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Rating Nintendo’s names for its home gaming consoles

The family is all here.


What’s in a name? If you’re trying to a sell home video game console, a lot.

The name is the most important marketing tool a product can have. It needs to tell consumers something about the device, hopefully enough to entice them to buy one. This is something Nintendo has utilized with varying degrees of success. Some of the names of its systems have become cultural icons, while others did more to confuse consumers than inform them.

With the code-named NX getting its official name, the Nintendo Switch, GamesBeat thought it would be fun to chronologically look back and rate the monikers the House of Mario has come up for all of its home consoles.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Above: The Nintendo Entertainment System: a classic.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Nintendo Entertainment System

U.S. release date: October 18, 1985

It’s hard to rate this name after so many years of nostalgia trying to blind my objectivity. Just saying the acronym NES (or phonetically pronouncing it as “nes”) fills many a nerdy heart with warmth and happiness. Of course, at the time, we just called it the Nintendo. Heck, many of our parents started to refer to all video games as Nintendo. Your name must have done something right if it became synonymous with the entire market. It’s like people who call all soda Coke or all hot tubs Jacuzzis.

But it’s not a flashy or even descriptive name. What is an “entertainment system”? Sure, that could be something that plays video games, but it could also be some sort of multimedia device that plays music and movies. It’s not as clever as the Japanese name for the system, Famicom, which was a combination of the words “family” and “computer”.

Score: 7/10

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Above: You know it’s better because it’s super!

Image Credit: Nintendo

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

U.S. release date: August 23, 1991

OK, this isn’t the most original name, but it definitely makes it clear that this system is an improvement of its predecessor. You liked the NES? Well this is the Super NES. It makes a marketer’s job easy.

The Super Nintendo also gave game makers an easy way to name their new titles. It wasn’t just Castlevania IV, it was Super Castlevania IV. Forget about Metroid, now you can play Super Metroid.

And, just like with that phonetic “nes,” it’s a treat to the tongue and ears whenever an audible “snes” leaves a mouth and enters the air.

Score: 8/10

Nintendo 64

Above: I loved the first 63.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Nintendo 64

U.S. release date: September 26, 1996

The console wars were raging hot in the mid ’90s, with each company desperate to prove to consumers that its machine was the best. Some would do this by bragging about how many bits its system had, whatever those were. It was a number that few consumers actually understood, but, hey, more had to better, right?

We all knew that the SNES and Sega Genesis were 16-bit. The PlayStation was 32-bit. So, Nintendo decided that it was going to rub its new console’s 64 bits in everyone’s face by literally calling the system the Nintendo 64.

Just adding a number to the end of your company’s name may not be the most inventive way to name a product, but it clearly spelled out to consumers that Nintendo’s new system was a graphical powerhouse. And, just like with the Super Nintendo, it gave everyone a naming convention that carried over to the titles of software: Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, Bomberman 64, and so on.

Score: 6/10

Nintendo Gamecube

Above: I still love that purple.

Image Credit: Nintendo

GameCube

U.S. release date: November 18, 2001

At this point, it was popular for console makers to create some sort of new compound word when naming a system. Sony had the PlayStation, and Sega had the Dreamcast. So Nintendo gave us the GameCube, which was a surprisingly literal title. The system really was a cube.

It’s a playful, cute name that works with the system’s bright, toy-like appearance. However, unlike the SNES and Nintendo 64, it didn’t clearly tell consumers that what they were buying was an upgrade. Sometimes, the less clever but more obvious name works best. For example, the simply named PlayStation 2 mopped the floor with the GameCube during this time in the industry.

Score: 7/10

Wii

Above: Weeeeeeeeeeeee.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Wii

U.S. release date: November 19, 2006

Yes, we all laughed when we first heard it. However, Wii quickly became a household name. Maybe it didn’t make everyone think of unity and togetherness like Nintendo had hoped, but the strange name somehow seemed like a perfect fit for the odd and daring console, which experimented with motion controls and had some of its biggest hits thanks sports minigames and a weight-loss program.

“Weee” is also the noise someone makes when having fun, so the name may have also tapped into that subconscious word association in consumers. Also, the name itself was pleasing to look at, with those two lowercase I’s always politely bowing at viewers during commercials and other marketing materials. No one would have thought it when we first heard it, but Wii ended up being a great name.

Score: 8/10

Wii U

Above: Wii boo.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Wii U

Release date: November 18, 2012

And then we come to the worst of the lot.

What the heck is a Wii U? Like the SNES, continuing the name from a previous console should indicate a clear successor. However, the U part really confused everyone. What does it mean? Is this Wii University? Many consumers weren’t even sure if it was actually a new system, with many thinking it was just a new controller or accessory for the original Wii.

Even the supposed marketing message didn’t make any sense. Wii supposedly meant togetherness, but U means … well, just you. It’s a contradiction. They would have been better off just calling this system the Wii 2.

Score: 4/10

Nintendo Switch.

Above: Nintendo Switch.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Switch

Release date: March 2017

Then we come to the newest name in the Nintendo family, the Switch. It’s hard to know just how well this moniker will resonate with customers since the device isn’t out yet, but the name does do a good job of explaining what the system is all about. The Switch enables you to … well, switch between playing on a TV and a portable system. You can also switch out the sides of the controller, moving them to portable display.

It’s also the simplest name Nintendo’s ever used. It’s not a made-up word or acronym. You can understand it without any explanation from a marketing team.

Score: TBA

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About Ms. A. C. Kennedy

Ms. A. C. Kennedy
My name is Ms A C Kennedy and I am a Health practitioner and Consultant by day and a serial blogger by night. I luv family, life and learning new things. I especially luv learning how to improve my business. I also luv helping and sharing my information with others. Don't forget to ask me anything!

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Welcome back to Video IRL, where several of our editors talk about what they've been watching in their spare time. This month we're kicking things off with some seasonally-appropriate horror fare, that you can catch right away on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Then it's time for a Gundam throwback before Kris Naudus points out a couple of YouTube food channels perfect for binge eating or binge watching.

Them / Raw


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To get into the Halloween spirit, I've been watching at least one horror movie a day since the end of September -- the lower the budget, the better. Problem is, so many of the American low-budget or indie horror offerings on Amazon and Netflix are crappy Paranormal Activity clones, cheap-thrill gore-fests or uninspired found-footage "documentaries." Whether it's by design or coincidence, I've found that French horror movies have held my attention the most lately. Specifically, 2016's Raw, as well as Them, from ten years prior. They're more psychological thrillers than straight-up horror, but that didn't stop me from being more on edge while watching them one afternoon than I was during A Haunting in Saginaw, Michigan, late at night. Both start with a car crash, but they couldn't finish any more differently.

Raw, recently added to Netflix, tells the tale of a vegetarian girl in her first week at a prestigious veterinary school. During a hazing ritual, she's forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. She immediately gets sick, throws up and wakes herself up that night scratching a full-body rash to near bleeding. This bout with food poisoning is just the beginning, though, and soon protagonist Justine finds out she has a taste for forbidden fruit. As the remaining 70-ish minutes unfolded, I lost track of how many times I clasped my hands over my mouth, agape in shock, to stifle my shouts of "OHMYGODWHATTHEFUCKISEVENHAPPENING?!"

But French director Julia Ducournau balances every body-horror scene either with something pedestrian twisted into being unsettling (like a horse on a treadmill) or with something that makes you ask how far Justine can go before someone confronts her about her new diet. And those questions keep coming right until the credits roll. I can't say I enjoyed watching Raw, but it was a hell of a ride.

The same goes for Them, currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Its focus is narrow, centering on a young couple living in a cavernous farmhouse, terrorized over the course of a night by unseen horrors. The camera never quite gives away who (or what) the perpetrators are, and revealing the twist would be a sin. As with Raw, its atmosphere and overall creepiness won me over straightaway. The scariest part? Realizing that I've probably driven past a shot like the final scene countless times and not thought twice about it. If you're willing to read subtitles, both of these should make you shiver and scream more than The Conjuring 2 on HBO Go could ever hope to.

Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team


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I'd heard that a lot of anime had left Hulu, but I scanned their selection anyway looking for classic shows I'd missed, like the original Mobile Suit Gundam. They don't have that -- but they did have a series I didn't finish the first time it aired on Toonami, the 1996 classic Gundam side story The 08th MS Team. Unlike the franchise's other show released the year before, the massively successful Gundam Wing, 08th ditches the brand's typical pretty-boys-in-unbeatable-robots for a grounded and sobering story about the people who get caught up in wars -- desperate soldiers, civilians and guerrillas alike. It's dirty, honest, utterly humane and gorgeously animated.

It's also a little preachy and melodramatic, and it shows its age with odd sexist moments. While it's still the Thin Red Line of the Gundam universe, I remember it far more fondly from when my 14-year-old self grazed the series on its first American airing. There's something sad in seeing an old favorite for the flawed media it always was. Much like Waypoint's Rob Zacny, I've grown up and seen a lot since I first caught the show as a starry-eyed teen. I still think The 08th MS Team is a wonderful little 12-episode miniseries with a big heart, but I won't revere it so highly -- and will think a little harder about who I recommend it to.

Feast of Fiction / Binging with Babish


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Back in March, I came home from a trip only to discover that my oven didn't work. The cooking gas in my building had been shut off due to a leak. My building management seemed to be on it, so I made do with a combination of microwavables, toaster oven and Seamless. Unfortunately, weeks and months went by, calls to the city were made and permits were issued, but, even as I write this in October, gas still has not been restored to my building. My landlords eventually threw their collective hands in the air and began installing electric ranges in every apartment, so a few weeks ago I was finally able to cook for myself again.

I am so jazzed to be able to make food. Hot food! Scrambled eggs! Steak! Cookies! I started reading food blogs and cookbooks, and shopping to refill my pantry. I'm halfway through Kenji Alt-Lopez's The Food Lab, a huge 900-page hardcover that talks about the science of how food cooks. On the lighter side, I've also been reading food-themed comics like Delicious in Dungeon and Food Wars. And the latter title (which is also an anime) ended up sucking me into a YouTube hole of food videos that I've been obsessed with ever since.

You see, the very first chapter of Food Wars features the "Gotcha" Pork Roast, a bacon-wrapped potato loaf that hero Soma Yukihira makes to save his family restaurant. It looks pretty tasty, so I searched for recipes and pics online and stumbled onto Jimmy Wong and Ashley Adams' Feast of Fiction, a series that demonstrates how to make various foods seen in cartoons, video games and comics. If you ever wanted to taste Steven Universe's beloved Cookie Cat ice cream sandwiches or Kirby's super-spicy curry, there's an episode for you. One thing I really enjoy is how they also incorporate crafts into it, showing how to make paper wrappers for your Reptar chocolate bars or genuine-looking Ecto Cooler Hi-C boxes.

I've been marathoning through the episodes, which the YouTube algorithms have definitely picked up on at this point, throwing food show after food show into my suggestions. One that caught my eye was Binging with Babish. Where Feast of Fiction mostly sticks to the realm of kids' cartoons, anime and video games, Binging with Babish is a little more mainstream, covering foods from popular media like Mad Men, Seinfeld and House of Cards. Still, there's a bit of overlap -- both Babish and Feast have done their own takes on the Ultimeatum from Regular Show and Krabby Patties from SpongeBob SquarePants. But the recipes are different, and I watch the shows for the personalities. Feast of Fiction is pretty silly (and there's a cute dog), while Binging with Babish is a little more subdued. Not that Babish can't be ridiculous as well -- the Moist Maker is one of the most ridiculously complicated sandwiches I have ever seen, basically asking you to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly, I still haven't done a lot of actual cooking since getting my stove back. I'm having too much fun watching other people do it instead, with the added bonus that I don't have to clean up the mess.

"IRL" is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they're buying, using, playing and streaming.

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