Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nintendo Love Tester (ラブテスター, 1969)

In 1969 a Nintendo toy aimed at a more mature market saw the light of day. Advertised to be 'for young ladies and men', the Electronic Love Tester (ラブテスター) was another brainchild of Gunpei Yokoi.


The Love Tester retailed for ¥1,800 and runs on a single AA battery. It came with a black plastic (leather-like) carry pouch.


Although the simple circuitry in the toy most likely only measured the level of conductivity of the couple, rather than love, this did not stop the toy from bringing Nintendo another hit. The Love Tester was the first Nintendo produced item to contain electronics, albeit quite rudimentary technology. [A few years earlier, Nintendo was already selling a walkie-talkie set, called Companion. However, these were manufactured by Sharp.]


To use the toy, a couple would hold hands with one another while holding one of the two metal cups each. The meter in the Love Tester would then indicate the 'level of love' that existed between the couple, using a scale of 0 to 100.

Trade flyer advertising the Love Tester

In the Sixties in Japan, dating etiquette was still pretty strict, and the excuse the toy brought to hold hands and break the ice was surely part of its success.

The Nintendo logo and copyright on the back of the Love Tester

Some years after the initial release, the Love Tester was sold as one of the toys in the Mini Game Series.

Mini Game Series version of Love Tester

At the end of the Sixties, Nintendo set its first steps in the world of export and international distribution. Although Nintendo did not sell any product in large quantities abroad until the Ten Billion puzzle and Game & Watch, international versions of some earlier products do exists.

"How good a lover are you?" Use the Love Tester to find out!

One of these is this American (?) release of the Love Tester. It came in a small box, without the carry pouch.

The international release of the Love Tester which surfaced in the USA

Not much is known about this release, except that they apparently were "great fun at parties" (as advertised on the box), and extremely rare today.

"Terminal Knob". I like that phrase.

Recently two different remakes of the Love Tester have been released in Japan, keeping this great toy alive.


[Video uploaded by Youtube user ndsfans2009. It is the original Love Tester TV commercial, shown as part of a modern day TV show.]

2 comments:

  1. Haha, thats so cool! Really cute idea too :3

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  2. Nice to think some US company sold this all. Though I don't see a name printed on the US box, it sounds like the sort of thing that was probably sold through a novelty mail-order firm. That would've been typical of the time.

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