On May 13th, 2015, Nintendo announced the return of the Nintendo World Championships in the most surprising, hilarious way possible:
To say this caught Nintendo fanboys off guard is an understatement. NOBODY saw this coming! Events will be held at select Best Buy locations on May 30th, but other than that we don’t know anything else. Winners will join “Nintendo-selected” competitors on June 14th for a grand finale. I suspect those hand-picked competitors will be well-known Nintendo Executives (as seen in the video above) as well as YouTube personalities (ProJared maybe?) and other celebrities such as The Wizard star Jenny Lewis, whom Polygon is begging to be included.
So, do you remember the Nintendo World Championships back in 1990? No? Let’s take a trip down memory lane!
The 1990 Nintendo World Championships
Back in 1990, I was a 14-year old kid who spent most of my waking hours at school…and then almost as many playing Nintendo! It was the original Nintendo, though nobody called it that back then. Having been out for years, I and other kids my age had played all the classics and, because most of our friends had Nintendo as well, all theirs, too!
When the NWC was announced in Nintendo Power magazine we all went nuts over it! It felt futuristic. We all thought we were the best gamers at the time because there was no YouTube to remind us how insanely good others gamers could be. I remember when they announced that the event near me, being held at the Jacob Javits Center, was going to feature DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. OH. MY. GOD.
I can’t really recall why I never did go, aside from the fact I was completely dependent on family at the time, but it’s something I’ll never forget. What an incredible event! Competitors tried to get the maximum score playing a special cartridge that featured three consecutive challenges that had to be done in about 6 minutes: grab 50 coins in Super Mario Bros., complete a race in Rad Racer, and then rack up as many points as possible in Tetris. The various scores in those games were multiplied out to form an official score. I always wondered if any games janked out and froze during a particular attempt. How high a score could you have gotten?
The winners were divided into three age categories. Various winners from around the country, including Houston’s Thor Aackerlund, received awesome prizes and employment opportunities with their wins. Who knew that being great at video games could be so lucrative?
These days, as a collector, the remnants of NWC are all around us. The gray cartridges they used for the contest are viewed as the Holy Grails of retro game collecting. They were given out to the various winners and certainly a Nintendo employee or two kept one as well. On top of that, a Nintendo Power contest blessed us with an even smaller batch of gold NWC carts that are even more valuable! Despite the fact that I’ll likely never see such a cartridge in person, they make thrifting for games fantastic fun. Oh, a gold cart! Is it Zelda…Adventure of Link…or maybe…an NWC!
We can hope.
I don’t know if the 2015 Nintendo World Championships will have the same appeal as it did 25 years ago, but I think I speak for all retro gamers when I saw that it’s just super exciting that Nintendo has decided to make this happen!