Posted: Jan 02 2015
by: Neal Haworth

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10 Fun Facts About Nintendo

#1) Nintendo Began as a Playing Card Company

It's a little-known fact that Nintendo began not as a video game maker, but as a playing card company. Founded in 1889 (yes, it's really that old) under the name Nintendo Koppai, the Kyoto, Japan-based business produced and marketed cards for the game Hanafuda. Due to the company's, CEO/owner Fusajiro Yamauchi was forced to hire assistants to help churn out enough cards to meet consumer demand.

While Nintendo has since shifted its focus towards video games and consoles, it continues to produce playing cards in Japan and even hosts its own version of contract bride called “Nintendo Cup.” You can still find some of the original late nineteenth century Nintendo cards selling on eBay for several hundred bucks a piece.

#2) Other Unusual Business Ventures By Nintendo

If you thought the idea of Nintendo producing and selling playing cards was strange, you might be shocked to hear the legendary company's other business ventures. After being renamed from Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. to Nintendo Co., Ltd. In the mid 1960s, the company launched its own taxi company, TV network, an instant rice food manufacturing company, and even a love hotel chain.

The love hotels set up by Nintendo featured both nightly and hourly rates, and reports suggest they were mainly used by couples and prostitutes (hence the name). Nintendo's love hotels were discreet, with customers often having little-to-no interaction with staff members. The customer could simply order a room using the number pad, at which point the key and bill would be sent through a pneumatic tube, eliminating the need for customers to directly interact with staff unless there was a problem. While Nintendo has since abandoned this venture, many other companies continue to run and operate love hotels in Asia.

#3) Wii U Suffers From Lack of Games

The Wii U, which is the successor to the Wii, was touted as being the very first video game console manufactured by Nintendo to support high-definition graphics – something that many gamers complained about with the original Wii. Additionally, the Wii U was designed to be backwards compatible with Wii software and accessories, eliminating the need for gamers to purchase extra items.

Even with all of these perks, however, the Wii U fell short in terms of sales, with some analysts predicting Nintendo would call it quits and cancel its latest console. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata offered some insight into the Wii U's low sales volume, citing a lack of high-quality games as being the prime reason.

The reason why the Wii U has lost the momentum it had during the launch period has something to do with the fact that Nintendo hasn’t been able to provide a strong software lineup, one game after the other, without too many intervals,” said Iwata during the annual E3 conference. “Few people are willing to purchase hardware for the sake of purchasing hardware themselves, so we need to constantly provide the market with software.”

According to reports published by Nintendo, the Wii U has sold approximately 6.17 million units since its release.

#4) Super Mario Bros. on The “Family Computer”

Super Mario Bros. is synonymous with the Nintendo brand. The dynamic fireball-throwing duo Mario and Luigi have cemented their title in history as being one of the most iconic video game figures of all time, spawning dozens of sequels, remakes, TV shows, movies, and memorabilia. Before the original Super Mario Bros. was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), however, it was released in Japan for the Family Computer Disk System.

Also known as the Famicom Disk System, the Family Computer Disk System was released on February 21, 1986. It connected to the Famicom deck using a special 32KB plug-in cartridge known as the RAM adapter. In addition to Super Mario Bros., some of the other titles released for the Family Computer Disk System included Baseball, Golf, Mahjong, Soccer, Tennis, and The Legend of Zelda. This console system was ultimately a failure, however, at which point Nintendo worked to produce new games, and transfer existing games, for the NES.

#5) Yoshi-Riding Mario In The Original Super Mario Bros.?

One of the elements that made Super Mario World such a success was the ability for players to hop on the back of Yoshi. Once on the green-colored dinosaur, players could stomp on enemies, eat enemies, spit fireballs and even fly (assuming the player ate the right enemy). Well, this wasn't a new idea, as Nintendo wanted Mario to ride Yoshi from the beginning, dating all the way back to the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES.

Why didn't they implement an option to ride Yoshi in the original Super Mario Bros.? According to mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, they lacked the technological capabilities at the time. Even with subsequent franchise releases like Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros 3, they still didn't have the means to turn this vision into a reality. It wasn't until 1991 (1990 for gamers in Japan) when Miyamoto and his team were able to implement a feature which allowed players to ride the dinosaur in Super Mario World.

#6) World Record For The Fastest Completion of Super Mario Bros.

Ever wonder how long it takes to beat the original Super Mario Bros.? It personally took me several hours, and that's with the use of level-skipping portals. Earlier this year, 27-year-old gaming phenom Bubbler set the new world record for the fastest completion of Super Mario Bros., beating Bowser and saving the Princess in under 5 minutes. Bubbler's time was 4:57:69, which is just a couple seconds faster than the previous record of 4:59:09 set by andrewg.

It's hard for some Mario fans to fathom completing the game in under 5 minutes, but you don't have to take my word for it. Check out the video of Bubbler's jaw-dropping run below.

Video: Super Mario Bros. Speedrun in 4:57.69 (World Record)

#7) Mario's Name Revealed!

Nintendo got the name “Mario” from the owner of the warehouse it was renting. Nintendo was still trying to get its video game business up and running at the time and wasn't able to pay its rent one month. This prompted a visit from the warehouse's owner, Mario Segale. Nintendo executives promised Segale the rent would be paid, at which point Segale left. This impromptu visit reportedly gave executives the idea to use Mario as the name of their new Mascot.

The name Mario has since stuck, with gamers young and old automatically relating it to the Nintendo franchise. Can you image a world in which Nintendo's favorite fireball-throwing plumber is named anything else?

#8) Just Blow On It.... Or Not

If you grew up during the Nintendo Entertainment System era, you may recall the universal solution to fix a game that didn't load: just blow on it. You might pop a NES cartridge into the console, only for it to display a fuzzy screen. Pulling the cartridge out and blowing on the exposed chip would often fix this and other related issues.

Surprisingly, this tactic is believed to cause more harm than good. The copper connectors on the NES console were susceptible to tarnishing; therefore, blowing on the cartridges would often damage or completely ruin the system Breathing on a cartridge sends moist, hot air into the cartridge, where it then wrecks havoc on the copper connectors. So if you're still blowing on your old NES cartridges, cut it out – and you should probably go ahead and upgrade to a newer system.

#9) Hardcore Mario Partying

The original Mario Party, released for the Nintendo 64, was hugely successful at the time, spawning nine sequels in its wake. It featured a simple board game-style layout, in which the player moved from space to space playing mini-games. Mario Party was such a hit that gamers were developing blisters and other hand injuries from playing it so much. Reports suggest that Nintendo received well over 100 complaints from players who had suffered injury from playing the game, forcing the video game maker to cough up approximately $75,000 in legal fees.

It wasn't just the “fun factor” of Mario Party that led to the injuries. The design of the Nintendo 64 controller promoted injury when gamers would rotate the analog stick with the palm of their hand instead of their fingers.

#10) The Unbeatable Level in Super Mario Bros.

There's an unbeatable level in the original Super Mario Bros. Known as the “Minus World,” it's found in World 1-2 by exploiting a bug which allows Mario to travel through the bricks, entering the warp zone. The level's stage name is “World -1,” and upon completing the level, Mario is taken back to the start of the level.


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