Friday, March 30, 2012

Nintendo antes de la era digital

That's Spanish, in case you were wondering, for Nintendo before the digital age.

It's the title of an article appearing in the April 2012 print edition of Game Master magazine, one of the leading game periodicals in Mexico.

What is Diablo doing here on beforemario?

Look, there on the cover. Los juguetes de Nintendo, La magia ya existía antes de Mario: Nintendo's Toys, the Magic existed before Mario. Beforemario!

The magazine was granted permission to use content from this blog, and their design staff did a great job turning it into a nice six-page spread, including interview. They gave it a Western theme, inspired by Nintendo's Kousenjuu light gun games.

So, when you happen to live in Mexico, go pick up a copy of the magazine today.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nintendo My Car Race (マイカーレース, ca 1965)

There is no shortage of racing games in Nintendo's history. And I am not talking about Mario Kart, or other virtual speedsters, but of real racing experiences, be it on toy scale.

Nintendo My Car Race (1965)
Nintendo My Car Race (ca 1965)

The two oldest in Nintendo's catalogue are Drive Game and the set shown here: My Car Race (マイカーレース).

The year of release of My Car Race is not shown on the box or manual, but it is believed to date from around 1965, possibly slightly earlier. Retail price was ¥2,500.

The sports car on the front of the box (which I believe is a Mazda) promises an exciting, fast paced game. It also somewhat over-promises the level of detail of the model cars included, as we will see shortly.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nintendo Mini Game Series leaflet (ミニゲーム シリーズ リーフレット, 1972)

The Nintendo Mini Games (ミニゲームシリーズ) were a series of lovely colorful miniature toys, released in the first half of the 1970s.

Read all about these toys in the following posts:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nintendo Ultra Scope Yukijirushi gold prize (雪印スノーラック ウルトラスコープ, 1971)

The electro-mechanical toys created by Nintendo in the late 1960s and early 1970s were innovative and advanced for their time. They must have been highly desirable for a large group of children. This is also suggested by the fact that they were used as top prizes in a number of product promotions.

How to persuade customers to eat/drink/use more of your product? Well, easy! Create a sweepstake that rewards sales of the product with a chance to win something nice. Even better: select a prize that the customers's children will like, so they will bug their parents to buy your product. Basic marketing, really.

This only works well, of course, if the prize gets your customers' children really excited. And apparently some of the Nintendo toys fitted that bill perfectly.

Advertisement for the Yukijirushi Stick Cheese campaign

It was already known that 100 copies of the Nintendo Ultra Machine were given away as a first prize in a product promotion for Yukijirushi Stick Cheese (雪印 スティックチーズ). The company Yukijirushi (which translates to 'Snow Brand') is still active today, but is now part of Megmilk Snow Brand Co.

I just learned that Yukijirushi also ran a campaign in the 1970s in which copies of the Nintendo Ultra Scope were given away as first ('gold') prizes, in a promotion for Yukijirushi Snowlac milk (雪印スノーラック).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nintendo Color TV Game - leaflet (任天堂 カラー テレビゲーム カタログ, 1977)

In 1977, Nintendo entered the home video game market with the Color TV Game series. The image below is taken from a leaflet announcing this series in May of that year.

The games were announced as 「見るテレビから遊べるテレビへ」, which translates to "from watching television to playing television". In 1977, interactive entertainment was still a concept that required explanation to a large group of the prospective audience.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

beforemario becomes guest author on Kotaku

Today my post on Nintendo's logo history was republished on Kotaku.

And subsequently also on Kotaku Japan (日本語で).

A nice opportunity to bring the story of Nintendo's illustrious past to a broader audience!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nintendo's logo through the years

Since the conception of the Game & Watch handheld games and the Family Computer (NES) and the birth of Donkey Kong and Mario, Nintendo has slowly but steadily risen to become a household name. These days it is one of the most well-known and valuable brands in the world.

For a brand of this stature, a logo is a key asset, allowing products to be recognized instantly. The brand's characteristics and values, developed and earned over the years, are carried by the brand name and embodied in the logo.

Nintendo has used the familiar "racetrack" logo (referring to the line surrounding the name) since the early 1980s, only tweaking the design ever so slightly. The typography used even dates back to the late 1960s.

But Nintendo has not always used this logo. For the first seventy-five years or so since its start in 1889, the logo consisted of the company name in kanji.

Nin - ten - dō

These three kanji '任天堂' spell the name: 任 (Nin) 天 (ten) 堂 (dō). [For a discussion on the meaning of these characters, check out this article on Kotaku.]

Up to this day, these kanji are used in Japan as the formal company name, and they continue to appear on Nintendo's products, although the racetrack logo is always used prominently in all marketing communication.

However, the racetrack logo was not created overnight.

During the 1950s, Nintendo first introduced a logo used mainly for its Western style playing cards: the so-called Ace of Spades logo. [More about that here.]

During Nintendo's modernization in the 1960s, while it also set the first small steps on the path of international distribution, it decided to introduce a logo using the roman script; readable by a Western audience and looking more modern for the Japanese home market.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

beforemario turns one year

I just noticed that the one-year mark of this blog passed a couple of weeks ago. The first blog post was about the Nintendo Light-beam games Kousenjuu SP and Kousenjuu Custom (光線銃SP, 光線銃 カスツム). Over 75 posts followed since, covering over 150 different Nintendo games and toys!

Many readers provided encouragement and positive feedback, and I enjoyed spreading the knowledge about Nintendo's illustrious past.

What better way to celebrate the anniversary and to thank all you readers with another look at the Kousenjuu series. Below images are taken from a couple of Nintendo Leaflets from around 1974. They show the full series, except for the Jumping Bottle target and Custom Lion and Custom Gunman.

I am far from done, so here's to the second year!

Kousenjuu SP Gun

Kousenjuu SP Rifle

Kousenjuu SP Electro Roulette

Friday, March 9, 2012

Nintendo Hopping Game (ホッピングゲーム, 1971)

Following the previous post covering the Nintendo Hockey Game, today we take a look at another game in the category "simple but fun".

Nintendo Hopping Game (1971)

The game is called 「ホッピングゲーム」.

Which is katakana, meaning "Hopping Game".

Monday, March 5, 2012

Nintendo Hockey Game (ホッケーゲーム, 1974)

Nintendo Hockey Game (ホッケーゲーム) is a simple but fun sports game.

Nintendo Hockey Game (1974)

The image on the front of the box shows a frantic dad, hell-bend on beating one of his sons.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Upcoming posts - stay tuned

It has been a bit quiet here the last few weeks. But after a myriad of distractions, I have found time again to prepare some new Nintendo Toys and Games content.

Posts to expect soon:

Hockey Game (ホッケーゲーム, 1974)

Hopping Game (ホッピングゲーム, 1971)

My Car Race (マイカーレース, ca1965)

Shotracer (ショットレーサー, 1974)

Desert Gunman Game (荒野のガンマンゲーム, 1972)

And I will take you through a whole stack of Nintendo board games from the early 1970s.

Watch this space!