1994 Nintendo Documentary
In 1994 a French film maker by the name of Jean-Jacques Beineix created a documentary titled Otaku. It features the following 9 minute clip taking a tour of Nintendo’s offices.
Originally the documentary was filmed in French, and has been circulating the web for some time. A small YouTube channel by the name of ComputerTales took the liberty of translating the 9 minute clip into English. The female computer voice used for the translation is a bit creepy, but the vintage look back on gaming history is very delightful to watch.
Nintendo History From 1979 – 2003
In 1979, Gunpei Yokoi conceived the idea of a handheld video game, while observing a fellow bullet train commuter who passed the time by interacting idly with a portable LCD calculator, which gave birth to Game & Watch. In 1980, Nintendo launched Game & Watch—a handheld video game series developed by Yokoi. These systems do not contain interchangeable cartridges and thus the hardware was tied to the game. The first Game & Watch game released, titled Ball, was distributed worldwide. The modern “cross” D-pad design was developed in 1982, by Yokoi for a Donkey Kong version. Proven to be popular, the design was patented by Nintendo. It later earned a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award.
In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer (colloquialized as “Famicom”) home video game console in Japan, alongside ports of its most popular arcade titles. In 1985, a cosmetically reworked version of the system known outside Japan as the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES, launched in North America. The practice of bundling the system along with select games helped to make Super Mario Bros. one of the best-selling video games in history.
In 1988, Gunpei Yokoi and his team at Nintendo R&D1 conceived the new Game Boy handheld system, with the purpose of merging the two very successful ideas of the Game & Watch’s portability along with the NES’s cartridge interchangeability. Nintendo released the Game Boy in Japan on 21 April 1989, and in North America on 31 July 1989. Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa managed a deal to bundle the popular third party game Tetris along with the Game Boy, and the pair launched as an instant success.
In 1989, Nintendo announced plans to release the successor to the Famicom, the Super Famicom. Based on a 16-bit processor, Nintendo boasted significantly superior hardware specifications of graphics, sound, and game speed over the original 8-bit Famicom. The system was also said to have backwards compatibility with Famicom games, though this feature was ultimately cut upon release. The Super Famicom was finally released relatively late to the market in Japan on 21 November 1990, and released as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (officially abbreviated the Super NES or SNES and commonly shortened to Super Nintendo) in North America on 23 August 1991 and in Europe in 1992. Its main rival was the 16-bit Mega Drive, known in North America as Genesis, which had been advertised aggressively against the nascent 8-bit NES. A console war between Sega and Nintendo ensued during the early 1990s. From 1990 to 1992, Nintendo opened World of Nintendo shops in the United States where consumers could test and buy Nintendo products.
In August 1993, Nintendo announced the SNES’s successor, code-named Project Reality. Featuring 64-bit graphics, the new system was developed as a joint venture between Nintendo and North-American-based technology company Silicon Graphics. The system was announced to be released by the end of 1995, but was subsequently delayed. Meanwhile, Nintendo continued the Nintendo Entertainment System family with the release of the NES-101, a smaller redesign of the original NES. Nintendo also announced a CD drive peripheral called the Super NES CD-ROM Adapter, which was co-developed first by Sony with the name “Play Station” and then by Philips. Bearing prototypes and joint announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show, it was on track for a 1994 release, but was controversially cancelled.
Image Source – Kotaku
During 1995, Nintendo announced that it had sold one billion game cartridges worldwide, ten percent of those being from the Mario franchise. Nintendo deemed 1994 the “Year of the Cartridge”. To further their support for cartridges, Nintendo announced that Project Reality, which had now been renamed the Ultra 64, would not use a CD format as expected, but would rather use cartridges as its primary media format. Nintendo IRD general manager Genyo Takeda was impressed by video game development company Rare’s progress with real-time 3D graphics technology, using state of the art Silicon Graphics workstations. As a result, Nintendo bought a 25% stake in the company, eventually expanding to 49%, and offered their catalogue of characters to create a CGI game around, making Rare Nintendo’s first western-based second-party developer. Their first game as partners with Nintendo was Donkey Kong Country. The game was a critical success and sold over eight million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling game in the SNES library. In September 1994, Nintendo, along with six other video game giants including Sega, Electronic Arts, Atari, Acclaim, Philips, and 3DO approached the United States Senate and demanded a ratings system for video games to be enforced, which prompted the decision to create the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Aiming to produce an affordable virtual reality console, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in 1995, designed by Gunpei Yokoi. The console consists of a head-mounted semi-portable system with one red-colored screen for each of the user’s eyes, featuring stereoscopic graphics. Games are viewed through a binocular eyepiece and controlled using an affixed gamepad. Critics were generally disappointed with the quality of the games and the red-colored graphics, and complained of gameplay-induced headaches. The system sold poorly and was quietly discontinued. Amid the system’s failure, Yokoi retired from Nintendo. During the same year, Nintendo launched the Satellaview in Japan, a peripheral for the Super Famicom. The accessory allowed users to play video games via broadcast for a set period of time. Various games were made exclusively for the platform, as well as various remakes.
In 1996, Nintendo released the Ultra 64 as the Nintendo 64 in Japan and North America. The console was later released in Europe and Australia in 1997. The Nintendo 64 continued what had become a Nintendo tradition of hardware design which is focused less on high performance specifications than on design innovations intended to inspire game development. With its market shares slipping to the Sega Saturn and partner-turned-rival Sony PlayStation, Nintendo revitalized its brand by launching a $185 million marketing campaign centered around the “Play it Loud” slogan. During the same year, Nintendo also released the Game Boy Pocket in Japan, a smaller version of the Game Boy that generated more sales for the platform. On 4 October 1997, famed Nintendo developer Gunpei Yokoi died in a car crash. In 1997, Nintendo released the SNS-101 (called Super Famicom Jr. in Japan), a smaller redesigned version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
In 1998, the successor to the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, was released. The system had improved technical specifications allowing it to run games made specifically for the system as well as games released for the Game Boy, albeit with added color. The Game Boy Camera and Printer were also released as accessories. In October 1998, Retro Studios was founded as an alliance between Nintendo and former Iguana Entertainment founder Jeff Spangenberg. Nintendo saw an opportunity for the new studio to create games for the upcoming GameCube targeting an older demographic, in the same vein as Iguana Entertainment’s successful Turok series for the Nintendo 64.
In 2001, just three years later, Nintendo introduced the redesigned Game Boy Advance. The same year, Nintendo also released the GameCube to lukewarm sales, and it ultimately failed to regain the market share lost by the Nintendo 64. When Yamauchi, the company’s president since 1949, retired on 24 May 2002, Satoru Iwata succeeded as Nintendo’s fourth president, becoming the first Nintendo president who was unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage since its founding in 1889.
In 2003, Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance SP, a redesign of the Game Boy Advance that featured a clamshell design that would later be used in Nintendo’s DS and 3DS handheld video game systems.
History Source – Wikipedia