Nintendo’s contributions to gaming
When Fusajiro Yamauchi made his first hanafuda “flower card”, he never imagined that it would lead to a global business worth USD85 billion. This was how Nintendo started—as a card company, which later on dabbled in instant rice, love hotels and taxicabs. Today, Nintendo is home to names like Mario, Pokémon, Donkey Kong and Zelda.
So, what has Nintendo contributed to gaming? Quite a lot. Here’s a quick overview on some of the few:
Yes, Nintendo certainly isn’t the first in this space. It was Mattel that first released LED-based handhelds in 1977-78, with Nintendo following several years later. In fact, it wasn’t even Nintendo that introduced the concept of interchangeable cartridges. However, it was the Game & Watch that served as Nintendo’s blueprint for portable gaming. In 1989, Nintendo introduced the Game Boy, which went on to become one of the most successful video game systems of all time.
Nintendo went on to produce equally successful handhelds like the Game Boy Advance (and Advance SP), and the DS, which introduced touch screens to dedicated portable gaming systems. While Nintendo’s grip on the portable market has somewhat weakened, it remains the leader in handheld gaming.
The Game Boy Color came with an infrared port, which was used for wireless linking between handhelds. Unfortunately, this feature was supported in only a few games. Today, wireless networking between handhelds is a standard feature.
It was Nintendo that introduced the concept of authorising third-party developers to make software for a specific platform, in this case, games for console systems. In video game parlance, “first party” refers to the same company that made the console, while “third-party” is a separate entity. If it wasn’t for Nintendo, we wouldn’t have as much games for one console as we do have now, since third-party developers typically outnumber first-party ones.
It was Mario, Super Mario Bros. to be exact, which popularised side-scrolling platform games. There was nothing quite like Super Mario at that time—especially the way the game was controlled. You’re able to control how high you can jump, and how fast you can run. The innovation didn’t stop at 2D as Nintendo also defined 3D platforming with Super Mario 64. Super Mario 64 also influenced the way 3D levels were designed, and was the first game that had used a camera that can be controlled separately by the player.
Motion control in games
It was the Wii that put motion control in video games on the map. The idea was so successful that the Wii went on to sell over 90 million units. Due to motion control’s success, rivals Sony and Microsoft went on to introduce other motion control peripherals for their consoles as well. While Sony’s Move controller was more accurate and Microsoft’s Kinect had more intriguing possibilities, it was the Wii that started it all.
Nintendo’s upcoming console is the Wii U, which is scheduled to release during the 2012 holiday season. The Wii U is Nintendo’s first foray into high-definition gaming.