Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The birth of modern day Nintendo

As readers of this blog will undoubtedly know, I have recently written a book about Nintendo's toys and games from the period 1965 to 1983.

Like this blog, the book is called BEFORE MARIO.

After months of writing, photographing and designing the book, it was delivered by the printer about a week ago. What a great moment it was, to finally hold the result of all that hard work in my hands.

A good moment to take a closer look, I think!

BEFORE MARIO is published by Omaké Books, a French publisher that specializes in video game culture and history. They are well-known for their History of Nintendo series.

The book has a hard-cover and 224 full-color pages printed on high-quality paper. It measures 24 by 20 centimeters and weighs a cool kilogram!

The text is presented side-by-side in two languages: English and French. The integral text is provided in both languages.

I am very proud that the book includes a foreword by Satoru Okada.

Okada joined Nintendo in 1969 and was part of the team that created most of the wonderful toys featured in BEFORE MARIO. When Gunpei Yokoi left Nintendo in 1996, Okada took over as general manager of the Research & Engineering department. Under his management, this team developed the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. Okada retired a few years ago.

Okada is the (co)designer of many of Nintendo's games and toys, including Game & Watch and the Game Boy. He was also director and producer for multiple video games, including the original Metroid, Kid Icarus and Super Mario Land.

As you can image, it was a great honor for me that a Nintendo veteran of such stature shared some of his memories in the foreword of this book.

Nintendo was founded in 1889. Until the 1960s, Nintendo was a modestly successful company, which manufactured playing cards for the local Japanese market.

Fast forward 25 years and Nintendo has become a world leader in electronic entertainment. How did this miraculous transformation come about?

BEFORE MARIO will answer that question, through a richly illustrated overview of over fifty Nintendo toys and games that represent this crucial period in the company's history.

Besides Nintendo's company timeline and background information on my collection, the book's main content is presented in five chapters: Family Games, Toys, Electro-mechanical Games, Portable Electronic Games and Home Consoles.

Each of these chapters contains a selection of toys and games that best illustrate this part of Nintendo's history.

All entries in the book include a compact introduction that highlights the toy's most important features and historic context and relevance.

Most of the space is used up by hundreds of large pictures that bring these toys and games to live. All photographs were taken specifically for this book, using items from my personal collection.

Six bonus sections deliver a wealth of extra content on Nintendo's Disney themed board games, toys licensed by Nintendo, Nintendo's arcade games, an overview of all Game & Watch games, the story of the Bassmate Computer and an overview of Nintendo logos from this era.

The book concludes with the Family Computer from 1983. The Family Computer marks both an end and a beginning.

It is the end of the path that Nintendo traversed in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, as it transformed from local business manufacturing playing cards into a global player in the world of electronic entertainment. The Family Computer (known as NES in the Western world) is also the start of a new phase for Nintendo, in which it would become one of Japan’s most admired and valuable companies.

The landmark Family Computer from 1983

Besides the regular 'classic' white cover version of BEFORE MARIO, a special limited 'black' edition cover was created to mark the launch of this book.

BEFORE MARIO limited black edition

This black version was numbered and limited to 500 copies. It sold out quickly and these are in the hands of 500 lucky people now.

The regular version of BEFORE MARIO is now available at Omaké Books, Amazon and fine retro game shops around the world.

I hope you like it and would love to hear your feedback!


  1. Congrats on getting this accomplished and I'm looking forward to my copy.

    1. Thanks Chris! Looking forward to your reaction when you receive it.

  2. I really like the idea of owning a limited edition, but I love the look of the white version. Tough call.

  3. So happy for your Eric, this is a amazing accomplishment.
    And a must have for any serous Nintendo collector ����
    I can't wait for my copy

  4. Congrats, Erik, the book looks amazing. Actually I was thinking for the longest time that the stuff you are photographing and writing about would make a wonderful book, I am glad you made one. And so fantastic that you got Satoru Okada to write the preface!!