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Nintendo R&D1

Nintendo Research & Development 1 commonly abbreviated as Nintendo R&D1 was a development group that was formed when Nintendo’s oldest video game development team Nintendo Research & Development split into several groups to expand their service offerings as well as for each team to concentrate on particular products and services. Founded around 1977, Gunpei Yokoi was appointed head of R&D1, while Masayuki Uemura was appointed head of Nintendo R&D2.

Gunpei Yokoi

Gunpei Yokoi’s R&D1 continued focusing on the creation of arcade games while developing hardware for Nintendo to enter into the handheld video game market while Masayuki Uemura’s R&D2 team focused on the creation of hardware for Nintendo to enter into the home console video game market. R&D1 shifted their focus away from experimenting with projection methods using various film-based formats that were used by Nintendo’s Research & Development prior to the division splitting into multiple groups. The team followed the video game industry in creating video arcade games based on micro-processor technology with the release of their first arcade game “Computer Othello” in 1978.

Nintendo had some success in Japan and was determined to expand into the North American market and decided to open Nintendo of America. Minoru Arakawa, president of the newly founded Nintendo of America placed a large order for Nintendo R&D1’s latest arcade game “Radar Scope” in 1979 as the game was very popular in Japan at the time. The game only stayed popular for a short period and by the time the game arrived in New York months had passed and the buzz surrounding the game had dissipated. The North American market was unimpressed leaving Nintendo of America stuck with thousands of unsold units. Faced with an imminent financial disaster Arakawa pleaded with Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s CEO and his father-in-law to provide him with a new game which could be placed in the unsold Radar Scope units so that the hardware could be reutilized.

Nintendo Logo Black
DivisionResearch & Development 1 Department
Parent CompanyNintendo
LocationKyoto, Japan
DeveloperNintendo R&D1
PredecessorResearch & Development
SuccessorSoftware Planning & Development

Donkey Kong Arcade CabinetHiroshi Yamauchi appointed the task of fixing the game to Shigeru Miyamoto one of Nintendo’s newest game designers. Shigeru Miyamoto determined that it would be best to build a new game from scratch instead of trying to tweak a game that was already not appealing to the North American market. Miyamoto designed Donkey Kong using the Radar Scope hardware and was able to convert the unsold units to be able to play his new game. Nintendo of America rebranded the arcade cabinets and launched Donkey Kong to see if it would rectify their financial issues, it went on to become a huge success and ended up saving Nintendo of America from bankruptcy.

The release of Donkey Kong in 1981 firmly secured Nintendo as a key video game developer in the western market. The team continued to develop and release high quality and popular arcade games such as Donkey Kong Jr., Popeye, Mario Bros and Donkey Kong 3 while developing other new product lines for Nintendo.

Game & Watch Logo

In the late 1970s during his daily commute Gunpei Yokoi noticed a bored businessman on the train playing with an LCD calculator to pass time. From observing the man, Yokoi conceived the idea of a device that would act as both a watch and a miniature video game which could be used to pass time. Gunpei Yokoi’s concept would come to fruition with the creation of the Game & Watch, a line of handheld electronic games. The Game & Watch series of devices were a massive success for Nintendo going on to sell a combined total of 43.4 million units worldwide over its lifecycle.

Game & Watch - BallReleased in 1980, Game & Watch: Ball was the first release in the Game & Watch Silver series, named after its metallic faceplate. Yokoi continued to evolve and refine the Game & Watch series over the release of 60 different hardware releases between 1980 and 1991. In early 1981 they debuted the Gold series, in mid-1981 a wide screen series and in 1982 introduced the Multi Screen series which would later be reintroduced when the Nintendo DS was released in 2004. While developing a Donkey Kong port for the Game & Watch the development team were investigating ways to simulate the control of Mario as they were unable to use a joystick like in the original arcade game as it would reduce the system’s portability, Yokoi came up with the idea of the direction pad (D-pad). Early Game & Watch systems had a button for each action such as moving left and right or jumping. However, for the new system the team introduced the “cross” directional pad, a flat, four-way directional control with one button on each point.

Nintendo Famicom Console

The D-pad became one of the most important controller innovations and has been incorporated in various forms in every major video game console since in conception in 1982. The D-pad was incorporated into R&D2’s Family Computer home console which released in 1983 in Japan and later redesigned as released in western markets as the Nintendo Entertainment System. R&D1 played a major role in the success of R&D2’s release of the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System by developing many early releases for the system.

The first of the releases were ports of their popular arcade titles such as Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong 3, Excitebike, Wild Gunman and Duck Hunt but it wasn’t long before unique titles were developed and released for the new console. Within R&D1 was a small team known as “Team Shikamaru” that was composed of Makoto Kano, Yoshio Sakamoto, and Toru Osawa. The group was responsible for designing characters and coming up with scripts for several games including Metroid and Kid Icarus.

Game Boy Logo

Following the success of the Game & Watch handheld line, the development team started working on its successor. This time the system would be designed around interchangeable cartridges opposed to dedicate built in games. Code named the “Dot Matrix Game” after its dull green dot-matrix screen the system was released in 1989 as the Game Boy. The Game Boy was an 8-bit handheld game console and was the first release in the Game Boy family of systems that would span seven different hardware releases between 1989 and 2005.

Nintendo’s second handheld game console, the Game Boy combines features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch hardware. The console features a dull green dot-matrix screen with adjustable contrast dial, five control buttons (D-pad, two game buttons, “start” and “select”), a single speaker with adjustable volume dial, and uses cartridges for its games. At launch, it was sold either as a standalone unit, or bundled with one of several games, namely Super Mario Land or Tetris.

Despite being technologically inferior to its fourth-generation competitors (Sega’s Game Gear, Atari’s Lynx, and NEC’s TurboExpress), the Game Boy received praise for its battery life and durability in its construction. It quickly outsold the competition, selling one million units in the United States within a few weeks. The Game Boy and its successor, the Game Boy Color, have sold an estimated 118 million units worldwide. It is one of the most recognizable devices from the 1990s, becoming a cultural icon in the years following its release. Several redesigns were released during the console’s lifetime, including the Game Boy Pocket in 1996 and the Game Boy Light in 1998.

Virtual BoyIn 1995, R&D1 released the Virtual Boy, a 32-bit table-top portable video game console designed to display stereoscopic 3D graphics using a head-mounted display. Gamers would place their face against the eyepiece to see a red monochrome display while the games used a parallax effect to create the illusion of depth. The Virtual Boy was a commercial failure in a rare miss by Nintendo to gauge market demand. The system only sold 770,000 units and was discontinued in early 1996.

On August 15, 1996 Gunpei Yokoi made the decision to part ways with Nintendo after over 30 years of service to form his own company, Koto Laboratory. After Yokoi’s departure engineer Takehiro Izushi was appointed the new general manager of the department. During the transition the decision was made to separate the department’s hardware team to create a new hardware development department called Nintendo Research & Engineering lead by Satoru Okada. The software development team remained with R&D1 shifting the department’s focus to develop games for other Nintendo developed consoles.

In 2004, the department, along with Nintendo R&D2, was absorbed into the newly created Nintendo Software Planning & Development division. Satoru Iwata created and appointed himself as general manager of the new division to focus on co-producing and supervising second-party development, thus relieving the Entertainment Analysis & Development division (EAD) and its general manager Shigeru Miyamoto to focus on first-party projects.

Known For:

The Video Game Years - Game & Watch


The Video Game Years

A TV show that examines the history, culture and oddities of video games. Each episode focuses on a specific year and the influential games of that year.

1978Computer OthelloComputer OthelloArcadeBoard Game
1978Test DriverTest DriverArcadeDriving
1978Block FeverBlock FeverArcadeAction
1979Space FeverSpace FeverArcadeShooter
1979Space LauncherSpace LauncherArcadeShooter
1979SheriffSheriffArcadeMulti-Directional Shooter
1979Monkey MagicMonkey MagicArcadeAction
1979Head on NHead On NArcadeMaze
1979Bomb Bee NBomb Bee NArcadePinball
Table Tennis
1979Dead LineDead LineArcadeMaze
1979Fancy BallFancy BallArcadeMaze
1980Space FirebirdSpace FirebirdArcadeShooter
1979Radar ScopeRadar ScopeArcadeShooter
1980HeliFireHeli FireArcadeShooter
1981Donkey Kong Arcade CabinetDonkey KongArcadePlatformer
1981Sky SkipperSky SkipperArcadeAction
1981Space DemonSpace DemonArcadeShooter
1982Donkey Kong JrDonkey Kong Jr.ArcadePlatformer
1982Popeye Arcade Cabinet Side ViewPopeyeArcadePlatformer
1983Mario Bros Cabinet 1Mario Bros.ArcadePlatformer
1983Donkey Kong 3Donkey Kong 3ArcadeShooter
1984vs Ballon FightVs. Balloon FightArcadePlatformer
1984vs BaseballVs. BaseballArcadeSports
1984vs SystemVs. Clu Clu LandArcadeAction
1984vs Duck HuntVs. Duck HuntArcadeLight Gun
1984vs ExcitebikeVs. ExcitebikeArcadeRacing
1984vs Hogan's AlleyVs. Hogan's AlleyArcadeLight Gun
1984vs PinballVs. PinballArcadePinball
1984vs TennisVs. TennisArcadeSports
1984vs System UprightVs. Urban ChampionArcadeFighting
1984vs Wild GunmanVs. Wild GunmanArcadeLight Gun
1984vs System UprightVs. Wrecking CrewArcadePlatformer
1984vs GolfVs. GolfArcadeSports
1984vs SystemVs. MahjongArcadeBoard Game
1985vs Ice ClimberVs. Ice ClimberArcadePlatformer
1985vs GolfVs. Ladies GolfArcadeSports
1985vs System UprightVs. SoccerArcadeSports
1986vs SlalomVs. SlalomArcadeSports
1986vs Super Mario BrosVs. Super Mario Bros.ArcadePlatformer
1986vs System UprightVs. VolleyballArcadeSports
1987vs GumshoeVs. GumshoeArcadeLight Gun
1990vs Dr MarioVs. Dr. MarioArcadePuzzle

1980Game & Watch - BallBallGame & WatchSilver
1980Game & Watch - FlagmanFlagmanGame & WatchSilver
1980Game & Watch - VerminVerminGame & WatchSilver
1980Game & Watch - FireFireGame & WatchSilver
1980Game & Watch - JudgeJudgeGame & WatchSilver
1981Game & Watch - ManholeManholeGame & WatchGold
1981Game & Watch - HelmetHelmetGame & WatchGold
1981Game & Watch - LionLionGame & WatchGold
1981Game & Watch - ParachuteParachuteGame & WatchWide Screen
1981Game & Watch - OctopusOctopusGame & WatchWide Screen
1981Game & Watch - PopeyePopeyeGame & WatchWide Screen
1981Game & Watch - ChefChefGame & WatchWide Screen
1981Game & Watch - Mickey MouseMickey MouseGame & WatchWide Screen
1981Game & Watch - EggEggGame & WatchWide Screen
1981Game & Watch - Fire (Wide Screen)FireGame & WatchWide Screen
1982Game & Watch - Turtle BridgeTurtle BridgeGame & WatchWide Screen
1982Game & Watch - Fire AttackFire AttackGame & WatchWide Screen
1982Game & Watch - Snoopy TennisSnoopy TennisGame & WatchWide Screen
1982Game & Watch - Oil PanicOil PanicGame & WatchMulti Screen
1982Game & Watch - Donkey KongDonkey KongGame & WatchMulti Screen
1982Game & Watch - Donkey Kong JrDonkey Kong Jr.Game & WatchNew Wide Screen
1982Game & Watch - Mickey & DonaldMickey & DonaldGame & WatchMulti Screen
1982Game & Watch - Green HouseGreen HouseGame & WatchMulti Screen
1983Game & Watch - Donkey Kong IIDonkey Kong IIGame & WatchMulti Screen
1983Game & Watch - Mario BrosMario Bros.Game & WatchMulti Screen
1983Game & Watch - Donkey Kong Jr (Table Top)Donkey Kong Jr.Game & WatchTable Top
1983Game & Watch - Mario's Cement Factory (Table Top)Mario's Cement FactoryGame & WatchTable Top
1983Game & Watch - Mario's Cement FactoryMario's Cement FactoryGame & WatchNew Wide Screen
1983Game & Watch - Snoopy (Table Top)SnoopyGame & WatchTable Top
1983Game & Watch - Rain ShowerRain ShowerGame & WatchMulti Screen
1983Game & Watch - Popeye (Table Top)PopeyeGame & WatchTable Top
1983Game & Watch - Manhole (Wide Screen)ManholeGame & WatchNew Wide Screen
1983Game & Watch - Popeye (Panorama)PopeyeGame & WatchPanorama
1983Game & Watch - Snoopy (Panorama)SnoopyGame & WatchPanorama
1983Game & Watch - Donkey Kong Jr (Panorama)Donkey Kong Jr.Game & WatchPanorama
1983Game & Watch - LifeboatLifeboatGame & WatchMulti Screen
1983Game & Watch - Mario's Bombs AwayMario's Bombs AwayGame & WatchPanorama
1983PinballGame & WatchMulti Screen
1984Game & Watch - Spitball SparkySpitball SparkyGame & WatchSuper Color
1984Game & Watch - Crab GrabCrab GrabGame & WatchSuper Color
1984Game & Watch - Mickey Mouse (Panorama)Mickey MouseGame & WatchPanorama
1984Game & Watch - BoxingBoxingGame & WatchMicro Vs. System
1984Game & Watch - Donkey Kong 3Donkey Kong 3Game & WatchMicro Vs. System
1984Game & Watch - Donkey Kong CircusDonkey Kong CircusGame & WatchPanorama
1984Game & Watch - Donkey Kong HockeyDonkey Kong HockeyGame & WatchMicro Vs. System
1985Game & Watch - Black JackBlack JackGame & WatchMulti Screen
1985Game & Watch - Tropical FishTropical FishGame & WatchNew Wide Screen
1986Game & Watch - SquishSquishGame & WatchMulti Screen
1986Game & Watch - Super Mario Bros (Crystal Screen)Super Mario Bros.Game & WatchCrystal Screen
1986Game & Watch - Climber (Crystal Screen)ClimberGame & WatchCrystal Screen
1986Game & Watch - Balloon Fight (Crystal Screen)Balloon FightGame & WatchCrystal Screen
1987Game & Watch - Bomb SweeperBomb SweeperGame & WatchMulti Screen
1987Game & Watch - Super Mario Bros (Special Edition)Super Mario Bros.Game & WatchSpecial Edition
1988Game & Watch - SafebusterSafebusterGame & WatchMulti Screen
1988Game & Watch - Gold CliffGold CliffGame & WatchMulti Screen
1988Game & Watch - Super Mario BrosSuper Mario Bros.Game & WatchNew Wide Screen
1988Game & Watch - ClimberClimberGame & WatchNew Wide Screen
1988Game & Watch - Balloon FightBalloon FightGame & WatchNew Wide Screen
1989Game & Watch - ZeldaZeldaGame & WatchMulti Screen
1991Game & Watch - Mario the JugglerMario the JugglerGame & WatchNew Wide Screen
2010Game & Watch - BallBallGame & WatchSpecial Edition
2020Super Mario Bros.Game & WatchSpecial Edition
35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros.
2021The Legend of ZeldaGame & WatchSpecial Edition
35th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda

1983NES BoxDonkey KongNintendo Entertainment SystemPlatform
1983Baseball BoxBaseballFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Famicom Disk System
1983Donkey Kong Jr Math BoxDonkey Kong Jr. MathFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Famicom Disk System
Board Game
1984Donkey Kong 3 BoxDonkey Kong 3Nintendo Entertainment SystemShooter
1984Devil World BoxDevil WorldNintendo Entertainment SystemMaze
Nintendo Entertainment System
1984Hogan's Alley BoxHogan's AlleyFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Light Gun
1984Urban Champion BoxUrban ChampionNintendo Entertainment SystemFighting
1984Clu Clu Land BoxClu Clu LandNintendo Entertainment SystemPuzzle
1984Tennis BoxTennisFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Famicom Disk System
1984Wild Gunman BoxWild GunmanFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Light Gun
1984Duck Hunt BoxDuck HuntFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Light Gun
1985Mach Rider BoxMach RiderFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
1985Balloon FightNintendo Entertainment SystemAction
1985Ice Climber BoxIce ClimberNintendo Entertainment SystemPlatformer
1985Wrecking Crew BoxWrecking CrewNintendo Entertainment SystemAction
1985Gyromite BoxGyromiteNintendo Entertainment System
1985Stack-up BoxStack-upNintendo Entertainment System
1986Gumshoe BoxGumshoeNintendo Entertainment SystemLight Gun
1986MetroidNintendo Entertainment System
Famicom Disk System
1986Kid Icarus BoxKid IcarusNintendo Entertainment System
Famicom Disk System
1987Volleyball BoxVolleyballNintendo Entertainment System
1987Nakayama Miho no Tokimeki High School BoxNakayama Miho no Tokimeki High SchoolNintendo Entertainment SystemDating Sim
1988Famicom Detective Club BoxFamicom Detective ClubNintendo Entertainment SystemAdventure
1988Famicom Grand Prix II - 3D Hot Rally BoxFamicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot RallyFamciom Disk SystemRacing
1989Alleyway BoxAlley WayGame BoyAction
1989Balloon Kid BoxBalloon KidGame BoyAction
1989Baseball Game Boy BoxBaseballGame BoySports
1989Famicom Detective Club 2 BoxFamicom Detective Club 2Nintendo Entertainment SystemAdventure
1989Tetris Game Boy BoxTetrisNintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
1989Super Mario Land BoxSuper Mario LandGame BoyPlatformer
1989Dr Mario BoxDr. MarioFamicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
1991Barker Bill's Trick Shooting BoxBarker Bill's Trick ShootingNintendo Entertainment SystemLight Gun
1990Solar Striker BoxSolar StrikerGame BoyScrolling Shooter
1991Kid Icarus of Myths and monsters BoxKid Icarus: Of Myths and MonstersGame BoyAction
1991Metroid II Return of Samus BoxMetroid II: Return of SamusGame BoyAction-Adventure
1992Clu Clu Land - Welcome to New Clu Clu Land BoxClu Clu Land: Welcome to New Clu Clu LandFamily Computer Disk SystemPuzzle
1992Super Mario Land 2 BoxSuper Mario Land 2: Six Golden CoinsGame BoyPlatformer
1992Battle Clash BoxBattle ClashSuper Nintendo
Super Famicom
1992Mario Paint BoxMario PaintSuper Nintendo
Super Famicom
1992Super Scope 6 BoxSuper Scope 6Super Nintendo
Super Famicom
Light Gun
Rail Shooter
1992X Game Boy BoxXGame BoySpace Combat Simulator
1993Tetris 2 BoxTetris 2Nintendo Entertainment System
1994Wario Land - Super Mario Land 3 BoxWario Land: Super Mario Land 3Game BoyPlatformer
1994Super Metroid BoxSuper MetroidSuper Nintendo
Super Famicom
1995Mario's Tennis BoxMario's TennisVirtual BoySports
1995Teleroboxer BoxTeleroboxerVirtual BoyFighting
1995Mario Clash BoxMario ClashVirtual BoyPlatformer
1995Virtual Boy Wario Land BoxVirtual Boy Wario LandVirtual BoyPlatformer
1995Kirby's Block Ball BoxKirby's Block BallGame BoyAction
1997Game & Watch Gallery BoxGame & Watch GalleryGame BoyCompilation
1997BS Tantei Club - Yuki ni Kieta Kako BoxBS Tantei Club: Yuki ni Kieta KakoSatellaviewAdventure
1997Game & Watch Gallery 2 BoxGame & Watch Gallery 2Game Boy
Game Boy Color
1998Wario Land II BoxWario Land IIGame Boy
Game Boy Color
1998Tetris DX BoxTetris DXGame Boy ColorPuzzle
1998Wrecking Crew 98 BoxWrecking Crew '98Super FamicomAction
1999Game & Watch Gallery 3 BoxGame & Watch Gallery 3Game Boy ColorCompilation
2000Trade & Battle - Card Hero BoxTrade & Battle: Card HeroGame Boy ColorRPG
2000Wario Land 3 BoxWario Land 3Game Boy ColorPlatromer
2000Sin and Punishment BoxSin and PunishmentNintendo 64Rail Shooter
2001Wario Land 4 BoxWario Land 4Game Boy AdvancePlatformer
2002Metroid Fusion BoxMetroid FusionGame Boy AdvanceAction-Adventure
2003Nintendo Puzzle Collection BoxNintendo Puzzle CollectionGameCubeCompilation
2003WarioWare, Inc. - Mega Microgame$! BoxWarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames!Game Boy AdvanceAction
2003WarioWare, Inc. - Mega Party Games! BoxWarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Games!GameCubeParty Game
2004Metroid Zero Mission BoxMetroid: Zero MissionGame Boy AdvanceAction-Adventure

1989Game BoyGame BoyHandheld
1995Game Boy Play-It-Loud! - TransparentGame Boy Play-It-Loud!Handheld
1995Virtual BoyVirtual BoyHandheld
1996Game Boy PocketGame Boy PocketHandheld

Gunpei YokoiGunpei YokoiNintendoGeneral Manager
Takehiro IzushiTakehiro IzushiNintendoGeneral Manager
Yoshio SakamotoYoshio SakamotoNintendoDirector
Hitoshi YamagamiNintendoDirector
Toru OsawaToru OsawaNintendoDirector1985-2019
Hirofumi MatsuokaHirofumi MatsuokaNintendoDesigner1984-2011
Makoto KanoNintendoDesigner
Shigeru MiyamotoShigeru MiyamotoNintendoDirector
Yukio KaneokaYukio KaneokaNintendoSound Engineer
Hirokazu TanakaHirokazu TanakaNintendoComposer
Sound Engineer
Genyo TakedaGenyo TakedaNintendoDesigner1972-2017
Masao YamamotoMasao YamamotoNintendoProgrammer
Kenji NishizawaKenji NishizawaNintendoProgrammer
Technical Support
Business Coordinator
Masayuki UemuraMasayuki UemuraNintendoProducer
Kenji MikiKenji MikiNintendoDirector
President of Mario Club
Kazuaki MoritaKazuaki MoritaSRDProgrammer1984-2012
Toshihiko NakagoToshihiko NakagoSRDProgrammer1981-2019
Tadashi SugiyamaTadashi SugiyamaNintendoGame Designer1983-2016
Akito NakatsukaAkito NakatsukaNintendoSound Design1984-2014
Satoru OkadaSatoru OkadaNintendoChief Director
Satoru IwataSatoru IwataHAL Laboratory
President of Nintendo
Hiroji KiyotakeHiroji KiyotakeNintendoArtist
Kenji NakajimaNintendoProgrammer
Profile PlaceholderToshio SengokuIntelligent SystemsProgrammer
Kenji ImaiKenji ImaiIntelligent SystemsProgrammer
Project Manager
Toru NarihiroToru NarihiroIntelligent SystemsProgrammer
Takahiro HaradaTakahiro HaradaNintendoProgrammer
Masahiko MashimoMasahiko MashimoNintendoDesigner
Hiroyuki KimuraHiroyuki KimuraNintendoGame Designer1988-2019
Tomoyoshi YamaneTomoyoshi YamaneNintendoDesigner
Kenji YamamotoKenji YamamotoNintendoComposer
Sound Supervisor
Minako HamanoMinako HamanoNintendoComposer
Sound Coordinator
Yasuhiko FujiiYasuhiko FujiiIntelligent SystemsProgrammer1992-1994
Katsuya YamanoNintendoProject Manager1991-2018
Yusuke NakanoYusuke NakanoNintendoIllustration Supervisor1992-2019
Shinya SanoShinya SanoNintendoDesigner