Welcome to the Infendo Presents: The History of Nintendo! Join us as we chronicle Nintendo from their humble hanafuda beginnings, to the dominance of the Wii and DS and beyond!
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Meanwhile, our old friend Gunpei Yokoi was hard at work on some thing new. In 1970, the seeds were planted for what Nintendo would eventually become today.
Nintendo would partner with Sharp to produce a light gun series called Kôsenjû SP. Similar to the technology in NES Zapper, Kôsenjû SP worked by using one of the compatible light guns (sold separately) to shoot at different compatible targets(sold separately). The light guns would emit a flash of light that would be picked up by the solar cells on the targets.
Each target would act differently upon reaction to being hit by the light beam. For example, the lion target would roar, the bottle target would split into two parts, and the roulette wheel would spin.
All told, the Kôsenjû SP series would go on to sell well into the hundreds of thousands.
Nintendo would continue its line of light gun games with a second series Kôsenjû Custom. Pictured are the Custom Lion and Custom Gunman toys which would fall over when hit. The toys would spring back to life after laying down, ready to be shot again.
The same technology found in the Kôsenjû toys would in 1973 be implemented into new bigger units, the earliest of which would occupy entire bowling alleys. Spearheaded by Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Laser Clay Shooting System simulation would consist of players shooting at moving targets at an image produced by an overhead projector.
Because of the extreme costs to operate the Laser Clay Shooting System locations, Yamauchi redesigned the game into a smaller, cheaper unit and dubbed it Mini Laser Clay. With the help of Gunpei Yokoi, Nintendo was able to fit 16mm projectors into an arcade unit, with Wild Gunman being one of the first results in 1974.
Meanwhile in 1974, Nintendo would secure the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey video game console in Japan, giving them a Trojan Horse of sorts into television gaming for the first time.
Seeing the success in this new market, Nintendo would branch away from Magnavox and create the Color TV-Game line.
First introduced in 1977 with the Color TV-Game 6, the game contained 6 different variations of light tennis (pong). Each player would control their on screen paddles with the two dials attached to the machine. The main draw of the Nintendo TV-Game 6 as opposed original Pong was the use of bright colors. Many of the other pong clones that were being released at the time used a more primitive black and white coloring.
It is important to note that the Color TV-Game 6 was the very first home console designed in-house by Nintendo. After observing other similar systems, Hiroshi Yamauchi came to conclusion that if Nintendo were to enter the market with their own console, they would have to undercut the competition with a cheaply made unit.
Yamauchi was correct is his assumptions, as the Color TV-Game 6 went on to sell over 350,000 units with a retail price tag of ¥9,800. It is thought by many that the Color TV-Game 6 actually lost ¥400 per unit for Nintendo, as the amount Nintendo needed to sell the console to make a profit is rumored to be around ¥12,000.
Nintendo would not continue the tread with their next console, which release shortly after the Color TV-Game 6.
Releasing around same time as the Color TV-Game 6, in 1977 Nintendo would release the Color TV-Game 15, which would include two cabled controllers, and 15 different versions of light tennis. The Color TV-Game 15 originally retailed for ¥15,000, a price profitable for Nintendo.
Comparing to it’s sister unit, the Color TV-Game 15 offered a lot of perceived value. The inclusion to two user friendly cabled controllers was a huge plus in the eyes of consumers, as was the fact that the Color TV-Game 15 had double the game content as the Color TV-Game 6.
Despite the higher price tag, the Color TV-Game 15 would go on to sell over 700,000 units.
In all, Nintendo would go on to release three more units in the Color TV-Game line including the Color TV-Game Racing 112 released in 1978, Color TV-Game Block Breaker released in 1979, and Computer TV-Game released in 1980.
Meanwhile a new team at Nintendo was hard at work creating what many would consider to be Nintendo’s first true video game.
Join us tomorrow as we continue our History of Nintendo feature as we chronicle Nintendo’s entry into the arcade market.