The Nintendo that we all know is a family friendly company with cute characters and good values. Who knew that in the 80's they would have owned and operated a chain of Love Hotels. For those of you not so in on the seedy side of Japanese culture, a Love Hotel is a place that's meant to be where loving couples can escape their kids for a little "sweaty time". (Yes, I do say "sweaty time" in reference to sex. My girlfriend finds it adorable.) We all know though that Love Hotels are actually more used as places for people to find prostitutes.
"Hey big boy. How many coins do think you can get from this box?"
This career move happened way before Nintendo became known for Gameboys and Wiis, but I would love to see an actual Nintendo-themed Love Hotel. Imagine going into a place that looks like a castle, heading to the bar, being able to choose a girl that is dressed like Samus, Princess Peach or Kirby (for the obvious assets that Kirby would provide), then taking them up to a room that is inspired by one of the fantastic Nintendo owned worlds like Donkey Kong Country, Hyrule or the Mushroom Kingdom. The cool thing is that if you finish in the right amount of time, fireworks go off. The bad thing is that Princess Peach might turn out to be Toad -- Eddie Murphy style.
Laser Clay Shooting System
The spiritual father of Duck Hunt, Laser Clay Shooting System put Nintendo on the map for interactive electronic gaming. LCSS was put together as an indoor shooting range where customers could go and practice shooting virtual clay pigeons from the comfort of a smoky abandoned bowling alley. It almost was not a success though as the first day the game broke down. If it wasn't for the quick thinking and math skills of the producer of the game (he had to add up all the scores on the fly since the scoring system went down) the whole thing could have blown up on the launch pad. Thank goodness it didn't, as the Laser Clay Shooting System showed Nintendo that their next big success would be in the realm of arcade gaming and later home video games.
The Ultra Hand was one of the first toys that Nintendo marketed as a toy company. This extendo arm was created by Gunpei Yokoi, an engineer working on the factory floor of Nintendo's card making company. Yokoi had brought it with him to work one day when the president of the company saw it and asked his permission to produce and sell it.
Nintendo ended up selling over 1.2 million Ultra Hands after it was released, making it the number one toy for the company at the time. Yokoi was promoted to Manager of Research and Development where he went on to create some of Nintendo's more popular products including the GameBoy.
"I'm not sure that means what you think it does."
While the Ultra Hand is no longer made, it has made appearances in several Nintendo games like, "Power Tennis" and "Grill-Off with Ultra Hand".
Ancient Trading Cards
Long before Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic, there was another popular trading card game in Japan,called Hanafuda, and Nintendo has been producing these cards since the late 1800's. Nintendo's original name was Nintendo Playing Card Company. Hanafuda, which translates into "Flower Cards", is a game that consists of 72 cards and had multiple stratagies to win. More like a poker deck then anything else, these cards had different pictures of various flowers and landscape designs. Different combinations did different things. Originally these cards were all handcrafted as the game was created all the way back in the 14th Century. Since gambling was illegal in Japan, the government would ban a certain set of cards to stop the it's use. This only encouraged people to start creating different styles and designs for the cards making it more into a trading game. It continued popularity in illegal, underground gambling dens run by the Japanese mafia. (Read more about it on Kotaku.)
"Itsa me! Jack of Clubs Mario!"
Even though they have made a name for themselves in the world of video gaming, Nintendo still produces Hanafuda cards to this day. They even started to incorporate their popular Mario characters into the design in 2006.
Nintendo's Love Tester was their first toy that employed electronic gaming. Sort of. What the Love Tester did was have two people hold onto little metal balls which were connected by wires to an voltage meter. The higher the needle went the more in love you supposedly were. Of course, it being a toy, it didn't always work right. When the meter failed, according to the instructions, you can fix it by getting closer to the person you are testing with. The best way to get it to work? Kiss.
"You mean I have to kiss you to get it to work? What kind of game is this?"
The whole thing reminds me of "The Love-Matic Grampa" from "The Simpsons" which gets it's theme stuck in my head more often than it should.
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