Cast your mind back to a better era. Where graphics were 2D and language and nudity were not allowed. During the nostalgia trip, you probably remembered a few Nintendo games or consoles. Not only did Nintendo contribute to a more appropriate era, they also made some amazing innovations and accessories that even show up in today’s consoles and handhelds. Let’s look at what Nintendo did “back in the day” and just recently that you likely have built into your 3DS or cell phone.
1. GameBoy Camera & Printer
During the GameBoy’s time, digital cameras were an expensive technology. So much so that my dad’s camera he gave me that he bought back then cost him $500. But if you were a gamer, you didn’t need half a grand to take digital pictures. Nope, all you had to do was pop this little accessory into your GameBoy (or GameBoy Color) and you could capture and store black-and-white photographs at something around a whopping whole megapixel! If you also wanted to put those photos in a *TINY* frame, you could even print them with the GameBoy Printer! The pocket-sized printer printed on thermal paper, meaning no annoying ink cartridges to buy. The included paper also can be peeled and used as a sticker for your stamp-sized photos!
It’s likely the phone or computer you’re using right now has a camera built in. While it may capture color photos at more than one megapixel, it still shows that Nintendo’s idea of a camera on a portable was a good one. Still waiting for a 3DS Printer.
2. Touchscreen Portables
In 2004, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS. While the Wii had motion sensors, the DS also interacted with the user, but via touchscreen instead. While the idea mostly faded to light use during gameplay, the idea proved to be one of the selling points of the handheld. Now we’ve evolved all the way to the 3DS XL, which, though it’s gimmick is 3D, still uses the touchscreen idea for other abilities in-game.
Basically EVERY phone that comes out is touchscreen. While little to no buttons and a fragile screen have become fads among them, making things like dialing and game controls harder to use, it proves that Nintendo’s good ideas can be modernized, even to the point of being mediocre devices, as they are what the current generation desires.
3. Motion Control
Everyone remembers the Wii. You asked for it because it made you active. Or, at least, that’s what you told your parents. Just like the DS’s touch screen, the use of motion control has been stripped back to minimal use for extra features, with the games relying more on the use of buttons than anything else. While the potential use for party games or sports games is there, real gamers will likely prefer to use it minimally.
After Nintendo’s great idea became successful, a hoard of clone consoles and rip-off ideas have been released by many companies. From Xbox’s Kinect to Sony’s Motion Controller, almost everyone has stolen Nintendo’s idea.
4. Light Guns
If you had a NES, you likely remember clicking away with your NES Zapper in an attempt to hit little digital ducks. The Zapper worked only with the old CRT TVs, meaning your flat screen won’t work with it. But the technology still was very advanced. Clicking the gun makes the screen go black, then little white squares appear. This happens faster than you can fully make out, but basically the gun and NES use this information to give you a hit or miss on the duck.
If you go to Gamestop, you may see Wii Light Guns, and even one for the Xbox 360. While they work totally different than the ol’ Zapper, it’s still obvious that Nintendo’s clicker had an effect on the Video Game Industry.
5. Multiple Controller Options
The NES Box tells that the NES was designed for expansion. While a different controller isn’t really making an advancement technologically, it can play to a higher strength than a standard controller in some games. The NES Advantage Joystick featured adjustable turbo buttons that can be toggled, large, arcade-size action buttons, and even a “slow” option (where the game is frequently paused and unpaused making it progress in slow motion). The NES Max featured a combination D-Pad and thumbpad as well as dedicated turbo buttons just under the standard action buttons. The previously mentioned NES Zapper opened the door for a multitude of new games. The NES Power Pad lets you get active while gaming, though that isn’t the best way to play. And lastly we have the Classic Standard. Anyone can pick it up and be on their way! It can be used for almost any game, and is better in some than the other NES Games.
Nowadays, we mostly just get different colors for our controllers unless we go third party or buy a high-priced joystick. But Nintendo did just make an adapter so you can use GameCube Controllers on your Wii U!
6. Controller Vibration
Nintendo’s 3D “Nintendo 64” Console featured Controllers with expansion ports on the back. These could be used for Memory Cards, communication with GBC Cartridges, but also the Rumble Pak. The Rumble Pak made the controller vibrate at specific points in-game.
Basically every controller you can buy will be equipped with a vibration feature. It gives the game a hint of realism by vibrating when things explode, you get attacked, or whatever. While it’s not the biggest innovation in video game history, it is a nice additive.
7. Saving Data on Cartridges
Ever since The Legend of Zelda on the NES, Nintendo has been finding ways to save data on cartridges. Back in the days of the NES and the Gameboy, cartridges used SRAM, which saves data by use of a battery inside the cartridge. In fact, most GameBoy Color cartridges have a little watch battery inside. By the time of the GameBoy Advance, most memory-saving games no longer needed batteries to save data. Funnily enough, lots of the games that saved using a battery 20 years ago still save the data.
While almost every form of cartridge has been replaced with disc format, you can still find cartridges on Nintendo’s 3DS line. In fact, Nintendo has never used discs for portable games. The new 3DS cartridges contain much more information than an NES cart, while being a small fraction of its size, proving that the technology can uphold to current-gen demands.
8. Multiple Screens for Gameplay
Before the NES, Nintendo released a line of portable LCD Games known as “Game and Watch” . A whole series of these games was named Multi Screen. These featured a top and bottom screen, making for more gameplay than that with a single screen
Nintendo’s DS (DS Meaning “Dual Screen” or “Developer’s System”) Line is heavily based on the design of the Multi Screen Game and Watch Games. Also the Wii U’s Controller’s screen is used in a similar way to the bottom screen of some Nintendo DS/3DS Games.
9. Folding Screens
The Games in the Multi Screen Game and Watch series folded in the middle, halving the size of the Game while also protecting both screens.
Any System in the Nintendo DS Line (excluding the 2DS) folds identically to the way the Game and Watch Games did. This provides protection from scratches but can also prove a weak point. Many Nintendo DS’s are known for breaking at the hinges.
Also look back at the GameBoy Advance SP. The controls were on the bottom half of the System with the screen on the top. This design was the second variant of the GameBoy Advance, and was also backlit or frontlit (depending on model).
10. Relationship Between Console and Handheld
During the era of the SNES (Super Nintendo), Nintendo released an adapter called Super GameBoy .This adapter allowed GameBoy Original Cartridges to be played on the SNES System, displaying them on the users television set.
Now this is something my generation will likely remember. Lots of GameCube games had a logo on the back that stated the game was “GameBoy Advance Compatible” . This meant if you had access to a GameBoy Advance, the GBA-GC link cable, and corresponding GBA game, you could access more content by connecting the two games. A good example would be Sonic Adventure DX : Director’s Cut and Sonic Pinball Party/ Sonic Advance . By connecting either GBA game to the GC game, one could exchange Chao between the console and the portable. Meaning if you have a malnourished Chao on the GameCube, you could swap him out with the one on your GBA so you could take care of him on the go.
Also the GameCube accessory “GameBoy Player” allowed users to play GB, GBC, and GBA Cartridges on a television set through the GameCube. This allowed users to use the GameCube’s Controller or a GBA System (through the previously mentioned cable) to control the game.
Buy any game released for the Wii U and 3DS, and you will likely find bonuses you can use by owning both games, proving that the idea was successful.
So Nintendo did a lot of things from then and even now that are almost staples to any game system. What do modern consoles have that will be remembered in the future? Nothing compared to what Nintendo did.
Game and Watch Information taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Game_%26_Watch_games and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_%26_Watch.
Thanks to Wesley Wood for a couple recommendations for this list!