Posted by: bracehare | August 30, 2011

The early days of Nintendo

As a company, Nintendo Co., Ltd has been more or less synonymous with platform gaming for more than 20 years.  When looking at even the most modern platform games, it is very easy to trace many of their most thoroughly established conventions back to games which were created by Nintendo.  It is therefore not that big of a stretch to say that Nintendo has, in a sense, defined platform gaming as a unique genre of electronic entertainment.

It is interesting to note, therefore, that Nintendo’s first foray into platform gaming was not expected to be a breakout hit by any means, and was essentially a stop-gap project intended to make use of leftover arcade cabinets from a previous commercial failure.  Donkey Kong, developed by Shigeru Miyamoto, would nonetheless go on to become hugely successful, finishing the year of its introduction as the most popular game on the market.  Donkey Kong helped to establish Nintendo as a company, and also had a hand in establishing the “rescue the princess” leitmotif which would become one of the most overplayed tropes of platform gaming.

When the NES was released in the United States in 1985, it is arguable that Super Mario Brothers represented the first “killer app” for a system.  This game introduced what would become another common trope of platform gaming; the convention that game characters in platforming titles move from left to right, until they reach the end of a level.  Super Mario Brothers also featured fluid controls and a run button, and added boss fights to the list of platforming conventions.

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