In 2014 I published a book called Before Mario, named after this blog. It covers the history of Nintendo in the period from 1965 to 1983, illustrated with many photos of rare vintage Nintendo items from my collection. You can order it at my publisher's site and online shops like Amazon.
Some time ago (in 2006 actually - wow, how time flies), my collection was featured in the UK games magazine GamesTM, and the interview below is taken from their section "The Ultimate Collection".
|My "Ultimate collection" in GamesTM issue 42|
GamesTM: When did your Nintendo obsession start?
Me: I prefer to call it 'an interest', although it may go a tad beyond that... Okay, I admit it, it's an obsession. It started gradually. I've always been into electro-mechanical and electronic entertainment devices. Pinball machines, jukeboxes and all sorts of arcade machines. When Donkey Kong appeared in 1981, it struck me as very original, and I switched to it from playing Pac-Man (which had been munching most of my change up to then). From that moment, 'How high can you get?' was on my mind for months.
Around the same time, I also picked up playing LCD games. From the deluge of handheld titles in the early Eighties, the Nintendo games really stood out. They looked cool, and the gameplay was fantastic. Next came the NES (SMB3), the GameBoy (Tetris, Super Mario Land) and the SNES (Super Mario World), and I discovered a clear constant in my videogame preferences: Nintendo.
I began importing games from Japan, and read about Nintendo's history. I learned that the company had existed for about a hundred years, and had been active in the toy business since the Sixties. A number of these toys that pre-date the 'videogame Nintendo' that we all know are designed by Gunpei Yokoi, who went on to create both the Game & Watch concept as well as the Game Boy (and the Virtual Boy). That further sparked my interest.
Having acquired most Nintendo items of interest since the Eighties, I went further back in time to search for items from the company's prehistory. As a collector, you come up with new quests to keep yourself busy, but my main aim was to lay my hands on mystical things I had read about, like the Ultra Hand and the Ultra Machine.
By this time, I'd started traveling to Japan regularly and learned a little Japanese. My general interest in the country went hand-in-hand with the specific Nintendo obsession.
GamesTM: What was the first item in your collection?
Me: The first Nintendo item I bought was the double screen Game & Watch Mario Bros back in 1983, followed by Green House. That same year, I also got a Colecovision, primarily to play Donkey Kong at home, but I remember being disappointed when I discovered that one of the four levels had been chopped. No pie factory. The horror.
GamesTM: Where do you buy most of your stuff?
Me: At first, I bought everything from local game stores, but as my interest went beyond what was for sale there, I started mail ordering things directly from the US, Hong Kong and Japan. These days, it's online stores, auction sites (eBay, Yahoo Japan), and shopping sprees in Japan. I'm also lucky to have met some great folks in Japan, who've helped find many of the rarer pieces.
|My Game & Watch collection|
GamesTM: What's your most treasured item?
Me: That's like asking a father of ten children to name his favorite. Still. if I must, then it's a toss up between two recently acquired items. First, there's the Famicom 20th Anniversary Game Boy Advance from 2003 which was a prize for members of Club Nintendo Japan. It combines the nostalgic feel of the Famicom with a Game Boy Advance SP. And second, I have a good-as-new Ultra Hand from 1966, which was actually the first Nintendo product designed by Gunpei Yokoi.
GamesTM: What's your favorite Mario game?
Me: A tie between Super Mario World and Super Mario 64. With a gun against my head, I'd go for SMW because of the brilliant and fluent way you played both Mario and Yoshi. And did I mention Mario's cape? On the other hand, I recall the first few hours with the N64's controller and Super Mario 64 as pure gaming bliss.
GamesTM: Do you actually play all your consoles or are they just for display?
Me: Stuff from the Seventies and early Eighties: not regularly. But anything from the NES onwards gets a regular spin. I play all the games' buy. I'm not a collector with stacks of unplayed and sealed games. I used to spend many hours playing games, and was a dedicated completist (96 levels, 120 stars, etc). But family life, other interests and the resulting lack of time mean I now only 'sample' most games. I have more fun keeping up with new releases, rather than finishing games but playing only a few. Games do still regularly come along that I just have to finish. These days. though, most of my game time is spent playing Mario Party with my daughters.
[Above interview excerpt taken from GamesTM, issue 42, March 2006]
Interested in a tour of my game room? If so, then sit back and watch the following clip (go to YouTube if you want to watch it in HD). Music courtesy of Koji Kondo.
In 2009, my game room was featured on Danny Choo's popular Culture Japan site. That post is still available.
Gamers site Kotaku also picked up this post. Their story is also still available here.
My collection has appeared in many video game magazines around the world.
In September of 2010, I wrote a story for the retro section of GamesTM. The six-page article on the toys and games of Nintendo was included in issue 101.
In April of 2012, a piece based on my collection and blog appeared in Mexican game magazine GameMaster.
Issue 106 from the UK publication Retro Gamer included a short piece by me, titled "Five Nintendo toys you've never played". It focussed on a handful of interesting games from Nintendo's past.
The German Nintendo magazine N-Zone published a three part retro special on Nintendo's pre-Famicom days, using photos from my collection. It ran in issues October to December 2013. The full version can be seen here.
In 2014, the Japanese Nintendo magazine Nintendo Dream published an extensive interview with me, in issues 11 and 12 of that year.
The German magazine Der Spiegel published a nice story on their website in August 2015.
I have also contributed photos and information to the following books:
- The History of Nintendo - part 1, by Florent Gorges (in collaboration with Isao Yamazaki), ISBN 978-2-918272-15-1 [available in English, French, Italian and Spanish]
- Gunpei Yokoi - Vie et philosophie du dieu des jouets Nintendo, by Takefumi Makino (in collaboration with Florent Gorges), ISBN 978-2-918272-18-1 [available in French]
- 任天堂コンプリートガイド 玩具編 (Nintendo Complete Guide - Toys), by Isao Yamazaki, ISBN 978-4072947579 [available in Japanese]
|Two of the best books on Nintendo's History (Pix'N Love Publishing)|
I recommend these books as great resources on Nintendo's early years (next to my own book, of course!). Find out more about the authors Florent and Isao, who also happen to be great friends of mine.
So, welcome to this blog. Hope you enjoy it. If you're not sure where to get started, check out the overview page.
If you want to get in touch, please contact me.