Nintendo is a company that just about every video game fan is familiar with. They're the company behind consoles like the NES, Nintendo Switch, and video games like The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing. This company is absolutely massive and has a long history in the world of video games. But this means that there are things that some video game fans don't know about Nintendo.
Beyond things like the origins of beloved video game characters like Link and Mario, there's a lot to know about Nintendo. No matter how big of a video game fan someone thinks they are, there's always new things to learn. From Nintendo's surprising origin to video game movies and weird gaming accessories, there's a lot of surprising facts about Nintendo that most people don't know!
To see ten things you didn't know about Nintendo, keep reading!
10 They Didn't Start In Games
Nintendo may be known as a video game company now, but they were founded in 1889 as a company that produced handmade hanfuda, a type of Japanese playing cards. Eventually, the cards became so popular that they started to be mass produced all around the world. By the 1950s, they were even being sold in the US and they came to a licensing agreement to start printing beloved Disney characters on their cards.
Playing cards aren't the only thing Nintendo did before they started producing video games. The company also had a chain of love hotels, a TV channel, a brand of instant rice, and other companies. Unfortunately, sales weren't great for Nintendo for a while which is why they branched out so much.
9 They Got Into Games In The 1970s
Fortunately for Nintendo, sales being low didn't hold them back for too long. There's definitely a reason that they're better known for their video games than their playing cards or instant rice! In the mid-1970s, they became Japan's distributor for the Magnavox Odyssey video game console. Shortly after that, they started to produce video game consoles of their own.
Even the most casual of video game fans likely know about the different consoles Nintendo has released over the years. But the fact that they got their start in such a different market isn't something that most people are aware of! It's a good thing that they got into video games in the 1970s or we wouldn't have the games and consoles we have today.
8 The First D-Pad
The "D-pad" is part of most video game controllers these days in some form. It's the series of four different buttons that each go in a different direction. It's used a lot in platforming games and games like Super Smash Bros where precision and pressing the button in the exact right direction is crucial. But how many people knew that Nintendo was the first company to ever put this on their controllers?
In 1982, the cross-style D-pad that we're all familiar with today was developed by Gunpei Yokoi, a Nintendo employee that is best-known for creating the game Game & Watch. The D-pad was created for a handheld version of Donkey Kong, one of Nintendo's earliest successes.
7 Banking Software?!
There are a lot of really strange games and console accessories that have been released over the years. There are also a lot of really rare games that are impossible for people to find these days. This cartridge that was released for the Super NES is one that combines both something strange with something super rare.
In 1998, TranDirect teamed up with Nintendo to release a really unique cartridge for the SNES. Instead of a game, this super functional cartridge allowed users to manage their bank accounts straight from their SNES. The user would set up a PIN code at their bank and would use it to log in on their SNES so they could manage their account and pay their bills.
6 Miyamoto's First Console Game (That Never Left Japan)
There are a lot of video games that have only been released in a certain region. Nintendo has released quite a few games over the years that have only seen a release in Japan and never in the rest of the world. But when people think of the name Shigeru Miyamoto, they typically think of some of Nintendo's most internationally successful games. Miyamoto has been behind game franchises like Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, and Donkey Kong.
Before he became known for any of those games, the first console-only game that Miyamoto ever created was called Devil World. Unfortunately, this game was only released on the Famicom in Japan. This game was the first home console game Miyamoto ever worked on and is the only game that he's ever created that never made its way to North America.
5 The First Jumping Character
Donkey Kong was one of Nintendo's early successes in the game world. It's also the game that gave us Mario, a character that has become iconic in the world of video games. But there are a lot of other things that Donkey Kong gave us that not as many video game fans are aware of. How many gamers knew that Donkey Kong was the first game to let the character jump?
Donkey Kong was released in 1981 and was a game that helped to make platformer-style games popular. A big part of Donkey Kong involves having this title character jump over the top of the barrels that are being tossed along the screen at him. Jumping has become a huge part of games since then, but this Nintendo game is where it all started.
4 Not Your Grandma's Knitting Needles
It's no secret that Nintendo has been pushing the bounds of video games and gaming accessories for years. Nintendo has never been afraid to make something that might seem a little different than what other video game companies are doing. Before they released the hybrid home and handheld console, the Nintendo Switch, they released a console accessory that was a little more unusual.
In the 1980s, the NES had quite a few different peripherals. One of the most unusual ones that never actually saw a wide release outside of the prototype was the Nintendo Knitting Machine. This was a peripheral for the NES that would plug into the console in order to knit sweaters, scarves, and a variety of other patterns. Unfortunately, this peripheral never reached consumers.
3 An Animal Crossing Movie
Animal Crossing is a popular game series from Nintendo that dates back to 2001 when the very first game was released exclusively in Japan. Multiple games in the series have been released since then and characters from the series, like Isabelle and Villager, have even been added into other games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In Japan, there's a lot of Animal Crossing merchandise because the game series is still very popular there, like it is all over the world.
But one thing that most fans didn't know is that Nintendo didn't stop at games - they also produced an Animal Crossing movie. Dōbutsu no Mori was released exclusively in Japan in 2006. The movie follows the life of an 11-year-old named Ai who moves to Animal Village where she meets several different villagers. The movie basically follows the plot of the Animal Crossing games and features several characters from the games.
2 Online Gaming In The 90s?
These days, playing games online with friends that live far away is totally normal. Many games have some sort of online play, whether it involves playing side-by-side for a common goal or in order to compete against one another. But in the 1990s, this wasn't quite so common. But Nintendo had a peripheral released for the Super Famicom that allowed online gaming... Sort of.
Although it wouldn't allow players to compete against one another or play together in games like Donkey Kong or Yoshi's Island, the Satellaview did have some super unique features. This peripheral cost around $200 at the time and would allow players to download games via a one-way satellite connection. It also had other unique features like competitions and quiz games that players could compete in.
1 The Nintendo PlayStation
No, that's not a typo. The Nintendo PlayStation really is a gaming console that existed and not just the name given to a console by a well-meaning parent. In 1988, Sony and Nintendo linked up in order to bring CDs to the new SNES instead of only playing cartridges. But, we all know that the SNES did only play cartridges and Sony's PlayStation was different from other consoles at the time because of the discs that it would play.
But they're two different consoles. Why didn't Nintendo and Sony's collaboration work out? Apparently, Sony and Nintendo just couldn't come to an agreement when it came to how they were going to split up the money from the console's sales. Only around 200 prototypes of the Nintendo PlayStation were ever released and neither company is eager to talk about it. That means that this console has become the stuff of video game legends.