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It's a lot of fun to look into the little unknown games that large, successful, games companies made before they hit the big time.

Blizzard for example had mild success with Rock n' Roll Racing and Lost Vikings prior to Warcraft 2.

Nintendo made lots of arcade games since 1973, many being blatant clones of successful titles, before striking gold with Donkey Kong in 1981. Some of these may have sold fairly well, but the titles are ignored today so they couldn't have been all that good.

Pokemon developer Game Freak seems to have had it pretty rough prior to hitting the big time with Pokemon. The company has existed since 1989 and they put out a number of relatively unknown games before Pokemon in '96. Pokemon wasn't a strong seller at the beginning either.

According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satoshi_Tajiri): "Pokémon Red and Green took six years to produce, and nearly bankrupted Game Freak in the process; often, there was barely enough money to pay the employees. Five employees quit, and Tajiri did not take a salary, instead living off of his father's income. Investment from Creatures Inc. allowed Game Freak to complete the games, and in return, Creatures received one-third of the franchise rights."

You may want to go back a little further with Nintendo, which started as a playing card company.

In 1889. Took 92 years, 2 world wars, and the invention of the computer before worldwide success.

That's maybe a bit too unfair. Nintendo as we know it has only really existed since Hiroshi Yamauchi became CEO and took the company public in 1962. Prior to that point they were merely a card company, and from what I've read feels like they were a very successful card company. They were the largest, and first to create durable plastic coated cards. They also had a successful licensing deal with Disney.

Yamauchi certainly deserves credit for realizing that playing cards was not going to be a growth area in the future and for experimenting in new areas that eventually led to toys and then to arcade games.

Totally agree, but how often can I slip the fact that I know Nintendo is over 100 years old in a conversation?

Also a taxi company, a love hotel chain, a TV network, a food company (selling instant rice, similar to instant noodles).

Source: Wikipedia.

Bungie went from (relatively) unknown Mac-only game shop (during the Marathon days). They were then bought by MS and made the headline games for the xbox line.

Marathon was relatively successful I thought. I was a PC-loving Doom guy that hated Macs at the time (a bit of a waste of energy, but I was 13), and I remember at annoyed I was that people described Marathon on the Mac as being better thn Doom.

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