Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America
The first princess Mario saved was Nintendo itself.
In 1981, Nintendo of America was a one-year-old business already on the brink of failure. Its president, Mino Arakawa, was stuck with two thousand unsold arcade cabinets for a dud of a game (Radar Scope). So he hatched a plan.
Back in Japan, a boyish, shaggy-haired staff artist named Shigeru Miyamoto designed a new game for the unsold cabinets featuring an angry gorilla and a small jumping man. Donkey Kong brought in $180 million in its first year alone and launched the career of a short, chubby plumber named Mario.
Since then, Mario has starred in over two hundred games, generating profits in the billions. He is more recognizable than Mickey Mouse, yet he’s little more than a mustache in bib overalls. How did a mere smear of pixels gain such huge popularity?
Super Mario tells the story behind the Nintendo games millions of us grew up with, explaining how a Japanese trading card company rose to dominate the fiercely competitive video-game industry.
MARIO’S COMMUNICATION KIT - THE NINTENDO 64DD 18 – MARIO’S MELEE - THE GAMECUBE 19 – MARIO’S TIME MACHINE - THE GAME BOY ADVANCE 20 – MARIO’S SAGA - SUNSHINE AND DARKNESS PART 5 - WII ARE THE CHAMPIONS 21 – MARIO’S REVOLUTION - THE DS 22 – MARIO’S PRINCESS - THE WII 23 – MARIO’S PARTY - THREE DAYS IN THE LIFE OF NINTENDO 24 – MARIO’S LEGEND - THE FUTURE OF NINTENDO THANKS, MARIO, BUT OUR NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ARE IN ANOTHER CASTLE BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX PORTFOLIO / PENGUIN
his eyes opened during a mid-fifties trip to America, where he had met with Walt Disney executives about licensing its characters on cards. The experience had walloped him with the scope of the global market for entertainment, showing him just how rinky-dink his Japanese-only, family owned playing card business truly was. A small, intense man with prematurely silver hair, he had worked hard to keep it going in the postwar years and beyond. But true success in the era of global zaibatsus and
zooming the camera on Mario’s knee and then wondering why they couldn’t see anything but knee. Was there a way to solve this as elegantly as in Super Mario Bros., where Miyamoto designed a larger Mario and then came up with a brilliantly fungal bit of gameplay to make the Super Mario part of the fun? What would make everyone happy would be a SNES 3-D Mario game that Miyamoto could merely supervise, so he could focus on Mario 64 another year or so. He had already shelved one completed game—Star
would be the Dreamcast) right when it should have been hyping the brand-new Saturn. People passed by the Saturn, the way bakery customers will wait for fresh bread and ignore the loaf sitting in front of them. The Dreamcast, hot out of the oven, arrived in Japan on November 27, 1998. It sold out in the United States when it arrived a year later, with more than three hundred thousand preorders, and quickly hit a million units sold worldwide. Sega designed a fleet of exemplary “2K” Sega Sports
talked nonstop to the staff, using reams of charts to back up his statements. Anything to measure up to the shogun and his inerrant instinct. While he didn’t glower at people like Yamauchi did, Iwata lived and breathed Nintendo philosophy as much as the employees who had logged in decades of dedication. He larded vast hoards of cash, kept staff low, and refused to branch out beyond games. Yamauchi, still a board member, backed up Iwata in print . . . to a degree. “If we are unsuccessful with the