Nintendo won an Emmy, and 9 more strange gaming facts
Things that make you go huh?
At a very young age, I longed to play the board game Trivial Pursuit, but I was too young to have the knowledge needed to succeed. From then on I worked hard to collect all the useless knowledge I could in the hopes of one day being the ultimate trivia game champion. That hasnt really worked out so far, but a handy side effect is I have a ton unnecessary information on subjects such as games, and that information demands to be shared.
Still, in a long career of compiling lists of errata, you end up with a lot of unexpected strangeness that doesnt really fit anywhere else. But all these little nuggets of unlikely gaming knowledge need a space for recognition as well, so Ive collected them into one weird place. Ones that will make people go, Really? before Googling their veracity. But, believe it or not, these bits of off-the-wall gaming trivia are all real...
Nintendo won an Emmy for the d-pad
The directional pad (D-pad for short) is such a constant in the gaming world that it seems weird that any one company could lay claim to it, but Nintendo did just that for decades. Created for an early portable recreation of Donkey Kong, the cross-shaped input method felt superior to just about any other control at the time, and its still a standard for 2D movement. In honor of that achievement, Nintendo was awarded an Emmy to further cement the d-pads legacy. That may seem strange, as Emmys are mainly known as awards for television, but the d-pads award falls under the science section of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Officially Nintendo won it for technological achievement (opens in new tab) back in 2007, and I think its a wasted opportunity that all future controllers didnt have Emmy Winning! on the packaging.
WWE Champion The Rock helped introduce the original Xbox
The Xbox had a ho-hum debut in 2000, so Bill Gates needed a Peoples Champion like The Rock to make Microsofts first game machine the Peoples Console. With no real stars of its own yet, Xbox certainly needed The Rocks fame to spread the word - way more people had heard of the wrestler than some green dude called Master Chief. So, when people got their first look (opens in new tab) at the final version original Xbox and its huge controller in early 2001, the WWE champion was right next to Bill Gates talking up such advanced features as broadband and DVD playback. Trust me, that was much more impressive back then, especially when you see The Rock towering over the richest guy on the planet.
Cortana and Peach have the same voice actress (Jen Taylor)
Jen Taylor is one of a number of voice talent that work on countless games, even if many gamers dont know her by name. Jen appears in titles as diverse as Left 4 Dead and Guild Wars 2, but her contributions to two of gamings biggest series is her real claim to fame. Ms. Taylor spent close to a decade playing Cortana in Halo and Princess Peach in nearly every Mario game, the first ladies of their respective consoles. Jen last played Peach back in 2008, but remains the voice of Cortana, and will likely stay that way until a real-life AI replaces her in 2234.
Reggie Fils-Aime invented Pizza Huts Bigfoot Pizza
Pizza Hut is a totally adequate fast food chain many North American gamers have likely consumed at one point or another, perhaps without knowing that theres a behind-the-scenes connection to games. Prior to his tenure as the United States Nintendo boss, Reggie Fils-Aime worked for Pizza Hut. No mere delivery guy, Reggie was Senior Director of National Marketing for the chain, and oversaw the creation of the radical 90s foodbeast, The Bigfoot Pizza (opens in new tab). Reggie also spent time at VH1 when the cable channel had the successful Pop-Up Video series. Between those two jobs, he basically ran about 60% of what I ate and watched in the 1990s.
Sonic originally had a human girlfriend named Madonna
As illuminated in the 2014 book Console Wars, Sonics birth wasnt an easy one, with a lot of give and take between the Japanese developers and the American executives. The original idea for Sonic included (opens in new tab) a more intense attitude and a rock band of similar anthropomorphic creatures, plus Sonics human girlfriend Madonna (opens in new tab) (surely no relation to the singer of the same name). The blonde woman in a tight red dress added some sex appeal to the game, something Sega of America executives werent really looking for in a game for kids. After some tense discussions, Madonna was booted from the series, and Sonics developers would have to wait until 2006 to make their human/hedgehog pairing a reality.
The N64 logo actually has 64 sides
I like this fact because its so mathematically perfect. Nintendo loved emphasizing the 64-bit power of its black plastic console, going so far as to put the numeral in the name. But it went much deeper than that. As discovered by a Reddit user (opens in new tab), the square N logo the system used had 64 sides and 64 vertices. Yes, that could just be a polygonal coincidence, but knowing how precise the Nintendo developers are, and how much they love hiding secrets like this, Im betting its no accident.
Steve Jobs worked on Atari games in the 70s
The late Steve Jobs is regarded as a genius businessman who changed the way people use technology. But once upon a time he was a techy nerd in Northern California helped expand Atari's burgeoning game catalog. Jobs and dev partner Steve Wozniak were given the assignment to make a single player version of Pong. The resulting game was 1976s Breakout, which paved the wave for dozens of clones and loosely inspired hundreds more. The proto-shooter netted Jobs some much-needed cash for his next project, though the future tech baron also asked if Atari founder Nolan Bushnell would be interested in investing. Nolan turned him down, giving up a possible 50% stake in Apple Inc. that I'm sure in no way haunts his every waking thought to this day.
Dennis Rodman eventually played the Dead or Alive fighter that was inspired by him
NBA fans know Dennis Rodman is as weird as he is talented, so this odd story is par for the course. From the beginning, Dead or Alive featured a character who looked and dressed a lot like the Chicago Bulls champion. Eccentric fighter Zack was part of the roster since Dead or Alive began, but when the character took a leading role in the libidinous Xtreme Volleyball, the fighter started sounding more like Rodman as well. Yes, Dennis became the voice of his own parody, showing either a good sense of humor, or the keen business sense to make a quick buck off a silly tribute to him. Rodman only played Zack that one time, and now that Dennis was recently seen hanging out with a certain North Korean dictator, Id say Zacks life of private islands and volleyball contests seems the more normal one these days.
Nintendo owns a Major League Baseball team
Baseball is regarded as an all-American sport, but when Seattle, WA was in danger of losing The Mariners, the city had to look outside of North America for help. Nintendo's US branch has been headquartered just outside of Seattle for years, so in 1992 Nintendos top man, Hiroshi Yamauchi, chose to buy the team as a sort of favor to the town. Nintendo still owns The Mariners to this day - explaining all those Ken Griffey Jr. games - and when Yamauchi passed away in 2013, many sports journalists billed him as Mariners owner instead of guy who saved the North American video game industry - admittedly, the latter takes up way more space in headlines.
Ed Boon still says "Get over here!" as Scorpion, even though a different actor says everything else
Ed Boon has been serious about Mortal Kombat ever since he co-created the series with Jon Tobias. One such sign of Boons devotion to the series is that, even as it enters its third decade, Boon still voices MK poster boy Scorpion. Boon voiced him in every installment until 2011s Mortal Kombat reboot. Scorpions new voice was Patrick Seltz, but his catchphrase Get over here! was still shouted by Boon. As strange as it may sound for Scorpions voice to subtly change in battle, itd be hard to hear anyone else shout that famous line.
I did not know that...
Those are the most randomly weird facts I could cobble together today, but if you have anything else to add to this, make your case in the comments below!
Desperate to learn more trivia? Check out Unknown Mario - 40 obscure facts and random trivia about Nintendo's mascot and Pokmon facts - 25 little known pieces of trivia from the classic franchise.