Sunday, February 4, 2024

First Nintendo product sold in Europe (probably)

In today's post, we'll delve into the first advertisement for a Nintendo product in Europe. At least, the earliest one discovered thus far.

Displayed here is an almanac from Italy for the year 1973.

This almanac, known as Barba-Nera, is a local institution and a synonymous term for almanac in Italy. Remarkably, Barba-Nera still continues its annual publication today, over 250 years since its inception in 1762.

At its essence, the almanac provides information on sunrise and sunset times throughout the year, religious calendars, weather forecasts, and horoscopes.

This is complemented by agricultural insights and diverse topics such as cooking.

A large part of the book is dedicated to advertisements aimed at the Italian agricultural community. So you will find adds for Lamborghini tractors, rather than racing cars.

The 1973 edition spans around 350 pages and includes a sweepstake for 1500 prizes. While the majority of these prizes consist of key chains, there are more substantial items up for grabs.

The first and second prizes are a portable television and a chainsaw, respectively.

The subsequent four winners can secure two car stereo sets and two electric slicers.

Further down the list of prizes, beyond the Beretta rifle and Black & Decker drill, a familiar device catches our attention - particularly for readers of this blog. For Italian readers in 1973, it would have been an introduction.

Among the prizes are 21 copies of the Nintendo Love Tester, referred to as "Misuratore d'amore" in Italian, with the importer identified as the company "Impeuropex".

In another section of the almanac, a full-page advertisement for the Love Tester is included.

Titled as a novelty ("Novità"), the Love Tester is promoted as "Japanese electronic device of absolute precision" and "exceptional, will leave no more doubts" about "whether your woman or man really loves you and with what intensity".

Readers are encouraged to place their orders promptly, "before they are sold out".

The listed price is five and a half thousand Italian Lira, equivalent to around 50 euros in today's currency.

Interestingly, a different company name (ICEC) is listed in this ad compared to the description in the sweepstake section, where Impeuropex is mentioned. This might be a related company or an abbreviation for Impeuropex Corp.

Online searches for both names did not yield useful information, except Impeuropex's apparent involvement in bootlegging video game PCBs from the 1970s to the 1990s; a potential link to Japanese electronics.

Anyway, there you have it: the oldest known Nintendo product offered for sale in Europe goes back to 1973.

For more information about the Love Tester, check out this post.

Special thanks to Guillaume of Nintendo Memories (@NintendoMemo on Twitter/X) for bringing this document to my attention.


  1. Hi, as an italian Nintendo fan I've been following your blog for years and I really appreciate your work.
    I was very surprised to see an italian almanac mentioning the Love Tester. It seems unreal.
    I've gathered just some more informations and it seems that Impeuropex was founded in Latina (centre of Italy) and it's still active today as a gamble machine manifacturer.
    Like you said, in the 1970s-90s they made various arcade bootlegs. I've found out that they made a bootleg of Ms.Pacman (as I've heard here in this italian video
    I had never heard of Impeuropex before.

    1. Thank you for the extra info, and nice to hear you like the blog!