🔖 3 min read

Many of today’s biggest video game creators are based in the United States and Europe, but Japan continues to be a powerhouse in the industry. Brands like Bandai Namco, Sega, Sony, and Konami are instantly recognisable by almost everyone, though one name stands head and shoulders above them all. You guessed it, it is Nintendo.

Nintendo is responsible for some of the best consoles and games ever released, including Animal Crossing, Zelda, and, of course, the hundreds of different Mario titles. Those games are a rather important part of everyone’s childhood.

It is safe to say that Nintendo was one of the first modern gaming consoles. After it changed the landscape of video gaming, other names came on the scene. But, Nintendo managed to survive the competition and people are playing those wonderful games today. While you might be familiar with the company’s contemporary setup, there are plenty of facts about Nintendo that you probably didn’t know.

Today we are going to discuss lesser-known facts when it comes to this beautiful gaming console.

Nintendo Used to Make Playing Cards

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

One of the things most people don’t know is that Nintendo is a rather old name. Sure, it might be a video game company today, but its history goes all the way back to 1889. When it was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it was known as Nintendo Karuta and was originally set up to create and sell handmade playing cards that were known in Japan as hanafuda.

Hanafuda is different to the standard 52-card decks with four suits that most Westerners are familiar with. Instead, you’ll usually find 48 cards split into 12 suits that feature images of animals, birds, and other objects and they don’t usually have intricate patterns on the reverse.

Nintendo Used to Make Disney Products

Photo credit: Leveling Up Your Game

After Fusajiro died, his grandson took over as president of the company in 1949. This marked the start of the company’s drive to be innovative and look for ways to grow.

In 1953, it became the first manufacturer to create plastic Hanafuda cards, taking advantage of new manufacturing technologies.

Six years later, the company signed a deal with Disney to create playing cards branded with the company’s characters on them. This was a game changer for the company at the time, allowing and selling over 600,000 units in a single year and it was what allowed Nintendo to become a publicly-traded company.

Mario is a Real Person

Mario is one of the most recognisable video game characters ever created. Almost everyone that has ever played a video game on Nintendo encountered the moustachioed plumber.

But few people realise that Mario’s character is actually based on a real person.

The inspiration for the plumber was an American businessman named Mario Segale who owned the building that Nintendo rented in the 1980s. Segale got into a heated exchange with one of the senior people in Nintendo’s North American arm.

The employees in the warehouse heard this and decided to use the tempered landlord as the lead character for the new game they were created. Originally named Jumpman, he quickly got renamed Mario, a name that has become iconic.

Mario’s Moustache and Hat Were Designed Due to Technical Limitations

Photo credit: Boukaih

Mario’s iconic overalls, moustache, and hat are all part of his brand today, but they were originally designed because of technical limitations of early gaming hardware.

Having a hat meant that Nintendo didn’t need to draw and animate hair, while a big nose and moustache made it easy to distinguish his facial features, even with the very basic graphics technologies available at the time.

Of course, over time, the company has filled in some of the blanks, adding more detail to Mario’s face but you can still see the original design decisions from the 1981 Donkey Kong game where Mario first featured.

Final Words

Nintendo Gameboy
Photo credit: Patrick

Gaming has grown into one of the most popular, most diverse, and most consumed forms of media on the planet. In developed countries where the market has had time to mature, more than half of all adults enjoy gaming in some form.

That doesn’t mean they’re all racing around Rainbow Road on Mario Kart or completing quests in Zelda. Gaming also includes more casual titles like Candy Crush and casino games like video slots. Demand for the latter has grown dramatically in recent years thanks to the efforts of sites like oddschecker that compare the free spin bonuses offered by leading online real-money gaming providers.