ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Come back, Super Mario!

By Ashley Yeo

My first ever experience with a video game was on a Nintendo Game Boy.  My cousins and I would exchange giant blocks of game cartridges over weekends before family dinners. I always had my eyes on the Super Mario cartridge; it was my favorite game until the parody version, “Cat Mario,” was created. Nintendo was hugely successful back in the early ‘90s; Game Boy-looking handheld consoles were even featured on screen, such as “The Simpsons Movie” (2007)—Bart is seen playing with Baby Blast game cartridge.

While I fondly recall those days where every child wanted a Game Boy for Christmas, the next birthday, and as present for a good exam result, my joy is no more once I read about the organizational changes at Nintendo Worldwide. It’s safe to say the company is heading in the wrong direction with its 2013 strategy in the  video game industry. It is no wonder Adrian Covert wrote an article for CNNMoney, featuring the company’s downhill sales and puzzling moves. To illustrate that point, here is a timeline of the key moments in Nintendo Worldwide’s history:

1989: Nintendo, produced in Japan alongside Tetris, was launched as the world’s first portable, handheld game device with interchangeable game cartridges.

1992: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System console (NES) was introduced in Europe, with more than 46 million units sold worldwide.

1993: The Super FX Chip, a breakthrough technology for home video systems, was announced.

1996: Nintendo 64, the world’s first 64-bit home videogame system, launched in Japan, sold 500,000 units on the first day and 2.3 million the following year when it launched in Europe.

2001: Nintendo GameCube was introduced in Japan in September with 2.7 million units shipped by December, when only 95% were sold through. The technology was later integrated with Game Boy Player in 2003, which allowed players to enjoy both Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles on their television sets

2004: Introduction of the Nintendo DS, a dual-screen handheld with Touch Screen technology

2006: The Nintendo Wii console, an innovative control system that revolutionized traditional video gam playing, was launched at the end of the year. By 2008, the technology was further enhanced with Wii Fit, Wii Balance Board, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Wheel, and WiiWare, where the later is a service through the console that offers access to affordable and varied new titles on the Wii Shop Channel.

Nintendo’s history starts way before 1989,  when Fusajiro Yamauchi starting manufacturing Hanafuda Japanese playing cards in 1889. The company was established in 1933 and named Yamauchi Nintendo & Co. Since then, the video game industry has never been the same. However in the last decade, video game consoles from other companies such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Kinect, and Sony PlayStation 4, has proven to be more popular. With Nvidia’s technology integrated in games to enable more reality over virtual reality, and video-on-demand services made available from the sofa of homes, expectations of video gaming consoles has reached a whole new level.

Nintendo’s latest Wii U console sold under its target at 3.45 million, and its touchscreen-equipped controller seems to pale in comparison to technologies such as Microsoft’s Kinect Camera. The true question is whether Nintendo can beat the odds and still surface as a strong competitor for video game consoles? Perhaps it is time for Nintendo to get itself out of the troughs and jump on the mobile gaming bandwagon? It would be excellent to have Super Mario Brothers on my iPhone while I commute to work.