125 Fun Facts About Nintendo Part 5: The Modern Era

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101.  Development of the Game Boy Advance began as early as 1996 under the code-name "Project Atlantis."  It was reported in a few game magazines who had been informed that Nintendo was working on a new 32 handheld system slated for a 1997 release, but instead Nintendo released the Game Boy Color, a slightly improved iteration of the Game Boy with full color graphics.  Nintendo released the handheld as a stop-gap until the components they intended to use for the Game Boy advance became more affordable.

102.  The GameCube was Nintendo's least successful console having only managed to sell 21.74 million units despite the fact that the system played host to some of Nintendo's most classic games like Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and my personal favorite, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

103.   By 2003 Nintendo's home-console business was in serious trouble in North America, due to the GameCube's poor sales.  In an attempt to right the ship, Nintendo hired a new vice president, they went with the man who had completely turned VH1's fortunes around by retooling the network to appeal to younger audiences, the one, the only Reggie Fils-Aimé.

104.  Reggie became something of a celebrity after his first appearance as the vice president of Nintendo of North America.  This is because of his awesome introduction at the event:

 

 

105.  Reggie has got an over-abundance of swag.

 

Reggie Fils-Aime as a young man.

And he always has.

 

106.  One of the biggest complaints levied against the GameCube was its inability to play DVDs unlike both the Xbox and PS2.  To remedy the situation (in Japan at least), Nintendo partnered with Panasonic to create the Panasonic Q, a gamecube that was also capable of playing DVDs. It was only ever released in Japan, which makes me wonder how much better the console would have done if it was released in North America and Europe.

 

 

107.  Chances are if you owned a GameCube you remember the music on the menu screen.  The futuristic music still brings a wave of nostalgia to me every time I hear it.  Speeding the music up reveals that it is actually the same music that played when Japanese players booted up their Famicom Disk Drive.  Hear for your self:

 

 

108.    Nintendo originally intended for the DS to be a completely separate line than the Gam Boy Advance.  They originally intended to release the DS in 2004 and then the successor to the Game Boy Advance at a later date.

109.  Nintendo started working on the concept of the Nintendo Wii in 2001, right after they released the GameCube.  Two years later, in 2003 Nintendo assigned designers and engineers to start work on what was given the code-name "Nintendo Revolution."

110.  The Nintendo DS is the best-selling handheld console of all time.  It is also the best selling piece of hardware developed by Nintendo with an impressive 153.99 million units sold as of March 2014.  Not bad for a device that was originally one of the ugliest chunks of plastic imaginable.

 


111.  The Nintendo 64 and GameCube were top-of-the-line consoles in terms of processing power and graphical capabilities and both had lost out to their main competition (the PS1 and PS2) so Nintendo decided to forgo powerful graphical capabilities on the Wii in an attempt to keep prices down for themselves as well as the consumer.  They also believed that having too many high-powered consoles on the market would not be good for the video-game industry:

The consensus was that power isn't everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can't coexist. It's like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction. (Shigeru Miyamoto in an interview with BusinessWeek February 2, 2007).

112.  The Wii was the only console of the 7th generation that made an operating profit on each unit sold at launch - roughly $6.  Sony and Microsoft lost money on their launch systems with the hopes of making money back in the long-term.

113.  The Wii is the only Nintendo console to have a new Zelda game in its launch lineup.


 

114. In Super Mario Galaxy the player is able to unlock Luigi as a playable character.  The playable Luigi is actually shorter than the Luigi that is seen in the game as an NPC.  This is likely because the developers wanted Luigi to retain Mario's proportions to make platforming easier. 

115.  Nintendo experimented with motion controls long before they Wii was even concieved of.  The Power Glove was an accessory for the NES that allowed players to control their games with motions.  That was the theory at least.  The accessory was so finicky it made playing games almost impossible.  It was so bad.

 

From The Wizard Universal Pictures

From The Wizard Universal Pictures

 

116.  The Nintendo 3DS was not Nintendo's first foray into the world of stereoscopic 3D gaming.  Neither was the doomed Virtual Boy.  That honor belongs to the Famicom 3D system which was an accessory for the Family Computer (NES) in Japan. The system, released in 1987, consisted of glasses the player would wear.  Because there were only about 8 compatible games the system never got a foothold in the market so it never left Japan.

 

Oculus Rift? Pffffft...Nintendo did that ages ago.

117.  The Wii U's reveal at E3 in 2011 was not well received.  Prior to the announcement wild calims were being made about the Wii's successor, including the fact that it would be targeted toward hardcore gamers and that the system would resemble an updated SNES console.  The actual reveal of the system was seen as a letdown due to the fact that the touchscreen found in the controller was not multi-touch and the confusing presentation by Nintendo.  Nintendo's stock plummeted by nearly ten percent after the announcement.

118.  The first internal prototype of the Wii U Gamepad was developed using a touchscreen, two Wii remotes and two analog sticks from Nunchuck controllers.

prototype wii u gamepad

119.  Nintendo has been operating at a loss for the last few years now.  Don't lose heart hough,  Nintendo has enough money in the bank to operate at a loss for the next 38, making it highly unlikely that Nintendo is oging to be "the next Sega" (a.k.a. the next console maker to leave the hardware business).

120.  Nintendo of America's headquarters in Redmond Washington has a living roof.  It is covered in over 75,000 square feet of Sedum.  This roof helps to insulate the building from the sun and it also purifies rainwater as it is diverted to the natural streams which surround the headquarters.

121.  As for the company's headquarters in Japan...well nobody really knows what goes on in there.  As you would expect,  Nintendo is incredibly guarded when it comes to their home since it is the place where they are always developing new hardware and software.  It is almost impossible to get in to the headquarter unless you work there or have business there.

122.  Gareth Bailey was one of the very few lucky people to get a tour of the headquarters way back in 1994.  He won a Street Fighter competition and was flown to Japan.  Upon arriving at the Nintendo's Kyot-based headquarters, he was greeted by Gunpei Yokoi.  He then spent the day wondering the halls of the HQ while snapping photos and talking with people like Shigeru Miyamoto.  To this day he remains one of the only non-professional Westerners to see the headquarters.

123.  To give you an idea of how far Nintendo games have come, take a look at this photo of your's truly taken with my iPhone:

This photo file is roughly the size of two of the biggest NES games. NES games were no bigger than roughly 6 megabytes).   

124.  Nintendo Treehouse is the division of Nintendo of America which is responsible for localizing Japanese games in North America.  They also handle marketing strategies and the making of incredibly awkward videos and presentations.  One of the branch's (ha) managers is Leslie Swan, who also happens to be the voice of Princess Peach.

125.  If you were to stack every piece of Nintendo hardware sold...you'd have a very large stack.  


I hope you enjoyed this list.  Nintendo is one of my favorite entertainment companies and probably my favorite video-game company to-boot.  They have had their ups and downs but through it all it has proven itself to be a highly resilient company, capable of completely redefining what people do for fun.  Here's to the next 125 years, Nintendo!


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