The Missing Link
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We’ve all known for some time that Nintendo is… very secretive about their games and their systems. The same is true for their buildings as well. Nintendo doesn’t allow just anyone to prance into their HQ and start snooping around.
Before I begin, I want to handle all the easy questions. No, I did not see the Revolution in action. No, I did not hold the nunchaku controller. No, I did not see Twilight Princess. No, I did not see any game that isn’t already in stores. No, I did not take pictures of anything super secret Nintendo is planning. No, I don’t know anything super secret that Nintendo is planning. No, I could not tell you those secrets if I had seen them. No, I’m not some V.I.P. that was able to access the restricted areas in Nintendo. No, I did not meet Reggie. No, I don’t know how to pronounce Reggie’s last name. (That was going to be my question if I met him.) No, I cannot stand on my head. No, I will not tell you who my friend is so you can get in either. I just took a simple tour and took a few pictures. This article serves nothing more than to share with you my experience in the event that you never manage to find your way inside Nintendo’s pearly gates. And, as always, yes, the Wallet Monster will come after anyone who tries to ask any of the above questions.
I started out getting this nifty badge that brought me into the sacred halls of Nintendo. (I fought off the urge to say the famous phrase, “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” I figured they’d throw me out, and I didn’t want to risk that after coming so far!) Our heroic trio then marched up the stairs and into the break room where the employees gather during their… breaks.
That’s my friend and… oh goddesses, ShawnaDuck is going to kill me for putting up her photo. (Don’t kill me!) Anyways, there’s several arcade games here set up to be in eternal free play mode. The Nintendoites are allowed to play games like Mortal Kombat II, Dr. Mario, R-Type, Neo Geo games, among several others in their free time while sipping a pop or munching on snacks. Already, this sounds like a better deal than my job!
We then swung headed quickly over the Link to the Past skybridge over to the old building (even Nintendo has an ironic sense of humour), and we quickly passed through Marketing to get to Café Mario. Before we really got into the restaurant, we passed by a bulletin board that where E-mails, letters, and fanart were posted that actual fans from North America had submitted to Nintendo. There was a really nice Zelda picture there, so I had to take a picture. (If anyone knows who made it, I’ll gladly mention him or her here on the ‘Blog.)
Now, onto Café Mario! There’s a restaurant on premisis for Nintendo employees to dine at during lunchtime. They’ve got everything here, from freshly made salads and fruit to hot meals. Even a picky eater is certain to find something here to satiate their appetite.
Now we move onto the coolest parts of Nintendo HQ. Taking a left from the café, we came across a huge myriad of active consoles and rows and rows of games. Pardon me for a moment as I show a gruesome and gratuitous shot of myself clawing at anything Zelda I could find.
The consoles, had games ranging from Donkey Konga to Super Smash Bros. Melee, from some basketball game with Princess Peach in it to DDR: Mario Mix, and employees could come here to play games in their free time if they wanted to venture a little further from Cubeville. (Ah Cubeville… how familiar I am with thee.) The rows and rows of games that were there could be leafed through for information and were able to be played… even checked out by the employees for play on their systems at home. (Drool. Oh sorry. I forgot the last thing you wanted was a phlegm-coated article.) I even found one of the two arcade games that I have been looking for for like… ever.
Next to this were several displays of various Nintendo memorabilia that had been created over the years. There was a 100-piece Zelda jigsaw puzzle. There were oodles of Pokémon toys. There were Mario plushes galore. And one of the most recent addition to this was a slew of Super Mario Strikers stuff along with autographs from Team Nintendo.
Next we got to see two meeting rooms adjacent to this managarie of craziness. Unlike many other office buildings, rooms are not numbered but rather named after various Nintendo games and characters. The two meeting rooms here were named Link and Zelda, proving once again that I probably shouldn’t ever suggesting shipping and Nintendo HQ in the same breath for the rest of this article lest I want the comments section to go completely nuts.
In the same room (okay, most of the cool stuff is in the same spot; I didn’t design the place, so you can’t sue me), they had the History of Nintendo, showing all of the products they had produced from the beginning of the company all the way through the Gamecube and the GBA:SP. (The Nintendo DS had not been added yet, but I honestly don’t know where they’re going to find room for it!) It started out, if you don’t know, as a playing card company, and then it gradually morphed into producing the Famicom (Family Computer) in Japan, the R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), the NES, and then the rest, as they say, is history. Yes, there was a Virtual Boy there, too, so they’re not shunning their failures as some companies do.
Finally, there’s the employee store, Nintendo Fun & Games. In there is a variety of things from games and consoles to shirts and sweatshirts, from keychains and laniards to playing cards and tops, from pens and pencils to plushes and beer steins. Of course, I couldn’t help but enter and purchase a few things of my own, but I’ll let the exact nature of my purchases go unsaid. And now, to distract you from what I just said, here’s a picture of the store. You should look at that and go onto the next paragraph, yes.
We then left the new wing of Nintendo to go back to the call center, where your calls to Nintendo’s 1-800 number go when you experience problems with your games and consoles. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in there, but it was just cubicles, and you wouldn’t want to see that stuff anyways. It’s beyond boring; trust the TML. From a far… far… too-far-to-notice-anything-special-going-on distance, we could see the place where the Nintendo Power magazine was made. Finally we went back downstairs and went into the Customer Service Center, the only place where non-employees are allowed to go within the Nintendo building. Here is where units are brought to when they’ve been broken and need fixing. Those that enter are welcomed by none other than Mario himself.
We toured around the store a bit, got to meet the person behind the counter, and then were told of a story about a Game Boy that had been brought to Nintendo that had been partially destroyed by a bomb going off. The Game Boy’s bottom was melted and deformed, yet somehow miraculously, the unit still worked! Sadly, it was not on display down there, but it makes a neat story nevertheless.
Such was the end of our tour, and after checking out with the security guard, we went back to my friend’s house for what would turn out to be a wild night of Mario Kart DS and conversation.
While I’m sure that text and pictures don’t properly do NOA’s headquarters justice, one thing I really hope it does do is inspire you to keep living the dream. I’ve wanted to see NOA headquarters for years, and finally I was lucky enough to have my chance (emphasis on the word “lucky”). Even beyond that, though, I know a lot of you out there, myself included, one day would love to be in the gaming industry and work for Nintendo. (Or one of their evil counterparts. After all, a certain someone does happen to live really close by…)
It does take a lot of work and a lot of patience, but who knows? One day you might waltz into Nintendo HQ, get your own employee badge, and be taking your own friends on tours.
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