It’s 1989, and you’ve convinced your parents to buy the Nintendo NES so you can play Super Mario Bros. in the basement. Flash forward to the late ’90s, and you’re putting hours into Poke’mon on the Nintendo Color. As the years keep coming, so do the consoles: the DS, the Wii, the Switch.
Casual gamers don’t often consider the work that goes into new consoles and the complex disks and cartridges full of adventure we’ve come to love. Well, grab a controller and hit the power button, this list will open your eyes to the fantastical world behind the scenes of Nintendo!
1. Mario wasn’t always a plumber: Because Mario was originally designed to climb buildings in the Donkey Kong Game, creator Shigeru Miyamoto first envisioned him as a carpenter. These days, he’s actually retired to make time for racing, sports, and parties.
2. The company is over 100 years old: Believe it or not, the Nintendo company has actually been around for more than a century. In fact, it was established in 1889 as a hanafuda playing card company. The video games didn’t even start until the 1970s!
3. Playing video games was recommended by doctors: Contrary to today, doctors used to think playing the Nintendo and other video games could help people with lazy eyes focus their sight. We’re pretty sure that advice no longer flies…
4. Pizza inspired Pacman: The iconic game’s hero was inspired by a pizza with a slice missing. What’s more, Pacman looks like the Japanese character for mouth, and paku-paku means to chomp. It’s nice when things work out.
5. Donkey Kong made the first vertical jump: In 1981, Donkey Kong became the first character to ever jump in a video game. Obviously, this was a gigantic breakthrough in the video game industry and allowed Mario to eventually jump over ravines.
6. Who was Jumpman?: Mario was originally called Jumpman. Nintendo developers didn’t love the name, and were inspired to change it after they saw the building’s landlord named Mario during a meeting.
7. If Mario has hops: According to the official Nintendo stats, Mario is 5’1. Since he can jump roughly 5 times his own height, he can jump — with no running start — 25 feet in the air. For context, the highest jump from standing was 5 feet.
8. The Game Boy was invented by a janitor: Gunpei Yokoi started working at Nintendo as a janitor so he could also tinker with the machines. He first invented a toy arm and used that as a ticket into the invention team, which released his Game Boy in 1989.
9. Their controllers were super innovative: Nintendo’s NES controller was the first to feature a directional pad. The N64’s controller popularized thumbsticks. The Wii introduced motion control, and the DS featured double screens (hence its name).
10. Zelda was named after a historic icon: Miyamoto, the creative mind behind The Legend Of Zelda, said that the character was named after Zelda Fitzgerald, a painter, novelist, and fashion icon in the 1920s. She was “a wonderful woman by all accounts,” he said.
11. They tried selling blocks: Somehow, without infringing any copyright, Nintendo once made its own block system that looked extremely similar to LEGO. It clearly didn’t sour any feelings, as a myriad of LEGO games now exist on Nintendo systems.
12. The simple design: In the world of Mario, clouds and bushes look exactly same. This is because Nintendo wanted to focus its creativity on the gameplay itself. Plus games had much less memory than they do now!
13. Mario + Koopa = Luigi: When Nintendo decided to create a brother for Mario, they didn’t waste too much time coming up with an original look for this new hero. They simply combined Mario’s body and Koopa’s color pattern and lengthened him a bit later on.
y0l0 / Flickr
14. Cheat codes were for designers: The infamous Konami code (pressing up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right AB on a controller) was originally written for the game’s designers so they could skip ahead to where they wanted to edit. Now, people use it to cheat.
15. Zelda revolutionized gaming: Before The Legend Of Zelda came along, people just played video games over and over until they got tired, starting from scratch every time they died or turned off the game. With Zelda, people could finally save their progress!
16. The Nintendo DS units really sold: As of 2014, Nintendo had sold 125 million units of Nintendo DS. The DS didn’t hold the top sales spot long, though. The iPhone surpassed this record, but it was quite a feat for a handheld game console!
eilidhbee / flickr
17. Their top-selling game is surprising: For nearly two decades, Super Mario Bros. held the record for being the top-selling video game, with the original version selling 40.24 million copies. However, Wii Sports beat this record in 2006 with 82.78 million.
18. Peach and Bowser used to toast their victories: The 1992 release of the first Super Mario Kart game for the NES showed Bowser and Peach popping bottles when they won a race, and “rather messily” drink champagne.
19. What Luigi’s name means: It is often said that Luigi’s name is a play on the Japanese word “ruiji” meaning “similar.” But in Italian, Luigi means “renowned fighter” or “warrior.” That gives you a whole different take on this famous guy, doesn’t it?
20. They almost produced a gaming phone: Nintendo considered making a special gaming smartphone in 2014. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t go through. There would’ve likely been too many limitations on memory and space for both phone and gaming functions.
21. Nintendo DS’s other name: Because of its sleek design, complete with a stylus and audio port, the Nintendo DS looked like the hot new gadget for fancy city people. That’s why it was almost called the “City Boy.”
22. The DS broke boundaries: While virtual tours of museums are frequently available on smart phones these days, it was unheard of before a tour of the Louvre became a feature on the Nintendo DS. See, mom, games can be educational!
23. The inspiration for Nintendogs: The pooches on the real-time simulation game for the DS were inspired by a Shetland sheepdog named Pikku. For the record, Pikku belonged to Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s famous game designer.
24. The name that changed the world: The name Nintendo is composed of three kanji (Chinese letters used in the Japanese system of writing) characters: nin, ten, and do. So, if you translate Nintendo, you will find it means something like “leave luck to heaven.”
One woman who decided not to leave luck to heaven was a mom named Rorie. With two growing boys, she suddenly had the realization that her Nintendo-loving children were becoming too old for their playroom. She knew she had to make a change…
Since her two boys loved to play video games, this quickly became the premise of her brainstorming process. After all, it would be something they could enjoy in their older years too.
After surfing the web for other DIY game rooms and picking her own creative brain, Rorie was finally armed with a clever idea.
To begin, she cleared out all of the boys’ old toys and then visited the local Home Depot to buy paint and other tools to make the best game room ever!
It was then that Rorie had everything she would need to transform their old, boring playroom into something special for many years to come.
She began by clearing out all of the boys’ old toys until it was nothing but an empty room. Then she painted this big, gray box on the main back wall.
With a lighter gray, Rorie then painted a smaller rectangle toward the bottom and added a stencil of a plus symbol. You can probably guess what this iconic shape would turn into…
Yup—it would be an original Nintendo Entertainment System video game controller! Rather than paint a directional pad onto the wall, Rorie and her husband figured it’d be best to give it some texture and make it out of board.
Of course, the original controller only had two buttons on the right side, not four. But when you’re doing a project this awesome, you can take some artistic liberties!
To give the project even more cool detail, Rorie and her husband constructed cords for the controller pad. In reality, these would hold the wiring of the TV that would be installed on the wall.
Rorie then purchased a plain white entertainment center to place underneath the TV, but it didn’t remain a blank canvas for long. She painted the furniture to look just like the Nintendo console!
To make sure that the “console” felt authentic enough, Rorie’s husband added some smaller but important details to make it look exactly like the game system in real life…
With a couple of mini wooden boards and a stencil, he painted the words “power” and “reset” before attaching them along the bottom. Though this took minimal effort, it made a big difference!
Finally, the amazing gaming project was complete. Rorie and her husband had to do some serious creative thinking to come up with such a unique design, but it was well worth it!
Their sons’ playroom was now a perfectly designed game room – no more colored block carpets for them. Just look at how much fun it would be to play games in there!
Now when Rorie sees her two boys playing in their room, she can feel satisfied knowing that she and her husband made their dreams come true.
This DIY project shows that with just a little imagination and some elbow grease, you can find an easy, unique way to build the room you’ve always wished for.