The key landmarks in Nintendo's illustrious history are well known, but some aspects of its early video games are less familiar. Years before the Donkey Kong arcade changed the fate of the company and its most famous creator, Nintendo had various other cabinets with limited releases.

One of these is Monkey Magic, which was seemingly released in small numbers in Japan but was one of Nintendo's earliest colour games.

Arcade Blogger provides some interesting background and imagery of the machine, which was released in 1979 and planned for both cocktail table and upright cabinet forms, with the rarer upright pictured above.

It was a game with some aspects of Breakout to it, including the classic 'spinner' controls, though you were targeting the monkey's head rather than coloured blocks. The game has been captured for MAME, so you can see some gameplay below.

The original boards are extremely rare, so there's excitement about an auction listing in Japan that seems to be for a legitimate cabinet, intact and even with burn-in visible on the screen, suggesting it's been well used. With two days to go - at the time of writing - the bidding is at around 51,000 Yen, roughly $500. It'll be a big ask for any collectors outside of Japan to get hold of it, however, as beyond winning the bidding war there'd surely be hefty costs in getting it shipped to the West.

It's a fascinating discovery, nonetheless, and gives us another look at Nintendo's earliest days in video games.

[via arcadeblogger.com, reddit.com, page22.auctions.yahoo.co.jp]