The story of Nintendo’s rise and the beloved icon who made it possible
Nintendo has continually set the standard for video game innovation in America, starting in 1981 with a plucky hero who jumped over barrels to save a girl from an ape.
The saga of Mario, the portly plumber who became the most successful franchise in the history of gaming, has plot twists worthy of a video game. Jeff Ryan shares the story of how this quintessentially Japanese company found success in the American market. Lawsuits, Hollywood, die-hard fans, and face-offs with Sony and Microsoft are all part of the drama. Find out about: Mario’s eccentric yet brilliant creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, who was tapped for the job because he was considered expendable; Minoru Arakawa, the son-in-law of Nintendo’s imperious president, who bumbled his way to success; and the unexpected approach that allowed Nintendo to reinvent itself as the gaming system for the nongamer, especially now with the Wii.
Even those who can’t tell a Koopa from a Goomba will find this a fascinating story of striving, comeuppance, and redemption.
©2011 Jeff Ryan (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“One of America’s favorite pastimes is covered in exhaustive, enthusiastic detail.” (Publishers Weekly)
Anger and disappointment.
I'm normally a rater, not a reviewer, but I couldn't not comment on this book. First the good: the narrator isn't boring, and... I'm sure some of the information was correct but...Now the bad: This book contains information that seems to have been gathered through a game of "telephone." There are insane inaccuracies that could have easily been avoided had the author either (1) been a gamer himself, or (2) done a couple Wikipedia searches. Every few minutes, BASIC information is inaccurate, which makes me wonder how much of the larger information was correct. On top of that, whoever directed Ray Porter DID NOT know how to pronounce all the words he was presented with. Sure, some of it wasn't his fault (since the original material was inaccurate), but when you pronounce the same word differently in different chapters, it makes me wonder what was going on. If you are a retro game fan, do yourself a favor and listen to the enormous catalog of Retronauts podcasts. If you already do that (or an equivalent), AVOID this book as you will find yourself wanting to throw your listening device across the room.
Not having read the print edition, I'm not qualified to fully answer this question. However, I can say that Ray Porter's sprightly narration complements Jeff Ryan's lively, conversational writing nicely. This is a book you can listen to during a commute or at the gym.
This book is at its best when it attempts to deconstruct the Mario mythos in an attempt to understand why it has captivated such a wide audience. In the early hours, Ryan explores how Shigeru Miyamoto subverts common hero tropes to subliminally engage and enthrall gamers. For instance, Mario, the hero of the first Donkey Kong game becomes the villain in the second, in turn holding the big ape captive. Little gems like these add depth to a book that often feels like an "Inside Baseball" look at Nintendo.
Ray Porter narrates the book in a conversational tone, mirroring the writing style. Ryan's writing is laden with puns and pop culture references, and Porter nails them all without missing a beat.
This isn't a book that's intended to elicit intense emotion. While the book is often intriguing, it's certainly not something you should wory about listening to in a waiting room or busy train.
In an effort to tell Mario's complete story from inception to time of writing, Jeff Ryan's book goes on long after the excitement has ebbed. Though a capable writer, Ryan simply can't milk the excitement and, perhaps most importantly, the nostalgia, from Mario's last decade on the GameCube, Nintendo DS, and Wii. Like David Kushner's Masters of Doom, Super Mario spends a long time tying up loose ends and bringing things current, even when later events aren't nearly as interesting as the early days. This is a double-edged sword, of course. If the book had ended at Mario's zenith, listeners, myself included, might have faulted Ryan for incompleteness.
If you've ever fed quarters into a Donkey Kong machine or held the rectangular unergonomic NES controller till your hands got sore, you will find a lot to love about Super Mario, long denouement notwithstanding.
Didn't always like reading, minus RL Stine and Comic books. Then I found myself getting a BA in English Literature at UC Berkeley. During that time, I found it hard to read for fun so I started listen to audio books. I dig... The Classics (especially ancient lit) Tolkien Palahniuk AC Doyle Some Sci-Fy
The description of the court battle between Universal and Nintendo over the supposed trademark infringement of Universal's King Kong, by Nintendo's breakout hit Donkey Kong.
Surprised by Porter's deliver. Never heard him before, but he comes right off the page and brings the text to life.
Hero of Time
Likely a comedy
No. The author, while expertly researching and chronicling many aspects of Nintendo's corporate history, seems not to have a personal connection to the games themselves. Consequently, many games and game franchises integral to Nintendo's story and success are glossed over or skipped, and many details fairly basic to an understanding of a specific game are erroneously reported. While the author may have a passing enthusiasm for Nintendo and video games in general, he seems to have more of a connection to the business side of Nintendo's history, which lends his book to an insufficient understanding and reporting of the history of the games themselves.
While I had no problem with the narrator's skills in general, his mispronunciation of several names and phrases - Samus Aran as "Same-us A-rau", Bob-omb as "Bob-O.M.B." (yes, he spelled the second part out), and moychandizing (from Mel Brooks' fantastic movie "Spaceballs") as "moysh-en-dizz-in" are just a few examples that spring readily to mind - really took me out of the story and led me to wonder why, when said narrator reached a word with a pronunciation he was unsure of, an attempt to deduce the correct pronunciation was not made before simply barreling through anyway. I can't remember ever hearing a narrator have so many issues with pronunciation, let alone any. It's incredibly detrimental to immersion in the story.
Having been an avid nintendo player as a child (what 80s kid wasn't) I was immediately interested in the content and story behind the scenes of such a huge infleuence. I was not dissapointed! Moreover, I often found myself completely familliar with the various tunes, characters, backgrounds, and itterations discussed without any need to refresh my memory!
Perhaps commonly for those who witness the decades long progress of a genre of culture, I often dispair at the complete lack of understanding among modern gamers of the long histories and development behind our favorite titles, and their changing scope and complexity over various platforms... This book, gladly, not only misses essentially Nothing I could recall, but often includes various stories that happened offstage to make the changes and moves I so often witnessed from the outside in wonder.
With the stories of things like the origins of the names, the design of the characters, the various omages to significant actors, and all of the buisiness dramas that underly the years of change, I found this book to be both informative, and nostalgic.
Beginning with the long years before the rise of video games of any sort, and moving step by step through the gambit of the rise of home consoles and modern gaming, this book seems to leave no yellow question mark stone unshattered!
I mostly enjoyed the discussion of the various new techniques and breakthroughs that enabled each successive game advance, with an emphasis on what sorts of additions were made to each of the oldest game systems to squeeze out the next best thing!
I also enjoyed hearing and remembering all of the 'new releases' and 'greatest game systems' of the past, we so fought over and despirately 'needed'... which seems funny to compare to the systems which came after... so far outshined...
A well delivered and descriptive history, the only real issue I had with the book is the author's tendancy to string all of it together in such a way that made it Hard to Find a Stopping Place to end, and then restart the story later on. Because of this, I read the story through essentially over the course of a single day... which may itsself be taken as an endorsement, but would seem the less difficult method, and most natural way, when actually reading it.
Ultimately, a great trip back to my childhood and a very revealing history of gaming to date...
As we enter the period of super realistic, highly interactive, and hugely expansive games which the new systems allow, I find myself missing the pure genius and simplicity of the great games of old... valuing more from the use of less to achieve so much, than the comparatively vast and unrestricted possibilties of modern gaming...
It's a trip! And a Tale worth telling...
The writing was top notch, but it was the performance from Ray Porter that really elevated this book for me. I've listened to it multiple times now as if it's a favorite movie.
The story was told with nuance, wit, and balance. It never felt like a piece of Nintendo propaganda, and it never felt like a chance for an outsider to tear the big N to pieces. Combined with the fact that it makes genuinely insightful observations into all kinds of elements of pop and video game culture, I was riveted while I listened and reflective after I pushed pause.
He has such a dynamic, engaging voice, and he reads with all the flourish and confidence of a seasoned actor. This wasn't just someone reading words off of a page. This brought the words to emotive life.
I did! I laughed out loud several times - and I don't doubt that it came from a combination of the excellent writing and the superb performance from Ray Porter.
I flip-flop between business and fiction books to keep me grounded in reality while still keeping my childhood love of fantasy firmly intact.
I've been a Nintendo fan since I got the Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas back in 1987, but I've never known much about the company itself. It was entertaining to find out about the behind-the-scenes stuff that made the company into what it is today.
Tell us about yourself!
If you grew up with video games, this is a fun book about the Nintendo gaming empire and what happened in and around the company. Atari, Sega, Sony, Sonic, Pong and much more are all part of the story of a little plumber and his friends/foes who built Nintendo. From the arcades to the Wii, this is a nicely paced, well read story that doesnt drag its feet. I really enjoyed getting the behind the scenes details from the gaming world. This book is one that I will be able to listen to again
Absolutely! I've already listened to it a second time. This is a fun story, full of useful history and information.
This was a fun listen; however there are a surprising number of factual errors as well as poor pronunciations. Otherwise an interesting book.
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