The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

by Ben Salter Featured 23 Comments 41 Votes 6874 Views 11/05/2012 Back to Articles

Nintendo wasn’t always the waggle-friendly video games juggernaut it is today. Since its inception in 1889, it’s done a lot of interesting things, and experimented in some rather inappropriate areas for a company that’s found success in the family friendly entertainment sector.

Here are some of the stranger things Nintendo has done in its 123 year history.

Nintendo: The Card Company - 1889

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

Cooler than 2012's AR cards

Nintendo Koppai was founded long before our parents were born, back in 1889, by Fusajiro Yamauchi in Kyoto, Japan. On the off chance that you were alive back then, well done on mastering the internet.

Nintendo was founded to make "Hanafuda" (flower cards) playing cards and quickly became the market leaders in Japan. That’s all relatively normal, but it’s a little bit scary to think that Nintendo was a household name for entertainment over 120 years ago.

While Nintendo stayed in the family, the bloodline ended with its creator (and changed again later). As he had no sons, when Yamauchi retired in 1929, he followed Japanese tradition and adopted his son-in-law, Sekiryo Kaneda (becoming Sekiryo Yamauchi) so that he could take over the business.

Yamauchi Nintendo & Co. - 1933

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

By 1933, Ninty went through one of its many name changes, becoming Yamauchi Nintendo & Co. through a new joint venture. It also decided to move headquarters to a new building that was constructed next-door. Handy.

21-Year-Old President - 1949

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

File photo taken sometime between 1949 - 2005

The man that would eventually be succeeded by current president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, in 2002 took the job hastily in 1949 as a 21-year-old student. Hiroshi Yamauchi was called to his grandfather’s bedside after Sekiryo Yamauchi suffered a stroke and was asked to take the position of Nintendo president as there was no other immediate successor. It required him to drop out of school, and he made the rather strange request of being the only family member to be employed at Nintendo. His grandfather agreed, and his cousin was subsequently fired.

Hiroshi would eventually go on to be the man credited with transforming Nintendo into one of the world’s biggest video game companies, but he didn’t immediately have the respect of his peers. To counter that, he fired anyone who doubted him upon taking the position, including a significant portion of the management staff.

He also renamed the Big N, Nintendo Playing Card Company Limited.

Japan’s First Plastic Playing Cards - 1953

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

Almost as obvious as Snakes on a Plane

Nintendo got “modern” in 1953 by becoming the first company in Japan to release plastic-coated playing cards. This was a big deal at the time.

Working with Disney - 1959

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

Epic Mikey is retro

Long before the days of Mario, Nintendo used Mickey Mouse as its mascot. Nintendo partnered with Disney in 1959 to release playing cards using its popular characters. Over 600,000 packs where sold in Japan that year, as Western playing cards broke into Japan.

Nintendo Company - 1963

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

After Visiting the US in the late 1950s, Hiroshi Yamauchi realised that there wasn’t going to be a long term future in playing cards. They where out in 1963, so Nintendo was renamed “Nintendo Company Limited” -- its current name -- so that it could try its luck in other fields. Nintendo started to get weird between 1963 - 68 when it experimented with a number of failed ideas.

Instant Rice - 1963-68

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

Exactly what Nintendo must have tried to sell to fail so quickly in Asia

Trying to become more than a playing cards company, Hiroshi dabbled with the idea of instant rice. Everyone in Asia consumed copious amounts of rice on a daily basis, so rice that could be made in a short space of time by simply adding water seemed like an ingenious idea, right?

Wrong. It failed faster than it was conceived.

Taxi Company - 1963-68

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

Moving on from the rice debacle, Hiroshi turned to taxis under the brand of “Daiya”. This proved to be one of the more successful ideas in a list of failed experiments, but ultimately didn’t succeed due to salary issues and those spoilsport taxi unions. Hiroshi decided to cut his losses and move on.

Love Hotels - 1963-68

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

They should totally revive this idea...

While mucking around with Taxis, Hiroshi looked to the “love hotel” industry for some happy endings. Rooms were rented per hour, and for a while it looked like a winner, but following the other ill-conceived ideas. Maybe the Japanese have too much honour to be seen in a place like these?

Nevertheless, Hiroshi was rumoured to be a frequent customer at his own establishment with his wife’s knowledge.

Vacuum Cleaner - 1963-68

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

During its self-discovery phase, Nintendo thought releasing a vacuum cleaning would solve all of its problems. Needless to say, it probably failed faster than the instant rice. There’s no proof that this self-discovery included a lesbian college phase, but we can only assume.

The Ultra Hand - 1966

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

The Wii Ultra

Leaving the love hotels behind, Nintendo started moving in the right direction again in 1966, thanks to one man having some fun, presumably during his lunch break. Gunpei Yokoi was hired to fix convertor belts on Nintendo’s assembly line. As Nintendo attempted to break into the toys market, be developed an extending arm on his own time.

Seeing its potential, it entered full-fledged production and became the Ultra Hand, Nintendo’s first successful toy.

The Ultra Machine, Ultra Scope - 1967

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

OH&S says no

The Ultra series continued with a machine that launched soft balls to be hit with a bat. It was joined by the Ultra Scope.

The Love Tester - 1969

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

I would try this but...forever alone

Those desperate horny teenagers where next on Nintendo’s radar, so they developed a Love Tester in 1969, again designed by Yokoi. He is on recorded as stating that ”the meter gave better results when people kissed the girl..." It’s an important piece of history, as the first electronic device that Nintendo produced.

Toy Guns, Laser Clay Shooting System - 1973

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

Nintendo had a lot of practice before coming up with the sexy orange NES Zapper. It partnered with Sharp to create a range of light guns in the early 1970s, before poaching its main man.

One of the most memorable was the Laser Clay Shooting System. It used an overhead projector to display images that the player would shoot. Basically, the COD of 1973.

Other toy guns, such as the Kousenjuu SP, emitted a flash of light that registered a hit on the included targets.

Color TV Game 6 - 1977

The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games

That’s really it for the craziness. In 1977, it released its first home consoles -- the Color TV Game series. It was also the year in which Shigeru Miyamoto was hired. Being Nintendo, the debut unit was called “Color TV Game 6” and its sequel was number 15. The Game and Watch was born in 1980, followed by the Famicon in 1983 (as the redesigned NES in Western regions in 1985) and Nintendo’s rise to power we underway, almost 100 years after the company was founded.

By Ben Salter - Bio

Link to us http://wii.mmgn.com/Articles/The-Weird-Shit-Nintendo-Did-Before-Games
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The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games Comments

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Actually want the love tester and cards
Nintendo should start up love hotels again with Peach, Zelda and Samus cosplayers. [Shifty]
Ben, have you been sharing drinks with Guyver? [Shifty]

Seriously though, I knew absolutely zero about Nintendo's history. Can you imagine working for Hiroshi though? Walking into work, every day wondering what the hell your crazy boss has come up with today. And the dinner party questions!
'So, what kind of business are you in?'
'I… I don't know…'
and what about the weird shit nintendo is doing nowadays?
Rice..
This is amazing. Nintendo truly are innovators.
banning you for saying hanafuda cards are weird
Atar
+

Blob said: Nintendo should start up love hotels again with Peach, Zelda and Samus cosplayers.


ZSS [Derp]
Poisoned...........rice?

Oh God, what the hell did you make us all imagine (evil).

DarkJibTEC said:
Oh God, what the hell did you make us all imagine .


What do you think Wii remotes are used for? Video games?
*laughs*
Sweet merciful crap!
Some of this stuff would be worth a mint these days.
I actually have some old Nintendo cards. No idea if they're worth anything.

kiryuu said: I actually have some old Nintendo cards. No idea if they're worth anything.



They are worth nothing at all these days, so send them to me so I can... dispose them for you. [Shifty]

[MOG] [MOG]
I bet those vacuum cleaners sucked...
Yamauchi will cut you

CTreyz said: and what about the weird shit nintendo is doing nowadays?


Vitality sensor [MOG]
An interesting and somewhat creepy history. [WTF]
(evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil) (evil)
lol, epic article, and some interesting things in there. Love Hotels and Taxis have to be the two wackiest things to get into for an entertainment company!
Poisoned Rice? The Weird Shit Nintendo Did Before Games
interesting read. I knew they were a card manufacturer before but dang, they went through alooot. but at least nintendo is nintendo, they go through weird testing phases.

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