“Nintendo World Championships” Tournament Returns At E3 In Honor Of Its 25th Anniversary
Over the past few weeks, video game players all over the country have been very excited about the announcement that Nintendo was going to be reviving it’s “World Championship” competition, the first of it’s kind in 25 years. Since the middle of May, Nintendo fans have been practicing their skills with their favorite console, playing their fingers to the bone, in hopes of getting a chance to appear in the finals. The finals of this tournament occurred last night at the E3 Expo, and Nintendo streamed the entire event live, with replays now available to watch from beginning to end. The question is, did it lose it’s charm since 1990? (Notice: Contains minor spoilers.)
The original Nintendo World Championships in 1990 toured 29 different cities across the United States. There were three different age groups for the contestants, being between under 11 years old, between 12 and 17 years old, and adult gamers over 18. The city contests were held over the course of a weekend, beginning on a Friday afternoon and ending on a Sunday night. During these three days, players qualified for the semi-finals over two rounds. At the first round, a player needed to score over 175,000 points in the “Pods” area, but to qualify for the semi-finals held on Sunday night, contestants had to play on a seven player stage and score at least 200,000 points. On Sunday night, the semi-finalists were divided again by age group, and each semi-finalist group played in the “Pods”. The top seven scorers from each age group then played in a final round on stage, but only the top two scorers played head-to-head for City Champion.
The competition was based on scoring points by playing three of the NES consoles most popular and well known games of the era: “Super Mario Bros”, “Rad Racer”, and “Tetris”. The players had a combined time limit of 6 minutes and 21 seconds to complete certain goals with each game. In “Super Mario Brothers”, you needed to collect 50 coins. After than, you needed to complete a special course in “Rad Racer” that was made specifically for the tournament. With the remaining time available to the player, you racked up as many points as possible by player “Tetris”, but if you stacked blocks over the available playing field, the game was over. Once this was done, the scores were totaled by taking the score in “SMB,” added to the score earned in “Rad Racer” (multiplied by 10), added to the score earned in “Tetris” (multiplied by 25).
The top winner in each age category won a $10,000 savings bond, a 1990 Geo Metro Convertible, a 40″ rear-projection television set, and a gold painted Mario trophy. Runners up in each age category received a $1,000 savings bond and a silver Mario trophy, while the remainder of the top seven of each age category received a $1,000 savings bond. Semi-finalists in each city received $50 in Nintendo Cash and a Nintendo World Championship semi-finalist baseball cap with two Mario pins. The top seven finalists in each city received a Game Boy, while the winner of each age division received $250, a pair of Reebok sneakers, a U-Force controller, and a gold painted cup trophy, as seen above.
Of course, one of the biggest parts of this event came to be what is now known as one of the biggest collectables in the NES library, which are the cartridges that were used for the tournament. There were 90 copies of this cartridge that were given out to the finalists after the end of the tournament. Meanwhile, an additional 26 copies were gold plated cartridges, that were given out as prizes during a contest held by Nintendo Power magazine. The gray cartridges are numbered, while the gold cartridges are not. Being that these are one of the most sought out cartridges for the system, a variety of reproduction cartridges have been created so that the general public could experience the cartridge without needing to shell out the value of these cartridges today.
So now that we have our nostalgia out of the way, what happened yesterday? It all started on May 13, when Nintendo announced that Nintendo World Championships would be making a return in honor of the original events 25th anniversary, as a part of their 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) coverage. Qualifying competitions for this most recent event started on May 30, which took place in eight Best Buy store locations. During this segment of the contest, gamers played the championship mode in “Ultimate NES Remix”. The eight players with the highest score, plus an additional eight contestants that were hand picked by Nintendo, would then go on to compete in an 8 round tournament at E3, which happened just yesterday.
What was really nice about this lineup of games this time around, was that Nintendo didn’t forget their roots. (Nintendo is one of the companies that seems to never do that.) While the main games featured games for the current Wii U, side games included classics from the NES and Super NES library. The first round consisted of teams of four playing for the best out of three rounds of the recently released (and so far, critically acclaimed) “Splatoon”. The losing teams competed against each other, and the losing team of that second matchup went into the Elimination Round. The contestants that won an Elimination Round continued on in the competition. The first elimination round game was the NES classic “The Legend of Zelda”. The players competed at the same time to complete the first dungeon in the fastest time. The second round featured a previously unannounced game, “Blast Ball”, where teams of three competed in a first person shooter and soccer game, with the object being to score 3 points for your team. The second elimination round had players taking part in playing the SNES classic “Super Metroid”. The goal here was to beat the final boss and escape the fastest, with all players controlling the action simultaneously.
The third round of the contest featured “Mario Kart 8”. The remaining contestants played three races together with the primary goal of achieving the highest score. The final elimination round brought yet another NES classic to the table, with the original black-box title “Balloon Fight”. Contestants simultaneously tried to survive the longest to achieve the highest score within the allotted time. The fourth round featured “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U”, in which the remaining 4 contestants fought two matches, and the two with the highest scores at the end of those matches went on to play in the final contest. The final game featured was “Super Mario Maker”, which is slated to be released for the Wii U sometime this September. (You can’t help but think to yourself the scene in “The Wizard”, when “Super Mario Brothers 3” made it’s debut, with everyone thinking, “a new game?”) The final two contestants first played three levels alternatively, while the second contestant was blindfolded and wore headphones during the first run of each level to avoid familiarity. The contestant needed to beat the time or pass the other in each level, to grant a 15 second bonus each towards the final level. Then on the final level, contestants played simultaneously to reach the end.
The two finalists this time around won a new Nintendo 3DS XL system, which was signed by Shigeru Miyamoto. In addition, the winner received a gold trophy of Mario on the Nintendo World Championship 2015 logo. (No special cartridge giveaways this time around!)
We currently are living in a world where retro is cool again, and Nintendo has certainly been embracing this 1980s and 1990s image, with games such as Super Mario Maker and NES Remix being current games of interest to gamers that were once kids in the Nintendo world. Retooling the original World Championships was certainly a great idea and a lot of fun to watch (and I’m sure take part of.) While it was a lot more complicated this time around when compared to the 1990 event, Nintendo brought in some of the new with the old, and brought us a few hours of enjoyment regardless. You can tell from the crowd above that there was a lot of fun to be had. (Wait, isn’t that RGN founder Matt “Pixxel” Papa in the audience? Yep… Look for the blue Phillies cap!)
I stated earlier that there were very few spoilers in this article. While I very well could be one of the other video game blogs and reveal the final results, wouldn’t you rather watch the event for yourself? While the stream ended last night at the final, Nintendo has made available the entire competition at E3 for watching at your leisure, and you can catch this video on YouTube below. To make it easier for you to find your spot of interest, take a look at the chart:
After you watch it, we’d love to hear YOUR opinions about the event! Did it hold up as good today as it did 25 years ago? Do you wish to see Wii U versions of the games played at the event?