This article needs to be updated.(November 2019)
|Nintendo World Championships|
|Genre||Video game competition|
|Inaugurated||March 8, 1990|
|Most recent||October 7, 2017|
|Organized by||Nintendo of America|
The first Nintendo World Championships was in 1990, touring 30 American cities. The NWC was conceived by Steve Grossman and Jay Coleman principals at EMCI, Nintendo’s marketing agency. The event won numerous marketing awards and was sponsored by Pepsi,Reebok and Nabisco. It was based on a custom game cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which would historically become one of the most rare and valuable NES cartridges. The NWC is considered the first ever esports event. On June 15, 2015, the second Nintendo World Championships took place for its 25th anniversary as part of Nintendo's E3 2015 coverage. The third Nintendo World Championships was held on October 7, 2017.
Preceding the NWC in 1989 and in 1990, and coinciding with Nintendo's 100th anniversary, Nintendo started its first annual nationwide video game competition series as the Nintendo Challenge Championship (NCC) in Canada. Nintendo assumed full distribution and marketing from its partners and rebranded its competitions as the Nintendo World Championships.
The original Nintendo World Championships began on March 8–11, 1990, in the Fair Park's Automobile Building in Dallas, Texas, and ended up touring through 29 cities across the United States. Players from three separate age groups (11 and below, 12–17, and 18 and above) competed across three days. The top two scorers then competed for the title of City Champion. The finalists won a trophy, US$250, and a trip for two to the World Finals at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. The runners-up won a Nintendo Power Pad and a Game Boy.
The World Finals were held December 7–9, 1990, conducted similarly to the City Championships and were located at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, California within the Star Trek Theater, now Shrek 4-D. There, contestants played a special Nintendo World Championships cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The cartridge contains three customized minigames based upon the popular games Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. The objective is to achieve a high score according to a custom cumulative scoring formula across all games, within a total time limit of 6 minutes and 21 seconds.
There was no official competition round to crown a single winner. However, after the competition ended there was an informal face-off between the three winners, with Thor Aackerlund taking first place, Jeff Hansen taking second, and Robert Whiteman finishing third.
The top winner in each age category were awarded a $10,000 U.S. savings bond, a new 1990 Geo Metro Convertible, a 40" Rear-projection television, and a gold painted Mario trophy. Runners up in each age category received a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and a silver Mario trophy.
Thor Aackerlund later became the official games spokesperson for Camerica Corporation, a direct competitor to Nintendo, immediately after winning the Nintendo World Championship. Jeff Hansen later became the United States representative to Japan to win the World Championship title in Tokyo, Japan, and again in Las Vegas at a rematch with the Japanese champion, Yuichi Suyama.
The Nintendo World Championships competition was based on a custom NES cartridge by the same name. However, it is unknown how many grey cartridges were made, and the highest numbered cart as of September 2020 is #353. Ninety copies of the gray cartridge were given to finalists after the championships concluded. Another twenty-six copies exist in gold, like The Legend of Zelda cartridge, and were given as prizes in a separate contest held by Nintendo Power magazine. Both versions have an exposed bank of dip switches which could be flipped to set the amount of time the player had to complete the three games, shorter and longer than the 6 minutes 21 seconds used in the actual competition.
The Nintendo World Championships game cartridge is considered to be the most valuable NES cartridge ever released and one of the rarest, with collectors having been paid more than US$15,000 per copy.
On May 13, 2015, Nintendo announced the return of Nintendo World Championships for the event's 25th anniversary, as part of the company's E3 2015 coverage. Qualifying competitions began on May 30 in eight Best Buy locations across the United States. At each location, contestants competed for the high score in Ultimate NES Remix. The winners from each of these eight locations, plus eight players invited by Nintendo, became the contestants for the last event.
The live video of the Championship's final event was streamed online from Los Angeles on June 14, 2015. The qualifying games were Splatoon (Wii U), The Legend of Zelda (NES), Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS), Super Metroid (SNES), Mario Kart 8 (Wii U), Balloon Fight (NES), and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U).
The last contest consisted of custom levels within the then unreleased Super Mario Maker (Wii U), played by the two finalists: John Numbers and professional speedrunner Narcissa Wright. In the first two levels the players were alternately blindfolded while the other played. The player who completed the levels the fastest would receive a 5-second advantage in the final level. In the final level they then raced simultaneously to the end, where John Numbers won the championship title. Gamesradar said that Numbers demonstrated "impulsive mastery" of the Super Mario Maker levels which were "hellish", "sadistic", "evil", and "truly weird". Shigeru Miyamoto made a surprise appearance to present a trophy to the winner, and an autographed New Nintendo 3DS XL system to each of the two finalists.
On August 8, 2017, Nintendo of America announced the return of the Nintendo World Championships. Qualifying rounds took place August 19, 2017 through September 10, 2017 at selected Best Buy locations across eight cities in the United States. John Numbers, the returning champion of 2015, was one of the 13-and-older qualifiers.
The main event was held on October 7, 2017 at the Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom, and was streamed online via YouTube and Twitch, as well as being simulcast on Disney XD's "D|XP" block. It used an elimination tournament format with a repechage bracket named the Underground, with competition based on a wide history of Nintendo's game library since the 1980s. This includes select gameplay modes and levels from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch/Wii U, 2017), Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS, 2017), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch, 2017), Splatoon 2 (Switch, 2017), Balloon Fight (NES, 1985), and other games for those consoles and for Nintendo 64, Wii, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy.
The overall winner was Thomas G, who defeated the 2015 champion John Numbers.
This section needs expansion with: reception of the overall 1990 groundbreaking event itself. You can help by adding to it. (June 2015)
In 2015, Gamesradar summarized that "The Super Mario Maker climax ended Nintendo's championships on a pitch-perfect retro note." Contestant Joshua Ovenshire of Smosh Games said that the Nintendo World Championships should be "a staple at every E3", summarizing, "I was a part of Nintendo history. That's where the magic is at."
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