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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mini Nintendo Summit with Isao and Florent

The title of this blog post should be taken with a pinch of salt, as nothing quite as formal as a real summit took place. But still, it was a moment of great importance to me personally.

In April of this year, I travelled to Japan for a week long holiday, together with my seven-year-old daughter. In the short period we were there, we enjoyed many of the things Japan has to offer: bustling city life, beautiful nature, mouth-watering food and as much anime and video game fun as is humanly possible to take in.

For me, one of the highlights of the trip was meeting fellow Nintendo aficionado Isao Yamazaki. Isao is one of the world's most renowned Nintendo collectors and extremely knowledgeable about Nintendo's history.

Isao-san unpacks the Nintendo Crossover, while Florent watches approvingly.

But most of all, he's a very nice guy and I was happy to finally meet him in person.

Isao had recently acquired some vintage Nintendo toys from me, and this trip allowed me to hand-deliver these to him in Tokyo. One of the items was a Nintendo Crossover from 1981, one of most difficult to find inventions by the great Gunpei Yokoi. Isao had been looking for one for a long time, so you can imagine how pleased he was to add this to his collection.

Isao-san and yours-truly posing with the Crossover

An evening with Isao would already have been historic for me. But luck would have it that another Nintendo comrade was also in town: none other than Nintendo historian Florent Gorges, who was in Japan working on a couple of his upcoming books! Florent joined the party, which turned into a mini gathering of three Nintendo lovers.

Isao and Florent playing a game of Nintendo Computer Othello

Like with Isao, I had been in contact with Florent for many years, even contributed some pictures and information to the first volume of his fantastic History of Nintendo book series, but we had never met in person as well.

Nintendo Computer Othello (1978)

I find it fitting that a French and Dutch Nintendo fan met for the first time in person in Japan, at the house of the biggest Japanese fan. I cannot think of a better place!

Computer Othello - player one controls

As you can image, the hours passed quickly as we discussed the many interests we share. Isao also showed some items from his amazing collection.

Computer Othello - player two controls

In his apartment, Isao has two original Nintendo arcade cocktail cabinets, which you can see pictured here.

Computer Othello - top view

One of the two is the first ever arcade video game made by Nintendo: Computer Othello, dating from 1978. It is a very nice looking machine, with a round chrome base.

The second machine is a 1979 SF-Hisplitter, the last chapter in Nintendo's Space Invaders inspired Space Fever range. It marks the last of the (few) Nintendo's copy-cat games, before they catapulted into the highest stratospheres of original video game creations.

Nintendo SF-Hisplitter (1979)

Both machines are still in excellent condition, even though they are around 35 years old.

We concluded the evening with a tasty sushi meal. Of course, the diner was interrupted frequently by more talk about Nintendo's past, present and future.

Throughout all this, my daughter had shown considerable patience - as she endured many hours of retro game talk. But this was rewarded handsomely when Isao treated her to a strawberry-and-green-tea ice-cream. The best ice-cream she ever tasted!

Yummy! Strawberry and green tea!

Isao-san and Flo, thank you both for the great time! I hope we meet again soon.

Check out Isao's impressive collection in this episode of Meet the Collectors. More about Florent and his books can be found here.

[Update: Isao and I met again in 2015!]


  1. Really cool story Erik! Nice to read so much passion. Think despite the retro talks that your daughter had a blast in Japan. Christian

    1. Thanks Christian. She sure loved it there. Wants to return as soon as possible when she gets the chance!

  2. very nice meeting !! :) I already met Isao, they are really nice :)

  3. Unbelievable
    Loving the pictures
    especially of Othello and space fever high splitter.
    My good Friend Victor has a great working example of high splitter too.