January 22, 2014 5:11 AM   Subscribe

The beforemario blog showcases the toys and games Nintendo created in the period from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s, including: Nintendo Popeye Trump cards, Nintendo Love Tester, Nintendo Ultra Hand, Nintendo Disney Baseball Board, Nintendo Companion, Nintendo Mamaberica baby stroller, Nintendo Monster Copy, Nintendo Bee Hive Game and Nintendo Mister Magician Coin & Stick. Full list.
posted by timshel (19 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
If you're stuck in SFO for a while, the Japanese toys exhibit is worth seeing. Everything from kokeshi wooden dolls through to Ultraman.
posted by zamboni at 5:18 AM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's pretty fascinating to see the pre-history of Nintendo, considering how many people only know them from their video games. I highly recommend this book, which chronicles much of what the beforemario blog discusses, and even goes earlier. This is only Part 1, Part 2 covers the Game and Watch era, and I don't think that Part 3 has been released yet.
posted by RubixsQube at 5:20 AM on January 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am sort of sad that Monster Copy doesn't encourage you to act like a monster and that the Bee Hive Game does not involve children getting stung for the crime of pestering bees. Hammering on bee hives is not behavior we ought to encourage!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 AM on January 22, 2014

Those books RubixsQube mentions are pricy and a little awkwardly translated from Italian, but also beautifully laid out with a lot of interesting, original research. I am really looking forward to the Gunpei Yokoi one; they get a bit into his career in the Vol. 2 and the dude is fascinating.
posted by griphus at 5:38 AM on January 22, 2014

I have a Ten Billion that I finally got a few years ago after wanting one way back when Rubik's puzzles were having their first heyday. There are a lot of similar-looking puzzles that are much easier but that one's really nice.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:19 AM on January 22, 2014

Last year I discovered that Nintendo not only used to make go boards, but still makes them.
posted by Jeanne at 6:36 AM on January 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nintendo still flogs the old toys and analog games from time to time. I actually got an official Ultra Hand video game as a Club Nintendo bonus download a few years ago. It was ... kind of disappointing.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:35 AM on January 22, 2014

Ultra Hand is in Wario Ware! Perfect as a 3-second micro game.

I wonder how much this history of analogue game and toy design helped them out when they started making video games.
posted by ignignokt at 8:12 AM on January 22, 2014

A Wii downloadable game called Grill Off With Ultra Hand was one of the Club Nintendo rewards from a couple of years ago. That's where I got my copy from.

I love the old "Spade with an 'N'" trademark they used to use. This needs to be in the next Smash Bros. game.
posted by JHarris at 8:54 AM on January 22, 2014

Ah, what Strange Interlude said.
posted by JHarris at 8:55 AM on January 22, 2014

You can still get Nintendo hanafuda cards, with Mario iconography, through Club Nintendo. And you can learn to play with them with the highly underrated Clubhouse Games DS game.
posted by JHarris at 8:56 AM on January 22, 2014

There are some gems that aren't directly linked in the post. Although we find these interesting because of what Nintendo would become, I think they're also interesting just for giving us a glimpse into toy-making at that time. Here:

Twister talks about how risque the game was in the US, and that was hinted at in Milton Bradley's release by a young woman's sweater hanging on by a single button. Of course she's still wearing a full blouse beneath it, but still... daring! When it was brought to Japan, where physical contact is even more taboo than the US, a couple of the adult figures on the box were changed to children, to try to downplay that aspect.

Here's the page on Nintendo's design genius Gunpei Yokoi, who is revered in gaming circles for designing the Gameboy and producing Metroid, despite the fact that these acts came at the end of a long and varied career in which he designed a lot of smaller, cheaper and weirder things. He created the Ultra Hand, which sold a million units, a lot for a hunk of plastic, no matter how cunningly designed.

Another of his million-selling designs is the wonderful Ultra Machine, basically a ping pong ball server for batting practice. The device is depicted in one of the best boss games in GBA Wario Ware.

Did you know Nintendo made Lego-like (and compatible) blocks? Introduction. Here's the overview of the Nintendo Blocks line, and some more images. There's lots more on the site. Although mostly a Lego clone, they did develop a special piece that can be attacked at a 45-degree angle.

This site is a terrific find. Thanks timshel!
posted by JHarris at 9:51 AM on January 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Now I know what the Ultra Hand item is in ACNL! Awesome.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2014

Oh man. My grandfather had something very like the coin from Mister Magician Coin & Stick. He passed away over a decade ago, and we've never come across it, but I keep hoping it will turn up in a box somewhere.
posted by solotoro at 1:45 PM on January 22, 2014

Whoa. After all these years this suddenly makes a bit more sense.
posted by NMcCoy at 1:53 PM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

ignignokt: Ultra Hand is in Wario Ware! Perfect as a 3-second micro game.

Honestly, a solid and long FPP could be made about wario ware in and of itself. There's so much obscure nintendo history stuff, inside jokes/references, and just generally "blink and you'll miss it" stuff crammed in there

The first one in particular has some of the best music and design i've seen in a nintendo game from the past ten years, and is just generally rich with smile-inducing greatness.
posted by emptythought at 6:36 PM on January 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

An FPP on WarioWare would be so awesome.

Also, holy shit how did that game come out over ten years ago.
posted by griphus at 6:57 PM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

To do a WarioWare FPP justice, I think it'd have to cover every game.

Maybe after I'm done with the current megapost project....
posted by JHarris at 8:18 PM on January 22, 2014

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