In light of tomorrow being Nintendo’s 125th birthday, it seems only right that we take a look back at the company’s past. Founded on September 23, 1889 Nintendo originally produced playing cards before it entered the video game scene in the 1970s. In 1983 Nintendo released its first Nintendo produced home video game console in Japan. Since then Nintendo has done many things for the game industry, providing innovation and creativity throughout its long standing presence and proving to be a purveyor of fun and joy.
Here we will take a look at what are arguably Nintendo’s five best pieces of gaming hardware in no particular order. Through years of evolution and entertainment these pieces of plastic and wires have managed to work their way into the hearts of millions.
1. Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
There is absolutely no way anyone in their right mind can make a list of the top pieces of Nintendo hardware and not include this baby. The father of all that came afterwards, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) paved the way for video game consoles that followed. Launching in North America in late 1985 it is often credited with saving home console gaming. The home gaming market was over saturated with competitors and was severely lacking quality control.
The NES offered consumers consistency, something severely lacking in the home console options at the time. Providing a platform that allowed individuals to enjoy games without the worry of varying quality help to build confidence in the market. With a simple controller for input and and a bevy of interesting and varied, quality titles it was as good of a first outing as anyone could ask for.
2. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
While the NES was the forerunner of today’s successful modern consoles the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) introduced the games that would turn Nintendo into a juggernaut. Releasing in North America in 1991 the SNES was an upgrade in almost every way over its predecessor. The SNES was a 16 bit console that boasted better visual and audio fidelity than the NES. This led to some of the best titles and franchises Nintendo would come to create.
Nintendo had used the fantastic base they established the NES and placed more focus on software. With titles such as The Legend of Zelda: A link to the Past, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Kart the SNES was set up for world domination. There are very few franchises that have withstood the test of time like these beloved series. But Nintendo didn’t only use their first party titles to catapult the Super Nintendo into success.
Heavy support from major third party developers including Capcom and Konami helped make the Super Nintendo Entertainment System a dominant force during one of the first and most gruesome of the console wars. Titles from famed serious such as Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Castlevania, and Final Fantasy showed Nintendo’s dedication to quality software. They also helped push the SNES, which was late to the 16 bit party to the front of the pack further proving Nintendo as leaders in the gaming world.
3. Game Boy Advance SP
The Game Boy Advance SP is a solid example of Nintendo being able to please its customers. While the Game Boy Advance was already a huge success Nintendo recognized that it could be improved upon.The SP, which stands for special, offered a few structural differences that made this the must have handheld when it released in March of 2003 in North America.
The ability to play games from the original Game Boy and the Game Boy color more than justified the purchase of a Game Boy Advance. Add to that the shoulder buttons and the availability of bigger, prettier games and you had no choice but to come up with a reason for why your parents should buy you one. Unfortunately the Game Boy Advance suffered from some of the same problems as its elders, problems the Game Boy Advance SP aimed to fix.
The Game Boy Advance SP came with a lithium ion battery and a charger right in the box. No more did you have to worry about having to buy a fresh pack of batteries every other day. It was also fold-able making it much easier to carry around in your pocket than the original design and keeping your screen safe from any pocket debris. But one of the best features of all was the option to light up the screen so you could play in the dark.
No more did you have to rely on some crazy contraption to view your Game Boys Screen or have to open it up to install some upgrade. Everything needed was built right in making this the base for Nintendo’s next handhelds. Compact, portable and playable almost everywhere.
4. Nintendo 64 (N64)
One of the greatest and most memorable consoles the Nintendo 64 (N64) ushered Nintendo into the world of full 3D games when it released in September of 1996. While the SNES fought well against the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation Nintendo knew it had to do something to maintain its position. Although it wasn’t the first to market with fully 3D rendered games Nintendo’s expertise in quality software helped the N64 find success.
What the N64 may have lacked in power when compared to its competition it more than made up for in innovation and creativity. The introduction of a joystick alongside the tradition directional pad and the added Z trigger allowed for new control options. Allowing developers to chose which input best supported their game or giving players the option to go with what was most comfortable. The controller wasn’t the only improvement presented by the Nintendo 64, this new console allowed to bring their classics to a whole new realm.
Launching alongside the N64 was Super Mario 64. This entry in the series presented Mario, friends and enemies in full 3D and added a whole new dimension to the gameplay. Not only that but it set the standard for how a character should be controlled in a 3D space, something a lot of games had issues with at the time (looking at you Resident Evil).
the Nintendo 64’s ability to support 4 simultaneous players without any other peripherals other than controllers was not to be overlooked as well. This made Nintendo’s N64 one of the go to machines for entertaining guests at home. Though, the presence of stellar games such as Star Fox 64, Goldeneye 007, and Super Smash Bros. might have had something to do with that as well.
5. Wii U
If there is anything that defines Nintendo it’s the company’s willingness to take risks and innovate. While they could easily play it safe Nintendo does its best to go above and beyond in order to provide what they believe to be the best experience for their consumers. If there is any embodiment of this, it is most certainly the Wii U.
Released in November of 2012, the Wii U is the followup to Nintendo’s best selling console the Wii. Building on what made the Wii so popular this newer iteration came packaged with a GamePad that has full touch screen functionality and allows for remote play and newer multiplayer experiences. The Wii U is also compatible with Wii peripherals allowing you to play with already owned Wii Remotes.
Nintendo’s dedication to player experiences seems to be the driving force behind the Wii U. While there are many who complain that it is underpowered it has still managed to provide some of the most beautiful and fun experiences present to date. One must look no further than the recent Mario Kart 8 to forget the resolution wars and be left in awe.
The Wii U is a console that refuses to give up. Every time someone tries to count it out Nintendo presents something that does not cease to amaze. It’s managed to pull its own weight during the current “console war” and with its coming lineup you shouldn’t be surprised to see this machine soar.
Nintendo has done many, many things throughout its life and it will only continue to do more. No matter what criticisms you may have for the company, they always manage to put their customer at the forefront and these examples of hardware are proof of that. They have managed to provide endless hours of fun and even define numerous childhood memories. For this we here at Twinfinite wish Nintendo the most happiest of birthdays, and many more to come.