Wednesday, September 30, 2009

L'Histoire de Nintendo #2 - The birth of Yokoi's Micro Game legacy

Pix'N Love Editions is a French publisher specialized in creating and editing videogame books. Among dozens of issued works, concerning different companies and systems, L'Histoire de Nintendo is without a doubt their largest and most admirable endeavor. The two existing volumes of the series consist of the unmistakable result of a thorough and obsessive investigation, possible only on account of a great investment, as well as the unofficial participation of Nintendo personalities, interviewed during the course of the project. Whereas the first tome provided an absorbing account of the earliest roots of the Kyoto based company, #2, as hinted by its title 1980-1991 L'étonannte invention: les Game & Watch, explores the rise and expansion of Nintendo's first handheld system, envisioned by the late Gunpei Yokoi.

Codenamed Micro Game during its prototype phase, the Game & Watch system used a technology similar to that of dentaku (Japanese pocket calculators). Unlike its best-selling successor, the Game Boy, the G&W did not work with interchangeable cartridges and so the creation of each new game resulted in 59 unique systems released within a period of almost ten years. The Japanese phenomenon was later brought to different countries around the world, waging a battle against the predictable appearance of numerous replicas and clones – surprisingly featured in the book - that sought to cash in the portable LCD game vogue. In spite of the earlier efforts led by North-American companies such as Atari and Milton Bradley in the foundation of a handheld console market, it was Nintendo’s name that would become the universal epitome of portable gaming, a tradition that endured until this day.

With this second volume, author Fiorent Gorges and his aid in Japanese territories, Isao Yamazaki, have composed an overwhelming and wide-ranging document: not the smallest detail was disregarded in this compilation, including Yokoi's first experiments, unseen sketches of early models, detailed information of every Game & Watch series, advertising materials, official variations, byproducts and recent re-releases. Each of the 194 pages, printed in full color and extensively illustrated with the highest quality, is a heart-felt homage to one of the supreme geniuses of the industry whose tragic death resulted in the premature conclusion of a notable career. Written in an objective and passionate style, the latest volume of this succession is, to the lack of a better expression, the ultimate resource on the history of Nintendo and a paradigm of videogame publications.

More information on how to purchase this book can be found at the official website. For non-French users, please consult this brief tutorial on how to order.

1 comment:

Puzzles Sudoku said...

Great article about the history of Nintendo. I remember my brother's Game & Watch which was the Nintendo's first handheld (treasure hunt). Nintendo even released a double screen version (similar to the DS). Unfortunately, those handhelds only included one game.