8 Things Nintendo Did That Changed Gaming Forever

Nintendo is a staple figure in the video game industry. They’re the creators of some of the world’s most popular titles, such as Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda. Even though they achieved success many times in the past, unfortunately they are not on the same level as they were before. This is proven by poor Wii U sales, and the lack of third party games is a whole other issue. That aside, I’m going to take you back to a time when Nintendo was at its pinnacle regarding innovation, and explore the decisions they made that changed gaming forever.

8. Shoulder Buttons

When it comes to playing any video game, it’s all about what you use to control them. In my opinion, gaming pads will always be my choice over a keyboard and mouse. Nintendo was the first to include shoulder buttons on their controller and this was revolutionary.

credit: Nintendo

This allowed for a greater combination of inputs, and game developers took advantage of this to create an even better experience. Plus, it made drifting in Super Mario Kart so much fun. Now it’s a standard to have 4 shoulder buttons (2 on each side) on controllers these days. Xbox One and Playstation 4 made them essential for driving and first person shooter games.

7. Rumble Technology

The Rumble Pak was introduced bundled with the game Star Fox 64 (known as Lylat Wars in the PAL region) and was a Nintendo 64 game that consisted of tight controls, wonderful gameplay, an enjoyable campaign, and it even had an intense multiplayer mode. However, what really made this stand out was that copies of the game were being bundled with a Rumble Pak, a peripheral that fitted to the back of the controller that caused the controller to shake according to what was happening on screen. (Just like how current Xbox and PlayStation controllers have the motors built in to allow for that function).


credit: Wikipedia Commons

credit: Wikipedia Commons

Sony invested on this success years ago and introduced DualShock controllers but many people do not know the feature was first coined by Nintendo.


6. Motion Control

With the Nintendo Wii came motion control. The entire concept of the system was that you’d have to be moving your hands while playing the game. This was probably Nintendo’s biggest and most successful gamble to date. The Wii went on to sell 101.63 million copies and Wii Sports is the 3rd best selling game in the world.

credit: Wikipedia commons

credit: Wikipedia commons

Of course, competitors saw this and wanted to see if they could achieve the same success. Xbox released the Kinect and PlayStation produced the PlayStation move. Even though the technologies were much more superior they missed the mark by about 4 years. (Wii came out in 2006 while the other two came out in 2010.) Nintendo was already a monopoly on motion control gaming at this point and Xbox and PS didn’t really support their motion control tech with quality games so they quickly died out.

However, 6 years later (2016) and the move will finally be used again in the Playstation VR. I guess it wasn’t that useless after all.


5. Wireless Controllers

Just when you thought Nintendo possibly couldn’t have made more game changing features, they were also the first ones to successfully release wireless controllers.

credit: Wikipedia Commons

credit: Wikipedia Commons

The first wireless controller release goes to Atari for releasing wireless joysticks for the Atari 2600 in the 1980s. It flopped, to put it simply. Then, came Nintendo to save the day with the Wavebird for the Gamecube. To put this simply, it didn’t flop. You can now thank Nintendo for not having to spend time untangling cables anymore.

4. Save Files

There are so many things we take for granted nowadays, and saving your game was one of them. We live in a world where we expect everything to be automated, and that includes our game saving. In the past, games were limited, not in terms of capacity, but in terms of time. You couldn’t make a game too long and risk the player turning off the console at any point and finding they couldn’t progress from when they left off.

credit: Nintendo

This all changed in 1987’s The Legend of Zelda on the NES, where a battery inside the cartridge allowed for games to be saved. And what more can I say? This swiftly became another standard in gaming that everyone loved.

3. The D-Pad

This was one of the real game changers. The humble directional pad seems like it was there since the birth of gaming, but it wasn’t until Nintendo came along and added it to their Game & Watch alongside the release of Donkey Kong.  Later put on the NES controller, it added a whole new collection of buttons and allowed game developers to manipulate their usage in many ways.

credit: Nintendo

But of course, we know the D-pad isn’t the main way to control video games anymore. That award goes to the analog stick!

2. Analog Stick

If you take anything away from this article, it’s that Nintendo developers are geniuses. The thumbstick is the most significant part of the controller today, and without it motion would be awkward. Disagree? Try pressing two buttons at once to move diagonally on the d-pad.

credit: Nintendo

These launched as far back as the 70s with the 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System and the Atari 5200 being the first to test the idea. Nintendo stands out because they made a controller that actually fit well in your hand and allowed you to use the D-pad in one and the thumbstick in the other in a more spread out fashion. The Nintendo 64 controller sparked a trend that has been refined over the years to what it is now in the gaming industry.

1. A Proper 3D Experience on Consoles

In the mid 90’s gaming was on the verge of exploding, and I mean that technically and metaphorically. Enter Super Mario 64. This game is still regarded as a favorite today. Whether or not you like the story isn’t the matter at hand. This was one of the first, if not the first game to exist in a well-refined 3D environment. Mario 64 laid the template for how a 3D game should be done and everyone followed suit.

credit: Nintendo

There were other 3D games (Sega’s Nights into Dreams comes to mind), but none of them had the same impact as Nintendo’s epic N64 launch title.