Best of 2020: Nintendo in 1995 was arrogant and ahead of its time

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During the holiday season, we’ll republish a series of Nintendo Life articles, interviews, and other feature articles over the last 12 months that we consider to be the best of 2020. We hope this will give you a chance to catch up with the work you missed. Or just look back on the year when there were some highlights — honest!

This feature was originally published in September 2020.

Twenty-five years ago, Nintendo was at a crossroads. In 1995, the company was in a dominant position in its hometown, where Super Nintendo was still the most popular video game console, accounting for more than 90% of the domestic market. However, the launch of the 32-bit Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn at the end of last year was a reminder that the gaming industry is constantly evolving.Nintendo can expect the following titles, Donkey Kong Country And Holy Sword Legend 3 To shift the unit, the 16-bit power was nearing the end of its life-NCL PR manager Hiroshi Imanishi did not admit it in 1995.

One of the company’s longest-serving employees, Imanishi joined Nintendo from Doshisha University and helped transform the company into one of the world’s largest entertainment companies. After playing various administrative, planning and financial roles at Nintendo, he was assigned the task of creating the “Games” division in 1969, following the groundbreaking success of Gunpei Yokoi’s iconic Ultra Hand. It was. From Trump companies to Nintendo with a focus on innovative toys and gadgets. Responsible for hiring Mr. Yokoi, Mr. Genyo Takeda (who is famous as Nintendo’s first game designer), and Mr. Masayuki Uemura, the father of NES.

Imanishi, who retired in 2002, was the right-hand man of Nintendo’s president Hiroshi Yamauchi and was considered the most reliable aide. He was deeply involved in Nintendo’s solemnity, but was the ultimate successful licensing policy during the NES era, masterminding the midnight launch of the Super Nintendo in 1990.

Mr. Imanishi’s name may not be as famous as Mr. Yamauchi and Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto, but his contribution to making Nintendo today’s company is not an exaggeration to say the least, as the person responsible for the company’s PR machine. His words were used. very Seriously in the 90’s.A rare English interview during the Jason Brooks era edge A September 1995 magazine reveals that he was particularly bullish. This is true for Nintendo as a whole.

According to the media, the 32-bit war started in Japan last year … Actually, there is no war at all. In Japan, the only platform that has more than 11 million units on the market is the Super Nintendo. Future games such as Trials of Mana, due out in September, will surely reach sales of over 2 million copies.Donkey Kong Country sold 2.6 million copies as of March, Dragon Quest and the new Mario game [Yoshi’s Island] It will be released this year. This year’s Super Nintendo market is unique.

Interview with Hiroshi Imanishi, EDGE Magazine, September 1995
Interview with Hiroshi Imanishi, EDGE Magazine, September 1995 (Image: EDGE Magazine)

Imanishi was negative when faced with whether to consider Sega and Sony as more dangerous rivals.

The 64 is larger than the 32, so it’s safe to say that the Ultra 64 has no rival hardware. [Laughs.] In Japan, which accounts for 90% of the current market, Nintendo has no rivals. In any case, Nintendo has no hardware rivals, but when it comes to software, licensees are rivals.

He also unruly dismissed the CD-ROM and said it was “not the future,” but interestingly, he cleverly predicted the arrival of the following games: Mine Craft, Roblox And Super Mario Maker Many years ago:

In the future, we hope that a game world will be created, not just programmers. Players need to be able to determine their settings and participate in the creation of the world. It’s more than interactive!

In many respects, Imanishi shows the arrogance that seemed to permeate Nintendo throughout the mid-’90s. The company even decided to stick to the cartridge and launch the N64 console with minimal third-party support, despite clear evidence that optical media is moving forward (Imanishi said in an EDGE interview). As such, “Nintendo does not invite third parties to create games. First, you need to prove Ultra 64’s capabilities with in-house software.”) The company was also about to launch Virtual Boy, perhaps its largest hardware flop.

Looking back on the benefits of hindsight, it’s easy to puncture Nintendo’s strategy, and history certainly seems to suggest that it failed the chance to win the console war in the late 90’s. Sony’s PlayStation sold 12.49 million units worldwide, while the N64 collected only 32.93 million units. This is better than Sega’s Saturn (less than 10 million), but far from the glorious era of NES (61.91 million) and SNES (49.1 million).

I’ve seen fate go up and down and rise again since the N64 era, not to mention Nintendo. And now I’m enjoying a period of particularly lasting success with Switch. Overcoming the N64, GameCube, and Wii U storms, I can imagine that Nintendo is smart enough to make the next hardware transition with a little humility and wisdom compared to 1995, but again. But wisdom is everything. The video game industry is unpredictable.

Please ask Hiroshi Imanishi.

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