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Nintendo Company Ltd.|任天堂株式会社|Nintendō is a global company located in Kyoto, Japan founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel. Eventually, Nintendo developed into a video game company, becoming one of the most influential in the industry and Japan's third most valuable listed company, with a market value of over $85 billion. In 2007, Nintendo ranked tenth on the list of largest software companies in the world. Besides video games, Nintendo is also the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, a Major League Baseball team in Seattle, Washington. According to Nintendo's Touch! Generations website, the name "Nintendo" translated from Japanese to English means "Leave luck to Heaven". As of October 2, 2008, Nintendo has sold over 470 million hardware units and 2.7 billion software units. In that same month, the company's Canadian division, Nintendo of Canada Ltd., was named one of BC's Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which was announced by The Vancouver Sun, The Province and the Victoria Times-Colonist.

Video game consoles[edit | edit source]

Nintendo has produced a number of home and portable video game consoles since 1977. Home consoles include Color TV Game (1977), the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom (NES, 1983), the Super Nintendo Entertainment System/Super Famicom (SNES, 1990), the Nintendo 64 (N64, 1996), the Nintendo GameCube (GCN, 2001) and most recently the Wii (2006). Portable consoles include the Game & Watch line (1980), the Game Boy line (1989), the Game Boy Advance (2001) and the Nintendo DS (2004).

History[edit | edit source]

As a card company (1889–1956)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo was founded as a Japanese business by Fusajiro Yamauchi in late 1889, originally named "Nintendo Koppai". Based in Kyoto, Japan, the business produced and marketed a playing card game called Hanafuda. The handmade cards soon became popular, and Yamauchi hired assistants to mass produce cards to satisfy demand.

New ventures (1956–1975)[edit | edit source]

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi (the grandson of Fusajiro Yamauchi) visited the U.S. to talk with the United States Playing Card Company, the dominant playing card manufacturer in that country. He found that the world's biggest company in his business was only using a small office. This was a turning point, where Yamauchi realized the limitations of the playing card business. He then gained access to Disney's characters and put them on the playing cards to drive sales.

In 1963, Yamauchi renamed Nintendo Playing Card Company Limited to Nintendo Company, Limited. The company then began to experiment in other areas of business using the newly injected capital. During this period of time between 1963 and 1968, Nintendo set up a taxi company, a "love hotel" chain, a TV network and a food company (trying to sell instant rice, similar to instant noodles). All these ventures eventually failed, and after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, playing card sales dropped, leaving Nintendo with 60 yen in stocks.

In 1966, Nintendo moved into the Japanese toy industry with the Ultra Hand, an extending arm developed by its maintenance engineer Gunpei Yokoi in his free time. Yokoi was moved from maintenance to the new "Nintendo Games" department as a product developer. Nintendo continued to produce popular toys, including the Ultra Machine, Love Tester and the Kousenjuu series of light gun games. Despite some successful products, Nintendo struggled to meet the fast development and manufacturing turnaround required of the toy market, and fell behind the well-established companies such as Bandai and Tomy.

In 1973, the focus shifted to family entertainment venues with the Laser Clay Shooting System, using the same light gun technology used in Nintendo's Kousenjuu series of toys, and set up in abandoned bowling alleys. Following some success, Nintendo developed several more light gun machines for the emerging arcade scene. While the Laser Clay Shooting System ranges had to be shut down following excessive costs, Nintendo had found a new market.

Electronic era (1975–present)[edit | edit source]

In 1974, Nintendo secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey home video game console in Japan. In 1977, Nintendo began producing its own Color TV Game home video game consoles. Four versions of these consoles were produced, each playing variations on a single game (for example, Color TV Game 6 featured six versions of Light Tennis).

A student product developer at the time, Shigeru Miyamoto, was hired by Nintendo at this time. He worked for Yokoi, and one of his first tasks was to design the casing for several of the Color TV Game consoles. Miyamoto went on to create some of Nintendo's most famous video games and become one of the most recognizable faces in the video game industry.

In 1978, Nintendo moved into the video arcade game industry with Computer Othello, and several more titles followed. Nintendo had some small success with this venture, but the release of [[Donkey Kong in 1981, designed by Miyamoto, changed Nintendo's fortunes dramatically. The success of the game and many licensing opportunities (such as ports on the Atari 2600, Intellivision and ColecoVision) gave Nintendo a huge boost in profit.

In 1980, Nintendo launched the Game & Watch, a handheld video game series developed by Yokoi, to worldwide success.

In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer (commonly called by its shortened name "Famicom") home video game console in Japan alongside ports of its most popular arcade titles. In 1985, the console launched in North America as the Nintendo Entertainment System, and was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., the best-selling video game of all time as of 2009. In 1989, Yokoi developed the Game Boy handheld video game console. Nintendo is the longest-surviving video game console manufacturer to date.

The Nintendo Entertainment System was superseded by the Super Famicom, known outside Japan as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The Nintendo 64, most notable for its 3D 3D graphics capabilities, introduced the analog stick and multiplayer for up to four players, instead of two. The Nintendo GameCube followed, and was the first Nintendo console to use optical disc storage instead of cartridges. The most recent home console, the Wii, uses motion sensing controllers and has online functionality (although the GameCube did also have some basic Online capabilities), used for services such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Virtual Console and WiiWare.

After the Game & Watch, the handheld development continued with the Game Boy, followed soon after by the Super Game Boy, the Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Color, each differing in minor aspects. The Game Boy continued for more than a decade until the release of the Game Boy Advance, featuring technical specifications similar to the SNES. The Game Boy Advance SP, a frontlit, flip-screen version, introduced a rechargeable, built-in battery, instead of using AA batteries like its predecessors. The Game Boy Micro was released in 2005, after the Nintendo DS's release, but did not sell as well as its predecessors. The most recent Nintendo handheld console is the Nintendo DS, using two screens, the bottom of which is a touchscreen, with online functionalities and technical power similar to that of the Nintendo 64. The Nintendo DS Lite, a remake of the DS, improved several features of the original model, including the battery life and screen brightness. On October 2, 2008, Nintendo announced the Nintendo DSi, featuring larger screens, improved sound quality, a web browser and two cameras—one on the outside and one facing the user.

Offices and locations[edit | edit source]

Nintendo Company, Limited (NCL) is based in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Its pre-2000 office, now its research and development building, is located in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Its original Kyoto headquarters can still be found at Nintendo of America, Incorporated (NOA), its American division, is based in Redmond, Washington. It has distribution centers in Atlanta, Georgia (Nintendo Atlanta) and North Bend, Washington (Nintendo North Bend). Nintendo of Canada, Limited (NOCL) is based in Richmond, British Columbia, with its own distribution centre in Toronto, Ontario. Nintendo Australia Pty Ltd (NAL) is based in Melbourne, Victoria. Nintendo of Europe is based in Großostheim, Germany. iQue, Ltd., a Chinese joint venture between its founder, Doctor Wei Yen, and Nintendo, manufactures and distributes official Nintendo consoles and games for the mainland Chinese market, under the iQue brand. Nintendo also established Nintendo of Korea (NoK) on July 7, 2006.

Policy[edit | edit source]

Emulation[edit | edit source]

Nintendo is known for a "no tolerance" stance against emulation of its video games and consoles. It claims that copyright-like rights in mask works protect its games from the exceptions that United States copyright law otherwise provides for backup copies. Nintendo uses the claim that emulators running on personal computers have no use other than to play pirated video games, contested by some who say these emulators have been used to develop and test independently produced "homebrew" software on Nintendo's platforms, and that Nintendo's efforts fudge the truth about copyright laws, mainly that ROM image copiers are illegal (they actually are legal if used to dump unprotected ROM images on to a user's computer for personal use, per 17 USC 117(a)(1) and foreign counterparts and that emulators are illegal (if they do not use copyrighted BIOS, or use other methods to run the game, they are legal). This stance is largely apocryphal, however; Nintendo remains the only modern console manufacturer which has not sued an emulator manufacturer (the most public example being Sony vs. Bleem!).

Content guidelines[edit | edit source]

For many years, Nintendo had a policy of strict content guidelines for video games published on its consoles. Though Nintendo Japan allowed graphic violence in its video games, nudity and sexuality were strictly prohibited. This was because former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi believed that if the company allowed the licensing of pornographic games, the company's image would be forever tarnished. Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe went further in that games released for Nintendo consoles could not feature nudity, sexuality, profanity(including racism, sexism or slurs), blood, graphic or domestic violence, drugs, political messages or religious symbols (with the exception of widely unpracticed religions, such as the Greek Pantheon). This was done because the Japanese parent company did not want to appear as a "Japanese Invasion" by enforcing Japanese community standards on North American and European children. This zero tolerance policy was praised and championed by U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, but others criticized the policy, claiming that gamers should be allowed to choose the content they want to see. Despite the strict guidelines, some exceptions have occurred: Bionic Commando, Smash TV and Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode contained blood and violence, the latter also contained implied sexuality and tobacco use; River City Ransom and Taboo: The Sixth Sense contained nudity, and the latter also contained religious images, as did Castlevania II and Castlevania III.

One known side effect of this policy was the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat selling over double the number of the Nintendo's Super NES version, mainly because Nintendo had forced publisher Acclaim to recolor the red blood to look like white sweat and replace some of the more gory attacks in its release of the game, unlike Sega, which allowed the selling points of blood and gore to remain in the Genesis version (though the Genesis version of the game required a code to unlock the gore). Nintendo allowed the Super NES version Mortal Kombat II to ship uncensored the following year with a content warning on the packaging.

In 1994, when the ESRB video game ratings system was introduced, Nintendo chose to abolish some of these policies in favor of consumers making their own choices about the content of the games they played. Today, changes to the content of games are done primarily by the game's developer or, occasionally, at the request of Nintendo. The only clear-set rule is that ESRB AO-rated games will not be licensed for play on Nintendo consoles in North America, a practice which is also enforced by Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo has since allowed several mature-content games to be published on its consoles, including: Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Doom and Doom 64, BMX XXX, the Resident Evil series, Killer7, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Bloodrayne, Geist, and Dementium: The Ward. Certain games have continued to be modified, however. For example, Konami was forced to remove all references to cigarettes in the 2000 Game Boy Color game Metal Gear: Ghost Babel also maiming and blood were removed from the Nintendo 64 port of Cruis'n USA. Another example is in the Game Boy Advance game Mega Man Zero 3, where one of the bosses, Hellbat Schilt in the Japanese and European releases, was renamed Devilbat Schilt in the U.S. localization, and another modification to the U.S. releases of the Mega Man Zero games where bosses killed with a saber attack would not gush blood as they do in the Japanese versions. However, the release of the Wii has ensued in a number of even more controversial, mature titles, such as Manhunt 2, No More Heroes and MadWorld, the latter two which are published exclusively for the console.

See Also[edit | edit source]