Short doc examines the history of Nintendo’s Hanafuda cards and alleged Yakuza ties

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Interesting stuff

As most of you know by now, Nintendo started in 1889 as a playing card company — specifically, selling Hanafuda cards. They even came full circle and honored this legacy by offering up a Mario themed set on Club Nintendo (RIP) several years back.

Well, Eurogamer has created a short video that helps clear up a little bit of that history, including the role of the Yakuza (the the well known organized crime syndicate) in selling cards. Yep, capitalists had trouble selling people DLC in the 19th century too, and Nintendo found that while they could easily peddle one deck of cards per household, they ran into problems selling them more than that once they reached their limit.

To circumvent this, the Yakuza set up their own Hanafuda parlors, and like Magic the Gathering tournaments, opened a fresh deck for each game. It’s important to note that Nintendo didn’t directly collude with the Yakuza in this instance, they just benefited in sales.

I still haven’t found anyone to play Hanafuda with, but one day, it will happen.


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