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Nintendo R&D4

Nintendo Research & Development 4 commonly abbreviated as Nintendo R&D4 was a development group that was formed for Shigeru Miyamoto in 1983 after he proved he can consistently produce outstanding games. During the 1970s, when Nintendo was still predominantly a toy company, they decided to expand into interactive entertainment and the video game industry. Several designers were hired to work under the Creative Department, which, at the time, was the only game development department within Nintendo. Among these new designers were Makoto Kano, who went on to design various Game & Watch games, and Shigeru Miyamoto, who would create various Nintendo franchises. In 1972, the department was renamed to Research & Development and employed about 20 people. The department was later consolidated into a division and separated into three groups, Nintendo R&D1, R&D2 and R&D3.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, former president of Nintendo, rewarded Shigeru Miyamoto his own development studio after proving himself with the Donkey Kong video games and Mario Bros. Yamauchi appointed Hiroshi Ikeda, former president of Toei Animation, as general manager, and Miyamoto as chief producer. Takashi Tezuka joined Shigeru Miyamoto in creating the R&D4 games, almost all of which were composed by Koji Kondo. They made a great team and to this day still work together.

With the arcade market dwindling, Nintendo R&D1’s former focus, the department concentrated most of their software development resources on the emerging handheld video game console market, primarily thanks to the worldwide success of Nintendo’s Game & Watch. This catapulted the R&D4 department to become the lead software developer for Nintendo’s home video game consoles, developing a myriad of games for the Famicom/NES home console.

Hiroshi Ikeda’s creative team had many video game design ideas but was lacking the necessary programming skills to make it all happen. Toshihiko Nakago, and his small company Systems Research & Development (SRD), had expertise in computer design and was very familiar with the Famicom chipset. SRD was originally hired to work with Masayuki Uemura’s Nintendo R&D2 to internally develop software development kits. When Nintendo R&D2 and SRD jointly began porting over R&D1 arcade games to the Famicom, Shigeru Miyamoto took the opportunity to lure Nakago away from R&D2, to help Miyamoto create his first Nintendo R&D4 video game, Excitebike. This would form the original R&D4 department composing of Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, and Minoru Maeda handling Game design; Koji Kondo and Akito Nakatsuka handling sound design; and Toshihiko Nakago and SRD became the technology and programming core.

They ended up creating Nintendo’s two most enduring franchises: Mario and Zelda. The phenomenal sales of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda fueled the expansion of the department with young game designers such as Hideki Konno, Katsuya Eguchi, Kensuke Tanabe, who would later become producers themselves.

In 1989, one year before the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was released in Japan, the R&D4 department was spun-off and made its own division named Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD). The division was comprised into two departments: the Software Development Department, which focused on video game development and was led by Miyamoto, and the Technology Development Department, which focused on programming and developing tools and was led by Takao Sawano. Nintendo EAD was the largest game development division of Nintendo that eventually merged into Nintendo EPD.

Nintendo in Kyoto
Division Research & Development 4 Department
Parent Company Nintendo
Location Kyoto, Japan
Developer Nintendo R&D4
Predecessor Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
Successor Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Founded 1983
Restructured 1989: Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD)
Defunct September 16, 2015

Known For:

Interviews that provide an inside look at game development at R&D4

Nintendo Entertainment System
1985Super Mario Bros BoxSuper Mario Bros.Famicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
1986The Legend of ZeldaFamicom Disk System
Nintendo Entertainment System
1986The Mysterious Murasame Castle BoxThe Mysterious Murasame CastleFamicom Disk SystemNintendoAction-Adventure
1986Super Mario Bros - The Lost Levels BoxSuper Mario Bros. 2: The Lost LevelsFamicom Disk SystemNintendoPlatformer
1987Zelda II - The Adventures of Link BoxZelda II: The Adventure of LinkFamicom Disk System
Nintendo Entertainment System
NintendoAction RPG
1987Doki Doki Panic BoxYume Kojo: Doki Doki PanicFamicom Disk SystemNintendoPlatformer
1987Shin Onigashima BoxShin OnigashimaFamicom Disk SystemNintendoAdventure
Visual Novel
1987Super Mario Bros 2 BoxSuper Mario Bros. 2Nintendo Entertainment SystemNintendoPlatformer
1988Ice Hockey BoxIce HockeyFamicom Disk System
Nintendo Entertainment System
1988Super Mario Bros 3 BoxSuper Mario Bros. 3Famicom
Nintendo Entertainment System
1989yūyūki BoxYūyūkiFamicom Disk SystemNintendoAdventure

Hiroshi IkedaHiroshi IkedaNintendoGeneral Manager1985-2018
Shigeru MiyamotoShigeru MiyamotoNintendoChief Producer1977-2019
Takashi TezukaTakashi TezukaNintendoGame Design1984-2019
Hideki KonnoHideki KonnoNintendoGame Design1987-2017
Katsuya EguchiKatsuya EguchiNintendoGame Design1987-2018
Kensuke TanabeKensuke TanabeNintendoGame Design1987-2019
Minoru MaedaMinoru MaedaNintendoGame Design1984-1998
Kazunobu ShimizuKazunobu ShimizuNintendoGame Design1987-2011
Yoichi YamadaYoichi YamadaNintendoGame Design1987-2019
Tadashi SugiyamaTadashi SugiyamaNintendoGame Design1983-2016
Hiroyuki KimuraHiroyuki KimuraNintendoGame Design1988-2019
Yoichi KotabeYōichi KotabeNintendoIllustrator1985-2007
Koji KondoKōji KondōNintendoSound Design1983-2019
Akito NakatsukaAkito NakatsukaNintendoSound Design1984-2014
Yasunari NishidaYasunari NishidaNintendoProgramming1986-2014
Toshihiko NakagoToshihiko NakagoSRDProgramming1981-2019
Kazuaki MoritaKazuaki MoritaSRDProgramming1984-2012
Toshio IwawakiToshio IwawakiSRDProgramming1987-2019
Profile PlaceholderYasunori TaketaniSRDProgramming1987-1996
Profile PlaceholderShigehiro KasamatsuSRDProgramming1987-2015
Profile PlaceholderTatsunori TakaturaSRDProgramming1987-1993
Yasunari SoejimaYasunari SoejimaSRDProgramming1984-2015
Profile PlaceholderTatsuo NishiyamaSRDProgramming1987-2015