The sets we see here are called Miracle Trump (ミラクル トランプ).
|Three variants of Nintendo Miracle Trump|
It appears to be a standard set of playing cards. But looks can be deceiving.
|The Miracle Trump box has a red and a blue side|
The name Miracle Trump already suggests that this is not just any pack of cards, and this is true: it is a magic set.
Miracle Trump dates from 1972, and sold for ¥800 at the time. A patent is mentioned on the box (#873283), but I have not been able to track that down, so I am not sure what aspect of this game was patented.
The patent could relate to the cardboard box, which is somewhat special. The message on the top indicates that you should "please open in the direction of the arrow" (矢印の方へあけてください).
When you follow these instructions and pull one half of the box aside, it opens and the contents slide up, so you can easily take them out. Nintendo used this mechanism also for one of their sets of pin-up playing cards.
The keen observer will have spotted that one of the cards appearing is the ace of spades. This is one the trademark logos used by Nintendo.
|Nintendo Miracle Trump (1972)|
The Miracle Trump set contains a deck of cards and a pair of specs.
The spectacles are made of plastic, and have blue glasses. The color of these glasses is important, as we will shortly see.
A couple of variants of Miracle Trump exist, that come in a more standard plastic case. This version has slightly differently shaped spectacles, also with blue glasses.
|Another version of Nintendo Miracle Trump (ca early 1970s)|
The release date of this version is unclear. It possibly outdates the set sold in the cardboard box.
|"I spy with my little eye..."|
Even though these variants of Miracle Trump have different card back designs, they share a secret. Which I am about to reveal right now.
|Different Miracle Trump decks|
Let's take this five of spades, for example. The front looks like any ordinary five of spades.
And so does its back. Nothing unusual or strange here.
But when you put on the blue-tinted glasses, the magic happens.
Through the blue filtered light, you can spot a difference in the color of some of the symbols on the back of the card. Two of these appear darker, revealing the value of the card: in this example the spade and the five are darker. And presto: we know it must be the five of spades!
For each of the cards, its value is coded on the back. Invisible in normal light, but easily readable through the blue glasses. Take a look at the hand of cards below. The top card is the six of clubs, see?
So yes, it's basically cheating. Your opponent will wonder how you are able to look right through his cards.
|"I can see your cards!"|
In 1975, Miracle Trump was re-released by Nintendo under the name Magic Card (魔法のトランプ).
The basics of the game remained unchanged, but the box, card design and glasses were slightly redesigned. This updated version retailed for ¥1,000.
|Nintendo Magic Card (1975)|
I am still wondering how you should explain the indoor use of blue-colored sunglasses, though. This might arouse some suspicion...
Anyway, other than that it works really well.
For more magic fun, check out the Nintendo Mister Magician Coin & Stick.