Mini-review: Club Nintendo Hanafuda Cards (NA)
Hey fellow Mii-gamers! Following my review for the limited edition WWHD Ganondorf figure, I started thinking that it would be fantastic to continue establishing a forum to discuss Nintendo merchandise of all sorts. With that in mind, shan’t we start things off with a key piece of memorabilia from the North American Club Nintendo service that pays homage to the company’s historic past? That’s right, I am talking about none another than hanafuda cards!
As I am sure many of all know, Nintendo is an extremely old company whose beginnings date back to 1889 – way before video games were event invented. In fact, Nintendo was started as a small company based on the manufacturing of hanafuda cards. Even if you have heard this all before, you may still be wondering, “what exactly are hanafuda cards, though?” Despite my avid interest in Japanese language and culture, I was also without an adequate answer to this question for far too long.
Apparently Nintendo of America noticed that there were many fans like I who wished to better understand the company’s historic past, as a nifty set of Mario-themed hanafuda cards finally became available as of the launch of Club Nintendo services in 2008. Since then, these cards have been kept online as a rather staple product, though there has been one issue for many: the price tag. These special Hanafuda cards still remain one of the highest price prizes in North American Club Nintendo History, touting a whopping 800-coin price tag.
Fortunately for me, I was able to order one of these beautiful sets one year ago. They arrived less than a month later, and I was then finally able to get better educated about hanafuda. In short, you can think of them as the Japanese version of a 52-card deck. The difference, however, is that a hanafuda set consists of 48 cards: 12 groups of 4 cards, each individual group representing one month out of the year. Moreover, all 4 cards of a month are represented by an appropriate seasonal flower, which is also where they get the name “hanafuda” (which roughly translates to Japanese flower cards).
What is special about the Club Nintendo set, though, is that their art is a reinterpretation of the traditional styles with the use of Mario characters (for instance, flying goombas instead of butterflies). These cards are absolutely nothing short of beautiful, though you may find them to be smaller than expected. The official Club Nintendo page notes the card dimensions to be 2.2’’ by 1.25’’ which is accurate, so don’t assume them to be the size of a standard Western card deck. Despite this, the cards are thick and quite sturdy, as they are actually made out of plastic. On top of that, the cards come in box housed in a protective plastic case, so you should not have to worry about them being damaged.
Needless to say, by aesthetics and history alone I was already won over by this costly reward. However, if nothing else was included I still would have had been left clueless as to how to actually use these cards. Thankfully Nintendo was thoughtful enough to include an instruction booklet explaining the card set and how to play one classic 2-player game called “Koi-Koi.” Unfortunately the paper that the instructions are printed feels a bit cheap, and the instructions are a bit confusing though they are adequate enough. That being said, a friend and I were able to begin playing Koi-Koi reasonably quickly after referring to a few online resources to confirm the rules, and it was sure a blast. The game itself is relatively simple to learn, but also very strategic.
Overall I am very pleased with my 800-coin purchase of this special hanafuda set. Though not exactly uncommon, I am sure that this Mario set will be remembered as a key part of Nintendo merchandise history. Unfortunately for now, the set remains sold out on the North American Club Nintendo page, though I suspect that this won’t last forever given the item’s long listing history.
Did you ever pick up one of these sets, or consider purchasing one in the future? Do you have any opinions or comments to share? Please let us know below!