7 Big Ways Nintendo Has Innovated Over the Decades

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The DS and Touch Control

What do you do when you own the handheld gaming market and have brought handheld systems to new heights of efficiency and convenience? You create a chunky device from a 1980s dream of the future, try and market it with would-be sexy touching games and ads, then say screw it, dump a ton of games on it, and sell it to millions upon millions (upon millions) of people.

In case you didn't know, that's what Nintendo did with the original DS.

The DS' big draw was, of course, the revolutionary touch screen on the system's lower half. It threw open the doors of creative possibility and led to what was easily one of the best libraries of handheld gaming — and Nintendo's biggest marketing successes.

The reason was simple. Touch screen use could be as complicated as drawing your own map to get around in a labyrinth or just streamlining menus for RPGs like Pokemon. It pre-dated the Wii U gamepad as the ideal form of inventory management and even offered some truly fun — and sometimes truly hideous — methods of making characters move around.

For the first time since the D-pad, the simple act of moving characters was once again exciting and immersive, like the Wii, capable of re-igniting old gaming passions and sparking new ones.

Sony and Microsoft didn't jump on the touch screen bandwagon quite the same as they had the motion control wagon, just because it's harder to make as an add-on like Kinect, let alone to make it work right (look at the Vita's rear touch screen, for example).

Nintendo itself was iffy with its touch screen support after a while, especially moving into the Wii U era when it basically was just inventory management. Now with the Switch, we see a touch screen that gets very little use indeed. And that's a shame given its potential for creative game design.

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These are just a few of the major ways Nintendo innovated over the years. There are countless others, and not just from Nintendo, so tell us your favorite gaming innovation in the comments below!

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Published Dec. 20th 2019
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