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03/10/2011 / loyaltymarketingnews

10 Neat Nintendo Facts

Despite a few flops along the way, Nintendo has been one of the most successful players in the video game industry since the early 1980s.

But how much do you know about Nintendo? Did you know it’s over 100 years old? Do you know which American sports team it owns? Did you know LEGO once took legal action against it?

Take a look through the gallery for some fun facts you might not know about the Japanese gaming giant. Let us know in the comments which factoids scored a 1-Up with you.

1. Nintendo is 121 Years Old

Nintendo makes its gaming rivals look like cheeky young upstarts. It was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi on Sept. 23, 1889 as a company that made Japanese playing cards. While Sony’s history dates back to 1946, Microsoft’s 1975 inception makes it the baby of the trio.

2. Nintendo Used to Run a “Love Hotel”

One of many business ideas explored by early Nintendo was a “love hotel.” These establishments are popular in Japan and offer couples rooms by the hour. Nintendo invested in a love hotel in the swinging ’60s, although “the location and name of Nintendo’s hotel seems lost to the pages of time…” Lost — or buried.

3. Nintendo Once Made LEGO-like Bricks

Another of its many business schemes: Nintendo built a brick system called “N&B Blocks.” It seems LEGO wasn’t too pleased, but Nintendo wangled its way out of legal difficulty due to the fact that some of its blocks were rounded.

The N&B Blocks were eventually nixed, but back in the 1990s a GameBoy game made reference to them. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins boasted an entire stage made out of N&B Blocks.

4. Only One Man Has the Right to Call His Sailboat “Donkey Kong”

Skip forward a few decades and Nintendo is facing more legal action. This time it’s Universal Studios, which thinks Donkey Kong infringes on the King Kong trademark.

Because Nintendo’s first bit had just hit in the States, it was a crucial legal battle to win. Nintendo pulled out the big guns with attorney John Kirby, who successfully argued that the King Kong plot and characters were in the public domain.

To thank Kirby, Nintendo bought him a sailboat and granted him “exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats.”

5. Nintendo Beats Microsoft to Redmond

Redmond, Washington is most famous as the headquarters of Microsoft, but Nintendo settled in the Seattle suburb before the software giant.

With the profits from Donkey Kong Nintendo bought land in Redmond in 1982. Microsoft didn’t relocate from Bellevue, Washington until 1986.

6. Nintendo Invented the Cross-Shaped D-Pad

The cross-shaped D-pad was invented by GameBoy creator and long-time Nintendo employee Gunpei Yokoi. It was initially designed for the handheld version of Donkey Kong, but Nintendo soon realized it could be used with console controllers, too. The D-pad featured on the NES “+Control Pad”, and the rest is history.

7. Nintendo of America Censored Everything in the Eighties

In the ’80s and through to the early Nineties, Nintendo of America had some seriously strict game guidelines laid out in an official policy. While much of the policy worked to block truly offensive content, the level of censorship was taken to the extreme.

Examples of over-zealous changes made to games include a classic nude statue being clothed, a red cross being removed from a hospital frontage, bars being changed to cafes and, in one bizarre example, a criminal gang smuggling a shipment of bananas, rather than drugs.

8. Nintendo Owns the Seattle Mariners

Back in 1992 Nintendo became the majority owner of major league baseball team the Seattle Mariners. After the purchase, the team’s mascot remained the Mariner Moose,, although a Mario mascot did make an appearance when the company was promoting Mario Super Sluggers.

9. Nintendo Developed a Phone in the Early 2000s

As well as patenting an “electronic apparatus having game and telephone functions,” Nintendo actively developed a mobile phone. Last year PocketGamer revealed the surprising news.

“A development source, who preferred to remain anonymous, has revealed that there was a skunkworks R&D project run by Nokia and Nintendo in the early 2000s – about the same time Nokia was working on its original N-Gage phone.”

“The R&D efforts, which were located at Nintendo’s Japanese HQ, were successful enough that the concept of a Nintendo phone was taken to the company’s board of directors for approval. It was rejected.”

10. Nintendogs Was Inspired By a Shetland Sheepdog Called Pikku
Nintendogs could have just as easily been Nintencats were it not for a Shetland sheepdog called Pikku. This is because Pikku belonged to Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s famous game designer.

As well as the dog-themed game, Miyamoto’s impressive resume includes creating some of the world’s most famous video game franchises, such as Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda.

MTV reports, “Miyamoto acknowledged that his team had considered making the game about other animals. ‘The reason it ended up being a dog game is because about four years ago me and my family actually got our first dog,’ he said. The family’s tri-color Shetland Sheepdog named Pikku sealed it.”

(via Mashable)

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