Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beforemario in N-Zone

This month's issue of N-Zone features a retro special on Nintendo's history before they made video games. N-Zone is Germany's biggest Nintendo magazine.

N-Zone #198 - October 2013

This special is the first in a series of three parts. The first part focusses on the period from the start in 1889 to the introduction of the Ultra Hand.

The images that illustrate the piece may look familiar to regular readers of this blog, as they were provided by beforemario. I gladly support these kind of publications that contribute to spreading the story about Nintendo illustrious past.

The N-Zone team returned the favor by including a QR code with a link to my blog.

The next two parts will appear later this year, in the N-Zone of November and December.

Check out all three parts here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Retro Game Experience 2013

About a week ago, in the weekend of September 14 and 15, a game event called Retro Game Experience was staged by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision located in the Dutch town of Hilversum.

The program looked very promising, so I headed to Hilversum on Sunday. I took my two daughters along, and hoped they would also appreciate the original arcade experience that was recreated there (they did).

The event was divided in three main areas. One the ground floor you could find a set of Japanese arcade games from the 90s and 00s and a large selection of home consoles and home computers. One floor up was the best part of the exhibition: a full-fledged arcade room with many games from the 1980s, including - obviously - a healthy selection of Nintendo arcade games.

It was a really hands-on affair; all that was on display was playable as well. The event attracted a good crowd but it was not too busy, so you did not have to wait too long to play.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Spreading Mr. Yamauchi's legacy

The passing of Mr. Yamauchi earlier this week was a sad moment; the definitive end of an era in the history of Nintendo. It also provided an opportunity to reflect on his many achievements and the big impact Nintendo has had on popular culture globally. For some this will evoke nostalgic feelings, but for many others it may have been an introduction to previously unknown parts of Nintendo's past.

Although maybe unfortunate that the general press often needs to be triggered by somebody's death before they realize their legacy, it was good to see the many stories in the mainstream press that reported the various facets of Mr. Yamauchi's life, his lifelong involvement with the company and the pivotal role his leadership and decisions have played in shaping the video game world in particular.

I was approached by the BBC to contribute imagery to a historical overview that illustrates the far reaching influence of Mr. Yamauchi's presidentship. I gladly participated in this, as it allows a broad public to learn about Nintendo's path to current fame, which is a topic close to my heart.

I was even more pleased that the BBC also created a History of Nintendo slideshow on their CBBC portal, especially targeted at children.

This was a great chance to introduce a new generation to the many wonderful games and toys that predate Wii U and 3DS. And through this, honour Mr. Yamauchi.

Links here:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hiroshi Yamauchi 1927-2013

Today Hiroshi Yamauchi died, aged 85.

Mr Yamauchi led Nintendo from 1949 tot 2002 as company president, and was chairman of the board from 2002 to 2005.

Without him, Nintendo as we know it today would not exist, and the gaming world would be totally different.

It is simply impossible to comprehend the many many hours of pleasure and joy he and his team have given the world.

Thank you, Mr Yamauchi! ありがとうございました山内さん!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meet the Collectors - #7 - Alex Crowley

In previous episodes of this blog's Meet the Collectors series, we have already seen some of the best collections out there that are dedicated to Nintendo's history.

But even though these consisted of wonderful displays of Game & Watches, vintage toys and retro video games, there is one department that has been seriously underexposed here so far: arcade games.

Arcade games are an important part of Nintendo's history and heritage. Key Nintendo characters and game franchises were born in the arcade. Many of today's Nintendo collectors first got exposed to Nintendo through these games. Most of us love them for it. I know I do.

But collecting arcade games is a different matter altogether. They are big and heavy. Their monitors and printed circuit boards are sensitive to technical problems (contrary to consoles and handhelds, which are virtually indestructible). Most arcade game have been out in the field for many years, resulting in wear and tear. So they usually require tender love and care to restore, get working and maintain in top shape.

It takes some special dedication to build your own home arcade. In today's episode we will meet Alex, who has done just that. Even more exciting is the fact that he created a Nintendo arcade! Alex loves his arcade so much that he gave up an extensive collection of Game & Watch for it. Talk about dedication!

Alex posing justifiably proud in his personal hall of Nintendo arcade history

"Hi! My name is Alex Crowley. I am from Twickenham London, 42 years old and I am a brickwork specialist."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nintendo toys in Animal Crossing New Leaf

As regular readers of this blog will know, Nintendo has a long and intriguing history that spans close to 125 years. Since the 1960s, the company has developed a culture that remains to this day: a strife for innovation mixed with an understanding and appreciation of its heritage. Nintendo as a company never forgets where it comes from and what went before, and this is passed on to new staff when they enter the company.

One of the ways that Nintendo honors and celebrates its past is by including references to it in new games. Most recently, this happened in the 3DS game Animal Crossing New Leaf (とびだせ どうぶつの森), released in Japan in November of last year and in the rest of the world in June of this year.

Animal Crossing New Leaf - Japanese box art

In this popular life simulation game, many items can be earned or won by performing certain activities at certain times. Included in the huge selection of items are five vintage Nintendo toys, that are great representatives of the entire "toys period" of Nintendo, from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s.

Some of the items that can be won in Animal Crossing New Leaf,
including the five vintage Nintendo toys (items D to H shown here)

The vintage Nintendo toys included in Animal Crossing New Leaf are:
  • Ten Billion (テンビリオン) originally released in 1980,
  • Love Tester (ラブテスタ) from 1969,
  • Ultra Hand (ウルトラ ハンド) from 1966,
  • Ultra Scope (ウルトラ コープ) from 1971, and
  • Ultra Machine (ウルトラ マシン) from 1967
Although they may look a bit dated now, each of these was very innovative in their time.