Nintendo is a video game company that has been in a constant struggle since the early 1980’s. At times, they have been the market leaders (NES) and at others they have been a distant last place (Gamecube). Still, it is safe to say that over the last two decades, there has been no company that has been more important to the video game industry. If it weren’t for the Nintendo Entertainment System, who knows when or if the video game industry would have pulled itself out of the horrible crash from the 80’s.
Nintendo has continued to find success throughout the years and they have done so through a series of innovations. These innovations have left their mark not just on their fans but on the video game industry as a whole. If you look closely at any of Nintendo’s true success stories, you will most likely find the innovation that produced it. Adversely, Nintendo’s last console, the ill-fated Gamecube, suffered horribly in the last console war partially because of its utter lack of innovation. Since then, Nintendo has been hard at work bringing innovation to everything they produce from the DS’s touch screen to the yet to be released Wii’s motion-sensing controllers. Will the Wii’s motion-sensing controller be the innovation that Nintendo needs to recapture their throne on top of the console market? Review Nintendo’s past and present innovations to judge for yourself.
In a time when joysticks ruled the arcade and home console market alike, Nintendo decided to go a different route. Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985, it came with controllers that were very different from the joystick and one-button controllers that were widely used at the time. The controller consisted of the D-pad, A and B buttons, and both a Start and Select button. Players quickly fell in love with the D-pad since it was easier to use than a joystick. Controllers with D-pads were also immensely more compact since they lacked the two to four inch tall joystick protruding from it.
The D-pad ushered in a new era of control in video gaming. Nintendo introduced the D-pad to the world and it was quickly met with acceptance from gamers. It has since become the standard method of control for two-dimensional (2-D) video games. It offered gamers a slightly different and much better way to control the ton of hit games that were released on the original NES. Perhaps the easiest way to measure the D-pad’s success is to review its use after its initial introduction. Since the NES’s release in 1985, every major console that has entered the market has shipped with a controller that included the D-pad.Two-Dimensional Platformers
When Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. for the NES in 1985, they had to have known that it was going to be a hit. It was the first game of its kind, allowing players to experience 2-D platform jumping gameplay on more than just one screen at a time. In previous games, players could run from left to right or down to up in the confines of the television screen. Super Mario Bros. opened up a whole new world for the 2-D platformer by allowing the player to continue walking to the right even beyond the confines of their original starting screen. This level-scrolling allowed for an expansive video game that took the world by storm spawning several sequels and thousands of imitators.
Shigeru Miyamoto is the man responsible for showing that the video game world didn’t have to be confined to a box. Miyamoto, who was hired as a favor by Nintendo’s president, quickly became a premier videogame designer with early hits such as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda. Miyamoto’s genius has become synonymous with the Nintendo name since every franchise he works on sells in huge quantities exclusively on Nintendo’s systems. Many of Miyamoto’s games, even today, continue to push the boundaries of what is normally expected from a video game.