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13 Big Hits and Misses for Nintendo Over the Years

The Highs and Lows of Nintendo

A lot of us (full disclosure: me included) got a package last weekend or headed to the nearest store that does video games — the Switch, Nintendo’s latest video game console, is here. It’s not in the Guinness Book of World Records (I guess, I didn’t check), but if there was a record for most hours of a Zelda game played worldwide within a single day, it probably got set last Friday.

The Switch is a hybrid home/portable console — a high-powered tablet that can be docked and connected to a monitor or TV. It’s a pretty clever way for Nintendo to get their handheld and home games all on one platform — the usual for a company that’s always done things a little differently.

Then again, different doesn’t always work out. In celebration of last weekend’s launch, let’s remember the good, the bad, and the so bad it became sorta good, but not really.

Yay: The NES saves video games

NES-Console-Set

It’s not really that much of an overstatement. Video games had already become a billion-dollar industry in the early 1980s, but a glut of platforms and games resulted in the infamous North American video game crash of 1983, which culled systems like the Magnavox Odyssey and ColecoVision and all but ended Atari’s presence in the console market. Video games were on life support until Nintendo stepped into the void with the NES (the Famicom in Japan) in 1985. Mario saved a lot more than just the princess that year.

Oh no: Philips CD-i

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Philips/Nintendo

Oh dear. As many a Nintendo historian knows, Nintendo helped Sony develop the PlayStation in the late ’80s, in what was originally to be an add-on for the Super Nintendo. Business disagreements led Nintendo to distance themselves from Sony — and led them closer to Philips. The result was the CD-i, a CD-ROM-based console known mostly for its knock-off Mario and Zelda games that Nintendo licensed but did not develop. It was not what all true warriors strive for.