Nintendo’s history is truly an interesting saga. We’ve created a short list of the most interesting facts about Nintendo. Read on to find out what they are!
Ten Amazing Facts About Nintendo
Nintendo and its consoles, games, and characters are truly ever-present in our pop culture. Everyone and their grandmother have heard of Nintendo or at least some of their characters, but there are many quirky and unknown facts that are often forgotten. Therefore, we’ve compiled a short list of interesting facts about Nintendo.
1. The First Game Played in Space
Tetris was the first game played in space.
In 1993, a spaceship with the Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov blasted off to board the Mir space station. Among the personal belongings he brought to space was a Nintendo Game Boy and a Tetris cartridge.
We’re sure that Serebrov played a couple of rounds of Tetris in his spare time aboard the Mir space station, which gave Tetris and Nintendo the honor of being the first game and game console in space.
2. Why Luigi Was Colored Green
Luigi is often in the shadow of his elder brother Mario, but that’ not the reason why his suit is green. Its color was just a result of technical limitations.
You see, back in the olden days of arcade games, memory was a scarce and invaluable commodity. So when Luigi first appeared in the 1983 Mario Bros. arcade game for two players, he seemed to be very like Mario. On the one hand, Nintendo couldn’t just make an exact copy of Mario, but on the other hand, they didn’t really have enough memory to give him his own palette. So making do with what they had, Luigi obtained a green-colored jacket from Koopa Troopa Shell.
Unfortunately, the similarity of colors drastically reduced the quality of the game. But Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and many others) had a more positive view on things. He thinks that the technical limitations worked out as they made the characters of the game unique and memorable.
3. Satoru Iwata Took a Pay Cut When Nintendo Wasn’t Doing Well
After the release of the unfortunate Wii U, and the slow initial sales of the 3DS, Nintendo wasn’t doing so well. Sales were down, and Nintendo was in the red for the first time in a while. To combat this, Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo at the time, decided to cut the price of the 3DS to $170 from $250.
In the short term, this would exacerbate the problem, which would mean that even more people would be laid off. To avoid this, Satoru Iwata decided to cut his own salary in half. He also managed to convince the rest of the board to do the same, claiming that Nintendo success or lack thereof was their responsibility and that this way, they would show the sincerity of their attitude towards making Nintendo a better company.
In the end, the gamble paid off, and 3DS would become one of Nintendo’s more successful systems.
4. Nintendo Kept the Seattle Mariners in Seattle
In 1992, the Seattle Mariners owner, Jeff Smulyan, intended to move them to Tampa Bay, much to the chagrin of local fans. However, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s president at the time, stepped in to buy the team and prevent that from happening.
You see, Yamauchi did this as a favor to Seattle since his home was in Redmond, Wash, right next to the Nintendo of America headquarters.
Yamauchi’s ownership of the team helped bring many talented Japanese players to the club and left a lasting remark on the Seattle Mariners.
In 2016, Nintendo of America decided to sell most of its shares of the Seattle Mariners and now owns only 10%.
5. Hiroshi Yamauchi Was President of Nintendo for 53 Years
As president, Hiroshi Yamauchi served a whopping 53 years (that must be some kind of a record). He oversaw the transformation of Nintendo from a Japanese playing card company to one of the behemoths of the gaming industry.
His stern and “imperialistic” leadership is credited as one of the most important factors in Nintendo success.
Another fun fact is that he is the one who discovered Gunpei Yokoi’s talents and put them to good use.
Yamauchi retired in 2002 and named Satoru Iwata his successor, the first non-Yamauchi to be president of Nintendo. He finally allowed himself to rest as he believed he left the company in good hands.
6. Nintendo Used to Operate Love Hotels and Had a Taxi Service
Before Nintendo became a video game company, they tried a lot of other things, from love hotels to taxi services and instant rice.
You see, at the time, Nintendo was just a playing card company, a successful one, but nothing more. After Hiroshi Yamauchi visited the United States Playing Card Company, he was disappointed to find out how small the largest playing card company was, and he decided to diversify the business.
So he opened a chain of love hotels, which are basically one-night hotels where people would take their wives or mistresses to copulate, a food company which sold instant rice, and a taxi service called Daiya. All of these experiments failed and nearly bankrupted the company.
7. Gunpei Yokoi Worked in a Hanafuda Factory
In 1966, Gunpei Yokoi worked as a maintenance engineer in one of Nintendo’s hanafuda factories. One day, while Hiroshi Yamauchi was visiting that factory, he stumbled upon an extendable arm. When he inquired who made it, Yokoi was brought to him. He then ordered Yokoi to develop it into a full product for the Christmas rush.
This was an amazing development for Yokoi, who only made the hand for his own amusement. After the massive success of the newly-christened Ultra Hand, he was set up as a director of product development.
This would lead on to all the gadgets we know and love, from the Game & Watch to the Game Boy. That silly extendable hand Yokoi made for fun started the career of one of the greatest men in the video game industry.
8. Super Mario Was Named After Nintendo’s Landlord
Real estate developer Mario Segale was Nintendo of America’s landlord during the time that they were developing Mario, and Super Mario was named after him.
Back during the development, the team was searching for a name for the character. His name at the time was “Jumpman,” and while they were brainstorming names, Mario Segale stormed in demanding that the rent be paid. Being aware that his name was Mario, the team thought it was a perfect name for the character.
9. Super Hornio Brothers
Super Mario Bros. was all the craze back in the ’90s that even a feature film based on them was released. As with everything that is popular, a pornographic parody followed suit.
Titled “Super Hornio Brothers,” it starred the great Ron Jeremy as Squeegie Hornio (based on Mario), T.T. Boy as Ornio Hornio (based on Luigi), Chelsea Lynx as Princess Perlina (based on Princess Peach).
When Nintendo heard that a porn parody of their beloved franchise would soon be distributed, they immediately bought the rights to Super Hornio Brothers I & II and put the distribution on hold indefinitely.
10. Nintendo is Actually 130 Years Old
Nintendo traces its origins back to the company founded by Fusijiro Yamauchi (the adoptive great-grandfather of Hiroshi Yamauchi) in 1889. Originally, Nintendo was founded as a hanafuda-making company.
Hanafuda is a type of traditional Japanese cards, and Nintendo would create and sell handmade hanafuda cards.
In time, these cards would become very popular due to their inclusion in illegal gambling establishments by the Yakuza, and Nintendo would diversify their business in the coming century to include many other things.