Nintendo celebrates its roots with traditional Japanese art stylings of their most famous characters



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With global phenomenon like the Mario and Pokemon franchises under their belts, it’s easy to forget about Nintendo’s humble beginnings as a producer of traditional Japanese playing cards. This year the company goes back to their roots in their 2014 company brochure with beautiful artwork that celebrates both the old and the new.

Below is the hardcover book that Nintendo is distributing to students looking to work for their company. The contents are updated every year, and they’re always coming up with new ideas for it. This year it features vibrant full-page spreads of Nintendo’s iconic products from across the years, all strikingly worked in a bold and traditional art style. Judging by the Twitter comments it seems that there are people who apply every year just to get their hands on these annual brochures, and we can understand why: this one is so beautiful it looks like a collector’s item.




The art style used in this year’s edition mimics the traditional hanafuda style. Hanafuda are Japanese playing cards, which can be literally translated as ‘flower cards’, which feature stylized designs of Japan’s flora and fauna divided into 12 months with 4 cards per month.

▼ This Mario and Luigi illustration is a fusion of the newest iterations of the characters, with traditional card designs in the background.


And there’s a reason behind the hanafuda motif other than just looking really cool: many years ago, Nintendo actually began life as a playing card company! Nintendo was established in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi as a company that made and sold hand-made hanafuda cards painted on mulberry tree bark. The whole brochure is an homage to Nintendo’s roots, showcasing their products from their modest beginnings back in the Showa period, up to the modern day where the company has become world-famous as a trailblazer in the entertainment arena.


▼ The brochure takes us through from old-school analog games to technological breakthroughs like their first video game consoles.



▼ Hanafuda are still sold today under Nintendo’s brand name! This is their most popular set, the ‘daitoryo‘.


As well as their traditional set, Nintendo has also released several character card sets that are sure to charm general card fans and Nintendo fans alike.


▼ Each card in this set features a character from the Mario franchise.



▼ And here we have Pokemon, headed of course by everyone’s favourite electric rodent Pikachu.


▼ These bright and bold designs feature adorable Pokemon hiding in amongst the plants you’d expect to find in a usual deck.




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Nintendo celebrates its roots with traditional Japanese art stylings of their most famous characters


Nintendo CEO outlines plan to move into health-related entertainment

Nintendo CEO outlines plan to move into health-related entertainment

Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata.

Boxed in by rivals in video games, Nintendo outlined its plan to redefine itself as a health-oriented entertainment company in the coming decade. In a letter to shareholders, Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata said the company plans to expand beyond games to make entertainment that improves “quality of life” for people.

It is a risky strategy to expand beyond video games at a time when its core business is losing money and rivals like Sony, Microsoft, and Apple are gaining ground on it. But it’s also the kind of “blue ocean” strategy that Iwata has tried before — something that worked with the Wii console.

Iwata talked about Nintendo’s history since its founding as a seller of Hanafuda, or traditional Japanese playing cards, 125 years ago. It innovated and shifted to becoming a toy company, then an electronic toy company, and then a video game company. Nintendo launched its first game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, in 1983. Its Wii console in 2006 was a big success, but the Wii U has been a disaster, and the 3DS handheld isn’t selling as many as its predecessor, the DS.

So to adapt to the shifting market, Nintendo is expanding into health.

Vitality Sensor

The Nintendo Vitality Sensor.


As the business environment around us has shifted with the times, we have decided to redefine entertainment as something that improves people’s quality of life (“QOL”) in enjoyable ways and expand our business areas. What Nintendo will try to achieve in the next 10 years is a platform business that improves people’s QOL in enjoyable ways,” Iwata said.

Back in 2009, Nintendo hinted at a health entertainment strategy when it announced a “vitality sensor” that could measure your heartbeat and input that data into a Nintendo Wii game. But Nintendo never shipped that sensor.

He said that Nintendo will still remain focused on dedicated video game hardware and software platforms.

But he added, “We will attempt to establish a new business area apart from our dedicated video game business. We have set ‘health’ as the theme for our first step and we will try to use our strength as an entertainment company to create unique approaches that expand this business.”

Nintendo wants to expand its base of users, much like it did with the Wii, whose motion-sensing controller was so easy to use that it appealed to people who weren’t traditional video game fans. With its new health products and services, Iwata said that Nintendo wants to “create an environment in which more people are conscious about their health and in turn expand Nintendo’s overall user base.”

What has remained the same from the past is that we have always tried to create something new from materials and technologies available at that time, to position entertainment as our core business and to improve people’s QOL in enjoyable ways,” Iwata said. “We will continue to value self-innovation in line with the times and aim for growth.”

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Nintendo CEO outlines plan to move into health-related entertainment