Development and Consoles
In 1979, the idea of a handheld video game was first conceived in Japan, after a Nintendo worker watched a fellow train commuter playing with an LCD calculator. In 1980, the company launched the Game & Watch, developing the first ‘D pad’ control system a few years later.
In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer home video game console in Japan. In 1985, a reworked version became available outside of Japan known as the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. The idea of bundling games with a console helped to make Super Mario Bros, one of the best selling video games in history.
In 1988, the Nintendo design team came up with the idea of merging the portability of the Game & Watch with the ability to change cartridges in the NES, and the idea for Game Boy was born. It was released in Japan and America in 1989. The president of Nintendo America managed to score a deal which meant that the popular game Tetris was sold with the Game Boy, with the pair launching as an instant success.
In 1989, the successor to the Famicom (Family Computer) was announced. It was based on a 16 bit processor with vastly improved graphics and game speed. It was released in Japan in 1990 and in America in 1991, where it became known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System or SNES. It’s main rival was the Sega Mega Drive, sparking a console war during the early 90’s.
In 1996, Nintendo released the Ultra 64 as the Nintendo 64 in Japan. It was later released in Europe and Australia in 1997. That same year, Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket in an attempt to drive sales away from the popular Sony Playstation.
By 1998, the Game Boy system had improved technological specifications which allowed Nintendo to develop the Game Boy Colour.
In the early 2000’s, Nintendo released three consoles to lukewarm reception: The Gameboy Advance, the Gameboy Advance SP and the Game Cube.
2004 saw the development of Nintendo’s 4th major handheld system: The Nintendo DS. It was a dual screen console with touchscreen capabilities. Thanks to titles such as Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS, it became a success.
The Nintendo Wii was released in 2006 as a somewhat successor to the Game Cube. Its intricate remote controls and balance board span several new franchises which focused on fitness gaming, such as Wii Fit. Selling over 100 million units, the Wii is the best selling console of the seventh generation.
The DS legacy was expanded in 2011 with the introduction of the Nintendo 3DS, based upon a glasses-free 3D display.
The Wii’s successor, the Wii U was released in 2012, followed by the more affordable version of the 3DS, the 2DS in 2013.
Nintendo also released the Wii Mini, a cheaper redesign of the Wii.
In 2013, Nintendo purchased a Panasonic related company which uses facial and voice recognition technology, which they will use to develop future gaming systems. In March 2015, they also announced that they were teaming up with a Japanese developer to create smartphone games. Lastly, Nintendo are teaming up with Universal to create a theme park based on Nintendo games.
Wii U Chart (June 2015)
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