Originally founded in 1889 and dedicated to the production of Japanese playing cards, Nintendo has gone on to become one of the three cornerstones of modern gaming. It's been responsible for some of the best games ever created and has consistently pushed the industry forward to new frontiers even as hardcore gamers complain about stagnation.
Now, with the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant poised to bring us the next evolution in the form of the game-changing Wii U, we look back at ten of the company's best creations yet. From Skyward Sword to The Super Mario Bros. we examine which are the best Nintendo characters, ever!
10: Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
While newcomers to Nintendo's epic action-adventure series often assume Zelda is the name of greed-adorned hero, it's actually the blonde Princess who's the namesake of the series - though she's far from a typical damself in distress. In fact, the more recent Legend of Zelda games have seen the Princess appear as everything from a pirate to a disguised nomad!
Whatever form she takes though, Zelda always plays a central role in the Legend games - and there's no way any of the games in the series would be complete without her!
Towering over the rest of his clan, Bowser has been the King of the Koopas ever since the Super Mario series kicked off in 1985 and remains one of the most recognisable villains in gaming even to this day. Face it: it's hard to forget a giant, ginger turtle!
Just because he's a villain doesn't mean he's always the antagonist though. In fact, Nintendo's more recent games have explored this labyrinthine history of the character, often partnering him with arch-nemesis Mario in order to defeat a greater threat.
8: Fox McCloud
Inspired by aspects of Japanese mythology, Fox McCloud is the dashing and well-dressed hero of Nintendo's space combat series, Star Fox - but it's his personality, not his shooting skills which make him stand out. Like the Clint Eastwood of the animal kingdom, Fox is cool under pressure but tempered by a mercenary streak which only his love interest, Krystal, can suppress!
That said, the love between anthropomorphic space-foxes is one best left unexplored. Moving swiftly on...
Originally the less popular of the Mario brothers, Luigi has managed to break out into his own spin-off games in recent years. In fact, some of the most popular and best-received Super Mario Bros. games are the ones which are devoted entirely to him - such as Luigi's Mansion on the Nintendo Gamecube. Not bad for a character which was originally just a palette swap of Mario!
Lovable but troublesome, Pikachu is the Pokemon who popularised all the others; a sprightly mouse with electrical powers and an annoying chirp. He's been the squeaky- voiced mascot of the Pokemon franchise throughout all the films, books and games - though it was in the cartoons that he first shot to stardom.
When thinking who'd be sixth on this list, the answer was obvious: we choose you, Pikachu!