From WE Computers Museum
(Redirected from Nintendo Playing Card Co.)
Type Publicly traded company
Founded September 3, 1889 (as Nintendo Koppai)
1951 (as Nintendo Playing Card Co., Ltd.)
1963 (as Nintendo Co., Ltd.)
Headquarters Kyoto, Japan
Key people Fusajiro Yamauchi, president (1889-1929)
Sekiryo Yamauchi, president (1929-1949)
Hiroshi Yamauchi, president (1949-2002)
Satoru Iwata, president (2002-2015)
Tatsumi Kimishima, president (2015-2018)
Shuntaro Furukawa, president (2018 - )
Industry Video games
Products Playing cards, toys, video games, video game hardware, video game consoles
Number of people 6,547

Nintendo Co., Ltd. (任天堂株式会社, Nintendō Marufuku kabushiki gaisha) is a game company that was founded as Nintendo Koppai (任天堂骨牌, "Nintendo Cards") by Fusajiro Yamauchi, on September 3, 1889.

Nintendo has been in the video game console business since 1977, making it the only company to release at least one console in every console generation.

Foundation by Fusajiro Yamauchi

Nintendo Koppai was formed by Fusajiro Yamauchi on September 3, 1889, following the relaxation of laws against playing cards in Japan. The company was founded in an area of Kyoto that was well known for Yakuza activity. Yamauchi used this to his advantage, originally producing handmade hanafuda playing cards, or flower cards. Nintendo's hanafuda cards soon began to be used in Yakuza gambling parlors.

When demand began to overwhelm his ability to produce the handmade cards on his own, Yamauchi hired a small team to help him create the cards. His cards had become so popular that by the early 20th century, he opened up another card shop in Osaka, Japan. In 1902, Nintendo began manufacturing and selling French-style playing cards, which were the first of their kind to be manufactured in Japan.

Sekiryo Yamauchi becomes president

In 1929, at the age of 60, Fusajiro Yamauchi retired and left his son-in-law, Sekiryo Yamauchi, in charge of the company. By this time, Nintendo was the largest playing card maker in Japan. Sekiryo Yamauchi set up a joint-partnership company named Yamauchi Nintendo and Co. in 1933. In 1947, he established a distribution company named Marufuku Co. Ltd. (マルフク株式会社), which distributed Nintendo's western-style playing cards throughout Japan.

Hiroshi Yamauchi becomes president

In 1949, Sekiryo Yamauchi retired following a stroke, and his grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, took over the company.

In 1951, the company was renamed Nintendo Playing Card Co., Ltd. (任天堂骨牌株式会社, Nintendo Karuta Co., Ltd). In 1952, the manufacturing companies, which were spread throughout Kyoto, were consolidated into facilities in three wards in Kyoto. After the consolidation of manufacturing companies in 1953, Nintendo became the first company in Japan to mass-produce plastic playing cards.

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi traveled to the United States and visited the United States Playing Card Company, the world's largest playing card manufacturing company at the time. He was disconcerted after the visit, since the world's largest playing card manufacturing company was being run out of, in his opinion, a small office. Thus, he realized that the playing card business was a niche business without much chance for growth.

In 1959, the head office of Nintendo was moved to the Higashiyama District in Kyoto. Nintendo secured the right to use Disney characters on their playing cards. To keep up with demand, they automated the manufacturing process of their playing cards.

In 1961, a branch of Nintendo was established in Tokyo. In 1962, it became a publicly traded corporation when shares of the company were listed on the Osaka Securities Exchange and the Kyoto Stock Exchange.

Expansion and financial troubles

In 1963, as a result of the plan by Hiroshi Yamauchi to expand, "Playing Card" was removed from the name of the company, and the company became Nintendo Co., Ltd. They expanded beyond card games by buying companies in a variety of industries, including becoming the principal operators of the Daiya taxi firm, buying a food company that sold packets of instant rice, buying a television network, and buying a chain of love hotels. The latter were hotels that offered privacy to their guests by not keeping a record of names, akin to the "no-tell motels" in North America. All of these ventures failed, the companies owned by Nintendo dissolved, and Nintendo's stock fell to its lowest recorded value of 60 yen in 1964.

Nintendo enters the toy industry

To turn the company around, Hiroshi Yamauchi formed Nintendo's first research and development department, the Nintendo Games department, and entered the Japanese toy industry in 1964. Their first toy released was named "Rabbit Coaster". A maintenance employee named Gunpei Yokoi, who was interested in creating toys during his spare time, was moved to the games division. In 1966, Gunpei Yokoi designed "Ultra Hand", a toy that had an extending arm that could be operated like scissors to pick up objects. "Ultra Hand" became the highest-selling toy in Japan, resulting in Nintendo expanding in 1968 when a manufacturing plant was opened in Uji, a city on the outskirts of Kyoto. Yokoi developed another hit toy when he designed the "Love Tester", a toy that would determine how much two people loved each other. This toy was an even bigger hit than the last, and Nintendo began selling the "Love Tester" outside of Japan as well. As a result, in 1970, the listing of Nintendo stock was changed to the first section of the Osaka Securities Exchange.

Nintendo enters the arcade market with the Simulation System

In 1970, Nintendo entered an agreement with Sharp Electronics to use Sharp light sensor technology in toys. Nintendo Research & Development 1, managed by Gunpei Yokoi, was formed to work on products created with this technology. With the release of the "Beam Gun" light gun line, Nintendo became the first company in Japan to release toys with electronic components. The success led to the creation of a second research and development division, Nintendo Research & Development 2, managed by Masayuki Uemura, in 1972. In 1973, they entered the arcade market with a test run of Laser Clay Shooting System, which used a projected 35 mm film and was an adaptation of their Beam Gun technology. This test run was conducted in converted bowling alleys, but in 1974 it would be adapted for sale to standard arcades as Mini Laser Clay for the Simulation System.

Additional games developed for the Simulation System included Wild Gunman in 1974, Shooting Trainer and Sky Hawk in 1976, Battle Shark and Test Driver in 1977, and New Shooting Trainer in 1978.

EVR arcade games

In between the Simulation System releases, Nintendo began creating video games for the arcade market. The first video games utilized EVR tape displayed on a cathode ray tube television. In these games, up to six players would watch a film of various sports and they would bet on which one would be the winner. The first of the two games was EVR Race, released in 1975, which had a video of either horses or cars racing. The second was EVR Baseball, released in 1976, which had a video of a baseball game.

Color TV-Game video game consoles

Nintendo began releasing video games to the home market in 1977, with the Color TV-Game, its first video game console. The first two Color TV-Game systems used a simple Pong-on-a-chip to produce the games contained on the dedicated console. The third console, released in 1978, also used a Pong-on-a-chip, however it contained variations of driving games.

First video games

In 1978, Nintendo began developing arcade games with graphics that were produced using computer graphics. The earliest arcade games used discrete-circuitry, where the logic was programmed into the system chips, rather than the later games that contained a central processing unit. The first of these games was Computer Othello, released in June 1978. This was followed, in November 1978, by Block Fever. The latter was converted for home use, as Color TV-Game Block Breaker, and was sold to home consumers in 1979. The cases of the Color TV-Game Racing 112 and the Color TV-Game Block Breaker were designed by Shigeru Miyamoto in his first assignments at Nintendo. These were followed by a home conversion of another Nintendo arcade game titled Computer TV-Game Othello. It was the last in the Color TV-Game line and was released in 1980.

Nintendo began developing arcade games using the Intel 8080 CPU in 1979. These games included Space Fever, SF-HiSplitter, Sheriff, Sheriff 2, and Space Launcher in 1979, as well as Heli Fire in 1980.

In 1980, Sega/Gremlin published a game developed by Nintendo R&D1, which used a Zilog Z80 CPU. It was titled Space Firebird. Another space shooter was developed using the same hardware in 1981, titled Space Demon.

Game & Watch

Gunpei Yokoi got the idea for simple handheld games using a liquid crystal display after watching a man on a bullet train push buttons on an LCD calculator. The result was the Game & Watch series, which was first released in 1980.

Nintendo shipped approximately 43.4 million Game & Watch units, in several different variations, worldwide, over the course of eleven years.

Radar Scope, Donkey Kong, and arcade success

In 1980, Nintendo R&D1 developed a game that used a Z80 CPU, titled Radar Scope. As it was popular for a short time in Japan, the president of Nintendo of America, Minoru Arakawa, put in a large order for the game. However, it did not achieve the success in the United States that it had in Japan. Left with thousands of unsold Radar Scope cabinets, Arakawa asked Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi to provide him with a game that could be installed in existing Radar Scope cabinets.

Yamauchi asked Nintendo employees to submit ideas for a new game. Shigeru Miyamoto's idea was chosen, and he worked with other members of Nintendo R&D1 to produce Donkey Kong. Conversion kits were sent to Nintendo of America, and Arakawa, his wife, and a small team performed the conversions. Donkey Kong was released on July 1, 1981. It was a huge success in both Japan and North America, propelling Nintendo to a position as an industry leader.

Following the success of Donkey Kong, more arcade games were released on Z80 hardware, including Sky Skipper in 1981, Popeye and Donkey Kong Junior in 1982, then Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong 3 in 1983.

Family Computer and the Nintendo Entertainment System

In 1983, due to the success of his arcade games, Shigeru Miyamoto was promoted to the chief producer at the newly formed Nintendo Research & Development 4. Development then shifted to Family Computer, also known as the Famicom, which was designed by Masayuki Uemura and Nintendo R&D3, and was released in Japan in 1983.

After the video game crash of 1983, interest in the video game market was tepid. Nintendo approached Atari to market the Famicom in the United States, but was turned down. Faced with having to distribute the system itself, it looked for ways to alleviate retail fears for the new system, which was renamed the Nintendo Entertainment System outside of Japan. The system was redesigned to be front-loading so as to blend in with VCRs that were commonplace at the time. The ROM cartridges were named Game Paks to differentiate them from other consoles.

In addition, Gunpei Yokoi developed R.O.B., the Robotic Operating Buddy (titled the Family Computer Robot in Japan), to market the system to toy stores. It was marketed as a novel toy and was sold in the "Deluxe Set", which included the NES console, R.O.B., and a pack-in game supported by R.O.B. titled Gyromite. Only one other game was developed for R.O.B., Stack-Up. Both the Deluxe Set and Stack-Up were released at the NES console launch in North America in 1985.

These tactics were successful, and the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System successfully brought the video game market out of the crash.

The Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System consoles were a major success, shipping 61.91 million units worldwide.

Game Boy

The Game Boy, Nintendo's first handheld video game console that used ROM cartridges, was developed by Satoru Okada, Gunpei Yokoi, and Nintendo R&D1. It was released in Japan and North America in 1989 and in Europe in 1990. It was a monochrome system, which originally had a green background, but was changed to grey in subsequent versions.

It was Nintendo's most popular console at that point, shipping 118.69 million units worldwide over its fourteen-year lifespan.

Super Famicom and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Masayuki Uemura and Nintendo R&D3 also developed the ROM cartridge-based successor to the Family Computer, the SNES, which was released in Japan on 1990. It was renamed the Super Nintendo Entertainment System for its overseas release, and was released in North America in 1991 and in Europe in 1992.

The Super Famicom and Super Nintendo Entertainment System consoles were also a success, shipping 49.10 million units worldwide.

The Virtual Boy, Nintendo's first major video game console failure

In 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, a ROM-cartridge-based system designed by Gunpei Yokoi, in Japan and North America. It was an ambitious system that displayed graphics in stereoscopic 3D. However, due to high costs in manufacturing the units, the original concept was downscaled, and the released unit was a helmet-mounted stereoscopic 3D unit that displayed red graphics on a black background.

Due to the lackluster line-up of only 22 games, and reports of gamers getting headaches from using the unit, it was discontinued. It shipped less than 770,000 units worldwide and was only available to purchase during a period of less than one year. The Virtual Boy was Gunpei Yokoi's first failure at Nintendo, and he left the company on August 15, 1996, after a thirty-one-year tenure.

Unproduced Super Nintendo Entertainment System CD Add-on

Sony announced the Super NES CD-ROM System, a planned CD-ROM addon for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1991. However, since the system would use a format developed by Sony, the Super Disc, Sony would have a large deal of control over the system. As a result, Nintendo tried to negotiate a better deal with Philips. This led to both deals falling through, and the add-on was never released. Philips released the CD-i in 1991, and Sony released the PlayStation in 1994.

Nintendo 64

Opting to go with ROM cartridges rather than CD-ROM media, Nintendo worked on their follow-up to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. They chose cartridges as it would allow Nintendo to have more control over the production of games for the system. Cartridges would also allow games on the Nintendo 64 to load faster than CD-ROM games on systems by its competitors.

Released in 1996, the Nintendo 64 was marketed as a 64-bit system to try to gain an edge over their competitors. However, the lack of space when compared to the competition hurt the system. As the cartridges were more expensive to produce than compact disc media, Nintendo also had a hard time getting third-party support for their system. The Nintendo 64 went on to ship more units than Sega worldwide with 32.93 million units compared to the 9.26 million Saturn units sold. However, the Sony PlayStation outsold both systems combined with 102.49 million units.

Pokémon becomes a worldwide smash hit

Nintendo, since the 1980s, had been licensing its properties such as Donkey Kong, Link, and Mario to third parties for television, film, and merchandise. However, the worldwide success of the 1997 television adaptation of the 1996 Game Boy release of Pokémon Red led to the franchise being a smash hit for Nintendo.

The success of Pokémon led to merchandise including comics, television series, music, books, and feature films based on the property that continued into the 21st century.

Game Boy Color

The Game Boy Color was released in 1998. Although Nintendo had previously released revisions of its popular Game Boy portable video game console with smaller case sizes, better screens, and fewer batteries, these units had essentially the same hardware powering them.

The Game Boy Color was the first major change in the Game Boy line. While most Game Boy games would, with a few exceptions, play on any previous Game Boy console, the color screen of the Game Boy Color meant that most ROM cartridges of games designed specifically for the Game Boy Color would not play on previous Game Boy systems. The Game Boy Color itself was compatible with previous Game Boy games and would display those games in a choice of color palettes, similar to the Super Game Boy peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

Taken together, the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color sold 118.69 million units worldwide, compared to 10.62 million Sega Game Gear units, 3 million Atari Lynx units, and 25,000 SNK Neo Geo Pocket Color units.

Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance was released in 2001. As with Nintendo's previous handheld consoles, its media was ROM cartridges. It was the last system to refer to its cartridges as Game Paks.

The Game Boy Advance was a significant upgrade, as it contained a 32-bit CPU as opposed to the 8-bit CPU of previous Game Boy generations. It had a vertical form factor with a directional pad, a start and select button, four face buttons, and two shoulder buttons. It was a success, shipping 81.51 million units worldwide across all Game Boy Advance models.


In 2001, Nintendo released the GameCube. Because it had lost ground to the PlayStation during the lifespan of the Nintendo 64 due to the larger capacity and lower price of digital optical disc media as opposed to traditional ROM cartridges, Nintendo opted for optical disc media for its GameCube console.

However, unlike Sony's PlayStation 2 Microsoft's Xbox, which used standard DVD media, Nintendo partnered with Panasonic to produce the GameCube Game Disc, a proprietary format based on MiniDVDs which can contain up to 1.46 GB of data.

The GameCube lost ground to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. This was partially due to the wide adoption of the PlayStation 2, and to a lesser extent, the Xbox, because they could be used as a low-cost DVD player as well as a video game console.

22 million GameCube units were sold worldwide, compared to 9.13 million Sega Dreamcast units, 24 million Xbox units, and 155 million PlayStation 2 units.

Satoru Iwata becomes president

In 2002, Hiroshi Yamauchi retired and the former president of HAL Laboratory, Satoru Iwata, became president.

He became a forward-facing president of the company with a series of "Iwata Asks" interviews, which were translated for a worldwide audience, beginning in 2006. In these interviews, he and his colleagues discussed historical information, as well as development information, and personal information about Nintendo, its developers, its hardware, and its games.

During his tenure, Nintendo focused on new ways to experience games rather than state-of-the art hardware. This helped expand the appeal of video games to more varied demographics.

Mainland China gets iQue and the iQue Player

One major market that Nintendo had not entered by the turn of the 21st century was mainland China. Because of this, bootleg versions of Nintendo consoles and video games were prevalent there.

Aside from the bootleg market, another problem that prevented Nintendo from establishing an official presence there was a 2000 law that banned video game consoles from being sold in China due to concerns over adverse effects in youth.

As a result, in 2002, iQue was founded as a joint venture between Chinese-American scientist Wei Yen and Nintendo. The first console, the iQue Player, was based on the Nintendo 64. Developed to circumvent the ban, it did not have the physical media of traditional consoles, and games were stored in system memory.

Games on the system memory could be unlocked by purchasing them at physical stores that contained a kiosk known as the iQue Depot or through the official online store known as iQue@Home.

Nintendo DS

In 2004, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS. It was a dual-screen portable video game console reminiscent of the Multi Screen Game & Watch systems. It had a liquid crystal display screen on the top half of the system and a touchscreen on the bottom.

Continuing with the tradition of previous Nintendo handheld consoles, the Nintendo DS used ROM cartridges. This system was the first system to use the term Game Card for its cartridges rather than Game Pak. The Nintendo DS was backward compatible with Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance cartridges.

The Nintendo DS was the most popular Nintendo console, shipping 154.02 million units worldwide across all models, compared to 76.3 million units worldwide for the PlayStation Portable.


In 2006, Nintendo released the Wii. Like the GameCube before it, it used custom DVD-based optical media. However, unlike the GameCube, the media was comparable to standard sized DVD and was called the Wii Optical Disc. Other than the Family Edition and Wii Mini models, the Wii was also backward-compatible with GameCube Game Discs.

The Wii was a departure from previous consoles in that it used motion-sensitive controllers called Wiimotes. Due to the motion controls, it was installed in places that didn't usually have video game consoles such as retirement homes and therapy centers.

It was Nintendo's most popular home console, shipping 101 million units worldwide, compared to 87.4 million units worldwide for the PlayStation 3 and 84 million units worldwide for the Xbox 360.

Nintendo DSi

In 2008, Nintendo released the Nintendo DSi. Compared to the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo DSi had a more powerful ARM7 CPU, both a front-facing and rear-facing camera, and internal and external flash memory support.

It played games on ROM cartridges and games could also be purchased and downloaded through the DSi Shop. It was compatible with Nintendo DS games, except for those that required the Game Boy Advance slot. Because of the lack of this slot, as well as hardware to support it, the Nintendo DSi lacked backwards-compatibility for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games.

41 million Nintendo DSi units were shipped worldwide. Together, the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi were Nintendo's most popular console line, shipping 154.02 million units worldwide across all models, compared to 76.3 million units worldwide for the PlayStation Portable.

Nintendo 3DS

In 2010, Nintendo released the Nintendo 3DS. As the name suggests, the top screen contains a stereoscopic 3D display. However, unlike most displays of this kind, the 3D effect does not require 3D glasses and can be viewed with just the naked eye. Like the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi, the bottom screen contains a touch screen.

It was backward-compatible with Nintendo DS games that didn't use the Game Boy Advance slot as well as Nintendo DSi games.

A model without the stereoscopic 3D screen, known as the Nintendo 2DS, was also released. This system had a slate form-factor rather than the clamshell design of the Nintendo 3DS.

75.94 units were shipped worldwide, compared to between 15 and 16 million units of the PlayStation Vita. Although this is considerably lower than the Nintendo DS line, the Nintendo 3DS is still considered a success as its lifespan coincided with the mass adoption of smart devices worldwide.

Wii U

In 2012, Nintendo released the Wii U. The touchscreen controller could also be used as a screen to play games, although it could only be used within range of the Wii U console.

The Wii U used DVD-based media known as the Wii U Optical Disc and was backward-compatible with Wii Optical Discs. However, unlike the Wii, it was not backward-compatible with GameCube Game Discs.

It was Nintendo's second major video game console failure, as only 13.56 million units were shipped worldwide and its successor entered production years before the successors of consoles by competing companies.

Amiibo Toys-to-life figures

In 2014, Nintendo began releasing toys-to-life figures of their various video game characters called Amiibo. These figures were equipped with an NTAG near-field communication chip which is read by a reader on Wii U systems as well as Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS models with an adapter. They could then be scanned into Amiibo-supported games which cause various things to happen such as the ability to play the character in the game, unlock costumes based on the character, or unlock powerups.

The Amiibo figures proved to be so popular that Nintendo systems released afterword had Amiibo-scanning support built-in.

New Nintendo 3DS

In 2014, Nintendo released the New Nintendo 3DS. Compared to the Nintendo 3DS, it had an upgraded processor, increased RAM, an analog C-stick, two additional shoulder triggers, face detection for improving the automatic stereoscopic 3D display, and a built-in near-field communication reader for Amiibo support.

Games designed specifically for the New Nintendo 3DS could not be played on Nintendo 3DS or 2DS consoles. However, the New Nintendo 3DS was backward-compatible with Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo 3DS games.

The larger Nintendo 3DS model, the New Nintendo 3DS XL (known as the New Nintendo 3DS LL in Japan), had a corresponding model that did not contain the stereoscopic 3D screen. The New Nintendo 2DS XL (known as the New Nintendo 2DS LL in Japan) had the clamshell design of its 3D equivalent, unlike the slate form-factor of the Nintendo 2DS.

14.74 million units were shipped worldwide. Together, all models in the Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS line combined shipped 75.94 units worldwide compared to between 15 and 16 million units of the PlayStation Vita.

Death of Satoru Iwata and Tatsumi Kimishima becomes the president of Nintendo

On July 11, 2015, Satoru Iwata died from complications due to a tumor on his bile duct. On July 13th, flags at Nintendo headquarters were flown at half-staff and Nintendo's various social media accounts observed a day of silence in reverence of Iwata.

Tatsumi Kimishima, previously the second president of Nintendo of America, became the president of Nintendo on September 16, 2015.

Nintendo Switch

In 2017, Nintendo released a hybrid console known as the Nintendo Switch. It was a touchscreen tablet computer that could be set in the dock to become a home console. It also had controllers that could be placed on the sides of the tablet computer to make it a portable console.

As of June 2021, 89.04 million units have been shipped worldwide, which was more than both Nintendo's last home console, the Wii U, and Nintendo's last handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS.

Shuntaro Furukawa becomes president of Nintendo

Tatsumi Kimishima was named president of Nintendo when he was sixty-five years old. Due to his age, he was always intended to be merely an interim president of Nintendo.

Thus, on June 28, 2018, Shuntaro Furukawa became president of Nintendo.

Nintendo caters to the retro game market

In the twenty-first century, there was a large demand for games from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, which were referred to as retro games. To take advantage of that market, Nintendo re-released its legacy games in several formats.

In 2006, Nintendo began its Virtual Console marketplace for the Wii, which enabled the purchase of retro games which were playable through emulation. In 2011, Nintendo added the Virtual Console marketplace to the Nintendo 3DS, followed by the Wii U in 2013.

Nintendo also released miniature versions of their consoles with built-in games. The NES Classic Edition was released in 2016, followed by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition in 2017, and the Japan-exclusive Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer - Weekly Shonen Jump 50th Anniversary Version in 2018. They also released Game & Watch-themed consoles with built-in games and a remake of a classic Game & Watch game. Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. was released in 2020 and Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda was released in 2021.

The Nintendo Switch did not have a Virtual Console marketplace. Instead, Nintendo launched emulators in 2018 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. These included games that could be played at no additional cost for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. More games were added over time and the emulators remained playable for as long as the Nintendo Switch Online subscription remained active.

When Nintendo added their expansion pack tier of Nintendo Switch Online in 2021, emulators were added for Nintendo 64 and for Sega Genesis. These additional emulators were also available at no additional cost but were only usable by subscribers of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. Like the other emulators, more games were added over time and the emulators remained playable for as long as the Nintendo Switch Online subscription remained active.

In addition, retro games that were never officially translated were released in English, such as EarthBound Beginnings in 2015 and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light in 2020, and retro games were released that were originally canceled, such as Star Fox 2 in 2017.

Current Japanese divisions and subsidiaries of Nintendo

Name Years active Notes
Monolith Soft 1999-present Tokyo-based company formed as a subsidiary of Namco. Purchased by Nintendo in 2007.
1-Up Studio 2000-present Tokyo-based company formed as Brownie Brown. Renamed 1-Up Studio in 2013.
NDcube 2000-present Chūō-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido-based company formed as a joint venture between Nintendo and Dentsu. Nintendo purchased controlling interest in the company in 2010.
Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development 2015-present Formed as a result of a merger of Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development and Nintendo Software Planning & Development.
Nintendo Platform Technology Development 2015-present Formed as a result of a merger of Nintendo System Development Division, Nintendo Integrated Research & Development, and Nintendo Research & Engineering Development.

Current subsidiaries of Nintendo of America

Nintendo of America, the Nintendo subsidiary for the United States of America, was formed on April 23, 1980.

Name Years active Notes
Nintendo Software Technology Corporation 1998-present Subsidiary based in Redmond, Washington.
Retro Studios 1998-present Austin, Texas-based company formed as a joint venture between Nintendo and Jeff Spangenberg. Nintendo purchased controlling interest in the company in 2002.

Current subsidiary of Nintendo of Canada

Nintendo of Canada was formed in 1983.

Name Years active Notes
Next Level Games 2002-present Vancouver-based company purchased by Nintendo in 2021.

Current subsidiaries of Nintendo of Europe

Nintendo has been serving Europe since 1990. Nintendo of Europe was formed in 1990. In 1993, subsidiaries in several countries were formed under Nintendo of Europe. These included Nintendo Benelux, Nintendo France, Nintendo Ibérica, and Nintendo UK.

Name Years active Notes
Nintendo Benelux 1993-present Belgium-based subsidiary of Nintendo of Europe.
Known as Nintendo of Netherlands until 2000, it serves the Netherlands and Belgium.
Nintendo France 1993-present France-based subsidiary of Nintendo of Europe.
Nintendo Ibérica 1993-present Portugal-based subsidiary of Nintendo of Europe that serves Spain and Portugal.
Nintendo UK 1993-present England-based subsidiary of Nintendo of Europe.
Nintendo European Research & Development 2003-present Paris-based company formed as ActImagine. Purchased by Nintendo and renamed NERD in 2011.

Chinese subsidiaries

Beginning in 1991, when Nintendo Phuten was formed in Taiwan, Nintendo began serving China. From 2002, with the formation of iQue, this also included mainland China, and in 2005 with the formation of Nintendo Hong Kong, this included Hong Kong as well.

In 2014, Nintendo streamlined its presence in China and all three regions have since been served by Nintendo Hong Kong.

Current mainland China subsidiary

Name Years active Regions served Notes
iQue 2002-present Mainland China

China banned video game consoles in 2000, due to concerns over adverse effects in youth. As a result, in 2002, iQue was founded in Suzhou as a joint venture between Chinese-American scientist Wei Yen and Nintendo. Handheld devices weren't banned, so handheld devices were sold in mainland China under the iQue brand name. The iQue Player, a home console that could play selected Nintendo 64 games, was designed to circumvent the home console ban.

Nintendo purchased controlling interest in iQue in 2013. After the ban was lifted in 2014, iQue ceased distributing hardware and focused on localizing games into Mandarin Chinese.

Current Hong Kong subsidiary

Name Years active Regions served Notes
Nintendo Hong Kong 2005-present Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan Serves Hong Kong since 2005, plus mainland China and Taiwan since 2014.

Nintendo Hong Kong was formed on April 7, 2005. Nintendo could sell home consoles and games for those consoles in Hong Kong. The reason for this is because, on July 1, 1997, China signed an agreement with the United Kingdom to regain sovereignty of Hong Kong. As part of the agreement, Hong Kong was given considerable political autonomy for fifty years.

In 2014, after the ban on home video game consoles was lifted, Nintendo Hong Kong assumed distribution duties from iQue in mainland China.

Also in 2014, Nintendo Hong Kong began distributing products in Taiwan after Nintendo's Taiwan subsidiary, Nintendo Phuten, closed.

Former Taiwan subsidiary

Name Years active Notes
Nintendo Phuten 1991-2014 Taiwan subsidiary. Closed in 2014, after which Nintendo Hong Kong assumed distribution duties in Taiwan.

Nintendo Phuten was formed in 1991. It served Taiwan until it was closed in 2014, due to low sales projections caused by the failure of the Wii U. Nintendo's Chinese presence was streamlined and Nintendo Hong Kong began distributing hardware and software throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Former Nintendo subsidiaries and divisions

Name Years active Notes
Nintendo Games 1964-1970 Staff members of the Nintendo Games department were reassigned to Nintendo Research & Development 1.
Nintendo Research & Development 1 1970-2003 Staff members of Nintendo R&D1 were reassigned to Nintendo SPD and Nintendo EAD.
Nintendo Research & Development 2 1972-2003 Staff members of Nintendo R&D2 were reassigned to Nintendo SPD.
Nintendo Research & Development 3 1974-2003 Staff members of Nintendo R&D3 were reassigned to Nintendo IRD and Nintendo RED.
Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development 1983-2015 Formed as Nintendo R&D4. Renamed Nintendo EAD in 1989. Merged with Nintendo SPD to become Nintendo EPD in 2015.
Nintendo Research & Engineering Development 1996-2012 Founded following the departure of Gunpei Yokoi. Merged into Nintendo IRD in 2012.
Nintendo System Development Division 1997-2015 Formed as Special Planning & Development. Renamed Network Service Development in 2008. Renamed Network Business & Development in 2011.
Renamed System Development in 2013.
Merged with Nintendo IRD to become Nintendo PTD in 2015.
Nintendo Integrated Research & Development 2003-2015 Founded following the split of Nintendo R&D3. Merged with NSD and Nintendo RED to become Nintendo PTD in 2015.
Nintendo Software Planning & Development 2003-2015 Formed as a result of a merger of Nintendo R&D1 and Nintendo R&D2. Merged with Nintendo EAD to become Nintendo EPD in 2015.
Nintendo Network Service Database 2009-2018 Formed as Wii no Ma. The Wii channel of the same name was run by Wii no Ma and Dentsu. Renamed Nintendo NSD in 2012. Liquidated in 2018.

Arcade hardware by Nintendo

Name Released Added to museum Notes
Simulation System 1973-1978 Not Added Yet Laser Clay Shooting System, Wild Gunman, Shooting Trainer, Sky Hawk, Battle Shark, Test Driver
EVR-based 1975 Not Added Yet EVR Race, EVR Baseball
Intel 8080 1979-1980 Not Added Yet Space Fever, Space Fever High Splitter, Space Launcher, Sheriff, Heli Fire
Intel 8085 1979 Not Added Yet Monkey Magic
Zilog Z80 1980-1985 Not Added Yet "Donkey Kong hardware": Radar Scope, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, Donkey Kong 3
"Popeye hardware": Sky Skipper, Popeye
Unique hardware: Space Firebird, Mario Bros.
"Punch-Out!! hardware": Punch-Out!!, Super Punch-Out!!, Arm Wrestling
VS. System 1984-1990 Not Added Yet VS. Balloon Fight, VS. Baseball, VS. Clu Clu Land, VS. Dr. Mario, VS. Duck Hunt, VS. Excitebike, VS. Golf, VS. Gumshoe, VS. Hogan's Alley, VS. Ice Climber, VS. Mach Rider, VS. Mahjong, VS. Pinball, VS. Slalom, VS. Soccer, VS. Super Mario Bros., VS. Tennis, VS. Urban Champion, VS. Volleyball, VS. Wrecking Crew
PlayChoice-10 1986-1991 Not Added Yet Balloon Fight, Baseball, Dr. Mario, Duck Hunt, Excitebike, Golf, Hogan's Alley, Kung Fu, Mario Bros., Mario's Open Golf, Mega Man 3, Metroid, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, Nintendo World Cup, Pro Wrestling, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tennis, Volleyball, Wild Gunman
Nintendo Super System 1991-1992 Not Added Yet F-Zero, Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario World
Super Famicom Box 1992-1994 Not Added Yet Super Mario Kart, Star Fox, Super Mario Collection
Triforce 2003-2007 Not Added Yet Donkey Kong: Banana Kingdom, Donkey Kong: Jungle Fever, F-Zero AX, Mario Kart Arcade GP, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2

Home computers and video game consoles by Nintendo

Name Released Added to Museum
Color TV-Game 1977 - 1980 Color TV-Game Block Breaker: May 26, 2018
JP: Family Computer (Famicom)
WW: Nintendo Entertainment System
JP: 1983
NA: 1985
Nintendo Entertainment System: November 21, 2017
JP: Super Famicom
WW: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
JP: 1990
NA: 1991
Not Added Yet
Nintendo 64 1996 January 20, 2018
GameCube 2001 January 8, 2018
Wii 2006 November 8, 2010
Wii U 2012 November 20, 2017
Nintendo Switch 2017 July 29, 2017

Retro dedicated consoles by Nintendo

Name Released Added to museum
NA: NES Classic Edition
EU: Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System
JP: Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer
JP: Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer - Weekly Shonen Jump 50th Anniversary Version
NA: June 22, 2017
JP: August 10, 2017
Shonen Jump: June 10, 2019
NA: Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition
EU: Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
JP: Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Famicom
2017 JP: October 31, 2017
NA: March 16, 2018
Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. 2020 March 12, 2021
Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda 2021 November 29, 2021

Handheld video game consoles by Nintendo

Name Released Added to museum
Game & Watch 1980 - 1991 Not Added Yet
Game Boy 1989 Not Added Yet
Game Boy Color 1998 Not Added Yet
Game Boy Advance 2001 September 18, 2017
Nintendo DS 2004 Not Added Yet
Nintendo DSi 2008 November 3, 2018
Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 2DS
2011 3DS XL: March 17, 2014
New Nintendo 3DS
New Nintendo 2DS
2014 New 2DS XL: February 1, 2018
Nintendo Switch 2017 July 29, 2017

Video game peripherals by Nintendo

Title Release Required system Added to Museum Notes
JP: Beam Gun Series Gun
WW: Zapper
1984: JP
1985: NA
NA: November 18, 2017 Light gun based on the Beam Gun toy line.
Family Computer Disk System 1986: JP Famicom Not Added yet Disk drive that used proprietary floppy disks called disk cards.
Super Scope 1992 SNES Not Added yet A large light gun that resembled a bazooka.
Super Game Boy
Super Game Boy 2
1994: WW
1998: JP
Super Famicom
Not Added yet A cartridge adapter that was compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
The Super Game Boy 2, with 2-player link port support, was only released in Japan.
Satellaview 1995: JP Super Famicom Not Added yet Satellite modem that downloaded games from Japan's Broadcast Satellite network.
Nintendo e-Reader 2002 Game Boy Advance September 18, 2017 Scanner for cards containing dot codes of games, added features for games, or emulated NES games.
Game Boy Player 2003 GameCube January 8, 2018 Supported Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games.