The first Game & Watch game released, titled Ball, was distributed worldwide.

The modern "cross" D-pad design was developed in 1982, by Yokoi for a Donkey Kong version.

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Yokoi was moved from maintenance to the new "Nintendo Games" department as a product developer.

Nintendo continued to produce popular toys, including the Ultra Machine, Love Tester and the Kousenjuu series of light gun games.

Despite some successful products, Nintendo struggled to meet the fast development and manufacturing turnaround required in the toy market, and fell behind the well-established companies such as Bandai and Tomy.

In 1973, its focus shifted to family entertainment venues with the Laser Clay Shooting System, using the same light gun technology used in Nintendo's Kousenjuu series of toys, and set up in abandoned bowling alleys.

Nintendo's first venture into the video gaming industry was securing rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey video game console in Japan in 1974.

Nintendo began to produce its own hardware in 1977, with the Color TV-Game home video game consoles.

In 1980, Nintendo launched Game & Watch—a handheld video game series developed by Yokoi.

These systems do not contain interchangeable cartridges and thus the hardware was tied to the game.

The practice of bundling the system along with select games helped to make Super Mario Bros. In 1988, Gunpei Yokoi and his team at Nintendo R&D1 conceived the new Game Boy handheld system, with the purpose of merging the two very successful ideas of the Game & Watch's portability along with the NES's cartridge interchangeability.

Nintendo released the Game Boy in Japan on 21 April 1989, and in North America on 31 July 1989.

Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa managed a deal to bundle the popular third party game Tetris along with the Game Boy, and the pair launched as an instant success.