Nintendo is 125 years old, and they have been making games since before arcades as we know them even existed. You build up quite a family tree in all that time, and someone traced all of it, back to the start.
Vin Lauria is a freelance graphic designer who also has a fondness for history and Nintendo games. He spent three weeks tracing the lineage of various Nintendo franchises and compiled them all into a massive infographic, which you can see at the bottom of this post.
There are a few reasons he did this project, but one of the most important is to inform people who have moved on to other systems about Nintendo’s history:
To me, it always seemed like Nintendo is the tree trunk that everyone else in the industry just branches off of. PlayStation came out of a failed SNES CD add-on. A major part of SEGA’s claim to fame was their big Gen4 war with Nintendo. The Xbox was essentially Microsoft making a new console out of the corpse of the SEGA Dreamcast, which they assisted in creating. Nintendo’s the longest-surviving major player in the industry and a big catalyst in so many goings-on, but… I just see so much ignorance about them. I talked to one guy about a week ago — on a gaming message board — who upon hearing of Mario Kart 8, was surprised to know there were even Mario Karts 2-7. He didn’t even know there was anything after the first one he played all those years ago. Mario Kart, of all things. That’s just one extreme example, but this kinda stuff just keeps happening everywhere I look. Even that Reddit thread I posted, you have comments like “Wow, there was all that stuff for the GameCube? I got out before the N64 was over. I didn’t know their output remained so high.” It’s Nintendo!
He also brings up a good point about how big the video game industry has gotten, seemingly faster than people can appreciate it:
And that’s the main point. Continuing from my point above, for the most lucrative medium in the world at the moment, the video game industry appears to care so little about its own history. Oh sure, you have all those retro-esque indie games and occasionally big companies porting their old stuff. And you get a few earnest efforts every now and then like the “Did You Know Gaming?” YouTube series, or a page on Wikipedia on the (fairly abridged) history of Nintendo. But no one’s really explored this stuff in-depth. And with the medium attracting more newcomers than ever, there’s barely any archival efforts or attempts to teach all these people about everything they missed. And this is a history that many of us were here for. This isn’t ancient stuff, y’know. This is recent. This is a history that there are millions of first-hand accounts of from damn well near its inception and no one’s paying attention to it.
As for where the info came from, it took more than just Wikipedia:
Anyway. that’s not to say all of this came from my head. There was a lot of fact-checking in making this, and my sources are at the bottom-right of the chart. I actually learned quite a bit myself from making this, and probably the biggest fact I had was just how many minor franchises they have. The misc section up top was the last thing I did and for a while I thought I was on the final stretch when I started it, but it just kept growing and growing. And though there were definitely times that Wikipedia and TVTropes came in handy, my primary source throughout the project was the NIWA: Nintendo Independent Wiki Alliance. These guys are great. As the name suggests, it’s a loose group of separately-run wikis on different Nintendo IPs and for the most part, they’re very thorough. It’s pretty much a one-stop knowledge compendium for everything Nintendo. I’ve actually done a couple contributions to a few of them myself, but there’s still a whole lot to do and if there’s one effect I’d like to see come from this, it’d be getting more people involved in the NIWA and anthropological documentation of video games in general.
Here’s the full infographic, click ‘expand’ in the top left corner to embiggen it:
You can see Vin’s portfolio here.