The Nintendo Game Boy became the most popular selling console ever as sales surpassed 100 million. Meanwhile, the Pokémon franchise continued to be a worldwide phenomenon, and Nintendo celebrated its success with a limited edition release of Pikachu Nintendo 64. The N64 expanded its library of classics with hits such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Ridge Racer 64 and Mario Tennis.
The Nintendo of the Netherlands office became responsible for both Belgium and the Netherlands market and changed its name to Nintendo Benelux. Meanwhile, the headquarters of Nintendo Co., Ltd were relocated to Minami-ward of Kyoto, Japan.
Nintendo UK was established in January, and a new office opened in Slough, Berkshire, UK. Pokémon Gold and Silver for Game Boy Color were simultaneously and successfully launched in Europe on 6 April, 2001. Over its launch weekend, one million units of Pokémon Gold and Silver were sold, making it the fastest selling game ever in Europe. Game Boy Advance launched on 21 March in Japan, 11 June in US and 22 June across Europe. It set the mark as the fastest selling console ever with 500,000 units being sold within the first week in Europe. Game Boy Advance launch successes included first-party favourites such as Super Mario Advance and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity.
Nintendo GameCube was launched on 14 September, 2001 in Japan and 18 November, 2001 in America. In all, 2.7 million units were shipped by December, of which 95% sold through. The sales success of Luigi's Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee marked both popular games as flagship titles for the console.
Game Boy Advance e-Reader hardware launched in Japan on 1 December and brought a new meaning to portable gameplay. Different game information stored on e-Reader cards could be swiped through the e-Reader and transferred onto the Game Boy Advance.
Nintendo Italia was established on 2 January and opened an office in Milan. Game Boy Advance - now available in new Black and Platinum editions - smashed the 5 million hardware units barrier across Europe. Pokémon mini, the world's smallest console, was launched on 15 March across Europe with four titles, including Pokémon mini Party and Pokémon mini Pinball.
Nintendo, Sega and Namco announced joint development of 3D computer graphic board "TRIFORCE" on 22 February for next generation arcade machines. Nintendo GameCube launched in Europe on 3 May with 1 million units, a recommended retail price of €199 and 20 launch titles. Since that time, it's been joined on the shelves by spectacular new Mario adventure Super Mario Sunshine, revolutionary wireless controller Nintendo WaveBird, and over 100 titles of every genre and description.
At the end of May, after 52 years at the helm of the company, Nintendo Co., Ltd, President Hiroshi Yamauchi announced his retirement, naming Satoru Iwata as his successor. By the end of 2002, more than 25 million Game Boy Advance units were in homes around the world.
In March, the Game Boy Advance SP was released, building on the massive success of the Game Boy Advance by adding a smart clam-shell design. The new system was an instant success.
March also saw the release of the stunning Metroid Prime, hailed by fans and critics alike as one of the best games for Nintendo GameCube. In May, to celebrate the first birthday of Nintendo GameCube, the eagerly awaited The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker arrived, bringing one of Nintendo's flagship characters to the system in striking, cel-shaded style.
In June, the release of the Game Boy Player for Nintendo GameCube meant that gamers could experience Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles on their television sets. With the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire in July, the Pokémon phenomenon erupted for the first time on Game Boy Advance.
October saw the return of a well-loved franchise in the form of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for Nintendo GameCube.
January saw the worldwide announcement of Nintendo's ‘mystery system’: the Nintendo DS, a dual-screened handheld with Touch Screen technology.
In the autumn, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen are launched for Game Boy Advance, continuing the success of the Pokémon phenomenon.
2004 also saw the arrival of many different special editions of the Game Boy Advance: Tribal Edition (June), Classic NES Edition (July), Limited Pink Edition (October), Zelda Limited Edition (November) and Mario Limited Edition (November) were all released across Europe.
Toward the end of the year, the Nintendo DS was released in the US and Japan to immediate success. The new dual-screened system also featured wireless multiplayer, Touch Screen technology and backward compatibility with Game Boy Advance titles.
On 11 March, the Nintendo DS was launched in Europe to immediate success. By June the system had sold a million units throughout Europe.
Meanwhile, Nintendo introduced the Game Boy Micro. Measuring just 4 inches wide by 2 inches tall, the ultra-stylish Game Boy Micro featured a backlit screen.
In 2006, Nintendo DS rose to the top of the gaming world as the most popular portable console, thanks to games suitable for everyone. Players all over Europe made Animal Crossing: Wild World, New Super Mario Bros and Metroid Prime Hunters best-sellers.
Nintendogs ushered in the Touch! Generations brand of games, a range of titles that let people play like never before. Dr Kawashima's Brain Training - the top Touch! Generations title - became a huge hit even among people who never played before.
Nintendo DS renewed its look in June with the Nintendo DS Lite, which features brighter screens along with its slim design.
The year ended with the launch of Wii. The new home console with its innovative control system found an audience with both Nintendo fans and those who don't traditionally play videogames. The console's success is bolstered by titles such as Wii Sports and the newest episode in the Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Prior to the launch of Wii, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata conducted a series of internal interviews with Nintendo staff as well as external developers providing an in-depth look behind the scenes of the company and the process of bringing new hardware and software to market. The “Iwata Asks” series of interviews would be continued in years to come, often candidly revealing information about the inner workings of the company, both past and present.
With Wii’s emergence at the end of 2006, the stage was set in 2007 for the arrival of a range of titles that took advantage of the system’s unique capabilities and threw the door wide open to a whole new gaming audience.
Games like WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Endless Ocean and Big Brain Academy for Wii invited everyone to dive into the fun regardless of previous experience, while the arrival of Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption brought cherished Nintendo franchises back into being with the addition of new features only possible on Wii.
Fans of classic games rejoiced in September when the first Hanabi Festival was celebrated on Virtual Console. Millions of European Wii players could get their hands on titles like Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels for the very first time, as the Hanabi Festival saw the launch of gaming classics never before released in Europe.
The Mii Contest Channel launched on Wii in November, allowing players to enter Mii characters of their own creation in themed competitions. The Channel resides in an ongoing tradition of providing players with tools to allow them to express their creativity and get more actively involved with Nintendo products, further highlighting the shift from passive playing to active involvement.
On Nintendo DS, Sight Training: Enjoy Exercising and Relaxing Your Eyes as well as More Brain Training from Dr Kawashima expanded the Touch! Generations range of software and continued to attract new users, a feat also achieved by the newest instalment in the Legend of Zelda series, Phantom Hourglass - which invited players to control all the exploration and action on the Nintendo DS Touch Screen.
6 December saw the launch of the revamped website for Nintendo of Europe. From the purple colours of the Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance, the new website strives to convey the look and feel of Nintendo DS and Wii on the worldwide web.
Link’s Crossbow Training arrived alongside the Wii Zapper also in December, expanding the ways for everyone to play with Wii and bringing the curtain down on a year which saw a vast new audience experiencing games for the first time via Nintendo systems.
Building on the growing number of people discovering videogames for the first time through Wii and Nintendo DS whilst continuing to cater to long-time Nintendo fans, 2008 saw the release of more software that quickly scored a direct hit with public affections.
In April, Wii Fit and the Wii Balance Board took Europe by storm, inviting whole families to have fun at home whilst becoming more aware of their personal fitness levels. Later in the year, the launch of Mario Kart Wii and the Wii Wheel accessory brought players of all ages and experience levels together for classic Mario Kart action that was straightforward for beginners and engrossing for experts.
Continuing the trend on Nintendo DS, Professor Kageyama’s Maths Training and ‘Cooking Guide: Can’t decide what to eat?’ expanded on the traditional uses for games systems by turning calculation into a fun diversion and offering users a helping hand in the kitchen, while the arrival of Professor Layton and the Curious Village had players young and old scratching their heads for solutions to problematic puzzles.
The month of May saw the launch of WiiWare, a game download service that offered Wii owners access to a host of affordable and varied new titles that could be purchased from the comfort of their sofas via the Wii Shop Channel. Another new service, the Nintendo Channel, was also launched on Wii, providing users with access to info, news and interviews relating to upcoming titles.
In June Nintendo of Europe’s website welcomed another country with the inclusion of South Africa.
Towards the end of the year two more high-profile titles were released for Wii. Shigeru Miyamoto’s entry into the music game genre, Wii Music, allowed families to get together and freely experiment simulating the playing of a wide variety of music instruments. Closing the year was Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City which supported the Wii Speak accessory, connecting living rooms across an Internet connection, allowing players to talk to each other as they visited each other’s towns in the game.
In March 2009 Nintendo Iberica S.A. opened a branch office in Lisbon to provide marketing and commercial services of Nintendo products in Portugal. During the same month Nintendo also announced it had shipped its 100 millionth Nintendo DS system worldwide.
A month later the Nintendo DS range grew with the arrival of Nintendo DSi in Europe. The new handheld system included new camera and sound features that took the experience of using DS to the next level and made it an indispensable asset for those who picked one up.
Another major new feature was the introduction of Nintendo DSiWare, allowing players to download an ever-growing range of games and applications to give their handheld an even more personal touch. Notable releases that gave players a platform to let their creative juices flow were Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again that allowed players to create and share their own levels, while the free Flipnote Studio paved the way for an entire community of budding animators to share their handmade flipnotes with the world.
2009 also saw the release of the eagerly awaited Pokémon Platinum Version as well as Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box, while the active play phenomenon was extended to Nintendo DS with the release of ‘Walk With Me: Do You Know Your Walking Routine?’ which included two Activity Meters allowing players to keep track of their walking routines in a playful way.
In the Summer things really heated up with the launch of Wii Sports Resort, accompanied by the Wii MotionPlus accessory for greatly improved motion controls. Set on the sunny Wuhu Island resort players could experience activities ranging from swordplay to archery in an unprecedented way thanks to Wii MotionPlus. Later in the year the game also became part of a limited edition Wii Sports Resort Pak featuring an all-black version of the Wii hardware.
Wii Fit returned in a new shape, with Wii Fit Plus offering users more ways to monitor their fitness. The addition of a Calorie Check tool and the option of customising workouts around a player’s own personal needs ensured it was even more convenient for everyone to find their feet with the hit fitness software.
November saw the eagerly awaited launch of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which offered the first four-player experience in a Mario adventure, letting experienced players help newcomers along as they stormed Bowser’s castle together and catering for the continued expansion of the gaming audience as well as long-time Mario fans. It was also the first game to introduce the Super Guide feature which allowed players struggling with a particular level to let Luigi finish the level for them, thus preventing them from getting stuck before seeing the end of the game.
In January Nintendo announced it would be distributing Monster Hunter Tri for Wii in Europe, as part of an ongoing effort of providing strong third party support for quality titles. With free online play and full Wii Speak support the Japanese gaming phenomenon made its first entry on a Nintendo system.
February saw the launch of a limited edition Pink Nintendo DSi bundle including Nintendo presents: Style Boutique, the 2009 game that lets players experience the ins and outs of running their own fashion emporium.
The Nintendo DS range of handheld systems grew even larger in size in March when Nintendo DSi XL went on sale in Europe. Including all the features of the original Nintendo DSi, the Nintendo DSi XL boasted larger screens, a wider viewing angle making it suitable for playing games together, as well as a larger, more comfortable stylus and pre-installed Nintendo DSiWare games and applications.
Pokémon HeartGold Version and Pokémon SoulSilver Version joined the system on shop shelves in the same month, while more bite-sized fun came in April with the release of WarioWare: Do It Yourself for the Nintendo DS family of systems.
Summer gaming got off to a flying start with Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Wii. The sequel to 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy included brand new power-ups, the return of Yoshi and more gravity-based hijinks. In August, Nintendo continued to expand the gaming population with the release of Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training. Using the Nintendo DS Touch Screen, even people who had never considered themselves artistic before could learn to create impressive works of art. On Wii, a Nintendo heroine returned in September when METROID: Other M launched across Europe.
September saw another gaming icon reach a milestone, as Nintendo commenced celebrations for Mario’s 25th anniversary. Marking a quarter of a century since the release of Super Mario Bros. in Japan, the campaign included several limited edition hardware bundles released to celebrate Mario’s career.
The celebrations culminated in the release of Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition on Wii in December. Mario was joined on shop shelves by his old adversary with the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii.
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