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Nintendo is the game developer and publisher of The Legend of Zelda series. Starting as a playing card company on September 23, 1889, and eventually evolving into electronic toys, Nintendo's first video game was Computer Othello in 1978. Nintendo has produced seven different video game consoles (not counting Game&Watch or other LCD games), of which a Zelda game has appeared on each.


Nintendo Koppai was founded in 1889 in Kyoto, Japan by Fusajiro Yamauchi. The company produced a playing card game called Hanafuda, which gained considerable popularity. It was not until 1963 that the company became Nintendo Co., Ltd., and expanded to games development.[1] In 1975, the company, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Electric, created its first videogame system using an electronic video recording player.[2] By 1979, Nintendo of America was established in New York and the company began producing coin-operated arcade games.[3]

Nintendo's first cartridge-based video game console was the Nintendo Famicom, released in 1983. The Famicom was later released worldwide in 1985 as the Nintendo Entertainment System, despite a major games slump in the west.[4] The NES was a phenomenal success, selling over 60 million units.[5] It was succeeded by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991, which sold nearly 50 million units.[6]

Nintendo's next console was the Nintendo 64. It was originally named the "Nintendo Ultra 64", but Nintendo dropped the "Ultra" due to a possible trademark infringement.[7] The N64 was succeeded by the Nintendo Gamecube.

In 2006 the Wii was released, and its successor, the Wii U, was announced at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The console is not due for release until at least April 2012.[8]

In addition to its consoles, Nintendo have also constantly held a strong presence in the handheld games market. The Gameboy is statistically the most popular video game system of all time, having sold over 150 million units.[9] The Gameboy's successors, the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS, have sold 80 million and 149 million units worldwide respectively.[10]

Nintendo's latest handheld console is the Nintendo 3DS, for which Ocarina of Time 3D was released in June 2011. The 3DS has yet to achieve the commercial success of its predecessors, having sold only 7 million units by the end of September 2011.[11]


The main offices are in Kyoto, Japan. The American division, Nintendo of America, rests in Redmond, Washington. Richmond, British Columbia hosts Nintendo of Canada. The European offices, Nintendo Europe, are in Großostheim, Germany. Other main offices include China, Korea, and Australia.

Current employees[]

Satoru Iwata is the current president and CEO of the company, hired in 2002 when Hiroshi Yamauchi retired. He is the fourth president of the company and the first to not be related to Yamauchi, the company's founder, by blood or marriage. He is known for being the software coordinator of the Kirby games.

Reggie Fils-Aime, the COO of Nintendo of America, was hired in 2003 as Executive Vice President of sales and marketing in North America. In 2006, he became chief operating officer, and is the first American to hold this position.

Shigeru Miyamoto still works as chief game designer, often balancing near forty projects at a time.


Nintendo earned $7.8 billion in 2006, making their Forbes Fortune 500 rank 620. They employ 4,712 people.[12] The company reported an annual loss of $264 million in 2011, its first since the company began issuing financial statements in 1981.[13]

Nintendo and Zelda[]

In the 70s, Nintendo began the process of moving from playing cards to toys to electronic toys. Hiroshi Yamuchi and Gunpei Yokoi facilitated this change after they noticed their profits being eaten by companies like Bandai and Namco. In 1977, Nintendo hired Shigeru Miyamoto, the progenitor of The Legend of Zelda series. During this time, Yokoi tutored Miyamoto, and the two combined innovative hardware with creative presentation.

The release of Super Mario Bros. marked a new trend in game goals - instead of trying to get a high score, the player would try to "complete" the quest. During the development of this game, Miyamoto also worked on The Legend of Zelda which would be a less linear gameplay experience. He based the idea around the caves, forests, and fields he explored as a boy in his hometown of Kyoto.

In February 1986, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Fantasy for the Famicom Disk System peripheral (a floppy disk drive that enabled savable games). In 1987, the game was released internationally, but in a cartridge format with battery backup. Nintendo feared this paradigm shift in gameplay during its development, but The Legend of Zelda sold more than a million copies in both Japan and North America, solidifying its dedication to the franchise.

Along with Mario, Nintendo focused heavily on the Link character in its marketing, including the Fun Club newsletter, commercials (which were expensive for Nintendo and thus had to be designed carefully), and merchandise.


  • The name Nintendo loosely translates from Japanese as "leave luck to heaven".

External Links[]

Platform Nintendo of America Nintendo of Japan
General Nintendo Media
Official Site Nintendo.com (En, Es)
Nintendo.ca (En, Fr)
Facebook Nintendo (NA)
Nintendo Of Canada (CAN)
Nintendo Console Gaming
Nintendo Handheld Gaming
Twitter @NintendoAmerica (NA)
@NintendoCanada (CAN)
YouTube Nintendo NintendoJPofficial
Instagram Nintendo
Pinterest Nintendo
Twitch Nintendo
Official Zelda Media
Official Site Zelda.com
Facebook The Legend of Zelda
Twitter @ZeldaOfficialJP