It occurred to me that Nintendo fans did not know what Nintendo’s studios were like — and that’s okay, since there is a lot to cover. Even so, something felt wrong about theorizing and guessing what the company was up to without even knowing what was possible. Nintendo enthusiasts deserved to know what the company was capable of without having to spend hours analyzing fact sheets and lists. As such, I began writing the “Analyzing Nintendo’s Studios” series where I explored every studio Nintendo currently has at their disposal.
These articles were unfortunately still extremely long and did not quite achieve the goal of learning quickly about the teams. Here is my solution: a one-stop page with brief summaries of the studios with links to the more detailed descriptions. This will attempt to help give everyone some perspective and those interested can delve deeper into the wild world of Nintendo development.
Internal Teams: These are Nintendo’s own developers, located in their headquarters in Kyoto, Japan. They are very uniquely set-up; members come and go between projects often, so while the different groups all have set numbers of teams, it is never set in stone.
- Entertainment and Analysis Division 1 – Heads up the Mario Kart and Nintendogs series and is currently working on Mario Kart 8, set to release this May.
- Entertainment and Analysis Division 2 - Consists of two teams. They work closely with the hardware side of Nintendo and make software that shows off unique capabilities of consoles a la Wii Sports and Nintendoland. Their second team works on the Animal Crossing series.
- Entertainment and Analysis Division 3 - Also consists of two teams, generally one for handhelds and one for home consoles. They are in charge of the Zelda series. A Link Between Worlds was released late last year for 3DS and a Wii U game is confirmed to be in development, presumably since 2011.
- Entertainment and Analysis Division 4 - Appears to be comprised of three teams. One is in charge of the Pikmin games, one created New Super Mario Bros. 2, and the other has created all of the other New Super Mario Bros. games.
- Entertainment and Analysis Division 5 - Seemingly consists of just one team. Works on the Wii Fit games and helps with the Steel Diver series.
- Entertainment and Analysis Division Tokyo - Works in Tokyo, as opposed to Kyoto, but still works extremely closely with the rest of EAD. They are in charge of the 3D Mario games, as well as smaller applications.
- Software Planning and Development – Helps other teams (first-, second-, and third-party) on their projects. Also works on the Rhythm Heaven series.
First Party: These guys are all fully owned subsidiaries of Nintendo and are technically considered 100% part of the company, even if they develop their games externally.
- Monolith Soft – Seems to be comprised of multiple teams. Is currently working on the untitled X, but may have another team working on a smaller handheld game in addition. They also have a second studio that thus far has worked only on helping Nintendo with other projects.
- Nintendo Software Technology – Creators of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. Worked on Metroid Prime Hunters and Wave Race: Blue Storm. Has not made any major retail games in some time, but they may do so again.
- 1-Up Studio – Previously creators of RPGs, such as Magical Vacation, they have recently restructured in order to primarily just help other studios with their games, though it remains to be seen if they still work on projects by themselves, as well.
- Intelligent Systems – One of Nintendo’s biggest studios and usually has several games in development at once. In charge of the Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, WarioWare, and Paper Mario series, as well as some downloadable titles like Pushmo/Crashmo. They are currently developing Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei with Atlus. They likely have at least one other major title in the works, however.
- ND Cube – Creates primarily party games a la the Mario Party titles and Wii Party games. Made up of many ex-Hudson Soft members. Is capable of working on multiple games in conjunction, as proven by Island Tour and Wii Party U.
- HAL Laboratory – Though they used to have an extremely wide range — they even used to develop the Super Smash Bros. games when Masahiro Sakurai was still with them — they now develop Kirby games almost exclusively. Triple Deluxe was released recently in Japan and is releasing soon in the States, but traditionally, they have had multiple titles in development at once, and it’s doubtful this time is any different.
- Creatures Inc. – A Pokemon spin-off house that made Pokemon Rangers and Pokepark titles. Has been quiet since 2011, so they may be working on something big.
- Retro Studios – Creators of the Metroid Prime and recent Donkey Kong Country Returns games. Recently released Tropical Freeze and is confirmed to have had a major game in development since last November. They have helped with other projects in recent years, however, and it’s not impossible they have expanded to two full teams.
Second Party - These are all studios that Nintendo has either a partial stake in or no ownership at all. They vary from teams that Nintendo has a close relationship with and trusts with their own franchises to groups that they use purely so that they can publish their games.
- AlphaDream – Creators of the Mario and Luigi titles. Recently released Dream Team and is likely working on the next entry. Also have had several Japan only games, which always have a chance of making their way over to the states in the future.
- Ambrella – Pokemon spin-off studio. Has lately been focused on the Pokemon Rumble games, the most recent of which released for Wii U last August. Likely, they will continue making Pokemon spin-offs for the foreseeable future.
- Arika – Has been all over the place when it comes to developed games. They have worked on Endless Ocean, the 3D Classics remakes, and the recent Dr. Mario games, the last of which — Dr. Luigi — released not long ago.
- Arzest – Formed partially out of ex-Artoon members. Yoshi’s New Island is their first release.
- Asobism – Creators of the FreakyForms: You Creations Alive! series. Since the second one in 2012, they have been completely silent.
- Camelot – Developers of the Mario Tennis and Golf titles, as well as creators of the Golden Sun franchise. Are releasing Mario Golf: World Tour this May.
- Curve Studios – Creators of the Fluidity games. It is possible they will work with Nintendo again.
- GameFreak – The legendary developers of the main series Pokemon games. In addition to those, they also make a variety of random eShop titles, such as HarmoKnight.
- Ganbarion – The developers of Pandora’s Tower. Last year they released One Piece: Unlimited World RED for the 3DS in Japan, which will be coming to North America – both on 3DS and Wii U – this year. They also assisted in the development of Wii Fit U (ed: thanks to commenter homezu221 below for the head’s up) and have released quite a few games for Nintendo devices, but have also released games for Sony platforms (RED will be available on Vita and PS3, too).
- Genius Sonority – Created several Pokemon spin-offs and has recently made the Denpa Men games, the third of which released in Japan last year.
- Good Feel – Developers of Wario Land: Shake It and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, as well as some educational titles and helping other studios with parts of their games. They are currently working on Yarn Yoshi.
- Grezzo – Developers of Ocarina of Time 3D and Four Swords Anniversary Edition. Have been quiet since 2011.
- Indieszero – Has created games such as Theatrythm: Final Fantasy and Elektroplankton in the past. Recently released NES Remix and is currently working on a sequel.
- Jupiter – Creates primarily Picross games. Picross e4 released last November in Japan.
- Kuju Entertainment – With Nintendo, they have primarily just developed Art Academy titles. Art Academy: Sketchpad released last year, so they doubtlessly have something in the works by now.
- Mistwalker – Headed up by Hironobu Sakaguchi. Has created several JRPGs for DS and non-Nintendo consoles and mobile. Their last major project was The Last Story for Wii. Has been quiet since a few mobile titles in mid 2012, so a larger project seems to be in the works.
- Monster Games – Created recent games in the Excite series. Worked on the 3DS port of Donkey Kong Country Returns and contributed significantly to Tropical Freeze.
- Next Level – The creators of Mario Strikers, the Punch Out!!! game for Wii, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, these guys are one of Nintendo’s most promising second parties. Their next project is completely unknown, but clearly, they have talent and Nintendo seems to trust them a lot, so whatever comes next should be extremely exciting.
- Noise – Used to work on the Custom Robo games, but have not partnered with Nintendo in some time. A partnership still seems to be a viable option for the future, however.
- Paon – Creators of Donkey Kong spin-offs, such as Jungle Climber and Barrel Blast, Paon has recently been focusing primarily on porting older NES games of which they now the rights to the Virtual Console.
- Platinum Games - Directed by Hideki Kamiya, Platinum are the creators of several high profile action games. The Wonderful 101 released last September to less than stellar sales, but Bayonetta 2 is still on the way for the Wii U. Whether or not the relationship between Nintendo and Platinum will continue remains to be seen, but it seems optimistic.
- Skip Ltd. – Create mostly quirky downloadable games, such as Snowpak Park for WiiWare and Chibi-Robo games. Photo Finder just released a few months ago, and so, it seems that some other downloadable game would now be in the works.
- Syn Sophia – The only partnership with Nintendo these guys have partaken in is the Style Savvy series, the last of which released in 2012. It seems likely that the series will continue in some way.
- Tose – Rarely develop games themselves, instead helping out with other games behind the scenes. They did create The Legendary Starfy games by themselves, as well as Super Princess Peach.
- Treasure – Has created games such as Sin and Punishment: Star Successor and Wario World with Nintendo in the past. There isn’t anything to suggest they are currently working on anything together, but the possibility is certainly there.
- Vanpool – Created the Tingle games for DS and more recently worked on the Dillon’s Rolling Western games. Has been quiet since the release of The Last Ranger in 2013, so something is probably in the works — likely an eSshop game of some kind.
- Vitei – Has worked on the Steel Diver series with Entertainment and Analysis Division 5, the most recent of which released on the eSshop a couple months ago.
- iNis – Has not joined forces with Nintendo since Elite Beat Agents, but they are still active developers, so the potential is there.
- Red Entertainment – Creates mostly low profile games, many of which do not make it to the states, and are also the developers of the Fossil Fighters series.
Third Party - These are all publishers, generally with their own set of studios, that have at some time collaborated with Nintendo from a developmental or publishing standpoint.
- Square Enix – Have worked on Maro Sports Mix and Fortunate Street. Nintendo has also published some of their games in western territories.
- Tecmo Koei – Metroid: Other M and and the upgraded version of Ninja Gaiden 3 were the most recent partnerships between the companies. Hyrule Warriors is currently in development.
- Bandai Namco – From Donkey Konga to Mario Baseball games, Namco is now developing the next Super Smash Bros. title — one of Nintendo’s biggest Wii U games by far. Clearly, a lot of faith is being put into this partnership, so it is likely more will result from it in the future.
- Spike Chunsoft – Developers of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. Seems to be a solid partnership, so more games from them seem likely.
- Level 5 – Nintendo has stepped in to publish Level 5′s Professor Layton games in the states, as well as putting the Guild titles on the eShop.
- Sega – With Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, console exclusive deals, and Zelda and Yoshi DLC for Sonic: Lost World, the relationship here certainly seems very strong, and more collaborations seem likely to result from it in the future.
- Capcom – Unfortunately, they have not joined with Nintendo for anything since around 2007, but the potential is still there.
- Ubisoft – Have not developed any games with Nintendo, though Rayman Legends was published by Ninty in Japan, so there is certainly potential for something bigger in the future.
- Warner Bros. – Lego City is the only collaboration these guys have done. It is possible more will come, however.