While many other companies in the game industry are always in a state of constant refocus and re-invigoration, there has always been one company that has stayed true to themselves for years. This company is Nintendo, a software and hardware developer that has been alive through many of the thick and thin trials and tribulations of the video game industry. They are a game company that has always seemed to surprise everyone even during times where many critics and analyst would herald their coming end. At the same time, their contributions to the game industry have not only withstood the never-ending tests of time but have also managed to always find a niche within the hearts of gaming generations old and new.
These are the kind of characteristics similar to another company from an entirely different field, specifically in the realm of traditional animation, where both draw interesting parallels to one another. As a company that has accomplished and given gamers so much over the years, Nintendo should be considered the Disney of the video game industry.
One of the many charms of Nintendo and their games they have created over the years are the characters we have all grown to love and associated heavily with gaming. Much like how Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, a character that will forever be synonymous with traditional animation, Shigeru Miyamoto’s mascot Mario has too become a recognizable symbol in the video game world. The gameplay formula for Super Mario Brothers has constantly been modeled after and refined by different games long after it’s initial release on the Nintendo Entertainment System. In similar fashion, Mickey Mouse cartoons have too been viewed as cornerstone achievements in animation, which have been referenced to and used primary as examples by many other cartoons that followed after. Both characters were created by men from different companies that had their own unique visions, and both have become icons within their respective industries.
The two conglomerates that are Nintendo and Disney are not defined solely by one creation from each side. Both have been well known to produce many different titles in their fields that have contributed and come together to form their own character “universes”. For Nintendo, the game universe from their titles comprises of many unique and interesting characters they have created over the years. This would include properties such as The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Metroid, F-Zero, Fire Emblem, and many others that have been on all the different Nintendo consoles spanning back to the NES.
At the same time, Disney has created their own universe with characters that come from the many animated movies and cartoons they have produced since the early 1940s, including Snow White, Donald Duck, Aladdin, The Rescuers, and many more. And while one can argue that one universe has many more characters than the other, both sides have unlimited variety in cross-overs that come from their respective universes. Stories and events that happen in titles like Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers and Disney’s House of Mouse only work well because of the massive wells of characters that both companies are able to draw from.
Both Disney and Nintendo have an appeal to a wide and massive audience. For Nintendo, unlike its different competitors in the video game industry, they have always created games that had similar appeal to both older and newer generations of gamers. Despite having a mature or heavy subject matter at times, the focus and handling of their titles have always managed to become beloved by younger gamers as well as older adults into the hobby, satisfying both audiences in the process. This is evident in games like The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, and Metroid. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Disney has done almost the exact same thing with all of their film animations and cartoons. Movies like The Lion King, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, and many others deal with heavy and mature subject matters, but still manage to deliver the messages in a fashion that could be absorbed by audiences of any age. Nintendo and Disney are companies that deliver stories and experiences that are made for everyone and don’t lock their appeal to one niche audience.
The creations of both Disney and Nintendo are interesting in how they both are very similar, but what is equally as interesting is the similarities in the philosophies and focus that both demonstrate in their fields. Nintendo has always been a company that makes video games, where the emphasis on what they create is on providing fun gameplay experiences for everyone. In an industry that has become more recently populated by a strong yearning for sequels and releases that cater to a “hardcore” niche audience, Nintendo has always taken the road of creating “their own kind” of games, titles focusing on fun gameplay and experiences, outside of what the industry demands. This has led to Nintendo coming under much scrutiny at first, but later surprising everyone with unexpected success.
Disney has accomplished something very similar in creating their movie animations that have become classics in the film world. In the early days of both animation and film, it was widely believed that cartoons were solely meant for children and could not tell emotional stories as well as traditional live-action films. Disney focused on refining and evolving the art-form of animation to a point where their films could display a wide range of human emotions, leading to films like Beauty and the Beast to become the only animated film nominated for an Oscar.
Nintendo’s achievements and history as a company have various parallels to that of Disney. Much like the house that Mickey built, the house that Mario built has gone through many challenges that have shaped it into the company we all know it as today. The characters and worlds that Nintendo has created throughout its history have stuck with us for years and will continue to become synonymous with the video game industry.
Both Nintendo and Disney, much like Mario and Mickey Mouse, are cornerstones of their respective industries. And similar to how Disney and their creations will be around for ages, the contributions from Nintendo will also withstand the tests of time and forever be a part of the video game industry. For gamers who have a passion for our hobby, Nintendo is our version of Disney within our young industry.
Let us know your thoughts on the similarities (and differences) between Nintendo and Disney in the comments below. What are some of your favorite worlds created by each company?