Abbreviated History: Nintendo’s 125th Birthday!

Nin-ten-do: Leave-Luck-To Heaven

The year was 1889 when Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo, which then was called “Nintendo Koppai.”  Back then, a fact that is now becoming increasingly more and more aware among the general gaming audience, Nintendo was a playing cards company.  Specifically, a Hanafuda playing cards company.  Hanafuda cards were not created by Nintendo, but rather made popular again by Nintendo during the early 1900s.  So, what are Hanafuda cards?

HanafudaCards.Original.1HanafudaCards.NINT.1

Here’s the abbreviated version.  The year is 1549 and Francis Xavier, a Spanish missionary, was looking to do the popular thing back then and spread his home religion as much as he possibly could in the name of his mother country.  Well, that’s besides the point, but when he went to Japan he brought with him Portuguess Hombre playing cards.  Japan ate this stuff up and subsequently used it for gambling.  Japan’s government didn’t like gambling (of course now you’ll find Pachinko machines at nearly every corner in Japanese cities!) so the government banned it.  Well, people didn’t like that so they redesigned the cards with different patterns ranging from floral designs to dragon and military based designs.  This went back and forth a long time until many colorful variations came into existence and the government finally backed the heck down.  Well, just like every child knows, once the cool thing becomes legal it’s just no longer cool.  And as every business man knows, where there is no market there is potential for a market!  Enter Nintendo in 1889 and ta-dah, they tap into that market, only they begin selling hand-crafted Hanafuda cards painted on mulberry tree bark.  Furthermore, the Yakuza, Japan’s version of the Mafia, began playing with them!  And there you have it, Nintendo re-invigorates the playing card genre of gaming.  Nintendo still makes the cards, though purely for historical recognition, or perhaps spiritual recognition(this is a Japanese company after all).  A special edition Mario themed set was made for Club Nintendo and a variation of the card game was released in Clubhouse Games for the DS.

N64Cake

GC.Birthday.1 I guess you can make a birthday cake out of anything

Yep, that’s Nintendo’s beginning in a nutshell, but let it not be one to overshadow both the Gamecube’s recent 13th Birthday just last week on September 14th, and the not-too distant N64’s 18th Birthday back in June.  The Gamecube may been the one black sheep out of Nintendo’s home console cast due to lack of sales and ability to permeate the mainstream, but the present parallels are astonishingly relevant given the Wii U’s similar flaws, possible fate, and the fact that the Gamecube’s most popular game was Super Smash Bros. Melee, whose later sequel for Wii U will be releasing this Holiday Season!  Perhaps, we can expect a similar fate and influence? Meanwhile, the N64 was the hallmark of both 3d gaming and the popularization of joysticks in home console gaming specifically. It had a funky controller design to say the least and an ineffaceable slogan, “GET N OR GET OUT.”

If you’re dying for some more Nintendo birthday nostalgia, take a look at some of the infocharts below (Pre-Wii U mind you).  Likewise, feel free to go ahead and suit up in your favorite Nintendo hoodie to commemorate the event.

NINT.Inforgraphic.General.1  NINT.InfoGraphic.General.2NINT.Info.3

 

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About The Author

News Reporter

I'm an EarthBound kinda guy but I love everything Mario and certainly anything Nintendo related. I was born in North America and live there presently.