Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan
Reviewed by Andrew H.
It’s hard to imagine a world without the Mario Bros, but it was never a sure bet. Nintendo was a struggling arcade company in the 1980s known more for their cheap knock offs rather than genre-defining innovations.
This book by Jeff Ryan illuminates Nintendo’s path to dominance. Nintendo had been a trading card company since the 1800s, but were stuck in obscurity and financial dire straits. They even experimented with Love Motels (cheap rooms that could be rented by the hour for the purposes of, well, love). That business model failed.
It wasn’t until Nintendo’s CEO plucked a shaggy-haired non-programmer named Shigeru Miyamoto from the bottom ranks of Nintendo to design a game that would become a sure-fire hit in America that the company really made its mark.
What he designed was Donkey Kong, a game without any guns or violence that dominated the arcade market. It wasn’t a sure-fire bet but it was the best bet they had and it worked. Donkey Kong introduced Super Mario into the world as Jumpman and a legend was born. Super Mario is now more recognizable and ubiquitous than Mickey Mouse, and Nintendo went from being a company aimed for the dustbin to defining the home console video game market.
Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered the World is a fun read for any fan of video games and even contains a nugget of Texas trivia starring George W. Bush.
Copies of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered the World are available on our shelves and via www.bookpeople.com.