09/26/2014 09:18 EDT | Updated 11/26/2014 05:59 EST

Nintendo's 125th birthday: one fan's long-time love affair

Nintendo has given the world much more than Zelda, Mario and Wii. 

Many Nintendo fans have fond memories of the popular video games in the 1980s and 1990s, but the company's history goes way back before the digital age. 

As the company turns 125 this week, CBC Radio's On the Coast spoke with superfan Rob Thrift, who has been collecting Nintendo games for more than 30 years.

How is it possible that Nintendo is turning 125 years old?

They started with playing cards, a kind of game from Japan called Hanafuda. [In the] 1930s, 40s, they decided that there was only so far you could go in that market, and wanted to diversify. They're an innovative company from start to finish.

From playing cards [they] went into a taxi service, they had a series of love hotels, they had instant rice products, and they even had their own TV network for a little while.

While they tried to find their feet, they stumbled into toy production. And from there into light gun games.

From there, they decided to get into arcade games. Shigeru Miyamoto ... really brought them into relevance in 1993 with the famacom, or the family computer, Japan's Nintendo entertainment system. 

What makes you an obsessive collector?

As a kid, I didn't have a whole lot of friends, but when I played the games, I was in power.

I was the guy who could save the world, save the girl. And it was a really empowering thing and a good bit of escapism.

That was certainly a part of it. Now it's driven by nostalgia.

What are some of the games you've collected? 

Metroid Deluxe – Nintendo's longevity, this is an example of it. Even to this day, games are still being made for the system.

Blaster Master – My friend ... introduced me to my wife. He thought she and I would probably get along, so he arranged to go shopping with us in Richmond and then promptly ditched us ... and left us to ourselves.

We were looking at 80s horror movies on laser disc, and she said, "Did you ever play the old Nintendo?"


She said, "Do you remember a game called Blaster Master?" (This isn't one of the real mainstream games.)


She said, "I could never beat the crab in level 5."

And I said, "We're done here. This is the one."