Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 18, 2017

The Twelve Ages of Nintendo

2017’s Nintendo Switch is not just heralding a new console or the 9th Console Generation, it is heralding the Twelth Age of Nintendo!

First Age (1889-1929)

President Fusajiro Yamauchi


Nintendo - 1889

“Nin” “Ten” “Do”

It means: The Temple of Free Hanafuda

Playing cards were introduced to Japan by a Portuguese missionary in the 1600s which became popular for their use in gambling. In 1633, Japan closed its borders and all foreign cards were impossible to get. The ban on gambling was lifted century or two later. All this led to Japan making their own Hanafuda cards which means playing Japanese games using western styled cards.

Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo to make Hanafuda cards out of blueberry oak. But the expensive cards were not selling. To save his business, Yamauchi made a cheaper card and marketed to the gambling circuits of the time including the Japanese mafia. It made the business successful.


Second Age (1929-1950)

Above: Logo has no changed yet.

Sekiryo Kaneda

President Sekiryo Yamauchi 

Sekiryo was the husband of Fusajiro Yamauchi’s daughter, and he took over the company (and changed his name to Yamauchi) in 1929. At this time, Nintendo was the largest maker of hanafuda cards in Japan.

Sekiryo founded joint-venture companies to improve the distribution of the hanafuda business. After suffering a stroke in 1949, Sekiryo retired and died soon after.


Third Age (1950-1960)

Nintendo - 1950

Above: The Big N. The Ace of Spades logo was to rebrand Nintendo to sell cards to the West.

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

The grandson of Sekiryo became the third Nintendo president. Hiroshi Yamauchi’s father had abandoned him and his mother.

Hiroshi Yamauchi saw that Nintendo had gone as far as it could making Hanafuda cards. So he decided for Nintendo to begin producing Western style cards. Understanding the stigma of hanafuda being with gambling, Yamauchi got a Disney license to make Western style cards with Disney characters.



Fourth Age (1960-1964)

Nintendo 1920s

Above: Cursive and handwritten logo.

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

Yamauchi now has Nintendo make picture book cards. While these cards can be played normally, they can also be placed in a picture book (seen below) and animated.

This age marks the time Nintendo would be making its earliest board games, picture books, and its first toys.



Fifth Age (1964-1970)

Nintendo 1964

Above: Sans serif font!

Above: Tons of logos!

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

In this era, Nintendo alters its logo depending on the product.

This age would mark Nintendo making the Coaster Games. Think of them as very miniature pinewood derby type toys.

Sixth Age (1965-1970)

Above: NG in a circle

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

This is one of Nintendo’s experimental periods. In this time, Yamauchi had Nintendo make products such as the Love Tester.


The reason why I place this age as distinct, despite it overlapping others, is because this is where Yamauchi also experiments with love hotel, taxis, copy machine, and soup with noodles.

Seventh Age (1967-1970)

Above: This Nintendo logo would be stamped on everything. Sometimes, it would appear with the circle NG logo.

Above: Much experimentation with the logo. This is where the race track original begins.

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

This is also time of the the Ultra Hand which was a huge success for Nintendo. This is the era of Gunpei Yokoi.

Ultra Hand was Nintendo’s first million seller, and it permanently changed the company to be entirely toy based.

Nintendo’s resident genius, Gunpei Yokoi, followed up on Ultra Hand with Ultra Machine. Japan loved baseball, so this was an automatic ball pitcher. It became Nintendo’s second million seller.


Eighth Age (1970-1982)

Above: So many logos!

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

This age is like the ‘next generation’ to the era or Ultra Hand and Ultra Machine with more sophisticated toys and games.

Above: There’s the original Mach Rider!

Above: Timeshock which is Nintendo’s take on the board game of Perfection

Above: Gunpei Yokoi made a remote controlled car that ONLY TURNS TO THE LEFT. This was new technology at the time, so having the car only turn to the left saved money on parts. The idea was for the car to only do circular racing.


Ninth Age (1975-1982)


Above: A mess of different logos for this era

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

This is when Nintendo explored combining their use of toys with electronics coming from the West. In this age, Nintendo makes dedicated game consoles and gets into arcade gaming.

Image result for EVR Race

Above: Gunpei Yokoi makes Nintendo’s first arcade video game.



Above: Nintendo distributed the Magnovox Odyssey in Japan


Above: Color TV-Games made by Nintendo. Generation One Consoles


Game & Watch.png

Above: Game and Watch (1980)

Above: Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong’s success put Miyamoto on the map for Yamauchi.


Tenth Age (1982-2006)

Nintendo old logo

Above: The modern Nintendo logo

Hiroshi Yamauchi

President Hiroshi Yamauchi

This is Nintendo’s era of gaming consoles.

Nintendo Family ComputerNintendo Entertainment System with controllerGame-Boy-FL.pngGame-Boy-Advance-SP-Mk1-Blue.jpgA Japanese Super FamicomNintendo-64-wController-L.jpgGameCube-Console-Set.png

This is also the rise of Nintendo’s video game ips to join Donkey Kong: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Starfox, Pikmin, Kirby, etc.



Eleventh Age (2006-2017)

Nintendo logo current

Above: The white and gray logo shows Nintendo’s move from being a toy brand to a more adult reaching brand.

Image result for satoru iwata

President Satoru Iwata

Iwata was chosen by Yamauchi to succeed him. Iwata had the unique combined skills of being a developer and a businessman.

Under Iwata, Nintendo shifted to a market expansion direction using Blue Ocean Strategy and market disruption. Nintendo products would no longer be designed to compete with the competition but to grow new parts of the market. While this would create the success of the DS and Wii, it is unclear why the 3DS or Wii U (both poor selling systems) were made. DS and Wii would bring Nintendo to heaven, 3DS and Wii U would bring Nintendo to hell.

Wii with Wii Remote


Image result for wii u


Iwata also would steer Nintendo toward making mobile games for smartphones and purchasing shares of DeNa, an online company.


Twelfth Age (2017-????)

Nintendo 2016WhiteOnRedlogo

Above: The logo has been switched!

Image result for tatsumi kimishima

President Tatsumi Kimishima

Iwata died of a bile duct cancer having Kimishima to become the next Nintendo president. In this age so far, Nintendo is undergoing a diversifying strategy from making mobile games, theme park attractions, and other licensing to consolidating their handhelds and home consoles to only one platform: the Switch.

What happens next in this era we will just have to see…



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