Did Nintendo Make Card Games?

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By Eric Wilson

Nintendo is a household name when it comes to video games. From iconic characters like Mario and Zelda to groundbreaking consoles like the Nintendo Switch, the company has been at the forefront of the gaming industry for decades. But did you know that Nintendo also dabbled in card games?

In the early 1900s, Nintendo was actually a playing card company. Founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, the company initially produced traditional Japanese playing cards called hanafuda. These cards were used to play various games and were popular among gamblers.

Over time, Nintendo expanded its reach and began producing Western-style playing cards as well. The company’s playing cards became so popular that by the mid-20th century, they accounted for half of all playing cards sold in Japan.

But despite its success in the world of playing cards, Nintendo eventually shifted its focus to video games. In 1977, the company released its first video game console, the Color TV-Game. This was followed by a series of successful consoles such as the NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64.

However, even though Nintendo no longer produces traditional playing cards, it has continued to incorporate card-based elements into some of its video games. For example, many Pokémon games feature a collectible card game component where players can collect virtual trading cards and battle against other players.

In addition to Pokémon, there have been other Nintendo games with card-based elements as well. The Game Boy Advance game Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga featured a battle system where players would use cards to select their attacks.

Overall, while Nintendo may have started as a playing card company, it’s clear that video games are now its main focus. However, elements from its past can still be seen in some of its modern titles.


In conclusion, while most people associate Nintendo with video games rather than playing cards these days, the company actually started out as a playing card manufacturer. Its hanafuda cards were hugely popular in Japan, and Nintendo eventually expanded into producing Western-style playing cards as well. However, with the advent of video games, Nintendo shifted its focus and has since become one of the biggest names in the gaming industry.

Despite this shift, Nintendo has continued to incorporate card-based elements into some of its games. Whether it’s collecting virtual trading cards in Pokémon or using cards to select attacks in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, it’s clear that Nintendo hasn’t completely forgotten its roots in playing cards.

Overall, whether you’re a fan of playing cards or video games (or both!), there’s no denying the impact that Nintendo has had on both industries over the years.