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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nintendo's logo through the years - part 2

A previous blog post on Nintendo's logo's through the years showed the many different logos that Nintendo went through until they settled on their current company logo.

When I gathered the visuals for that article, I was surprised of just how many different styles Nintendo had used in the period from around 1965 until the early 1980s.

Some of the many logos that Nintendo has used over the years

That article however failed to mention an important logo that Nintendo had used for a number of years from the 1950s to the mid 1960s: the 'Ace of Spades' logo.

Nintendo's 'Ace of Spades' logo introduced in the 1950s
(image courtesy of GameScanner)

This logo obviously stems from the period in their history when Nintendo was still primarily a playing card manufacturer. It has two specific style elements: the white spikes that are drawn around the inner spades shape and a circle in the middle with a gothic-style letter 'N'.

So, Nintendo already used a big 'N' in their logo years before they themselves would be addressed as "The Big N". I think this is called destiny.

Typical trump cards sold by Nintendo in the 1950s

It was introduced around the time when they increasingly started selling Western style trump card sets, many of which were illustrated with Disney characters.
Underneath the Ace of Spades logo, the company name was usually presented. The full name used at the time was 'Nintendo Playing Card Co Ltd'.

For many years, the Ace of Spades logo adorned every Western style trump deck that Nintendo produced; from hundreds different regular sets to the cute keychain card sets shown below.

For these miniature cards, the design of the logo is somewhat simplified.

Although the logo was otherwise mostly used in a consistent style, at least one more variation exist.

This version does contain the typical letter 'N', but for the rest applies a different style. It misses the 'spikes' which make the regular Ace of Spades logo such a strong visual mark.

Also note the way Nintendo is written on the top of this card. This specific lettering - with the pointy 'O' - can be seen as yet another logo, as it was used regularly by Nintendo in the 1950s (see also the miniature cards above).

The Ace of Spades logo was presented not only on the card themselves, but also alongside the company name in promotional material.

Like on the bottom of this advertisement for Picture Book Trump sets.

It could also be found on this metal card container.

When Nintendo started expanding their product portfolio with other games and toys, they continued to use the Ace of Spades logo, be it only for a brief period around 1965.

Nintendo did this, most likely, because the Ace of Spades was an established brand: it could increase the appeal of these products to people familiar with the quality cards that Nintendo was known for.

Nintendo Sono Game

An example of this use is the musical board game called Sono Game. The Ace of Spades is printed on the right side of the record label, while at the same time the new 'cursive' logo was also used on box and instruction sheet.

Another example is Nintendo's walkie-talkie set Companion.

Nintendo Companion

The Ace of Spades is printed on the side of the box, next to the Nintendo company name.

Furthermore, it is also embossed on the Companion handsets themselves.

However, once Nintendo became established as general toy company (or least had the ambition to be one) in the mid 1960's, they stopped using the Ace of Spades logo on anything other than cards, and started looking for a different brand identify.

An exception to this - be it small and still very closely related to cards - is the Electro Poker light gun target from 1971.

One of the card symbols used in this game is the famous Ace of Spades.

In recent years, the Ace of Spades has surfaced again in another card related game; it appears on the front of the Nintendo DS game Master Illusion from 2008.

This game was originally released in Japan under the name Magic Encyclopedia (マジック大全). It came with an actual deck of (Nintendo) cards.

To this day, Nintendo uses the Ace of Spades logo on most of the playing cards it sells.

It allows some poetic license when representing this mark, as in these Mario themed cards that date from 2010, where the letter 'N' has been replaced by the well-known star.

And in this 2011 Zelda set, with the Tri-force taken the place of the big N.

The Ace of Spades was a well designed logo, with a clear recognizable style. It perfectly fitted Nintendo's identify as maker of cards.

Should Nintendo have kept the Ace of Spades logo as their main logo, as a nod to their playing cards roots? Or is it good that they look for a more generic style and eventually choose the now familiar race track logo? What do you think?


  1. There really nice,something I would like to own my self but I never see them come up

  2. Hi. Being a Nintendo fan, I do enjoy reading your site and I do visit often. It would be nice of you, if you could give a proper credit for the remastered Ace of Spades logo I had made :)

    1. Hi! Thanks for your note. I was not aware of the source, but am a believer in giving credit where it is due. The post has been updated. Thanks!

    2. Dear Erik, thank you so much for including me in your post. This is very kind of you, as I was not expecting this. I hope you have received my email with the vintage Nintendo logo I had sent you few days ago.

      Honestly, I do not know why I haven't commented on your blog earlier... this must change! You have an avid follower from now on!

      I would like to let you know, that I have included a link to your site in my Links section.

      I'm big on box art and restoring damaged photos/scans of many games, mostly Nintendo. Your site has an incredible wealth of information and photos, which I'm sure will come in handy.