Saturday, May 9, 2015

Nintendo's 2015 company guide is a visual celebration of its past and present

In previous posts we have looked at various editions of Nintendo's company guide (see bottom of this post for a list). This guide is completely redesigned yearly and used by Nintendo in Japan to introduce the company to new employees. It is distributed to job applicants who take part in the yearly recruitment process at the start of the fiscal year (in April).

These guides are very interesting for Nintendo enthusiasts, as they provide a peek behind the white stone facades of the usually very closed corporation. The content focusses primarily on present achievements (recent game hardware and software) and the company's strategy for the future.

However, the guides also provide information on the company's history. Nintendo was founded over 125 years ago, and its long and rich heritage must surely be an important reason why young people choose to apply for a job at Nintendo.

The interest for the company's history seems to be growing lately, outside of company as well as within Nintendo. In recent years, these guides have also paid increasing attention to the company's past.

A few years ago, the history was dealt with in just one or two pages with a list of products and events. But the last two editions give it a much more prominent place.

Last year's guide was designed in the style of hanafuda cards Nintendo's first product that started the company back in 1889. And this year's guide even tops the previous one with even more extensive content that provides a fantastic visual celebration of Nintendo's present as as well as its past.

Nintendo company guide 2015 - cover sleeve

The guide comes in a very colorful cardboard sleeve. This sleeve is covered on both sides in many of the different versions of the Nintendo logo that the company has used over the years.

The front and back of the guide itself are also full of logos, printed in beautiful silver ink on a black background.

The front contains a selection of product logos for older products, presented around a Nintendo logo in kanji (任天堂). These are all products from the time before Nintendo made electronic games, like Ultra Hand (ウルトラ ハンド), Kôsenjû SP (光線銃SP), Love Tester (ラブテスタ), Nintendo Block (N&B ブロック) and Ele-Conga (エレコンガ). Even the rare and obscure Mamaberica baby stroller (ママベリカ) is included.

Nintendo company guide 2015 - front

The back contains product logos from the electronic games era, starting in 1977 with the Color TV Game (カラー テレビゲーム) up to the 2014 amiibo.

Around 1980 Nintendo made a transition from local toy company focussing on the Japanese market to a player on the international entertainment market. This is clearly illustrated by the predominant use of Japanese script for the logos on the front and the use of Western script for the logos on the back.

Nintendo company guide 2015 - back

The guide measures 30 by 20 centimeters and has 58 pages. Bright yellow pages divide the various chapters in the guide.

The first chapter contains a six-page image collage of Nintendo's history up to the Family Computer, introduced in 1983.

This is the part that made my collector heart miss a few beats when I first laid eyes upon it. There is so much to explore on these pages.

The first two pages show Nintendo's earliest products: mainly playing cards, but also other traditional games like mah-jong and roulette.

In the first decades of the 20th century, Nintendo became Japan's premiere manufacturer of hanafuda cards. Nintendo used Napoleon as brand name for their cards.

A very interesting image on this page is a photo of Nintendo first card factory in Kyoto, with a sign stating "Exporter & Manufacturer".

After centuries of isolation, Japan had opened up to the world around 1870, in a serious of events referred to as the Meiji Restoration. From that time on, many Japanese companies became interested in trading with countries around the world, and Nintendo clearly was one of them.

However, until the end of the 1970s, Nintendo exports were limited compared to the business it did in Japan.

The next two pages show many of the toys and games that Nintendo created in the 1960s and 1970s; the time when Nintendo transformed from manufacturer of playing cards and traditional parlor games to a toy company. This period saw an explosion of original ideas sprout from Nintendo's design and engineering teams.

In the final two pages of this section, we have arrived in the electronic era, with Nintendo's two blockbusters from this time taking center stage: Game & Watch and the Family Computer.

Nintendo's first home video game consoles, the Color TV Game series, are also included.

A picture is included of an assembly line churning out Famicoms. Nintendo had to meet an increasing strong demand in the 1980s, eventually selling more than 19 million units in Japan and 42 million in the rest of the world.

The second part of the guide starts with a message from Nintendo's company president Satoru Iwata.

The next 20 pages present a section of Nintendo teams working on software titles and game hardware. The pages are designed in a collage style similar to the history section.

The teams presented are working on the upcoming Wii U title Splatoon, as well as recent titles like Mario Kart 8 and Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.

These pages give a great insight into Nintendo's office environment as well as sketches and other game art from various stages of the development process. Many pictures of Nintendo staff are included, so prospective employees can get a good feeling of their future colleagues.

This is what you would see if you were allowed entry into the Nintendo head quarters in Kyoto or the development center in Tokyo.

Besides software development, hardware design is also an important part of the work that goes on at Nintendo, as illustrated by the work on the New 3 DS.

This page shows a series of alternatives designs the team went through before they settled on the final 'New 3DS' logo.

The recent Nintendo sales hit amiibo is included as well, of course.

On this page we can spot two early designs for a Bowser and Mario figure for the amiibo Super Mario collection.

Overall the guide provides hours of fun going through the many images and discovering new things from Nintendo past and present.

It is a hard to pick a favorite bit in this richly illustrated booklet. It does such a good job of celebrating Nintendo company history and culture.

But if I had to pick a section, it is the part dedicated to Shigeru Miyamoto.

The many highlights within the unbelievable output of that Miyamoto has had in over thirty years at Nintendo are condensed here into two pages.

Even included is the Color TV Game Block Kuzushi (カラー テレビゲーム ブロック崩し), for which Miyamoto designed the housing in one of his first assignments at Nintendo, back in 1979.

The company tour ends with the current company mission: "Putting smiles on the faces of everyone Nintendo touches".

The final section of the book includes information on the company organization structure, office locations and key historic dates and products.

Also important for the prospective employees this guide is aimed at, is the section on job profiles and job conditions (salary, working hours, holidays).

As a final note, I can't help but wonder if, when designing this Company Guide, the Nintendo team was somewhat inspired by the Before Mario book and past posts on Nintendo's company logos...

What do you think? Coincidence?

Before Mario book from 2014 (top) and Nintendo Guide from 2015 (bottom)

If you are interested to see more of Nintendo's company guides, check out these posts about the following editions:


  1. Is there anyway to download load this 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.

    2. Thats what i thought, just thought I would ask. It lovely and Im guessing most collectors would love a copy of this and the others

  2. How does one obtain one? At least can we get a quality image of the Splatoon page

    1. The guide is only provided to applicants for a job at Nintendo Japan. Some are floating around on online auction sites. Drop me an email and I may be able to help you out with the Splatoon image.