Human history is cluttered with instances of large, dominating forces that sweep societies and take hold of nations. Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire, Ancient Roman Post-Republic society, and, in the past decade, two equally impactful phenomenon in their respective fields… Nintendo and the Soviet Union.
Now, you may be asking yourselves: “Comrade George! How could Nintendo and the Soviet Union possibly be similar? One was a Marxist-Leninist state, and the other is a bourgeoisie corportation! Well, dear readers, while this may be the case, the two entities do share their similarities, and I’m going to tell you what they are.
Both Succeeded a Failing System
A quite significant comparison to draw is that both the Soviet Union and Nintendo established their dominance in the wake of an already failing system. For the Soviet Union, it was the oppressive Russian Empire led at the time by Tsar Nicholas II. The Bolshevik Party and it’s allies led a revolution in 1917 to overthrow the regime with great success, and eventually went on to form the Soviet Union.
For Nintendo, this was embodied in the North American video game crash of 1983. The video game industry experienced a massive recession, with a primary cause being the saturation of the market with video games of immensely poor quality, like the infamous E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, that led to the downfall of the second generation of console gaming. In the wake of this crash, in a time where it was public opinion that home consoles were a dead medium, Nintendo released the Famicom, known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the west. It proved immensely successful, revived the home console industry, and led to Nintendo’s domination of the industry, ushering in the third generation of consoles.
Both Took Measures to Prevent a Relapse
A very real concern when revitalizing or replacing a phenomenon is the possibility that it relapses into what came before it. Both Nintendo and the Soviet Union enforced contingencies as a means of preventing this, with the Soviet Union very quickly moving to a Marxist-Leninist system that enforced a one-party state, suppressing political opponents to the regime and those that might have aspired to reinstate the monarchy.
Nintendo’s moves to prevent another video game crash included moves such as the enforcement of strict prerequisites and regulations on 3rd party publishers for the NES, loading all NES machines with 10NES chips that rendered games without the Nintendo Golden Seal of Approval unplayable, as well as a policy that required 3rd party publishers to pay full-price for cartridges to be produced for their games as a means of restricting accountability to said developers.
They’re Both Used to Describe Things That They Aren’t
People of ignorance will often look to that which they will not understand and declare it that which it is not. For instance, the Red Scare that gripped America in the 40’s and 50’s, a time where the perceived threat of Communism led to flagrant false accusations of individuals even only minutely left-leaning being Communists sent from the Soviet Union to destroy America.
Similarly, it’s common for those of an elder disposition to find difficulty in the specific classification of similar things. A frequent trend, most notably in the late 20th century, was the referral of any and all home consoles as “Nintendos” by the older populations, be it parents or grandparents, which subsequently led to unfortunate mix-ups during the holiday season and birthdays.
They’re Both Associated with the Colour Red
This one’s undeniable: The Nintendo logo is often stylized with a colour palette primarily consisting of a deep, vibrant red, a colour intrinsically linked to the iconography of the Soviet Union and many other left-leaning organizations and ideologies.
There you have it! A mere handful of similarities present within Nintendo and the Soviet Union. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense, actually. Especially considering Nintendo even made a deal with Soviet Union-owned Elektronorgtechnica, the electronics import and export company responsible for distributing Tetris, so that Nintendo could license the game.
(No, seriously. Read this Kotaku article. This image is the official ad that they used to announce it.)