system, and the Super Game Boy accessory provided a similar ability for pre-Game Boy Advance games on the SNES. They also released a Super Game Boy 2 in Japan, it had a link port on it's side so you could play vs. on games like Pokémon.

Nintendo DS

For more information, see: Nintendo DS.


Nintendo released their Nintendo DS handheld game console first in the United States on November 21, 2004 then in Japan on December 2, 2004 and later on March 11, 2005 in Europe. In the U.S., shipments of the DS reached 500,000 within the first week, and in Japan, the figures were even more impressive, reaching the same figure within four days of its launch. It has also proven to be the fastest-selling console in European history, having sold over 1 million units in six months (250,000 of those units in the United Kingdom alone).

The Nintendo DS features two back lit LCD screens. It is Nintendo's second handheld with two screens (the Game & Watch being the first), with the lower screen being touch sensitive. It also features a built in microphone and the ability to connect up to 16 Nintendo DS systems together wirelessly. Included in the system's firmware is a whiteboard-able local WAN instant messaging client without identity called PictoChat, and most editions of the system have bundled either the demonstration version of Metroid Prime Hunters or the commercial versions of Super Mario 64 DS, Mario Kart DS, or Nintendogs, with Mario Kart DS, Super Mario 64 DS, and Metroid Prime Hunters having local wireless play. The DS can also play software designed originally for the Game Boy Advance, though since the DS lacks the serial port from earlier systems in favor of the newer wireless connection, no legacy games can be played in a networked form nor can they be linked to the GameCube. Nintendo has, however, indicated that it will be able to link wirelessly to the forthcoming Wii though no details have been released.

At the Game Developers Conference[8], Nintendo announced that they would be launching an online service for the Nintendo DS called Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, allowing multiplayer gaming over the Internet. The online service is very different from that of its competitors' because it is free to consumers who already have an Internet connection at home or know of a Wi-Fi hot spot. As of October 18, 2005, Nintendo has partnered up with Wayport to bring free Wi-Fi access to Nintendo DS owners. As of November 14 in America, November 25 in the United Kingdom and on December 28th in Dublin, the launch of their Nintendo DS Internet gaming service, over 6,000 McDonald's restaurants nationwide will become free Wi-Fi hot-spots. Nintendo UK also announced plans for over 7500 British Wi-Fi hot spots, including McDonald's restaurants, football stadiums, hotels, motorway service stations, railway stations, student unions, airports, and libraries. Currently, the only games that support the Nintendo Wi-Fi service are Mario Kart DS, Tony Hawk American Sk8land, Animal Crossing Wild World, Metroid Prime Hunters, Tetris DS, Lost Magic, Starfox Command, and Bleach DS (Only available in Japan). Metroid Prime Hunters is the first Nintendo DS game to use VoIP (Voice Over IP) which allows for players to chat with one another before and after Wi-Fi matches.

As of June 30, 2006, approximately 21.27 million Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite units have been sold worldwide.[4] Although reports vary, in terms of units sold worldwide the Nintendo DS platform is ahead of its main competitor, the PSP, which has shipped 20.02 million units as of July 24, 2006.[9] 5.9 million units have been sold in the U.S. alone, and 9.24 million in Japan.[4]

On January 26, 2006, Nintendo introduced a redesign for their handheld, named the Nintendo DS Lite. It was released in Japan on March 2, 2006, in Australia on June 1, 2006, in North America on June 11, 2006, and in Europe on June 23, 2006. Featuring brighter LCD screens (four adjustable levels of brightness), a sleeker and smaller case, improved buttons, thicker and longer stylus, and a slightly different layout (the power, start, and select buttons were moved and the microphone and power LEDs were moved to the center hinge). One disadvantage to the smaller size is that Game Boy Advance games stick out from the bottom slot by a few millimeters. The units were sold in Japan and via the Internet hours before stores opened. In Japan, stores had lines with more than 500 people waiting outside.

Other hardware

  • Broadcast Satellaview - Only released in Japan, an add-on for the Super Famicom (Japanese SNES) that allowed anyone to download games by a satellite.
  • Game & Watch – A series of handheld games made by Nintendo from 1980 through 1991.
  • Game Boy Player – An adapter for playing Game Boy games on the GameCube.
  • Game Boy Printer
  • iQue Player – A version of the Nintendo 64, with double the clock speed and downloadable games, released only in the Chinese market.
  • iQue DS - A version of the Nintendo DS, release only in China.
  • Nintendo 64DD – Only released in Japan, this add-on system's games are on re-writeable magnetic disks. Games released include a paint and 3D construction package, F-Zero X Expansion Kit, for creating new F-Zero X tracks, a sequel to the SNES version of SimCity, SimCity 64 and a few others. A complete commercial failure, many speculated that Nintendo released it only to save face after promoting it preemptively for years.
  • Pokémon Mini – Unveiled in London at Christmas 2000, the Pokémon Mini was Nintendo's cheapest console ever produced; with games costing £10 ($15) each, and the system costing £30 ($45). This remains the smallest cartridge-based games console ever made. Sales of this system were rather poor, but, unlike the Virtual Boy, Nintendo made a profit on every game and system sold.
  • Mobile System GB - Released in Japan, December 14, 2000. The Mobile System is an adpator to play Game Boy Color games on the cell phone. The game Pokémon Crystal was the first games to take advantage of the Mobile System. Someone can hook an adaptor to their Game Boy and connect it to a mobile phone which people can receive news, trade, and battle with other players across Japan.
  • Super Game Boy – Adapter for playing Game Boy games on the Super NES, which would be displayed in color.
  • Triforce – An arcade system based on Nintendo GameCube hardware, developed in partnership with Sega and Namco.
  • Virtual Boy – The Virtual Boy used two red monochrome displays to create a virtual reality-like system. Fewer than two dozen games were released for it in the United States. It is the first (and, thus far, only) Nintendo game system to be a commercial failure (see here for more information).

People

See also Nintendo people

Notable software and franchises

File:Mario2small.jpg
Mario has been Nintendo's mascot since 1981

Related article: Franchises established on Nintendo systems

Divisions

First-party

For more information, see: Nintendo development divisions.


Second-party

These second-party game companies have contracts with Nintendo to only make games for Nintendo and not its competitors. Nintendo may also own majority stock in these companies:

Devoted third-party companies

Nintendo has close ties with or owns minimal stock in these companies and has them make games with their franchises:

Arcade games released by Nintendo

Anime

In November 2004, Hiroshi Yamauchi announced that Nintendo would start making anime. Its first project is an adaptation of the Hyakunin Isshu poem anthology. Also, recently Nintendo has stated that they are making an anime movie for Animal Crossing. [8]

Offices and locations

Nintendo Company, Limited (NCL), the main branch of the company, is based in Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Nintendo of America (NOA), its American division, is based in Redmond, Washington, a suburb, of Seattle. It has distribution centers in Atlanta, Georgia, and North Bend, Washington. Nintendo of Canada, Ltd. (NOCL) is a based in Richmond, British Columbia, with its own distribution centre in Toronto, Ontario. Nintendo of Australia, its Australian division, is based in Scoresby, Melbourne, Victoria, and Nintendo Europe, the European division, is based in Großostheim, Germany. iQue, Ltd., a Chinese joint venture with its founder, Doctor Wei Yen, and Nintendo, manufactures and distributes official Nintendo consoles and games for the mainland Chinese market, under the iQue brand. Nintendo is also opening Nintendo of Korea (NoK) July 7, 2006.

References

  1. Company History (Japanese). Nintendo of Japan. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  2. Company History. Nintendo of America. Retrieved on 2006-06-04.
  3. Nintendo History Lesson: The Lucky Birth. N-sider. Retrieved on 2006-06-04.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS (PDF) 9. Nintendo Co., Ltd. (2006-07-24). Retrieved on 2006-07-25.
  5. Gyration technology used in Wii
  6. Ringo, Jordan (2006-05-12). E3 2006: WarioWare: Smooth Moves Director Interview. Nintendo Now. Retrieved on 2006-05-18.
  7. Mario to Miss Launch. IGN. Retrieved on 2006-05-29.
  8. Nintendo announces Wi-fi capabilities of the Nintendo DS
  9. Cumulative Production Shipments of Hardware / PSP® (PlayStation®Portable). Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (2006-07-24). Retrieved on 2006-07-27.