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"My name is Reggie. I'm about kicking ass, I'm about taking names, and we're about making games."
Reggie Fils-Aimé, then-Executive VP of Sales and Marketing of Nintendo of America, E3 2004

Nintendo is one of the most successful and widely known video game companies in the world. Headquartered in Japan, it was brought to international prominence with the Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid 1980s. It is best known as the creator of a number of popular video game franchises, such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.

The history of Nintendo as a whole predates the video game industry. In fact, the Kyoto-based company has been around for a while — a really long while. Nintendo was founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi to manufacture hanafuda playing cards. Aided by consistent business from the yakuza of the time, the venture was successful enough to create sufficient demand, and Nintendo had modest expansion through much of the 20th century.

Nintendo's history as a video game company began under the leadership of a young Hiroshi Yamauchi (Fusajiro's great-grandson) after World War II, when the company looked to expand its business model, and to that end, they tried everything: from a taxi service, to (allegedly) a chain of love hotels, to instant foods. Most of these junctures failed and the hanafuda sales were not enough to keep the company afloat forever. Nearing bankruptcy, Yamauchi reached out to one of his workers, Gunpei Yokoi, for product ideas. Yokoi was noteworthy for his penchant for tinkering in his spare time and creating interesting devices, and it was the modest success of some of those inventions (including the Ultra Hand, the Love Tester, and the Ultra Machine) that led to Yamauchi deciding that Nintendo would become an entertainment and games company. The transition was aided by the fledgling video game market, as early video games like Pong and the Magnavox Odyssey were becoming popular globally in the 1970s, and Nintendo became the console's Japanese distributor. Emboldened by this, Nintendo soon created their own home consoles in Color TV Game line, which took Japanese homes by storm. They also entered arcades with titles like EVR Race. However, it wouldn't be until the 1980s that Nintendo would become known outside its home country.


In 1980, born from observing a fellow train commuter passing the time by idly playing with a calculator, Yokoi designed the handheld Game & Watch series of devices, inadvertently kicking off a legacy of handheld gaming dominance that (depending on how you view their hybrid consoles) lasts until this day. But of greater note is the following year, when the North American commercial failure of an arcade game called Radar Scope led to a young artist named Shigeru Miyamoto being tasked to create a replacement game. Cue a portly red-clad carpenter and a large hairy ape that dominated the arcade scene and are now among the most recognizable characters in gaming. But Nintendo didn't just end there, as they still had an eye on the home market and knew that simple Pong clones were not enough. Yamauchi wanted to create a more powerful gaming system; one that was so much better than the competitors that it would not even be a choice as to which the consumer wanted. Enter the Family Computer in Japan. The Famicom, after only a few years on the shelves, gained a lock on 90% of the Japanese home video game market; a trick that they wanted to repeat overseas. However, thanks to the The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, the home video game market in North America was deader than dead.note  Despite this, Nintendo figured the Japanese and US markets couldn't be that different, and felt they could still have a shot if they packaged it correctly and avoided all the mistakes that Atari made. To make a long story short, though some cried foul at the domineering and aggressive tactics utilized, Nintendo succeeded in that task and single-handedly revived the dead-in-the-water North American home video game industry with the Nintendo Entertainment System, and have been a major player in video games ever since.


At the end of the day, modern-day Nintendo is known for a few things. First, their tendency to experiment with their hardware, with game controller mainstays such as rumble, shoulder buttons, and analog sticks being either pioneered or popularized by Nintendo, and especially its decision to go with motion controllers for the Wii (combined with the touch screen gaming of the Nintendo DS) helping to introduce a whole new collection of gamers to the hobby. Next, regardless of how they place in the Console Wars — ranging from unquestionably first (NES, Wii, and Switch) to barely first (SNES) to only beating out a dying Sega console (N64 and GameCube) to actually being a dying console (Wii U) — and despite Nintendo's own flaws, all of Nintendo's consoles are beloved, and every one of them has a group of standout games that represent the best of their generation, if not the best of all time. Which leads to fans and non-fans being aware of the mantra "never count Nintendo out": no matter how weird or bizarre their ideas, no matter how badly they might stumble, Nintendo will never be out of the game and they will carve out some sort of victory. After all, your company doesn't last over 130 years by pure luck. Finally, and most importantly, making high-quality games that are simply fun — they're often brightly colored, chipper in tone, incredibly well designed, and a blast to play with friends. Other companies devote themselves to rich story telling, intense FPS games, or year after year of sports titles, but Nintendo is known for honing in on gameplay that brings out the ten-year-old kid in everyone. Or as they put it, "putting smiles on faces."

Notably, Nintendo is the only one of the three major players in the gaming industry to have gaming hardware and software comprise the majority of its business. Chances are high you've used a computer running Microsoft Windows or at least used Microsoft-created software. And even if its strength in consumer technology has weakened since the early 2000s, you probably own at least one piece of tech from Sony, and you've definitely seen or listened to a film, TV series, or song produced by one of their media branches. While you'd think this would be some cause for concern, Nintendo is never hurting for cash, having a tremendous bank account saved up for "rainy days". Indeed, there has rarely been a generation where Nintendo has not made a profit from day one, whereas their competitors generally require years before hardware and software begin to make money. Much of this comes in Nintendo just being that strong of a brand, and having direct ownership or partial ownership of over a dozen Cash Cow Franchises across various demographics and genres. Suffice to say, while the stakes are higher for Nintendo, it's in the business of video games because it wants to be despite easily being able to branching out into a more general media company.

With that in mind, in the late 2010s, Nintendo did begin to branch out a bit more. In 2015, they entered a partnership with NBCUniversal to create Super Nintendo World sections in Universal's many theme parks. That same year, they also began a push into the mobile market, starting out with Miitomo and eventually creating a whole slew of them based on their popular IPs, including Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Mario Kart Tour. In 2016, Nintendo announced plans to expand their film and TV presence as well. This started with a partnership with Illumination Entertainment to produce an animated movie based on the Mario franchise (currently slated for Spring 2023), and continued with the purchase of Japanese CG studio Dynamo Pictures in 2022 and renaming it Nintendo Pictures to serve as an in-house production studio for such content.

Currently, Nintendo is skillfully riding the Nintendo Switch wave, which had an overwhelmingly successful launch, outselling its predecessor's lifetimes sales in under a year and becoming the fastest-selling console ever in the US. A steady stream of strong first-party releases and a large amount of third-party and indie support turned the Switch into a hell of a comeback for Nintendo, and the console now stands as their best-selling home console of all-time. As for the handheld side of things, Nintendo gracefully exited that field with the 3DS's discontinuation in late 2020, shifting focus entirely to the hybrid approach that the Switch offers. Oh, and despite mainly focusing on video games these days, Nintendo still continues to manufacture hanafuda cards.note 

As a fun side note, they also majority-owned the Seattle Mariners, a US baseball team, from 1992 to 2016 — with the original purchase being rather controversial at the time. They ended up selling a majority of their ownership in 2016, though they still hold a (much smaller) stake in the team. Oh, and for the record? The Official (or "Original", in Europe/Australia) Nintendo Seal of Quality? That just meant the game wasn't going to destroy your system if you play it, not that the game was actually good.

Those looking for a more detailed history of Nintendo, ranging from its rather humble card-making beginnings up to the start of the N64 era, can find it in the book Game Over: Press Start To Continue by David Sheff and Andy Eddy.

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Nintendo Hardware

    Home Consoles 
  • 1986-1990 - Famicom Disk System: A Japan-only add-on that ran games on floppy disks, allowing for better sound and memory capabilities than cartridges, though with the trade-off of Loads and Loads of Loading and greater risk of piracy. Several notable titles were originally released on the FDS before being ported to cartridges, such as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Castlevania.
  • 1990-2003 - Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Fourth generation. Known as the Super Famicom in Japan, the 16-bit successor that also became the best-selling console of its generation, though by a much smaller margin than the NES had accomplished thanks to stiff competition from the Sega Genesis. The technology of its cartridges (by way of the Super FX chip) allowed for basic 3D graphics without the need for add-ons, unlike its competition.
  • 1994 - Super Game Boy: An SNES cartridge containing Game Boy hardware, allowing games for the handheld (and Game Boy-compatible Game Boy Color games) to be played on a television. Games developed with the SGB in mind featured custom color palettes and borders, with some (most notably Kirby's Dream Land 2) featuring exclusive sound effects that took advantage of the SNES's hardware.
  • 1995-2000 - Satellaview: A Japan-only add-on for the Super Famicom best known for players to download and stream SoundLink games through satellite radio during specific timeslots, backed by live-streamed audio that sometimes featured voice-acting. These included both unique titles and variants of existing SNES games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
  • Unreleased - SNES CD-ROM: A scrapped CD-ROM add-on for the SNES made in collaboration with Sony that ultimately led to the development of the PlayStation line of video game consoles... as well as the ill-fated Philips CD-i. Nintendo and Sony had ordered all 200 of the prototypes destroyed, but a surviving machine was discovered in 2015 and restored to working order two years later.
  • 1999-2001 - 64DD: A failed Japan-only add-on that played games on magnetic disks, which were more powerful and cheaper than cartridges, but still paled in comparison to CDs. Many titles proposed for the 64DD found themselves either cancelled or shifted to standard N64 cartridges, with the main exception being Mother 3, which was released for the Game Boy Advance after a troubled production.
  • 2001-2007 - Nintendo GameCube: Sixth generation. Nintendo's first system to use optical discs, albeit a mini-DVD format rather than the standard 8", with this and a lack of meaningful online functionality hurting the system's third-party support. Known for being host to new, more experimental franchises such as Pikmin and Animal Crossing, as well as a number of collaborations with companies like Namco and Capcom.
  • 2003-2007 - Game Boy Player: An add-on that allowed games from the Game Boy line to be played on a TV, with the additional requirement of a start-up disc. Unlike the Super Game Boy, it did not play original Game Boy games in color and was limited to a single set of interchangeable borders regardless of what game was inserted. Was the last official add-on made for a Nintendo home console.
  • 2006-2013 - Wii: Seventh generation. Foregoing the power race in favor of motion controls, this console attracted a large casual gaming audience with its intuitive controls to restore Nintendo's dominance in the console space. The system allowed the playing of legacy software from Nintendo (and other companies) via the Virtual Console, and early models also featured native GameCube backwards compatibility.
  • 2012-2017 - Wii U: Eighth generation. Nintendo's first HD console. The system's central feature was the touchscreen GamePad controller that could stream gameplay footage, allowing for "Off-TV Play" and second screen gameplay. It was backwards compatible with Wii games and controllers, and its Virtual Console included Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games. Unfortunately, due to bad marketing and a lack of third-party support, it ended up being the company’s second biggest hardware failure.
  • 2017-present - Nintendo Switch: Nintendo's most successful piece of hardware to-date. Denoted as a "hybrid" console, it technically serves a successor to the Nintendo 3DS as well by being a touchscreen tablet with detachable controllers that can be placed in a docking station for television usage or utilized on its own, allowing one to easily swap between home and portable console form factors.

    Portable Consoles 
  • 1980-1991 - Game & Watch: A popular series of handheld games that predated the Nintendo Entertainment System. Designed by janitor Gunpei Yokoi, they used pre-made LCDs based on those found in calculators to reduce development costs. The Game & Watch port of Donkey Kong is notable for featuring the debut of the D-Pad, a cross-shaped directional controller that has been present on every Nintendo system since then.
  • 1989-2003 - Game Boy: Nintendo's first handheld console with interchangeable cartridges. Despite being less powerful than its competitors, its superior battery life, Nintendo's hold on third parties at the time, and a little game known as Tetris led to widespread popularity. Pokémon Red and Blue would revitalize the system later in its life, with the Pokémon franchise becoming the Killer App for all future Nintendo handhelds.
  • 1995-1996 - Virtual Boy: A portable console with a headset form factor that displayed games in stereoscopic 3D, using a red-and-black color palette due to the commercial & technical practicality of red LEDs compared to other colors. The system is notable for being a prototype that was rushed to market, becoming both a critical and commercial failure; to this day, it still remains as Nintendo's least successful system.
  • 1998-2003 - Game Boy Color: A successor to the Game Boy, with full-color displays and slightly more power. Not only was it backwards-compatible with the Game Boy library, but the original Game Boy was also forwards-compatible with around a third of the Game Boy Color library; such games used the same plastic shell as Game Boy titles, while GBC-only cartridges used transparent plastic shells.
  • 2001-2010 - Game Boy Advance: Roughly equivalent to the SNES in graphical power, this was the last 2D-gaming dedicated device created by Nintendo. Backwards-compatible with all Game Boy and Game Boy color games, it received a clamshell form factor redesign known as the Game Boy Advance SP two years after the GBA's debut that featured a backlight.
  • 2001 - Pokémon mini: The smallest dedicated handheld ever made, the Pokémon mini was also the only game system ever created that focused on just one franchise, that being the popular Pokémon series. The system boasted only about a dozen games, but it did feature a fair number of features that the GBA, Nintendo DS, and even Nintendo 3DS would lack, such as force feedback and on-board vibration.
  • 2004-2014 - Nintendo DS: The most successful console ever created by Nintendo, the DS line were the first mainstream gaming devices to utilize a touchscreen. Similar to the N64 in power, the DS and DS Lite were backwards-compatible with the GBA. A more powerful, upgraded version called the DSi released in 2008 and featured a built-in camera and downloadable games, though removed GBA support.
  • 2011-2020 - Nintendo 3DS: On par with the GameCube in terms of graphical power, its major selling-point was glasses-free stereoscopic 3D. Had backwards compatibility with the Nintendo DS, and featured a Virtual Console for legacy handheld games. Later gained two variants in the budget-priced 2DS (which lacked stereoscopic 3D) and the more powerful New Nintendo 3DS (with more controls and amiibo support).

Partial list of Nintendo games

    Major Franchises 

    Minor Franchises 

    Other Nintendo-developed/published games 

    Licensed games 

Nintendo subsidiaries and affiliates

    First-Party Studios 
Current Studios
  • 1-Up Studio: Mainly serves as a support studio for Nintendo EPD, but previously developed several Eastern RPGs under the name "Brownie Brown", including Magical Vacation and Mother 3.
  • iQue: Suzhou, China-based development support and Simplified Chinese translation/localization studio. Previously manufactured Chinese versions of Nintendo consoles.
  • Mario Club: Responsible for debugging and testing of most Nintendo first-party games. Prior to being acknowledged as a subsidiary in its own right, "Mario Club" was the general name given to one of the larger Q&A teams at Nintendo, which focused primarily on Mario titles.
  • NERD note : Paris, France-based studio focused on the creation of middleware, video codecs, game emulation, and other miscellaneous software.
  • ND Cube: Studio known mainly for making party games, mainly the Mario Party series from Mario Party 9 onward.
  • Next Level Games: British Columbia, Canada-based studio best known for the Mario Strikers series and every Luigi's Mansion game after the first one.
  • Nintendo EPD note : Main development studio. Responsible for the production of several major franchises, plus oversight of other subsidiaries and partners, and projects with third-party studios.
  • Nintendo Software Technology: Washington, USA-based developer best known for the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, in addition to GameCube sports titles Wave Race: Blue Storm and 1080° Avalanche.
  • Retro Studios: Texas, USA-based developer originally established to produce more mature titles for Nintendo GameCube, best known for Metroid Prime and later entries in the Donkey Kong Country series.
  • SRD note : One of Nintendo's oldest partners, serving purely as a programming support studio for nearly every game developed by the company since the 1980s; in spite of their close relationship with Nintendo, they were an independent company until 2022.

Former/Defunct Studios

  • Nintendo R&D1 note  (1970-2004): Was responsible for the creation of portable hardware until the formation of Nintendo RED. note  Developed the Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Wario Land series. Dissolved to create Nintendo SPD.
  • Nintendo R&D2 note  (1972-2004): Was responsible for the creation of home console hardware until Nintendo IRD took over the role in 1996. Developed the Super Mario Advance series. Dissolved to create Nintendo SPD.
  • Nintendo IRD note  (1975-2012): Was mainly responsible for home console hardware development. Developed the Punch-Out! and StarTropics series. Merged with Nintendo RED, which further merged with Nintendo's other hardware teams in 2015 to create Nintendo PTD. note 
  • Nintendo EAD note  (1983-2015): Was responsible for creating and developing most of the company's cash-cow franchises, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing. Was merged with Nintendo SPD to form Nintendo EPD.
  • Nintendo SPD note  (2004-2015): Responsible for co-producing games with external developers, including other first-party studios, as well as developing more experimental and quirky titles. Was best known for WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven. Was merged with Nintendo EAD to form Nintendo EPD.

    Partner Studios 
Current Studios
  • Camelot Software Planning: Main developer of the Mario Golf and Mario Tennis spin-off series, as well as the Golden Sun trilogy.
  • Creatures Inc.: One of the three owners of the Pokémon franchise, alongside developer Game Freak and publisher Nintendo, doing modeling work for the series' 3D entries alongside handling the trading card game. Successor studio to Ape Inc., which produced the MOTHER/EarthBound series.
  • Cygames: Co-created Dragalia Lost, Nintendo's first original IP for mobile devices.
  • DeNA: Co-developed mobile games based on existing Nintendo franchises and assists in managing Nintendo's online account system, prior to those duties being taken over by their joint venture company called Nintendo Systems in 2023.
  • Game Freak: The studio behind the mainline Pokémon series, but also known for other titles like Drill Dozer and Pocket Card Jockey.
  • Genius Sonority: Mainly develops Pokémon spin-off titles, most notably Pokémon Colosseum.

Former/Defunct Studios

  • Left Field Productions: A Western developer that Nintendo had a minority stake in from 1998 to 2002, during which this company developed Excitebike 64 and other sports titles. The studio closed in 2011.

    Related Studios 

Also see:

  • amiibo: A line of NFC collectibles (namely figurines and trading cards) that can be used in multiple games to unlock minor bonuses, gameplay modes, and other features.
  • KCL Productions' Nintendo Commercials: A series of commercials that featured mascot-costumed versions of various Nintendo characters in hilarious situations.
  • Nintendo Direct: An irregularly-scheduled webcast series that announces and details upcoming video games coming to Nintendo systems, as well as events and other things concerning the company.
  • Nintendo Minute: A YouTube series that rotated between previews of upcoming Nintendo games, interviews, unboxings, and general gaming discussion. The series lasted from 2013 to 2021.
  • Nintendo Power: A Nintendo-focused gaming magazine originally published in-house by Nintendo of America that circulated from 1988 to 2012. The magazine was revived in the form of a monthly podcast in December 2017.
    • Nintendo Power Promo Videos: A series of Direct-To-Video tapes offered to Nintendo Power subscribers detailing the latest information on upcoming Nintendo games. The series lasted from 1994 to 2000.
  • Nintendo Week: An infomercial show that had previews of Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and Virtual Console games. It ran from September 14, 2009 to March 29, 2012 on the Wii's Nintendo Channel service.
  • Play Nintendo Comics: A series of online promotional gag comics for new games that are posted on their children's website "Play Nintendo".

Tropes associated with Nintendo:

  • Artist Disillusionment: The Nintendo GameCube-era, on a global level. The console not only saw Nintendo lose its position for first place against Sony again, but unlike the previous generation, it actually had to fight for second place. In the West, Nintendo's marketing teams were starting to feel contempt for Western gamers, as the industry had shifted towards catering to teenage and young adult males who were more interested in more mature and violent fare like Grand Theft Auto. Meanwhile in Japan, a general "gamer drift" was also occurring that was causing lower sales in that region as well, meaning interest in Nintendo on either side of the Pacific was appearing to dwindle. It was for this reason that they adopted the "blue ocean" strategy of attracting non-gamers with the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Non-Specific Action Figure from a pre-E3 2012 video showcasing the features of the Wii U got some recognition during E3 itself — one in the 3DS Software Showcase, and the last Nintendo E3 2012 video on YouTube.
    • Reggie Fils-Aimé's "My body is ready" quote, first said during a demonstration for Wii Fit has appeared not only in various marketing skits throughout his tenure as Nintendo of America president, but also in the English localizations of multiple games, including Super Mario Maker and Pokémon Sun and Moon.
    • Doug Bowser succeeding Fils-Aimé as the new head of Nintendo of America in 2019 naturally led to the media joking about how Mario's nemesis had taken over Nintendo. Nintendo joined in with this during their E3 2019 Direct, where the King of the Koopas himself attempts to host the presentation after his name is brought up, only for Doug to tell him that he wasn't the Bowser they were referring to.
  • Badass Boast: Reggie's classic E3 2004 introduction speech:
    "My name is Reggie. I'm about kicking ass, I'm about taking names, and we're about making games."
  • Bleached Underpants: They briefly had a chain of Love Hotels and many a Nintendo historian will not let the Big N live that down.
  • Borrowing from the Sister Series: Nintendo brought in developers from subsidary Monolith Soft, creator of the Xenoblade Chronicles series, to bring elements from that series to the first Wide-Open Sandbox installment of the The Legend Of Zelda series, Breath Of The Wild. Many Xenoblade staples were included in BotW, including Scenery Porn environments, an After the End setting with dangerous Lost Technology, Humongous Mecha boss enemies, and Crow's Nest Cartography towers/landmarks to reveal the map.
  • Breakthrough Hit: Donkey Kong, which saved the then-fledgling Nintendo of America from bankruptcy and gave it a solid footing to build on.
  • Bowdlerise: Nintendo of America maintained a Censorship Bureau in the 1980s and early 1990s, which forbade (among other things) violence, sexual content, religious and political imagery and references to death. This was their way of avoiding the ire of Moral Guardians (Atari had been powerless to prevent the release of notoriously controversial games like Custer's Revenge), with them especially wearing it as a badge of honor during the 1993 United States Senate hearings on video games that led to the creation of the ESRB rating system. Nintendo would embrace the system and would drop most of their content policies, with the last of them (religious content) disappearing by the time they released the Nintendo Switch.
  • Cash-Cow Franchise: Nintendo fully owns or has significant stake in over a dozen franchises whose entries are always are always guaranteed multi-million sellers, including (and definitely not limited to) Mario, Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda, Splatoon and Pokémon. Nintendo itself is seen as a Cash Cow Company because of this, with media outlets often calling them the "Disney of video games" due to the immense value of their intellectual property.
  • Christmas Rushed: More often than not, Nintendo is actually better known for averting this trope, with them not only preferring to delay games, but also occasionally sit on completed ones for a few months in order to pace out their releases. They have played this trope straight a few times, though. Notable examples include the Virtual Boy (Nintendo wanted to divert development resources to the Nintendo 64 as soon as possible), The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (after a strong start, GameCube sales quickly became sluggish and needed rejuvenation), and Mario Kart 7 (which was "an act of emergency" for the first holiday season of the Nintendo 3DS).
  • Color Motif: Historically and currently, red which contrasts them with both their former rival Sega and current rival Sony, who would often use blue in their branding. They switched to white in 2006, with grey, red, and blue being used as accent colors (for the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U, respectively), before returning to red as a dominant color in 2016 in the build-up to marketing the Nintendo Switch. As an aside, with Xbox having a green theme and Sony sticking with blue, each of the current console manufactures is associated with one of the three additive colors.
  • Creator In-Joke: In the mid-80s, Nintendo R&D1 had an odd fixation with eggplants.
    • In Ice Climber, the player collects eggplants during the first bonus stage.
    • Wrecking Crew features bipedal eggplant enemies out to kill Mario.
    • In Kid Icarus, the protagonist can become transformed into a defenseless walking eggplant.
  • Denser and Wackier: Certain franchises they make or publish, like the Mother, Wario Land and WarioWare series, feature more Surreal Humor and bizarre imagery than their main franchises are usually known for.
  • Early-Bird Release: The Vs. System series of arcade cabinets was this for the NES. The Crash scuttled Nintendo's original plans to bring the Famicom stateside, so they used the cabinets to preview their 8-bit games and hardware. The massive success of these cabinets gave Nintendo the confidence to move forward with releasing the Famicom in the America.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Nintendo's early days as a playing card company in 1889. They even tried branching out into numerous other ventures in the mid-20th century, experimenting with being a taxi service, a rice company, a love hotel chain, a TV network, and finally a toy manufacturer, which is how they ended up transitioning into video games. They haven't entirely forgotten their roots, as they still manufacture hanafuda cards, though they now only account for 0.1% of their income.
  • End of an Age:
    • The GameCube marked the final time that Nintendo directly competed with other video game hardware manufacturers in a power race for the strongest and most technologically advanced console. Starting with the Nintendo DS and cemented with the Wii, Nintendo's new modus operandi was to instead focus their efforts on creating unique gimmicks and concepts for each new console that would make them stand out amongst the crowd, and by extension, more appealing to wider audiences outside the "hardcore" gamer.
    • On a lesser note, whenever Nintendo's internal development studio, currently known as Nintendo EPD (Entertainment Planning & Development), stops developing titles for a given console, it naturally means the console is nearing the end of its life and its successor is imminent.
  • Excuse Plot: The company had its original heyday when this was the norm, but it's still applied it to certain franchises today, sometimes because of the Grandfather Clause, other times because it's found that having a plot is secondary to the quality of the main game. Miyamoto himself has gone on the record to say that sometimes a plot can be an obstruction to the quality of the gameplay, regardless of how good the plot itself is. In general, game development at Nintendo is very much "gameplay first, story second," though there are a few Nintendo franchises that do place major emphasis on story, such as Fire Emblem and Xenoblade Chronicles.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Just about every one of its franchises has at least one of these. Yoshi and Kirby are probably the stand-out examples though.
  • Family Business: Nintendo was originally founded as a hanafuda company by Fusajiro Yamauchi in 1889. When he retired in 1929, his son-in-law, Sekiryo Kaneda (who took the Yamauchi surname after marrying Fusajiro's daughter, Tei), took his place. After suffering a stroke twenty years later, Sekiryo named his grandson Hiroshi Yamauchi as his successor. Hiroshi's daughter, Yoko, would eventually marry Nintendo of America's founder and first president, Minoru Arakawa. Nintendo ended its run as a family business when Satoru Iwata succeeded Hiroshi in 2002.
  • Fandom Nod: On occasion, but Nintendo's E3 2014 presentation in particular was one of the most concentrated bursts of this, via the Robot Chicken sketches; the opening skit alone has a Straw Fan in the audience complains about the abundance of Mario games, and the lack of Mother 3 and Star Fox; Reggie's status as a Memetic Badass, when he sets the Straw Fan on fire with a Fire Flower and obliterates him with Eye Beams; and Link complaining about the presence of Toon Link. invoked
  • Fan-Work Ban: You're basically fine so long as it isn't a Game Mod or fan game. But if it is, then it's a toss-up over whether they'll leave you alone or demand you to take it down; either because they secretly have a similar project in development (e.g., Another Metroid 2 Remake when Metroid: Samus Returns was a year away from release) or just because they can.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: The developers of this company seem to like this type of boss, especially Masahiro Sakurai.
  • Heroic Mime: Most of its leads are this or have been this, with only occasional voices or even dialogue from them. Shigeru Miyamoto has famously explained that this practice allows the player to express themselves through the main character, although the degree of muteness varies from character to character - Mario, for example, can be very quiet in some games and downright chatty in others, while Link has famously hardly ever uttered a word other than the Dialogue Tree options the player can pick.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In regards to the content allowed on their system these days compared to their early years. After the removal of its internal content policies, Nintendo has been fine with some of the more salacious material present in third-party games on their systems, leaving the job of policing to a given region's existing ratings board. This has had the odd side-effect of games that have been otherwise been censored on other platforms due to adult content or nudity (such as BMX XXXX, Gal*Gun 2, and Omega Labyrinth Life) being released uncensored on Nintendo hardware.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • ROM cartridges were always called "game paks". The NES system itself was called a "control deck", not a console. The reason for this and other such terms was to distance itself from the Video Game Crash of 1983, and thus attempt to avoid some of the stigma associated with home video games in North America. Despite all odds, it managed to work.
    • Nintendo prefers to call free-to-play games, including its own, "free-to-start", which they feel is more honest than implying the entire game is free when it isn't.
  • Jesus Taboo: Nintendo of America's censorship code in the pre-ESRB era forbade explicate references to religion, which resulted in many a localization change to first and third party games, particularly games in the Ghosts 'n Goblins, Castlevania, and The Legend of Zelda series. This is not rigidly enforced as a rule anymore, though first-party games still tend to avoid overtly religious language or imagery.
  • Joker Immunity: A staple among most of their flagship franchises is that most of the main villains have a pesky habit of not staying dead. Bowser, Ganon, and Ridley are the three most notorious, though they are far from the only ones.
  • Made of Indestructium: Pretty much all of their consoles are known for being nigh-indestructible. The usual joke is that Nintendo products are made of Nintendium.note 
    • The standout example is the Game Boy, with Nintendo NY having one that managed to withstand a bombing during the Persian Gulf War and is still fully functional on display (showing off the Attract Mode of Tetris)
    • Wii Remotes are said to be coated in the stuff, as they smash TV screens and windows with little to no damage to themselves.
    • GizmoSlip drop-tested the Wii U controller onto concrete — repeatedly — and it suffered nothing worse than some scuffs on the corners, while the 6.2-inch touchscreen didn't even get marred.
    • This is apparently enforced since according to the dev teams, one of the hardest parts about the development of the original DS was the durability requirement in which it had to survive so many drops from at least 6 feet in the air and remain functional.
  • Mascot: Mario, who is also considered to the mascot for video games in general.
  • Mascot with Attitude: While Nintendo has never made a game that was a straight example, their marketing in the mid-1990s attempted to advertise Donkey Kong, Wario and even Kirby as being these, particularly in America.
  • Mercy Mode: Many of their games, from the Wii-era onward have variants of this, ranging from simply telling you where to go or how to accomplish a task, to outright playing or skipping the level for you if you still can't beat it after enough deaths.
  • Multi-Platform:
    • In the 1980s, Nintendo allowed ports of their arcade and early NES games to be made for consoles like the Colecovision, as well as personal computers. Since the 1990s, however, this trope has been averted hard, with their first-party titles never seeing release on other platforms.
    • Averting this tropes was enforced with third-parties with the NES — for the first few years anyway. The developer contract stipulated that a game released for the NES could not be released for any other U.S. system. This had the effect of killing the Sega Master System in its infancy and sealing the Commodore 64's fate (in the States — both systems fared better in other countries). It took antitrust litigation to force Nintendo to loosen its stranglehold.
    • Ever since the underwhelming sales of the GameCube, the company has tended to sacrifice hardware power in favour of unique hardware features to differentiate itself, meaning that multiplatform games for their systems often lack parity with same generation Xbox or PlayStation versions. If they receive ports at all, that is. In the Nintendo Switch era, the advent of cloud gaming has allowed publishers to circumvent the hardware differences by publishing cloud versions of certain games (such as Square Enix releasing the Kingdom Hearts trilogy on the Switch this way).
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: They strive for this with all their hardware and software as a rule. Their big franchises are made to be welcoming to younger and less experienced gamers, while still offering plenty of fun and challenge to older and veteran gamers.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: They've made the internet go nuts over stuff that, out of context, seems pretty boring.
  • Never Say "Die": Nintendo enforced this with both first-party and third-party games in the days of their censorship code. This became less of an official policy in the years afterward, though certain first-party games and franchises still have a tendency to avoid directly using "kill", "die" or "dead".
  • Nintendo Hard: Trope Maker and Trope Namer, thanks to the abundance of such games (both from themselves and third-parties) on the Nintendo Entertainment System; this includes multiplatform titles and ports, with the NES versions of titles like Battletoads and Ghosts 'n Goblins being much harder than their Sega and arcade counterparts.
  • No Export for You: Several, but a few notable examples concerning Nintendo's bigger franchises:
    • By far, the single most infamous example in their history is the original Super Mario Bros. 2. Nintendo of America feared that the game's increased difficulty and graphical similarities to its predecessor would alienate players in Western markets, and opted to reskin a seperate-but-related game and christen that Super Mario Bros. 2 instead. As Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, it would be remade with enhanced graphics as part of Super Mario All-Stars, and rereleased in its original form for the Wii Virtual Console.
    • The entire F-Zero franchise owes its existence to this trope. Nintendo of America declined to export the Famicom Disk game Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally, telling designer Kazunobu Shimizu that American children would reject it for "not being cool enough" for their tastes. Shimizu was crushed, but the went back to the drawing board to design a new, more futuristic racing game for Nintendo's new console and its then cutting-edge Mode 7 technology.
    • The Fire Emblem series is probably the most well-known example among Nintendo's library, with its first international release being its seventh game. It would take until its thirteenth to finally become a core franchise outside of Japan, however.
    • The Mother series. While the series' second game (known in the West as EarthBound) was exported soon after its release, the original didn't land in North America and Europe until its appearance on the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2015, over 25 years after its Japanese debut. The third installment remains Japan-exclusive to this day, save for a Fan Translation.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles was almost an example of this for North American audiences, before a fan movement called "Operation Rainfall" got it and two other RPGs brought over. Xenoblade Chronicles would go on to be one of Nintendo's most popular RPG series.
    • The Nintendo eShop — yes, their entire digital distribution service — isn't available in a large part of Asia, though they openly stated in 2022 that they'd making an effort to improve this.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Usually a side effect of the aforementioned Excuse Plots, but plot-heavier titles also have a surprising tendency to avoid portraying romance. Even Nintendo's two most prominent "romantic" couples, Mario/Peach and Link/Zelda, are typically shown to be so hands-off that they can be easily be interpreted as platonic (and depending on the game, they probably are). The one series that most thoroughly averts this trope is Fire Emblem, where several installments not only let you build relationships between two characters and eventually get them married, but some also allow you to play as their children later on in the story.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: During the late-2000s, many of Nintendo's games started putting the safety notices concerning photosensitive epilepsy that were in the instruction booklets into the games themselves. On a lighter note, games with heavy motion control use from the Wii-era onwards urge you to be attentive to your surroundings so you don't hurt others and take a break after a playing certain amount of time.
  • Platform Game: Codified this genre. While Nintendo has many, many successful games and franchises spread out over a variety of genres, some of the most loved and well-received series and franchises are platform games.
  • Rule of Fun: The foundation of game design at the company.
    Reggie Fils-Aimé: The game is fun. The game is a battle. If it's not fun, why bother? If it's not a battle, where's the fun?
  • Self-Deprecation: Their marketing does this on occasion. For example, their E3 2014 presentation contained a number of short sketches by the Robot Chicken crew which poked fun at themselves and their characters.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Beginning around 2018, promotional material from Nintendo refer to their products as the specific type of product that they are (i.e. calling the Nintendo Switch "the Nintendo Switch system" and calling Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game")—just in case people forgot what Nintendo makes. Note that this only applies with systems and games created and published by Nintendo themselves—third-party games are only referred to by their title, rather than being specifically called "the [X] game".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Many of its franchises gravitate heavily towards the idealistic end of the scale. Even darker franchises such as Metroid still tend to have an optimistic tone.
  • Story to Gameplay Ratio: Broadly speaking, Nintendo games tend to put more emphasis on gameplay than story, as a side effect of their development process wherein gameplay concepts are developed first, followed by worldbuilding and story elements meant to justify said gameplay. That said, story matters far more in some franchises (The Legend of Zelda, Fire Emblem, Star Fox, Xenoblade Chronicles) than others.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: It's strongly associated with this trend, doing it with its own games and sometimes letting third-party developers do it when releasing on its consoles.
  • Surprise Creepy: Nintendo has a reputation for making sweet, family-friendly games... and thus a lot of the weirder and scarier elements of said games tend to blindside people, with Japanese fans calling this tonal mix "Nintendo horror". The Kirby games in particular are infamous for this, due to them being in the Lightest and Softest of Sugar Bowl settings yet still having Eldritch Abominations as the Final Bosses most of the time. Especially notable with Kirby's Dream Land 3, which utilizes a cute watercolor painting-esque style for its visuals and features one of the most horrifying final bosses in the franchise's history by way of a flying eyeball that leaks blood (which some fans affectionately nickname "Blood Angel").
  • Uncredited Role: A number of the earliest NES games attributed to Nintendo were actually programmed by Satoru Iwata and developed by HAL Laboratory, uncredited. Examples include Balloon Fight, Mach Rider and Golf (which was at one time hidden in the Nintendo Switch firmware as a tribute to the recently-departed Iwata). Similarly, a number of Game Boy titles were developed wholly or partly by outside development houses uncredited(like TOSE and Pax Softnica), with varing degrees of imput from Nintendo's internal teams.
  • Version-Exclusive Content: Some multiplatform games, usually timed exclusives, receive Nintendo-themed additions when released on their platforms; be they purely cosmetic (like additional costumes or easter eggs), additional characters, or even facets of gameplay tailored around the console's gimmick.
  • Voice Grunting: Most of its major characters have a voice even if they don't speak full lines of dialogue. Some of them also have short phrases they often use (Mario: "It's-a me," "Let's-a go").
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Nintendo was approached by Atari to bring the Famicom to the United States, and were in the early stages of negotiation for the rights, but The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 put a end to those plans. As a result, Nintendo of America decided to employ a handful of now jobless Atari employees in other to do it themselves
    • The PlayStation was originally a collaboration with Sony known as the SNES CD-ROM. Long story short, tensions rose up over how software would be controlled and profits distributed, and so Nintendo backed out of the deal on the same exact day Sony publicly announced it, saying they'd be working with Philips on the CD project. Sony executives, angered by this, decided to release the PlayStation on their own (but not until after Sega rejected them too). The Philips arrangement fell out as well, leading Nintendo to avoid optical discs until the Nintendo GameCube, but Philips did manage to secure permission to develop games based around Nintendo's IPs for the Philips CD-i.
    • According to Reggie Fils-Amie, Kanye West approached him during an E3 event and set up a meeting to discuss having Nintendo develop a video game about guiding his mother to heaven. However, Reggie had to "politely decline" the offer due to Nintendo being busy with a number of other commitments at the time; Kanye would later publicly announce his intention to make the game himself in 2015, under the title Only One, but nothing came out of this either. Whether or not Only One was related to West's 2021 album Donda (apart from centering around the death of Kanye's mother) is unknown.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nintendo Co Ltd


Wii Would Like To Play

In North America, ad company Leo Burnett created a series of award-winning commercials for the Nintendo Wii featuring two Japanese businessmen traveling the United States and asking people to play Wii games with them using the now-iconic "Wii Would Like To Play" tagline. This particular ad promotes Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Slogans

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