Revolution First-Party Support

Nintendo's first-party and funded studios are the crme de la crme of this industry. Nintendo has a wealth of talent, all of which have already or will eventually make the transition to Revolution development. Here's a summary of those companies and the style of games we can anticipate from them.

Nintendo's worldwide offices house some 3,000 employees, more than 850 of which are directly involved in game development. Nintendo recently restructured its Japanese development studios and so the delineation between the old and new development groups have been altered.

Since May 2002, after Hiroshi Yamauchi departed from his position of nearly 50 years as Nintendo's president, Nintendo and its new leader Satoru Iwata have been evaluating the transition it must make in the 21st century to satisfy its consumer base all the while attracting first-time customers. Specifically, Nintendo has taken a big step in preparing its development groups in loom of maximizing production and innovation for the Nintendo Revolution and Nintendo DS. The past few years have seen Nintendo president Satoru Iwata conducting many experiments by rearranging and forming several new divisions. The last major Nintendo restructure in early 2000 consisted of dividing Nintendo development groups into six divisions:

Past Structure

  • Nintendo Research & Development 1 (R&D1)
  • Nintendo Research & Development 2 (R&D1)
  • Nintendo Integrated Research & Development (IRD)
  • Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD)
  • Nintendo Special-Planning & Development (SP&D)
  • Nintendo Research & Engineering (R&E)

Although there were six full and capable divisions, the ratio of staff heavily favored general manager Shigeru Miyamoto and deputy manager Takashi Tezuka's Nintendo EAD group.

Satoru Iwata has completely reorganized these development groups within Nintendo. Following the trend of allocating more and more resources behind Shigeru Miyamoto's EAD group, Nintendo has finally decided to merge all its software designers under the EAD division. As of 2005, Nintendo's divisions are composed of the following:

Present Structure

  • Nintendo Integrated Research & Development
  • Nintendo Technology & Engineering
  • Nintendo Software Planning Development
  • Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
  • Nintendo Licensing Business

Nintendo R&D1, Nintendo R&D2, and Nintendo-Special Planning & Development no longer exist. For the most part Nintendo has extracted all of the software designers of those three divisions, blended them with the EAD group, and has now divided EAD into several different sectors. Nintendo Technology & Development is a mix of the hardware side of Nintendo R&D2 combined with Nintendo R&E while Nintendo Software Production & Development is a new division made for overseas production of first-party software with subsidiary and partnered development groups such as Retro Studios, Kuju Entertainment, and n-Space.

Shigeru Miyamoto remains the general manager and Takashi Tezuka the deputy manager of Nintendo EAD. However, the once centralized group has now been divided into subdivisions, each with individualized managers and producers. While the exact subdivisions have not been announced, we have some information on six of these teams:

Nintendo EAD Structure

Nintendo EAD - Software Development Group #1
Manager & Producer: Hideki Konno
Software: Nintendogs, Mario Kart DS
Nintendo EAD - Software Development Group #3
Manager & Producer: Eiji Aonuma
Software: Zelda: Twilight Princess, The Legend of Zelda DS
Nintendo EAD - Software Development Group#?
Manager & Producer: Takao Shimizu
Software: Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat
Nintendo EAD - Software Development Group#?
Manager & Producer: Shinya Takahashi
Software: Brain Training Exercise DS, Jam With The Band
Nintendo EAD - Software Development Group#?
Manager & Producer: Katsuya Eguchi
Software: Animal Crossing DS, Animal Crossing Revolution
Nintendo EAD - Software Development Group#?
Manager & Producer: Hiroyuki Kimura
Software: Yoshi Touch & Go, DS Brain Training

Satoru Iwata has been preparing for this restructure for over a year. Iwata initially relieved Shigeru Miyamoto of producing overseas titles by creating Nintendo Software Production & Development under Akita Ootani. Nintendo also promoted several long-time EAD directors to producer roles -- the list of which includes Eiji Aonuma, Hideki Konno, Tadashi Sugiyama, Takao Shimizu, and Shinya Takahashi. Shigeru Miyamoto now completely manages all of Nintendo's internal software development, granting him access to the Metroid and Wario franchises for the first time. The change ultimately bodes well for Nintendo's big picture as far as creativity and productivity are concerned. Nevertheless, many mysteries remain such as the location of the Metroid team and the Wario Ware team.

Below is a list of all Nintendo internal and subsidiary companies involved in either software or hardware development.

Internal Nintendo Developers

Nintendo Integrated Research & Development
Revolution Status: Developing Console Hardware
General Manager: Genyo Takeda
Employees: unknown

This studio is known for its arcade games developed in the 1980s. The iRD division also developed and co-developed the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo 64, Nintendo 64DD, GameCube Link Cable, GameCube Modem, GameCube Controller, Nintendo 64 Controller, and N64 Controller Pack. You can expect iRD is partially or fully involved in the development of the Revolution hardware. Notable past titles include Punch-Out (Arcade), Super Punch-Out!! (SNES), Pro-Wrestling (NES), Star Tropics (NES), and NES Play Action Football (NES).

Nintendo Technology & Engineering
Revolution Status: Developing Portable Hardware
General Manager: Nobuo Nagai
Employees: unknown

The R&E division is hardware oriented. They have been responsible for the development of the Game Boy portables alongside Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo R&D1. Satoru Okada and Kenichi Sugino with the other team members have created the main portable systems -- specifically their chip design and industrial design.

Nintendo Software Planning Development
Revolution Status: Developing Software
General Manager: Akira Ootani
Employees: unknown

This division is composed of a new set of producers. It was created by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in order to free up Shigeru Miyamoto and other NCL producers from having to fly oversees to work with American and European developers creating first-party products for Nintendo. These producers have worked with companies such as Retro Studios, Silicon Knights and more. With the recent 2005 restructure, this division has been drastically expanded and is now capable of supporting dozens of collaborative titles from around the world. Notable past titles include Metroid Prime 2 (GCN), Geist (GCN), and Advance Wars: Under Fire (GCN).

Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
Revolution Status: Developing Software
General Manager: Shigeru Miyamoto
Employees: unknown

EAD is probably the most popular and well-known division at Nintendo as it houses legendary Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto. This is the largest division of Nintendo and also as a result, one of the most productive. The studio already has a handful of Revolution titles in development. As a result of the 2005 restructure, the majority of game development occurs in this division. This even includes the recently formed EAD Tokyo studio that Nintendo hopes will create some very innovative and fresh titles. Yoshiaki Koizumi and Takao Shimizu, who worked on Super Mario Sunshine as director and assistant director respectively, head Nintendo's Tokyo studio. Notable past EAD titles include Super Mario Bros. (NES), The Legend of Zelda (NES), Mario Kart 64 (N64), Pikmin (GCN), and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GCN).

Nintendo Licensing Division
Revolution Status: Acquiring Software
Employees: 20+

Managed by Shinji Hatano, Nintendo Licensing is a division of Nintendo that produces first-party published games by independent developers in Japan. The group also licenses characters for use in third-party games such as Link in Namco's Soul Caliber II. Notable past licensed titles include Mario Party (N64), Donkey Konga (GCN), Mario Party 5 (GCN), Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GCN), and Pac Man vs. (GCN).

Nintendo Software Technology Corporation
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 80+

Nintendo of America's first inhouse development studio. The Redmond, Washington based developer is made up of mostly Digi Pen graduates, Nintendo of America Treehouse veterans, and drafted talent hired from outside of Nintendo. The brainchild of Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa, and Nintendo Software Technologies' top brass Scott Tsumura and Claude Comair. Notable past titles include Crystalis DX (GBC), Pokemon Puzzle League (N64), Ridge Racer 64 (N64), Wave Race: Blue Storm (GCN), and 1080 Avalanche (GCN).

External Nintendo Developers

Brownie Brown
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 20+

Headquartered in Tokyo, Brownie Brown (Named after brownies, the small fairies of Scottish folklore who work while people sleep), was established on June 30, 2000, by NCL with the intention of developing for the Game Boy Advance. Brownie Brown consists of ex-Square staff (Kameoka Shinichi, Kouiji Tsuda, Tomoki Anazawa, and Noboyuki Inoue) who took part in the creation of the award-winning Secret of Mana. The talented group approached Nintendo after resigning their positions with Square Ltd. Nintendo has since provided additional staff, funding, as well as an NCL chairman to supervise the operations of Brownie Brown. Notable past titles include Magical Vacation (GBA) and Sword of Mana (GBA).

Camelot Software Planning
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 40+

Established in 1994, this highly talented development studio has created some of the most addictive titles in gaming history. Before partnering with Nintendo to produce Mario Golf and Mario Tennis, Camelot put together the Shining series on Sega Saturn and the popular Hot Shots Golf for PlayStation. The company is headed up by Hiroyuki Takahashi, President of Camelot, and his brother and Vice President, Syuogo Takahashi. Notable past titles include Mario Tennis (N64), Mario Golf (N64), Golden Sun (GBA), Golden Sun: The Lost Age (GBA), and Mario Tennis (GCN).

Game Freak
Revolution Status: Unknown
Employees: 40+

Game Freak is credited for the development of the Pokemon Game Boy series of titles. The company will likely continue supporting Nintendo's handheld with the Pokemon series. Notable past titles include Yoshi (GB), Pokemon Red (GBC), Pokemon Blue (GBC), Pokemon Ruby (GBA), and Pokemon Sapphire (GBA).

Genius Sonority
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 30+

Genius Sonority is a newly formed Japanese development house, founded in June 2002. Created with financial support of Nintendo and The Pokemon Company, Genius Sonority is made up of programmers who worked on such high profile RPGs as Dragon Quest and Earthbound. Their main focus will likely be console iterations of Pokemon. Notable past titles include Pokemon Colosseum (GCN).

HAL Laboratory
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 95

Over the years HAL has managed to mold entire new genres of games and magnitudes of gameplay. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata got his start in video games working at HAL and later became president of the company before moving into his current position at Nintendo. Although the company is currently going through some restructuring after the departure of Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai, things still look well for the studio. HAL is responsible for technology such as the e-Reader and the microphone in Hey You, Pikachu!. Notable past titles include Kirby's Adventure (NES), Pokemon Snap (N64), Super Smash Bros. (N64), Kirby Air Ride (GCN), and Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN).

Intelligent Systems
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 90

Intelligent Systems is a Nintendo of Japan development branch located in Kyoto, Japan near Nintendo's main Kyoto office. Intelligent Systems was formed in late 1986 by a few former members of Nintendo Research & Development 1, and was immediately annexed by Nintendo. Throughout its almost 20 year history, Intelligent Systems has developed system tools, programmed software in conjunction with R&D1, as well as developed titles on their own. Notable past titles include Paper Mario (N64), Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA), Advance Wars (GBA), Fire Emblem (GBA), and Paper Mario 2 (GCN).

Retro Studios
Revolution Status: Developing Software
Employees: 50+

Despite having only released two titles thus far -- Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes -- Retro Studios already has a long history behind it. Despite the turbulence the company has endured over the years, there's been one thing that's clear - this company knows how to make games. Notable past titles include Metroid Prime (GCN) and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GCN).