Nintendo stopped producing the Nintendo Famicon last September. The closure marked the end of two decades of game console history. In total the company sold 110m units globally. The reason Nintendo stopped production was that they've been having major problems buying the necessary parts, due to drastic changes going on in the electronics market.
Nintendo was definitely a historical icon. Before the first Famicon appeared, the size of Japanese game market was JPY180bn, but after Nintendo's release, the size swelled to JPY700bn. Globally, the game market in 2001 hit JPY1.45trn. That's quite a lot of cash!
I remember spending hours and hours with games such as Super Mario, Xevious, Metroid, Dragon Quest, etc. Infact, my parents were always complaining about the amount of time I spent on games. Today, these games look a bit boring, but they had a great concept which made up for the lack of computer graphics. Actually, some might say that games today are too realistic.
Recent research done here in Japan suggests that up to 60% of kids and young adults who are socially withdrawn are heavily dependent on computer games, and that the games may be damaging their ability to socialize with others.
I don't want to say that games in themselves are bad, because certainly there are much more addictive "things" in this world that the troubled mind can turn to. And personally, I feel that game consoles and their characters might have actually helped some kids. Certainly everyone knows Mario and I wonder how often he was used as an ice breaker for those without much else to say?