Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nintendo Iroha Karuta (いろはかるた) - part 3

Today we continue the series about Nintendo's Iroha Karuta with some oblong shaped sets.


Although these do not use the name 'Iroha' (いろは) on the box, but simply label them as 'Karuta' (かるた), they are in fact used to play the same games as the sets we saw in blog posts part 1 and part 2.


The Nintendo name in kanji (任天堂) is used as brand logo, without any further brand name in Roman script, which is quite unusual.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Beforemario in N-Zone - Parts 1 to 3

As reported earlier, Germany's biggest Nintendo magazine N-Zone published a three part retro feature on Nintendo's pre-Famicom period, using photos from my collection.

This story ran from October to December of this year. As the last part was just released (on newsstands in Germany now), I thought it would be a good occasion to show them here as well.

Part 1 - N-Zone October 2013

Part 2 - N-Zone November 2013

Part 3 - N-Zone December 2013

I always enjoy participating in these types of publications, so if there are any journalists out there with similar plans, don't hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nintendo Iroha Karuta (いろはかるた) - part 2

In the first part of this post, Nintendo's Iroha Karuta were introduced. This is an educational card game, that help children learn the Japanese hiragana script.

Nintendo wasn't the only company producing these cards, and in order to beat the competition and make sure the public continued buying their sets, new designs were regularly created.

In the 1970s, Nintendo expanded its line of Iroha Karuta with a new, broad selection of themed sets that catered to many different interests, as we will see below.

Nintendo Iroha Karuta from the 1970s

This series of Karuta is recognizable by bright, colorful drawings on the box front.


Let's take a closer look at each of these sets.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nintendo Iroha Karuta (いろは かるた) - part 1

To most readers of this blog it will be well-known that Nintendo started corporate life as card manufacturer, back in 1889. They have been producing cards ever since, up to the present day (check out the current 'other products' section on Nintendo's website for some recent examples).

As cards are such an important part of their history, the subject may have been a bit underexposed here, although I did post about them a few times before.

The cards that Nintendo produces can be grouped in four main categories:
  • Hanafuda (花札), the orginal Japanese playing cards that started the company
  • Hyukunin Isshu (百人一首), a card game based on 100 famous poems
  • Iroha Karuta (いろは かるた), a game that tests memorization, listening skills and reflexes
  • Trump (トランプ) cards, which are western style playing cards

(In more recent years, this has been extended with Pokemon cards and other video game related spin-offs like eReader cards, but we will focus on the more traditional cards here.)

Nintendo Iroha Karuta (early 1960s)

In previous posts, I already put a spotlight on some Nintendo Trump cards (see these stories about picture book trump cards, early playing cards, promotional Popeye cards, 1980s playing cards catalogue and some naughty pin-up playing cards). These only showed a minuscule tip of the proverbial iceberg. Nintendo produced so many different Trump card design that I don't dare estimate a number, but it must run in the hundreds, possibly thousands.

I plan to cover Hanafuda and Hyukunin Isshu in the future, but today we start taking a look at the Iroha Karuta.

The two examples shown here stem from the early 1960s, from the time when Nintendo had just introduced their stylish cursive logo.


Iroha Karuta are targeted at children in elementary school, who have started learning the Japanese hiragana and katakana scripts, and the pictures on the cards and overall design are tailored to this young group of customers.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nintendo Dynamic Soccer (ダイナミック サッカー , 1970)

In the period 1965-1970, Nintendo released two soccer simulation games. In a previous post we already looked at Table Soccer (テーブル サッカー) from 1965. This game was licensed from UK toy company John Waddington.


Table Soccer is similar to the well-known Subbuteo soccer game - based on finger-flicking miniature plastic player figures and thus maneuvering the ball towards the goal, as well as defending that goal.

Nintendo Dynamic Soccer (1970)

Several years later, in 1970, Nintendo released a new soccer game, called Dynamic Soccer (ダイナミック サッカー).