Nintendo Research & Development 1
Founded 1970
Division of Nintendo
Manager Gunpei Yokoi (1970 - 1996)
Takehiro Izushi (1996 - 2003)
Location Kyoto, Japan

Nintendo Research & Development 1 (任天堂開発第一部, R&D1) was the original video game development group within Nintendo. It was originally known simply as Nintendo Research & Development until Nintendo Research & Development 2 was formed in 1972. It was managed by Gunpei Yokoi from its creation in 1970 until 1996, and by Takehiro Izushi from 1996 until Nintendo's internal development groups were restructured by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in 2003.

Formation of Nintendo Research & Development

In 1970, the Nintendo Research & Development division of Nintendo was formed to develop the Beam Gun series of toys, utilizing a light gun designed by Masayuki Uemura, in which the light gun fired at physical targets. Then, in 1971, Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi wanted to expand their lightgun toys into a shooting range simulation. He asked Gunpei Yokoi, who had created several successful toys for Nintendo, to create a simulation based on clay pigeon shooting.

Hiroshi Yamauchi intended for these shooting range simulations to be installed in vacant bowling alleys. After Americans brought bowling to Japan after they continued to live there after World War II, bowling became a popular Japanese pastime. The Japanese bowling fad was short-lived however, as by the 1970s, many bowling alleys were sitting abandoned. Nintendo purchased several of these bowling alleys with the intention to convert them into electronic shooting ranges. Gunpei Yokoi and Masayuki Uemura, together with Genyo Takeda, created a shooting gallery game to use in Nintendo's converted bowling alleys.

The result was the Laser Clay Shooting System, which consisted of a screen, with a film of clay pigeons broadcast on it over an overhead projector. In front was the lightgun, which when fired, a network of reflective surfaces would register whether the shot was a hit or a miss. The game was unveiled in 1973, however its first demonstration didn't work properly. Yokoi had to stand behind the screen, adding the score to the system manually. After its unveiling, the bug in the program was fixed, and the game worked perfectly for the rest of the time it was in operation.

Simulation System

After the 1973 Oil Crisis, Nintendo had to abandon its grand plans to use Japan's bowling alleys as electronic shooting ranges. They reduced the size of the system so that it could be sold as an arcade game. The Laser Clay Shooting System was adapted for the smaller setup and was sold to arcades as Mini Laser Clay. Sales for Nintendo's Simulation System started off slowly, but they gradually increased in volume, which led to Nintendo adapting the system for use with other 16-mm films. The additional games were Wild Gunman in 1974, Shooting Trainer and Sky Hawk in 1976, Battle Shark and Test Driver in 1977, and New Shooting Trainer in 1978.

There were also two arcade games produced using EVR film on a cathode ray tube display. In these games, up to six players would watch a film of various sports and they would bet on which one would be the winner. The first of the two games was EVR Race, released in 1975, which had a video of either horses or cars racing. The second was EVR Baseball, released in 1976, which had a video of a baseball game.

Early arcade games utilizing computer graphics

In 1978, Nintendo began developing arcade games with graphics that were produced using computer graphics. The earliest arcade games using discrete-circuitry, where the logic was programmed into the system chips, rather than the later games that contained a central processing unit. The first of these games was Computer Othello, released in June 1978. This was followed, in November 1978, by Block Fever. These games would later be released for home use as Computer TV-Game and Color TV-Game Block Breaker, respectively.

Nintendo began developing arcade games using the Intel 8080 CPU in 1979. These games included Space Fever, SF-HiSplitter, Space Launcher, and Sheriff and Sheriff 2 in 1979, and Helifire in 1980.

In 1980, Sega/Gremlin published a game developed by Nintendo R&D1, which used a Zilog Z80 CPU. It was titled Space Firebird. Another space shooter was developed using the same hardware in 1981, titled Space Demon.

Game & Watch

Gunpei Yokoi got the idea for simple handheld games using a liquid crystal display after watching a man on a bullet train push buttons on an LCD calculator. The result was the Game & Watch series, which became a hit in Japan and North America, leading to games being released over the course of eleven years. These games were released in a few variations:

Silver: The original five Game & Watch games were released in 1980. They had a silver case and a standard, single, LCD screen. These included Ball, Flagman, Vermin, Fire, and Judge.

Gold: The games that were released with the standard, single, LCD screen in 1981 had a gold case to differentiate them from the original games. These games included Manhole, Helmet, and Lion.

Wide Screen: After the first two iterations, games began being produced with a single, wide screen LCD. These included a wide screen re-release of Fire, as well as Parachute, Octopus, Popeye, Chef, Mickey Mouse, and Egg in 1981, and Turtle Bridge, Fire Attack, and Snoopy Tennis in 1982.

Multi Screen: More complex games were designed using a multi-screen system, consisting of a clamshell design, with gameplay that takes place simultaneously on two LCD screens. These games included Oil Panic, Donkey Kong, Mickey & Donald, and Green House in 1982, Game & Watch Donkey Kong II, Mario Bros., Rain Shower, Lifeboat, and Pinball in 1983, Black Jack in 1985, Squish in 1986, Bomb Sweeper in 1987, Safebuster and Gold Cliff in 1988, and Zelda in 1989.

New Wide Screen: The wide-screen releases that followed were branded as “New Wide Screen”, to differentiate them from the original wide screen games. These included Donkey Kong Jr. in 1982, Mario's Cement Factory and a wide screen re-release of Manhole in 1983, Tropical Fish in 1985, Super Mario Bros., Climber, and Balloon Fight in 1988, and Mario the Juggler in 1991.

Table Top: Four table top Game & Watch games were released in 1983 that resembled miniature arcade machines. These used a color LCD that required a bright light, which would shine through a window at the top of the unit in order to illuminate the screen. These games included table top versions of Donkey Kong Jr., Mario's Cement Factory, and Popeye, as well as a new game titled Snoopy.

Panorama: The panorama games were handheld devices that used a color LCD and contained a mirror which allowed the screen to be visible in bright light. The games released in this format included panorama versions of Snoopy, Popeye, Donkey Kong Jr., and a new game titled Mario's Bombs Away in 1983, and Mickey Mouse (unrelated to the earlier wide screen game of the same name) and Donkey Kong Circus in 1984.

Super Color: In 1984, the “Super Color” line was released. These games had different coloured LCD panels to represent the characters on the screen. The two games released under this line were Spitball Sparky and Crab Grab.

Micro Vs.: The Micro Vs. games were released in 1984. These games had two tiny controllers attached to the unit to allow for two player gaming. The three games released in this line were Boxing, Donkey Kong 3, and Donkey Kong Hockey.

Crystal Screen: The “Crystal Screen” series was released in 1986. They had a translucent shell, which allowed viewing through the play area. The three games released in this line were Super Mario Bros., Climber, and Balloon Fight.

Radar Scope, Donkey Kong, and arcade success

In 1980, Nintendo R&D1 developed a game that used a Z80 CPU, titled Radar Scope. As it was popular for a short time in Japan, the president of Nintendo of America, Minoru Arakawa, put in a large order for the game. However, it did not achieve the success in the United States that it had in Japan. Left with thousands of unsold Radar Scope cabinets, Arakawa asked Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi to provide him with a game that could be installed in existing Radar Scope cabinets.

Yamauchi asked Nintendo employees to submit ideas for a new game. Shigeru Miyamoto's idea was chosen, and he worked with other members of Nintendo R&D1 to produce Donkey Kong. Conversion kits were sent to Nintendo of America, and Arakawa, his wife, and a small team performed the conversions. Donkey Kong was released on July 1, 1981. It was a huge success in both Japan and North America, propelling Nintendo to a position as an industry leader.

Following the success of Donkey Kong, more arcade games were released on Z80 hardware, including Sky Skipper in 1981, Popeye and Donkey Kong Junior in 1982, and Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong 3 in 1983.

Development for the Nintendo Entertainment System

In 1983, due to the success of his arcade games, Shigeru Miyamoto was promoted to chief producer at the newly formed Nintendo Research & Development 4. Development at Nintendo R&D1 shifted to the Family Computer, which was released in Japan on July 15, 1983.

After the North American video game crash of 1983, interest in the video game market was tepid. Nintendo looked for ways to alleviate retail fears for the new system, which was renamed the Nintendo Entertainment System outside of Japan. Yokoi developed R.O.B., the Robotic Operating Buddy (titled the Family Computer Robot in Japan). It was marketed as a novel toy, and was sold in the “Deluxe Set”, which included the NES console, R.O.B., and a pack-in game supported by R.O.B. titled Gyromite. Only one other game was developed for R.O.B., Stack-Up. Both the Deluxe Set and Stack-Up were released at the NES console launch in North America on October 18, 1985.

Other games Nintendo R&D1 developed for this system include 10-Yard Fight, Baseball, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Popeye in 1983, Clu Clu Land, Devil World, Duck Hunt, Donkey Kong 3, Excitebike, Hogan's Alley, Pinball, Tennis, and Wrecking Crew in 1984, Ice Climber, Urban Champion and Balloon Fight in 1985, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Gumshoe, and Volleyball in 1986, Miho Nakayama High School and Three of the Galaxies (port of The Earth Fighter Rayieza by Enix) in 1987, Famicom Detective Club and Famicom Wars in 1988, Famicom Detective Club 2, Tetris, and Dr. Mario in 1989, Barker Bill's Trick Shooting, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, and Hello Kitty World (port of Balloon Kid by Pax Softnica) in 1990, Yoshi's Cookie in 1992, Tetris 2 in 1993, and Wario's Woods in 1994.

Development for the Famicom Disk System

When the Family Computer Disk System was released on February 21, 1986, Nintendo R&D1 began developing games for this Famicom disk add-on. The games released for this system include Kid Icarus and Metroid in 1986, Famicom Grand Prix: F1 Race in 1987, Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally and The Missing Heir in 1988, and The Girl In The Back in 1989.

Nintendo R&D1 also developed an arcade version of Ice Climber on Nintendo's NES-based Nintendo VS. System, titled Vs. Ice Climber in 1985. This game was improved over the original, as it contained more mountains and had effects not present in the NES version, such as blizzards. Nintendo R&D1 ported Vs. Ice Climber to the Famicom Disk System in 1988.

Game Boy

Gunpei Yokoi developed a portable gaming system in 1989, the Game Boy, which would achieve more success than his previous Game & Watch series. The Game Boy used a Z80 CPU and had a greyscale LCD on a green background, which resulted in a green-tinted image. The system proved immensely popular worldwide, due to its long battery life. Sales were also helped by the fact that Yokoi was able to secure the rights to include Tetris as a pack-in launch title outside of Japan.

Other games Nintendo R&D1 developed for this system include Alleyway, Super Mario Land and Dr. Mario in 1989, Balloon Kid, F-1 Race, Radar Mission, Solar Striker and Qix (port of the Taito arcade game) in 1990, Game Boy Wars and Metroid 2: Return of Samus in 1991, X, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls, Yoshi's Cookie, and Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins in 1992, Wario Land and Kirby's Block Ball in 1994, and Game Boy Gallery in 1995.

Super Scope, Super NES Mouse, and Super NES development

In 1990, Nintendo released the Super Famicom (known as Super NES outside of Japan). Nintendo R&D1 developed a unique light gun peripheral for this system, in the shape of a bazooka, named the Super Scope. It was released in 1992, along with the pack-in title, Super Scope 6. Nintendo R&D also developed two other games that were compatible with the Super Scope, Battle Clash in 1992, and Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge in 1993.

In 1992, Nintendo R&D1 developed another Super NES peripheral, the Super NES mouse, as well as Mario Paint, the game that was packaged with the mouse.

Other games developed by Nintendo R&D1 for this system include Super Play Action Football in 1992, Yoshi's Safari in 1993, Super Metroid in 1994, Panel de Pon in 1995, and Wrecking Crew '98 in 1998.

Virtual Boy

In 1985, a red LED eyepiece display technology called Scanned Linear Array was developed by the Massachusetts-based Reflection Technology, Inc. They marketed it to several large companies in the electronics industry, including Mattel, Hasbro, and Sega. The device was turned down, due to its red-tinted monochrome display and worries about motion sickness.

Gunpei Yokoi liked the device, and sought to create a game device using it. In the mid-1990s, while Nintendo Research & Development 3 was developing for the upcoming Nintendo 64, the other divisions were free to come up with new product ideas. The result was the Virtual Boy, which was in development at Nintendo for four years before release. Other LCD devices were tested, but Nintendo went with the original red display, because it was the cheapest, and because color displays caused players to not see depth, but rather they just saw double images.

The Virtual Boy was released on July 21, 1995 in Japan and on August 16, 1995 in North America. It sold poorly, due to concerns over the red-tinted monochrome display, the uncomfortable headset, and reports of motion sickness. It was discontinued in 1996.

Nintendo R&D1 released four games for this system in 1995. These games were Mario's Tennis, TeleroBoxer, Mario Clash, and Virtual Boy Wario Land.

Resignation of Gunpei Yokoi and promotion of Takehiro Izushi

After the failure of the Virtual Boy, Gunpei Yokoi resigned from Nintendo on August 15, 1996. Prior to his sudden death due to a traffic accident on October 4, 1997, he formed a new company, Koto, and designed the Bandai Wonderswan handheld video game console. After Yokoi's resignation, Takehiro Izushi was promoted to lead Nintendo R&D1.

The games produced under Izushi's tenure include Game & Watch Gallery and Wario Land II for the Game Boy in 1997, Game & Watch Gallery 2 for the Game Boy Color and BS Detective: Club Lost Memories in the Snow for the Super Famicom Satellaview in 1998, Game & Watch Gallery 3 for the Game Boy Color in 1999, Wario Land 3 and Trade & Battle: Card Hero for the Game Boy Color and Sin and Punishment for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, Wario Land 4 for the Game Boy Advance in 2001, Metroid Fusion and Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade for the Game Boy Advance in 2002, WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$! for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo Puzzle Collection for the GameCube in 2003, and Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Boy Advance and WarioWare Inc.: Mega Party Games! for the GameCube in 2004.

Restructuring of the Nintendo Research & Development Teams

In 2003, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata disbanded Nintendo Research & Development 1 during a restructure of Nintendo's internal development groups. Staff members of Nintendo R&D1 were reassigned to Nintendo Software Planning & Development and Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development. After the restructuring, Takehiro Izushi left his game development role to take a supervisory role in general affairs at Nintendo.

Nintendo R&D1 games owned by WEC Museum

Title Developer Released Added to the Museum Notes
Ball Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2011
2012
December 4, 2017
December 4, 2017
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Ball.
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 2 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Ball.
Balloon Fight Nintendo R&D1 2002
2002
2016
2016
January 20, 2003
January 20, 2018
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Balloon Fight is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES version on Balloon Fight-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Balloon Fight is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Balloon Fight is included.
Baseball Nintendo R&D1 2002
2002
January 20, 2003
January 20, 2018
The WEC Museum owns Baseball-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Baseball is included.
Clu Clu Land Nintendo R&D1 2002 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Clu Clu Land is included.
Clu Clu Land D Nintendo R&D1 2002 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the FDS version of Clu Clu Land D is included.
Donkey Kong Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
2002
2002
2016
2016
January 20, 2003
January 20, 2018
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Donkey Kong is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES version on Donkey Kong-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Donkey Kong is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Donkey Kong is included.
Donkey Kong Jr. Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
2002
2016
2016
January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Donkey Kong Jr. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Donkey Kong Jr. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Donkey Kong Jr. is included.
Donkey Kong 3 Nintendo R&D1
Nintendo R&D2
2002 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Donkey Kong 3 is included.
Dr. Mario Nintendo R&D1 1990
2016
2016
March 8, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Dr. Mario for NES.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Dr. Mario is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Dr. Mario is included.
Excitebike Nintendo R&D1 2002
2016
2016
January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Excitebike is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Excitebike is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Excitebike is included.
Fire Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2011
2015
December 4, 2017
December 4, 2017
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Fire.
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 3 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Fire.
Flagman Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2011
2015
December 4, 2017
December 4, 2017
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Flagman.
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 3 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Flagman.
Game & Watch Gallery Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2011 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS.
Game & Watch Gallery 2 Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2012 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 2 for Nintendo 3DS.
Game & Watch Gallery 3 Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2015 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 3 for Nintendo 3DS.
Golf Nintendo R&D1 2002 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Golf is included.
Helmet Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2012 December 4, 2017
December 4, 2017
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 2 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Helmet.
Ice Climber Nintendo R&D1 2002
2016
2016
January 20, 2003
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which Ice Climber is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Ice Climber is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Ice Climber is included.
Kid Icarus Nintendo R&D1 2016 June 22, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Kid Icarus is included.
Judge Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2015 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 3 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Fire.
Lion Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2015 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 3 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Lion.
Manhole Nintendo R&D1 2011
2012
December 4, 2017
September 18, 2017
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Manhole.
WEC Museum owns the Manhole-e remake for the e-Reader for Game Boy Advance.
Mario Bros. Nintendo R&D1 2016
2016
2017
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
July 29, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Mario Bros. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of Mario Bros. is included.
The WEC Museum owns the Arcade Archives emulated arcade version of 'Mario Bros. on Nintendo Switch.
Metroid Nintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
2017
2017
June 22, 2017
August 10, 2017
The WEC Museum owns the Famicom Mini, on which the Famicom version of Metroid is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES Classic Edition, on which the NES version of
Metroid is included.
Panel de Pon Nintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
1995 October 31, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Super Famicom Mini, on which Panel de Pon is included.
Octopus Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2011 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Octopus.
Parachute Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2012 December 4, 2017 WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color Game & Watch Gallery 2 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Parachute.
Pinball Nintendo R&D1 2002 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Pinball is included.
Super Metroid Nintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
2017 October 31, 2017 The WEC Museum owns the Super Famicom Mini, on which the Super Famicom version of Super Metroid is included.
Tennis Nintendo R&D1
Intelligent Systems
2002
2002
January 20, 2003
January 20, 2018
The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Tennis is included.
The WEC Museum owns the NES version on
Tennis-e on the e-Reader for the Game Boy Advance.
Vermin Nintendo R&D1
TOSE Software
2011
2012
December 4, 2017
December 4, 2017
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Game & Watch Gallery for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Vermin.
WEC Museum owns the Game Boy Color
Game & Watch Gallery 2 for Nintendo 3DS, which includes a remake of Vermin.
Wario's Woods Nintendo R&D1 2002 January 20, 2003 The WEC Museum owns Animal Crossing for GameCube, in which the NES version of Wario's Woods is included.
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