Saturday, May 3, 2014

A closer look at Nintendo's 2014 company guide

A few weeks ago, in the post about the beautiful 2013 Nintendo company guide for recruits and new employees, I promised to also show the 2014 edition in more detail. Well, here it is.

The 2014 edition is a hardcover book with 64 pages, printed on high quality paper. It measures about 18 by 28 centimeters.

This edition is designed like a pack of Nintendo hanafuda cards. Hanafuda are the traditional Japanese playing cards that use images representing nature in various stages across the twelve months.

The first section of the guide has a lovely pictorial of some of Nintendo's major products from its long history. It is clearly important to Nintendo that all of its staff are aware of this heritage.

The first product are the hanafuda (花札) cards, or 'flower' cards, which started the company in 1889. The one card shown is the full moon card from the August suit. Like all Hanafuda cards, it includes a flower or plant, and this one depicts Susuki grass (薄), waving in a nightly breeze.

Next are the Western style playing cards and the 1966 Ultra Hand (ウルトラ ハンド).

Nintendo started selling Western style playing cards, called Trump (トランプ), in 1902.

The guide continues with the Ultra Machine (ウルトラ マシン) and Love Tester (ラブテスタ), both bestsellers in the late 1960s.

In these images, the Nintendo products are integrated in the card designs, and drawn in the typical Hanafuda style.

Hanafuda cards were originally produced with wood block printing. The various colors were added in separate printing stages. When producing cards in high volume, it was difficult to align the colors precisely, which resulted in the rough edges.

Next are a gun from the 1970 Kousenjuu SP (光線銃SP) light gun series with the Electro Lion (エレクトロ ライオン) target, and the Automatic Ultra Scope (オートマチック ウルトラ スコープ) spy toy from 1971.

These are followed by the 1972 Ele-Conga (エレコンガ) electronic rhythm machine and the early video game console Color TV Game 15 (カラー テレビゲーム 15) from 1977.

The product gallery closes with the Chiritorie (無線クリーナー チリトリー) remote control toy vacuum cleaner and the first Game & Watch Ball (ゲーム&ウォッチ ボール) from 1980.

The products together span 91 years of company history; from the foundation in 1889 to the landmark year 1980, when Nintendo's global success started.

It is interesting to note, that of the eleven products presented, no less than eight were designed by Gunpei Yokoi. It is an indication of his importance to the company.

The second section of the guide provides a flavor of the Nintendo of today. It starts with an introduction by Satoru Iwata (岩田 聡), company president since 2002.

This section gives an interesting peek inside the company.

The Hanafuda style continues here, but the card images are combined with sketches for recent games, like Super Mario 3D World, and photos of Nintendo staff working on new software and hardware.

Some of the pages also contain huge kanji (Japanese characters) from Nintendo's official name: 任天堂. This page with link has a large character 'Nin' (任).

And Luigi here stands in front of a large character 'do' (堂).

The image below shows some staffers working on the world map of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

The final section of the guide contains all sorts of company information.

Also here, the link between past and present is made. On the left, a collage is shown of the names of the various toys and games presented in the historic overview in the first section of the guide. These are placed in juxtaposition with the current Nintendo logo on the right.

In this section you can find useful information like office locations, corporate organization structure and annual turnover and profit figures.

Also includes are a list of key dates in Nintendo's long history, with another overview of key products.

All major products are listed, from the 1889 Hanafuda to the Wii U from 2012.

The year 1953 listed here for the Trump playing cards (トランプ), refers to the year that plastic cards were introduced by Nintendo, replacing the much less durable paper ones.

As this guide is intended for prospective staff, details are also provided regarding the different job profiles at Nintendo.

The guide ends with a reproduction from an old company sign, which reads in the traditional right-to-left form. In this sign, the company is listed as Yamauchi Nintendo (山内任天堂), named after it's founder Fusajirou Yamauchi. The family name was dropped from the company name in the early 1950s, after Fusajirou's grandson Hiroshi Yamauchi took over the leadership of the Nintendo.

The logo on the right is that of Nintendo's trademark Marufuku.

Marafuku was the name of a subsidiary of Yamauchi Nintendo, setup in the late 1940s, as a means to grow market share through a second production and distribution channel. The name can be translated as circle ('maru') of fortune ('fuku').

The Marafuku logo can also be found on the front of the 2014 company guide, as another nod to its past.

On the back of the guide, we see one of the more usual plants to appear on a Hanafuda card: the iconic Piranha Plant (Packun Flower in Japanese) from the Mario universe.

Company guide editions 2014 (left) and 2013 (right)

I am sure you agree with me that this is one of the best designed company guides ever, and hope you have enjoyed this post.

Also check out these posts about the 2011, 2012 and 2013 company guide.


  1. This is awesome! I find it interesting that over in the States, Nintendo almost always starts its company history with the NES, rarely ever discussing things came before it.

    1. Sad they if they've forgotten the "Game & Watch" phenomenon.

    2. Yes, they have a tendency to forget the pre-NES days. In a way it is understandable, as Nintendo of America was established in the 1980s. In that sense NOA is different, with a different sense of history.

  2. What no Virtual Boy in there?

    1. No, just the big hits. Pokemon Mini is also missing.

  3. Is it possible to buy this anywhere?

    1. This book is not for sale to the public. You need to find someone who went through Nintendo's recruiting, and who is willing to pass it on.

  4. Is there anyway of getting this in as a pdf?

    1. There is no official PDF available for download. And given that Nintendo owns the copyright to this guide, I am not going to publish a complete scan of it. Sorry.