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Nintendo World Championships

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The Nintendo World Championships was a 1990 Nintendo-promoted video game competition. It was based on scoring points in three Nintendo Entertainment System games within a time limit of 6 minutes and 21 seconds. The competition was based loosely on the movie The Wizard.


[edit] Cartridge

For the competition, 116 special game cartridges were manufactured. 90 of these copies exist in a grey cartridge and were given out to semi-finalists in the 1990 NWC. The other 26 are gold—like the Legend of Zelda cartridge—and were given out as prizes in a separate contest held by Nintendo Power magazine.

Both versions of the cartridge feature DIP switches on the front, which may be used to alter the time limit. To play the cartridge, one must have a controller connected to both controller ports and press start on the second player's controller. For the competition, there was a special switch that would start all cartridges simultaneously.

Reproductions of the game cartridge have been produced by an outside company for sale to consumers, but the reproductions are created so as to be clearly distinguishable from authentic NWC cartridges.

The game's internal ROM has also been dumped online, with numerous sources offering a full emulation of the authentic cartridge as a ROM File playable with any NES Emulator. Though the legality of ROM-dumping is questionable, as is downloading the ROMs, many people have praised this activity as a way for people to experience a piece of gaming history so few will ever keep, and the ROM is believed to have been widely circulated as a result.

[edit] Collectible Value

The Nintendo World Championships 1990 game cartridge is considered to be the rarest and most valuable NES cartridge released, promo cartridges aside. The NWC Gold cartridge is often compared to "holy grail" items from other collectible hobbies, such as the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, or the Action Comics #1 comic book, and the gold variation has in fact been nicknamed "the holy grail of gaming" or "the holy grail of video game collecting".

On March 18th, 2007 a listing appeared on Myebid.com in which a gold cartridge appeared to have been inadvertently included in a bereavement sale of 24 NES games; according to the auction, a father was selling the possessions of his deceased son. The auction ended at $21,400, though collectors have speculated that neither the listing nor the bids were legitimate.

To date, of the 26 NWC gold cartridges produced, only 12 copies have ever surfaced. The most recent copy to surface was bought by JJ Hendricks from eBay for $17,500 - though there had been higher offers, they turned out to be bogus, and the seller eventually accepted his offer after much heel dragging.[1] The latest known sale before this date was in 2008, when a gold cartridge went for $15,000. In Issue 46 of Nintendo Official Magazine, dated September 2009, Nintendo estimate the values of the cartridges as between $17,500 and $25,000 USD (£10,250 - £14,750 GBP) for gold, and between $4,000 and $10,000 USD (£2,350 - £5,900 GBP) for grey.

[edit] Games

Officially, a player has 6 minutes and 21 seconds to play in the contest, which is divided up into three minigames. The first minigame of the competition is to collect 50 coins in Super Mario Brothers. The next minigame is a version of Rad Racer where players must complete a specialized Nintendo World Championship course. The final minigame is Tetris and this lasts until time expires. Once time does expire, a player's score is totalled using the following formula:

  • Super Mario Bros. score
  • + Rad Racer score times 10
  • + Tetris score times 25

Some players focused their tactic on getting a high score in Tetris while others tried to exploit a trick in Super Mario Brothers where a part of the game may be played repeatedly using warp pipes.

The first two games were modified so that a player could not get a "game over." In Super Mario Bros., the player was given 99 lives, and in Rad Racer, the in-game timer was permanently fixed at 99 seconds. In Tetris, however, stacking a line of blocks over the top of the playing field would effectively end the game prematurely, as the player could not start again—the game would freeze at the "game over" screen until the 6:21 competition time ran out.

Pressing the 'reset' button during either Rad Racer or Tetris would take the player to the point add-up screen.

[edit] Competition structure

The Nintendo World Championships consisted of eight rounds, all separated into the three age groups. Contestants entered by going to one of 30 local competitions, which were held at the 1990 Nintendo PowerFest. On the first two days of the PowerFest, contestants would play in groups of up to 50 at a time, and the top seven scorers were brought onto a main stage to compete against each other. Contestants could re-enter the first round as many times as they wished.

Each second round winner was invited back to the last day of the PowerFest at that location. All the players in each age group played a third round, and again the top seven scorers were brought on-stage to compete in a fourth round. The top two scorers in the fourth round then competed head-to-head for the title of local competition winner in their age group. There were 90 finalists, 30 in each age group. Each finalist won a trophy, some other relatively small prizes, and a trip for two to Hollywood for the main Nintendo World Championships event.

The Championships were held at Universal Studios. Each age group's finalists competed simultaneously in the sixth round, and the top seven scorers were brought on stage for the seventh round. Finally, the top two scorers in the seventh round competed head-to-head for the title of Nintendo World Champion for their age group.

[edit] Prizes

The top winner in each age category took home a $10,000 US Savings Bond, a new 1990 Geo Metro Convertible, a 40" rear-projection TV, and a trophy.

[edit] Additional Nintendo World Championships

Nintendo held one other Nintendo World Championship event: Nintendo PowerFest '94 (also called Nintendo World Championships II). In 1991 Nintendo held their Nintendo Campus Challenge event which was not billed as a World Championships but used a similar format and travelled to college campus throughout the US.

[edit] References

  1. "How I Got Nintendo World Championships Gold" - JJ Hendrick's personal blog
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