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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“One of America’s favorite pastimes is covered in exhaustive, enthusiastic detail.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Generally good

The book is entertaining and is well researched. Getting to see the internal workings of Nintendo and its colorful employees and the thought process behind their decisions was interesting.

Unfortunately, the book has a couple of blemishes. One, the author often uses a 25¢ word when a 10¢ word would work just as well. Two, lists of examples are frequently exhaustive instead of representative. For example, does the reader really need to hear every single thing that has had Mario on it? After the first dozen (and the list takes several minutes to read), it just gets annoying.

The reader generally did well and sounded excited by the material but his mispronounciation of certain names was distracting. I listened to the book in the car and my children (well versed in Nintendo) would highlight each mistake.

Despite a few shortcomings, the book is entertaining, informing, and worth getting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent listen - recommended

Really liked the book and Ray Porter did a great job reading. There's quite a bit I didn't know prior to this book, which I loved.

There are a couple of factual errors I was aware of, such as saying that in Japan the "Dragon Warrior" games - now called "Dragon Quest" in the west - cannot be released on weekdays. There is no law and the last couple of games have been released on weekdays in Japan.

The errors don't take away from the rest of the book, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys video games, Nintendo, history, or business.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Intriguing Biography of Nintendo's Creation

An interesting book about the history of Nintendo, the company, and how it started from its humble beginnings as a card maker to the impressive franchise it is today.

It's very much a look at Nintendo from a business perspective and talks about the political conflicts, the Japanese cultural influences, and international expansion through a historical recounting of their product releases up to the Nintendo Wii. Those interesting in game industry history would likely like this book.

This book focuses primarily on the Mario Franchise, but does touch a little bit on Zelda, Kirkby and others. However, those are mostly ignored in favor of discussing Mario the brand's growth over time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good for someone wanting to learn about Nintendo's business

We love Nintendo at our house and have bought every game system over the years and most games that Nintendo has made. So all of this story is very familiar to me. I wanted my son, quite a Nintendo gamer, to read this, but he thought it was far too boring and too businessy. I enjoyed learning about the business side and found it interesting. I liked the author's insights and jokes. The book was written in 2011 so it doesn't include the current state of Nintendo.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A one-sided love letter to Nintendo.

Would you try another book from Jeff Ryan and/or Ray Porter?

Yes. The author and the narrator both did a good job.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I wanted to hear more about the challenges and failures that Nintendo encountered. This book focused too much on the success of Nintendo.

Have you listened to any of Ray Porter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

Did Super Mario inspire you to do anything?

The most inspirational thing about this book was a court case that was covered. It made me want to stand up and fit against legal bullies.

Any additional comments?

Nintendo was shown in too favorable of light. Much more could have been gained by learning how Nintendo recovered from their failures, rather than just gushing about how great Nintendo is.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • ABINGTON, PA, United States
  • 12-11-13

I can't not respond

What could Jeff Ryan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Fact check!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Mispronunciations.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger and disappointment.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Solid VG history, but room to grow

You will not regret buying, listening, or reflecting on this book, but they could have done a better job pairing a narrator to this book. He is not so relaxed tone is sometimes offputting, for a book that should be very relaxed and casual. You can tell in the writing, such as the use of the first person, that it was meant to be read differently.

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Sometimes books pick you.

One of those books that your are not sure why you picked. Then, you learn that you were always meant to read it. Perhaps even this excellent narratio

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Good and Interesting History

Enjoyed hearing about the history behind many if Nintendo's key franchises - especially Mario and Zelda.

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  • Glenn Meza
  • Mountain Home AFB, ID United States
  • 11-12-17

A good story that needs some work

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America is a good recounting of the history of Nintendo of America from its beginning as the distributor of Donkey Kong to today. The story is a fun ride but it's full of inaccuracies (switched Namco and Taito who made Galaxian and Space Invaders respectively), mispronounciations which I'm guessing is typos from the text (it's FamicoM not FamicoN), and just feels like it was typed up in word and thrown through its spell checker. I have a strong feeling this book wasn't properly spell or fact checked before it was published. In spite of its serious flaws I recommend it for anyone that wants to know more about how NoA came to be what it is today.