Although Nintendo is the world's most widely known video game company, it didn't become one until the late 1970s. The Kyoto-based company has been around for a while, a really long while: Nintendo dates to 1889, when founder Fusajiro Yamauchi created playing cards called hanafuda. The business was successful enough to create sufficient demand, and Nintendo had modest expansion through much of the 20th century. Though its influence on the video game industry is both widespread and undeniable, it continues to manufacture hanafuda, together with playing cards, shogi, and go to this day.
Under the leadership of young Hiroshi Yamauchi (Fusajiro's grandson) after World War II, the company looked to expand its business model to everything from a taxi service to a chain of Love Hotels to instant foods. Most of these junctures failed and their hanafuda sales would plummet after the 1964 Olympics. Near-bankrupt, the company reached out to one of its workers, Gunpei Yokoi, noted among coworkers for inventing devices on the side, for product ideas. Yokoi brought in a few of his inventions, and Nintendo had a few modest hits in these ideas: the Ultra Hand, the Love Tester, and the Ultra Machine, among others. Bolstered by these successes, Yamauchi decided that Nintendo would become an entertainment and games company.
Tinkering around with solar cells and transistors led Yokoi and another engineer to create a series of basic light gun games — shooting a bottle in the right spot would cause it to pop apart, a toy lion would roar, and so on. Moving these into abandoned bowling alleys gave Nintendo their Laser Clay Ranges, where players would insert some coins and shoot at electronic targets installed at the ends of lanes. Though initially successful, the 1973 oil crisis sunk demand for the Rangers, and Nintendo was forced to go another route.
Basic video games like Pong and the Magnavox Odyssey were becoming popular, and Nintendo soon created the Color TV Game 6, complete with cheesy plastic overlays. Soon after was the more powerful Color TV Game 12. Following the success of those, Nintendo moved into arcade games, with help from games like the original Donkey Kong, which was designed by a young artist named Shigeru Miyamoto. Deciding 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. With this in mind, Nintendo eventually released the Family Computer in Japan.
The Family Computer, or Famicom, was a massive success. After only a few years on the shelves, it had a lock on 90% of the Japanese home video game market. Eventually, Yamauchi decided to expand overseas, and he asked his son-in-law Minoru Arakawa to run Nintendo of America. After braving some initial struggle, Nintendo of America was saved by an arcade game starring a portly red-clad carpenter and a large hairy ape, which gave them the necessary capital and support to make more games.
At this point (early to mid '80s), the American home video game market was dead from The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Deader than dead, really, but arcades were still booming, so Nintendo decided to give the home market a shot; their thinking was that the Japanese and US markets couldn't be that different. Nintendo of America worked hard translating and porting games over from Japan, the system was redesigned several times to look more like a consumer electronic product and less like a video game machine, and several cool looking peripherals were designed to help sell the system - primarily, the NES Zapper Gun and R.O.B, the Robotic Operating Buddy. R.O.B. didn't do much, but he still looked pretty good for the early 1980s, and he was something different.
Though early comments from testing with kids proved discouraging, with a comment from an 8-year-old being "this is shit!", Yamauchi told Arakawa to get the system out anyway. Showing some true entrepreneurial determination, he told Arakawa that they must get the system into the hands of the consumers — that was the only test that mattered. Working through the winter months, Arakawa and the fledgling Nintendo of America got the system onto store shelves in New York in time for the Christmas season of 1985. Over half of the 100,000 systems sold. Though not as successful as Nintendo had hoped, the retailers had seen the viability of the product, and Nintendo had gotten their foot in the door.
More systems and games were shipped over to the States. Sales were slow at first, but word spread (as did Nintendo's distribution channels) and the system sold more and more — over 1,000,000 systems by the end of the first year and 3,000,000 by the end of the second. Consumer analysts were baffled, having predicted that the system would go the way of Atari and Coleco before it, but they didn't count on Nintendo's aggressive strategy and controlled games releasing, which avoided the flood of terrible-quality product that had caused the market to die before. It helped that their games — games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid — were exceptional.
More games were translated. Original, American-developed titles were created. Licensing contracts were drawn up and signed. Nintendo Power, a magazine all about Nintendo games, was published. Help lines and call centers were being used night and day. Soon, home video games were booming once again, and all of it was Nintendo's doing — it single-handedly revived the dead-in-the-water industry and guided the market to the smashing success it is today with a portly red plumber and a small grey box.
Though several companies have come and gone, Nintendo remains strong in both hardware and software thanks to a constant cycle of innovation with its consoles and games. Nintendo's first-party games are nearly always high in quality, and they show a remarkable commitment to ensuring that even long-running series like Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda remain fresh and interesting with each new installment.
Nintendo is currently the only one of the big three players in the current console wars to solely make video games and consoles; Microsoft and Sony are enormous titans in other industries,note but Nintendo is forced to stay viable in order to compete in the game market. It must do this by keeping their products affordable and selling them at a profit, forcing it to use older technology instead of selling at a loss with newer technology. This also forces it to cut some features that the competing consoles have such as DVD/Blu-ray playback and graphics as high in quality as the other consoles. The stakes are also much higher for it, as it's stated that the day it no longer makes consoles is the day it drops out of the game business entirely.
On the other hand, these same attributes also ensure that Nintendo is never hurting for cash. Nintendo is one of those rare few companies that not only makes a profit, but makes consistent profit and has a tremendous bank account saved up for "rainy days". Indeed, there has rarely been a generation when Nintendo has not made a profit from day one, whereas competitors generally require years before hardware and software begin to make money. More than that, since Nintendo has such strong power as a company and as a brand, a good part of their success lies in transforming games into franchises (see Pokémon for a good example of how Nintendo parleyed a game into everything from stores to movies). 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 drop out and be a pure media company.
While its consoles usually lack in graphical power, they make up for it with innovative games and controllers. Controller mainstays such as rumble, shoulder buttons, and analog sticks were either pioneered or popularized by Nintendo, and its decision to go with motion controllers for the Wii proved to be a smart decision as the console became a game-changing hit. Microsoft and Sony quickly produced their own answers to Nintendo's Wii Remotes, but not fast enough to keep the Wii from winning that generation in terms of sales and causing a permanent change in the way that we play games, as well as introducing a whole new collection of gamers to the hobby.
Nintendo also created and monopolized handheld units until the Japan-only WonderSwan, and later the PlayStation Portable arrived in 2004 (after which it merely dominated handheld consoles). The Game & Watch was the greatest handheld console in the early/mid 1980s. Following it was the Game Boy in 1989, which was a similar success, thanks (in part) to the bundle-packaging of Tetris. Nintendo's biggest console failure was the Virtual Boy, which bombed due to headache-inspiring pseudo-3D visuals and few good games besides Virtual Boy Wario Land. The Game Boy was succeeded by the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance before being phased out in favor the the Nintendo DS line.
One element of Nintendo which became deprecated was the Official ("Original" in Europe) Nintendo Seal of Quality. It was originally created to show which games had been licensed for publishing by Nintendo officially, as opposed to being a pirated or counterfeit releases, for the NES. Eventually, they dropped the "of Quality" during the GameCube/GBA era, with consumers finally realizing it didn't stand for game qualitynote .
The company has developed a reputation of 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 bringing out the ten-year-old kid in everyone. In that regard, while not everyone has Nintendo as their favorite company, it's hard to find anyone that actively and genuinely dislikes Nintendo. Though you will find people who, while not disliking Nintendo, simply don't care about them or anything they do in the slightest.
Nintendo's placement in the Console Wars has been all over the place, ranging from unquestionably first (NES and Wii) to barely first (SNES) to only beating out a dying Sega console (N64 and GameCube) to actually being a dying console (Wii U). Regardless of how they place 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. Fans and non-fans alike are both aware of the mantra "never count Nintendo out," and though that might not always apply from a commercial standpoint, it always applies from a critical one.
2015 was a notable year for Nintendo for three reasons: First, they announced a partnership with Universal that resulted in the planned creation of Super Nintendo World, a themed-park section one of Universal's many parks. Second, Nintendo's beloved second president Satoru Iwata passed away in June, a loss felt by the entire industry. Third, Nintendo moved into the mobile market, starting out with Miitomo and eventually creating a whole slew of them based on their popularIPs, including Fire Emblem Heroes, Super Mario Run, and Pokémon GO.
Currently, Nintendo is skillfully riding the Nintendo Switch wave, which had an overwhelmingly successful launch (it outsold the Wii U's lifetimes sales in under a year and was 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 have turned the Switch into a hell of a success story for Nintendo, giving the company the momentum it needed after the dismal performance of the Wii U. The 3DS is going still strong despite a shaky launch, as it managed to pummel the Playstation Vita into submission and withstood the hits from the ever-growing mobile game market.
In May 2016, Kimishima stated in an interview that Nintendo will be reconsidering their stance on movie adaptations and are now planning on producing animated movies based on their franchises. What's more, they intend to (whether fully or partly) finance and produce the movies themselves rather than license them to other studios (similar to the pre-Disney structure of Marvel Studios), meaning that the disastrous live-action Super Mario Bros. film was still fresh in their minds to ensure that a film like that wouldn't happen again. So far, these plans have culminated in a potential agreement with Illumination Entertainment, an animation unit of Universal Studios, for an animated movie based off the Mario franchise, as of November 2017.
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 end up selling a majority of their ownership in 2016, though they still hold a (much smaller) stake in the team.
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.
- Color TV Game: A series of dedicated consoles and Nintendo's first attempt at home video games. It was one of the many Pong clones of the era.
- Nintendo Entertainment System (NES): The eight-bit system that gave us many of the venerable franchises that are still around today. Credited with spurring the recovery of the industry after the Great Crash of 1983.
- Famicom Disk System: A Japan-only add-on that runs games on floppy disks rather than standard cartridges. It had better sound and memory capabilities than cartridges, but was set back by the disks' long loading times 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.
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES): 16-bit generation. It was the best seller of the generation, according to That Other Wiki.
- Super Game Boy: A Game Boy packaged into an SNES cartridge, allowing Game Boy games (and Game Boy-compatible Game Boy Color games) to be played on a TV. The peripheral could play the games in a limited color palette (as the Game Boy can only display four shades of color due to it using an LCD screen) and featured multiple interchangeable borders. Some games were developed with the SGB specifically in mind, featuring custom palettes and borders, with some (most notably Kirby's Dream Land 2) featuring SGB-exclusive sound effects that took advantage of the SNES's hardware.
- Satellaview: A Japan-only add-on for the Super Famicom allowing broadcast downloads of games through satellite radio, backed by live-streamed audio sometimes featuring voice-acting.
- SNES CD-ROM: A scrapped CD-ROM add-on for the SNES. Troubled Production aside, a prototype (along with the BIOS cartridge) has been discovered and reverse-engineered. This was a big deal because it was thought that all 200 of the prototypes have been destroyed by Nintendo and Sony. Work is in progress to restore the console to fully functional status (headed by the legendary console modder Ben Heck no less). In the meantime, the functionality of the system has been fully understood based on information gleaned from observations and teardowns of the system by various parties and disassembly of the BIOS cartridge, and not only is the add-on fully emulated by several emulators now, but there are also homebrews for it.
- Nintendo 64: Fifth generation. While not as successful as its two predecessors, mostly due to sticking with the cartridge format over the cheaper and (for the time) high-capacity CD format, it did help jump start the industry shift, and it introduced analog sticks and force feedback on first-party controllers, creating a new standard of modern General Gaming Gamepads. It also brought about titles that are still highly regarded, such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, and GoldenEye (1997), the last which managed to show that not all licensed games have to suck.
- 64DD: A Japan-only add-on that played games on magnetic disks rather than cartridges; the disks were more powerful and easier to produce than cartridges, but were still inferior to the optical discs used by rival consoles. The add-on was a commercial failure in Japan, and never saw an international release as a result; many titles proposed for the 64DD were either cancelled or shifted to standard N64 cartridges (the main exception was MOTHER 3, which was released for the Game Boy Advance).
- Nintendo GameCube: Sixth generation. Their first system to use optical discs (albeit mini-DVD size instead of 8"), but like the Nintendo 64, it suffered from a lack of third-party development in part due to the format being smaller then its competition and lagged behind in support. However, in recent years, the console and a handful of its games were Vindicated by History.
- Game Boy Player: An add-on for the Gamecube that allowed games from the Game Boy line to be played on a TV, similarly to the Super Game Boy. Unlike the SGB, however, it did not play Game Boy games in color and was limited to a single set of interchangeable borders regardless of what game was inserted. The add-on required the Gamecube to run a special startup disc in order to function. This was the last official add-on made for a Nintendo home console.
- Wii: Seventh generation. Nintendo's fifth home system, the selling point being its simple motion controls. It was the basis for a rise in Nintendo's fortunes, outselling its competitors by tens of millions. A focus on drawing in mainstream customers, as well as drawing in the long-timers by assimilating its own past, as well as that of others, was the impetus for that. The Wii became known for many of its health and sports-related games rather than more traditional or conventional video games. It was backwards-compatible with Gamecube games, and featured the debut of the Virtual Console, which allowed players to download and play digital copies of titles from past titles, such as the NES, SNES, and N64. This was also the first Nintendo home console to not see any official add-ons produced for the console itself.
- Wii U: Eighth generation. Nintendo's first HD console. Noted for its controller, called the Game Pad, which incorporates a touchscreen to which gameplay can be streamed to, eliminating the need for a TV. Also noted for being the company's second biggest hardware failure after the Virtual Boy. It was backwards-compatible with Wii games, and can play NES, SNES, N64, GBA, and DS games via the Virtual Console. Coincidentally enough it was released on the eleventh anniversary of the launch of the GameCube.
- Nintendo Switch: Either ninth generation or the second entry in the eighth; it'll be a while before we're able to tell which. Taking a cue from the Wii U, the console itself comes in the form of a touchscreen tablet that can be removed from the charging dock and taken on the go, making it the world's first portable home console. The Joy-Con controllers can be slid onto either side of the console, slid into a charging grip, or simply held separately with one in each hand. The controllers have advanced motion-detection and more subtle rumble functions (which were utilized most prominently in the launch title 1-2-Switch).
- Game & Watch: A popular series of handheld games that predated the Nintendo Entertainment System. The games, designed by janitor Gunpei Yokoi, 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.
- Game Boy: The portable equivalent of the NES and Nintendo's first handheld console, which used interchangeable cartridges. Despite being less powerful than the other handhelds on the market, its superior battery life, Nintendo's hold of third parties at the time, and a little game known as Tetris led to widespread popularity. A smaller model called the Game Boy pocket was created by Gunpei Yokoi as a parting gift before his resignation from Nintendo, and a variation known as the Game Boy Light was later released in Japan alone; it is notable for being the first backlit Nintendo handheld, predating the Game Boy Advance SP by roughly five years.
- Virtual Boy: A headset that displayed games in 3D, using a red and black color palette due to the commercial & technical practicality of red LEDs compared to other colors. The system was a critical and commercial failure, in part due to the visual display causing ocular strain in a large number of consumers.
- Game Boy Color: A successor to the Game Boy, with full-color displays and slightly more power behind it, made to hold off consumers during the Game Boy Advance's development. Unlike the Game Boy Light, it shared the Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket's lack of a backlight. It was backwards-compatible with the Game Boy, which itself was forwards-compatible with certain Game Boy Color games; to differentiate between Game Boy-compatible and Game Boy-incompatible games, compatible cartridges used the same plastic shell as Game Boy cartridges, while incompatible GBC cartridges used transparent plastic shells that curved slightly inwards at the top.
- Game Boy Advance: In graphical power, roughly equivalent to the SNES. One of the best-selling game consoles of that system, and the last 2D-gaming dedicated device created by Nintendo. It was backwards-compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy color games. A later, backlit model known as the Game Boy Advance SP was released two years after the GBA's debut; every Nintendo handheld since its release has featured a backlight.
- Pokémon mini: Released briefly in 2001 the Pokémon mini was the only game system ever created that focused on just one franchise, that being the popular Pokémon series. The system featured only about a dozen games but it did feature a few features that even Nintendo's newer consoles lacked, notably force feedback and on-board vibration.
- Nintendo DS: One of the most successful gaming consoles ever created by Nintendo, next to the Wii. It was the first mainstream gaming device to utilize a touchscreen. Being similar to the N64 in power, it was backwards-compatible with Game Boy Advance games.
- Nintendo 3DS: More powerful than the GameCube, and almost as capable as the Wii, the handheld's major selling-point was its stereoscopic 3D visual features. It is backwards-compatible with Nintendo DS games, and can play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games via the Virtual Console.
- Nintendo Power, which for years was the company's in-house magazine and remained one of the most popular gaming publications until it ended in 2012. It was revived in the form of a podcast in December 2017.
- Nintendo Direct, the company's announcement webcast series.
- amiibo, a line of figures and collectibles that tie into various games.
- Play Nintendo Comics, a series of online promotional gag comics for new games.
Nintendo was once (or, depending on your preference, still is) the go-to company for video games, and as such, they hold a larger place in entertainment history than any other video game company. The list that follows is only a partial selection of an absolutely massive 30+ year lineup on multiple different consoles and many hand held variants:
Nintendo has developed/published the following titles:
- Animal Crossing
- Donkey Kong
- Fatal Frame (co-owned with Tecmo since the fourth installment)
- Fire Emblem
- The Legend of Zelda
- Star Fox
- Super Mario Bros.
- Super Smash Bros.
- 1080° Snowboarding
- Another Code
- Arm Wrestling
- Balloon Fight
- Baten Kaitos: Origins
- Battle Clash
- Bayonetta 2
- Bayonetta 3
- Big Brain Academy
- Brain Age
- Captain Rainbow
- Clu Clu Land
- Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
- Custom Robo
- The Denpa Men
- Detective Club
- Devil World
- Devil's Third
- Dillon's Rolling Western
- Disaster: Day of Crisis
- Doshin the Giant
- Drill Dozer
- Duck Hunt
- Endless Ocean
- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (notable for being the first M-rated game published by Nintendo)
- Ever Oasis
- EVR Race
- Excite series (ExciteBike, ExciteTruck, etc.)
- For the Frog the Bell Tolls
- Fossil Fighters
- Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive!
- Game & Watch
- Glory of Heracles
- Golden Sun
- Hotel Dusk: Room 215
- Ice Climber
- Jam with the Band (Daigasso! Band Brothers)
- Joy Mech Fight
- Kid Icarus
- Kiki Trick
- Kuru Kuru Kururin
- The Last Story
- The Legendary Starfy
- Mach Rider
- Magical Vacation
- Meteos (Co-published with Bandai)
- Mole Mania
- Nazo No Murasamejo
- NES Remix
- Nintendo Badge Arcade
- Nintendo Land
- Nintendo Labo
- Nintendo Wars
- Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan
- Pandora's Tower
- Panel de Pon
- Perfect Dark
- Pinball (1984)
- Professor Layton
- Pro Wrestling
- Rhythm Heaven
- Sakura Samurai
- Sin and Punishment
- Steel Diver
- StreetPass Mii Plaza
- Style Savvy
- Tomodachi Life
- Urban Champion
- Wave Race
- Wii Sports
- The Wonderful 101
Nintendo affiliate HAL Laboratory has developed/published the following titles:
- Adventures of Lolo
- Air Fortress
- Defender (NES port of Defender II)
- Face Raiders
- Joust (NES port)
- Kabuki Quantum Fighter
- Millipede (NES port)
- MOTHER (MOTHER 2 is known as EarthBound outside Japan)
- Pokémon Ranger
- Pokémon Snap
- Pokémon Stadium
- Alice in Wonderland
- Barker Bill's Trick Shooting
- Eyeshield 21: The Field's Greatest Warriors
- Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!
- Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball
- Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside
- GoldenEye (1997)
- Mickey's Speedway USA
- Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution
- NCAA Basketball
- NHL Stanley Cup
- Project X Zone (co-developed by now-subsidiary Monolith Soft and Bandai Namco subsidiary Banpresto)
- Quest for Camelot
- Star Wars Rogue Squadron (N64 version only)
- Star Wars Shadows Of The Empire (also N64 version only; both games' PC versions were published by LucasArts themselves)
- Waialae Country Club: True Golf Classics
- WWF No Mercy
Notable people associated with Nintendo:
- Hiroshi Yamauchi
- Shigeru Miyamoto
- Satoru Iwata
- Gunpei Yokoi
- Hirokazu Tanaka
- Satoshi Tajiri
- Koji Kondo
- Mahito Yokota
- Shigesato Itoi
- Masahiro Sakurai (Project Sora)
- Yoshiaki Koizumi
- Reggie Fils Aime
- Kazumi Totaka
- Yoshio Sakamoto
- Tatsumi Kimishima
- Charles Martinet
List of Nintendo subsidiaries and related videogame companies:
- AKI Corporation (later renamed as syn Sophia) (responsible for Style Savvy)
- Alpha Dream (responsible for the Mario & Luigi subseries)
- Brownie Brown (now split up into two studios, Brownies and 1-Up Studio)
- Camelot Software Planning (main developer of the Mario Golf and Mario Tennis spinoffs)
- Creatures Inc
- DeNA (co-develops mobile games based on existing Nintendo franchises)
- Good Feel
- Game Freak (handles the main Pokémon games)
- HAL Laboratory (develops the Kirby series and the first two Super Smash Bros. games)
- Hudson Soft (developed the Mario Party series from the first game until Mario Party DS, later purchased by and merged with Konami)
- Intelligent Systems (responsible not just for games like Fire Emblem and Paper Mario, but also Nintendo's development tools)
- Jupiter Corporation
- Left Field Productions (had a minority interest bought by Nintendo in 1998, which was bought back from them in 2002)
- Level-5 (third-party, but frequently has Nintendo distribute its games outside of Japan)
- Monolith Soft and Tetsuya Takahashi (an offshoot of Square Enix founded by their former employees, including Takahashi; started life as a Bandai Namco subsidiary until it sold most of its stake to Nintendo)
- Genius Sonority
- Griptonite Games
- ND Cube (main developer of the Mario Party series as of Mario Party 9)
- Next Level Games (developed the Mario Strikers and Punch-Out!! for Wii, along with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and (infamously) Metroid Prime: Federation Force for the Nintendo 3DS)
- Paon (developed Donkey Kong Barrel Blast and several other Donkey Kong spinoffs)
- Rareware (developed the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy, as well as Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong 64, sold to Microsoft in 2002)
- Retro Studios (made the Metroid Prime Trilogy, as well as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze)
- Shin'en Multimedia
- Silicon Knights (just like Rareware, it was later bought up by Microsoft, though it died at its hands too)
- Sora Ltd. (develops the later Super Smash Bros. games, starting from Super Smash Bros. Brawl onwards)
Tropes associated with Nintendo:
- Ascended Meme:
- Non-Specific Action Figure, an Ensemble Dark Horse of the pre-E3 2012 video, gets some recognition during E3 itself — one in the 3DS Software Showcase, and the last Nintendo E3 2012 video on YouTube.
- Reggie's "My body is ready" quote has appeared in multiple games, including Super Mario Maker and Pokémon Sun and Moon.
- Badass Boast: Reggie's classic E3 2004 introduction speech, quoted above.
- Bleached Underpants: Before video games, one of its ventures was a chain of Love Hotels. It didn't go very well.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: "Nintendo marches to the beat of their own drum" is a common saying, because they've always been willing to experiment with ideas that the public tends to find very strange. The DS, Wii, and Switch show just how profitable this mindset can be, although there have been just as many failures.
- Create Your Own Villain: Nintendo is the reason why Sony got into the video game market, and the decision to use cartridges on the Nintendo 64 indirectly led to the PlayStation's success. (See the SNES CD-ROM page for more details.)
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: After their experiment with disks with the Famicom Disk System led to massive piracy on the system, Nintendo has been massively cautious when it comes to piracy ever since. Those around during the late 90s will remember that they even went as far as getting an injunction to ban cartridge copiers and flashcarts from entering US soil and regularly took copier and flashcart manufacturers to court. Most system updates for the Wii, Wii U, DSi and 3DS have been intended solely to kill potential exploits for homebrew. This doesn't stop the Wii from being one of the most easily homebrewable systems ever, though. Thankfully, most homebrewers prefer to insert their own content into official games (thus requiring prospective players to actually have said game in order to play) rather than pirate games left and right.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Nintendo actually starting as a playing card company in 1889. They even tried branching out into numerous other ventures from the mid 1950's and on, such as a Taxi service, a rice company, a love hotel chain, a TV network, and even being a toy manufacturer before they finally carved out their niche as a video game company.
- 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. That's not to say there aren't any exceptions.
- 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.
- First-Name Basis: While most of the major Japanese developers and executives (Miyamoto, Iwata, Sakurai, etc.) are the opposite trope, the company's prominent Western staff are this (Reggie Fils-Aime is almost universally referred to as simply "Reggie").
- Giant Hands of Doom: The developers of this company seem to like this type of boss, especially Masahiro Sakurai.
- Grandfather Clause: The Mario series in particular is prey to this. Though each game has pretty good gameplay evolution, the plot's often thin and usually just an excuse to get Peach kidnapped and Mario out adventuring. Other key franchises such as Zelda, Metroid, and even Star Fox have received much more character and plot intricacy in recent games.
- Heroic Mime: Most of its leads are this or have been this, but some have been given a voice, for better or for worse.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Nintendo's licensing policies in the NES days bit them right in the ass when Konami threatened to sue them over the Nintendo 64 being called the Ultra 64, because Konami owned the name "Ultra" for video games, a consequence of the quota Nintendo imposed on third-party publishers for the NES.
- Iconic Logo: Red in the West and blue in Japan for much of the company's video game-making history, but switched to gray internationally in 2006.
- 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 have Nintendo distance itself from the failure of Atari, and thus attempt to avoid some of the stigma associated with home video games in North America. Clearly, something worked.
- 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.
- Knight Templar:
- In regards to playing the systems not how they want you to, a problem that has plagued Nintendo from their early console days.
- The infamous coding lock on the NES, which meant "first-party or expensively licensed games only". This got it into a lot of legal hot water, and didn't manage to completely stem the tide of unauthorized games (though it did prevent a great deal of them).
- The EULA for the 3DS says, in Layman's Terms, that they will intentionally brick your system if they find any software that they consider "unauthorized". Ouch.
- The words "Project M" are tripwired on Miiverse. Even typing the phrase or an abbreviation thereof will trigger an automatic ban for discussing "criminal activity" (which had the side effect of causing users to be banned for abbreviating Paper Mario as "PM". Taken to its logical conclusion, even just mentioning the time of the day over Miiverse can potentially get you banned).
- They often take a strong stance against most fan projects that use their franchises and licenses and get them taken down fairly quickly, a fate that befell both Pokémon Uranium and Another Metroid 2 Remake.
- Last of His Kind:
- Every other dedicated console company such as Atari and Sega have either gone third-party or outright gone defunct. Nintendo is the last one remaining.
- Third-party publishers have recently been accused of spoiling the experience with DLC and other transactions that give players who spend more money an unfair advantage, and a few of these publishers such as EA have chosen to stop supporting Nintendo. As a result, some fans of Nintendo have referred to the Wii U as the last real gaming console.
- Mascot: Mario, who is also considered to the mascot for video games in general.
- Mercy Mode: Their patented Super Guide, which was made as an excuse to bring back Nintendo Hardness without alienating less skilled players.
- Morton's Fork:
- Played with by the Internet at large. If Nintendo releases its usual products, they're all "kiddie" stuff. If it goes for darker, edgier content, it's seen as overstepping its comfort zone. If it appeals to the hardcore game, it's going for an audience it's lost. If it appeals to the casual gamer, it's ignoring the essential hardcore crowd.
- It's the Same, So It Sucks (such as with New Super Mario Bros. in general), while experimenting tends to lead to They Changed It, Now It Sucks! (such as with Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) Sticking to tradition with established franchises leads to claims of
- Multi-Platform: Zig-zagged.
- It was originally averted in the U.S. 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.
- However, starting with the Nintendo 64 era, this trope ends up averted more often than not. Nintendo's first-party titles are never multiplatform, and developers in those generations tended to skip Nintendo's console with their releases for a variety of reasons — vastly differing power levels, smaller install base, lower sales, different media format, and a few more.
- Necessary Weasel: As mentioned above, many of their games employ an Excuse Plot so that it wouldn't detract from the gameplay.
- Network Decay:
- Nintendo Co., Ltd.:
- The announcement of Nintendo beginning plans for a "Quality of Life" platform/services has not set well with many gamers. They view this as more Network Decay, though with the Quality of Life platform/services still lacking a proper public unveiling, it is difficult to tell if this could be the case (as some analysts have speculated this could simply be a side venture not any different from Microsoft also creating computers, or Sony with electronics).
- In 2016, Nintendo started releasing games for the smartphone market, marking their first major effort to develop games for a platform that wasn't theirs.
- Nintendo making video games in the first place qualifies as Network Decay, considering the company originally created and distributed playing cards.
- Nintendo's American branch:
- No Export for You, actually localize games for their region and Nintendo of America doesn't (the Operation Rainfall games were the most egregious example), you know there's a problem at Nintendo of America. Though Nintendo of America are trying to turn this around by localizing a number of games in 2014 that would have fallen victim to No Export for You in the past. When Nintendo of Europe, usually the leader in
- Many also find Nintendo of America's lack of mainstream marketing a sign of decay that seems to be not going away any time soon. Thankfully, after the commercial failure of the Wii U, Nintendo has reversed this trend hard with the Switch.
- There's also the matter of Nintendo of America being overprotective of the company's copyrights on YouTube and tried to deny any Super Smash Bros. games from being at EVO 2013 (though it's worth noting that the aforementioned incidences had their decisions reversed after fan backlash).
- Nintendo Co., Ltd.:
- Nintendo Hard: Trope Maker and Trope Namer; largely the case with NES games, present in a small few titles since, and coming back through the creation of the Super Guide feature in recent first-party games.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Usually a side effect of the aforementioned Excuse Plots, but more recent 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. The one series that most thoroughly averts this trope is Fire Emblem, where certain installments let you not only build relationships between two characters and eventually get them married so that they give each other stat buffs in combat, but also control their kids later in the game.
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Many of Nintendo's own games will have notices before and during a game. Mostly, from the Wii onwards they involve safety notices like making sure the Wii Remote is strapped properly or advice like taking a break after a playing certain amount of time.
- Platform Game: Codified this genre. While Nintendo has many many successful games, series, and franchises spread over a variety of genres, some of the most loved and well-received series and franchises are of this genre as well.
- Precision F-Strike: Nintendo has had a couple of these internally.
- Quality over Quantity: This trope was Nintendo's whole argument during its dominance in the '80s and early '90s before it changed its policies after being accused of monopolistic practices with its licensing agreements. The original agreement was that licensees could only make up to five games a year; the reasoning behind the decision was that it was better for the developers to focus on creating a few smash hits than to flood the market by churning out mediocre games, as was the case with Atari before the crash.
- Becomes a Hilarious in Hindsight moment when the Mario Party series were introduced and had a new installment nearly every year, which caused most gamers and critics to view the series as mediocre after a while. Mario Party 9 broke the trend by being released several years after the eighth installment and changing up the basics, which was something most critics liked.
- Rule of Fun: The foundation of game design at the company.
- Self-Deprecation: Their E3 2014 digital media event contained a number of short sketches by the Robot Chicken crew which poked fun at themselves and their characters.
- Show, Don't Tell: It gained the respect of various media personalities and game critics (most notably Jim Sterling of Jimquisition) in recent times because of its abiding by this trope when it comes to hype generation. As opposed to most top tier devs, who generate hype by massive marketing campaigns and fake, CGI trailers (most infamously with Dark Souls II and Watch_Dogs), it just ups and shows the actual gameplay.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. 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.
- 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.
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: Has a real problem with many unknown companies creating knockoff products of varying quality, from figurines to the consoles themselves (one of which is the page image of the trope in fact) to games. Going after these rip offs is often difficult at best, given many copyright approaches to things like parody and the difficulty of proving actual infringement vs simply being similar or inspired by.
- Surprise Creepy: It has a reputation for making sweet, family-friendly games... and thus a lot of the weirder and scarier elements of games it develops or publishes tend to blindside people. 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 featuring one of the most horrifying final bosses in the franchise's history (which some fans affectionately nickname "Blood Angel")
- Tonka Tough: ALL of their consolesnote were/are nigh-indestructible, especially the Game Boy (which withstood a bombing during the Persian Gulf War and was still fully functional) and GameCube (which has been reported to still work after falling off buildings). The usual joke is that Nintendo products are made of Nintendium.
- The Nintendo World store in New York City has an original Game Boy that was hit by artillery fire during the first Gulf War and still runs (more specifically, the Tetris opening/demo).
- 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 apparantly 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.