Nintendo Campus Challenge

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Nintendo Campus Challenge was a video game competition sponsored by Nintendo and held at nearly 60 college campuses and other events throughout the United States. There was also a Canadian Tour. There were two Campus Challenge events, one in 1991 and another in 1992.

1991 games[edit]

Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 cartridge

Like Nintendo World Championships, the official event gave each player 6 minutes and 21 seconds to play in the contest, but there are three different minigames. The first minigame of the competition is Super Mario Bros. 3, where players must collect 25 coins. The next minigame is a version of Pin Bot, where players must get 100,000 points. The final minigame is Dr. Mario, which lasts until the time expires. Once time expires, a player's score is totaled using the following formula:

  • Super Mario Bros. 3 score times 10
  • + PinBot score
  • + Dr. Mario score times 100

The following advertisement was printed in Game Players Strategy Guide to Nintendo Games Vol. 4, issue #5:

"Ok, you should really be studying for that calculus test next week. And there's a paper due in English Lit. But who cares? The Nintendo Campus Challenge is coming! Nintendo of America is following up its hugely successful Nintendo World Champions with its first Nintendo Campus Challenge. During the next year, competitions will be held at 50 universities and popular spring break gatherings throughout the U.S. One lucky student will become the 'college valedictorian of videogames.' Contestants will play a special combination of three Nintendo games - Dr. Mario, Rad Racer, and Super Mario Bros. 3. There are categories for both men and women, and all finalists receive round-trip airfare to the January 1992 championship. Prizes include new cars and cash scholarships. Meanwhile, don't let those grades slide too badly." [1]

Rad Racer was not used in the final version of the competition cartridge, as it had previously appeared on the Nintendo World Championships cartridge and that both games used a different mapper chip from what the 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge uses.


There is only one known original copy of the 1991 Campus Challenge cartridge known to exist. The game was found by a video game collector, Rob Walters, at a garage sale in New York [2] in 2006. The game sold for $14,000 in July 2009 to collector JJ Hendricks.[3] After 3 months, Hendricks resold the game on eBay for $20,100.[4]

The cartridge is known to have been utilized in the 1991 Campus Challenge; however, it was also used in the French 'Nintendo Super Tour 1992', and a competition in Scandinavia in the same year.

Event structure[edit]

The Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 was held at 58 college campuses and spring break locations over a year's time beginning in November 1990. The event consisted of three stages. The main stage had the competition on 12 different game stations. The second stage was Nintendo Entertainment System systems with various games while the third stage had Game Boy systems. Attendees at the events could play as many times as they wanted and the highest score at the end of the day was announced the winner.

The winner from each location was flown to Disney World in Orlando, Florida over New Year's weekend in January 1992.[5] All the competitors played in the first round followed by a second round with the six highest scoring players only. The final round was a head-to-head match between Theo Büchel and Matt Sekelsky. Theo Büchel won with a score of 2,394,130.[6]

Date School City
11/29/1990 Louisiana State University Baton Rouge
12/3/1990 Texas A&M University College Station
12/6/1990 University of Oklahoma Norman
1/10/1991 Consumer Electronics Show Las Vegas
1/15/1991 California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) San Luis Obispo
1/17/1991 University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara
1/21/1991 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles
1/24/1991 University of Southern California Los Angeles
1/28/1991 California State University, Long Beach Long Beach
1/31/1991 University of California, Irvine Irvine
2/4/1991 California State University, Fullerton Fullerton
2/7/1991 San Diego State University San Diego
2/11/1991 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Las Vegas
2/14/1991 Arizona State University Tempe
2/18/1991 University of Arizona Tucson
2/21/1991 University of New Mexico Albuquerque
2/25/1991 Texas Tech University Lubbock
2/28/1991 University of Texas at Arlington Arlington
3/4/1991 University of Texas at Austin Austin
3/7/1991 University of Houston Houston
3/11/1991 Spring Break event South Padre Island
3/19/1991 Spring Break event Kenny Dedic - Daytona Beach
3/25/1991 Spring Break event Daytona Beach
4/4/1991 University of Georgia Athens
4/8/1991 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta
4/11/1991 Auburn University Auburn
4/15/1991 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
4/18/1991 University of Tennessee at Knoxville Knoxville
4/22/1991 Ohio State University Columbus
4/24/1991 Chevy Open House General Motors Technical Center
Warren, Michigan
4/25/1991 University of Michigan Ann Arbor
4/29/1991 Indiana University Bloomington
5/2/1991 University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison
5/6/1991 University of Minnesota Minneapolis
5/9/1991 Northwestern University Evanston
8/2/1991 Ohio State Fair Columbus
8/15/1991 Illinois State Fair Springfield
8/22/1991-9/20/1991 Canada Tour Canada
9/23/1991 University at Albany Albany
9/26/1991 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst
9/30/1991 Boston University Boston
10/3/1991 University of Rhode Island Kingston
10/7/1991 New York University New York City
10/10/1991 Rutgers University–New Brunswick New Brunswick
10/14/1991 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia
10/17/1991 University of Maryland College Park
10/20/1991 West Virginia University Morgantown
10/24/1991 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill
10/28/1991 Clemson University Clemson
11/11/1991 University of Washington Seattle
11/13/1991 Nintendo Open House Seattle
11/18/1991 University of Oregon Eugene
11/27/1991 California State University, Sacramento Sacramento
12/2/1991 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley
12/5/1991 Stanford University Stanford
12/9/1991 San Jose State University San Jose
1/4/1992 Walt Disney World Orlando

1992 games[edit]

Nintendo Campus Challenge 1992 Cartridge

The SNES Campus Challenge cart has an unusual shape, with the PCB board parallel to the SNES. The cart has four ROM chips, presumably three for each game plus the additional one to link them all together. It also has the DSP-1 chip, which is used in Pilotwings. There is a set of eight switches, which were likely used to change the settings in the game, although they seemed to have no effect when changed. A phone jack is present, likely to relay the scores to a Nintendo server to determine the grand prize winner.

The rules are the same as the 1991 version, except with three SNES minigames. The first minigame of the competition is Super Mario World, where players must collect 50 coins (very similar to Nintendo World Championships' first minigame, Super Mario Bros.). The second game is a version of F-Zero, where players must complete two laps. The final minigame is Pilotwings, where players must land on two targets successfully. Once time expires, a player's score is totaled using the following formula:[7]

  • Super Mario World score
  • + F-Zero score times 100
  • + Pilotwings score times 10,000


There are reportedly three cartridges in existence,[8] but only two are known. One was found at the same New York garage sale by Rob Walters as the 1991 cartridge. The cartridge is owned by a video game collector named Rick Bruns.[9] The second one was found in an attic of a former employee of a company who did projects for Nintendo. Nintendo sent the cartridge to the company along with some systems and other games.

The cartridge is also known to have been used in the French 'Nintendo Super Tour 1992', and a Scandinavian-based competition the same year.

Event structure[edit]

The 1992 "Nintendo Campus Challenge" competition was held at 35 college campuses throughout the US, including Central Michigan University, Arizona State University, and Texas A&M University. The winner at each location won a Super NES console bundle with Super Mario World, F-Zero, and Pilotwings. Consolation prizes of $100, $75, and $50 were awarded to second, third, and fourth place contestants. The winner of the whole US competition won $10,000. In addition, all the winners were put into a draw to win prizes of $5,000.[10] Along with the competition cartridge, Nintendo sent previews for new games, including Contra III: The Alien Wars, Rival Turf, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Addams Family, and Super Scope 6.[11]

Similar competitions were held in Europe and Japan in 1992. The winner of the US competition, Jeff Hanson, won against the winner of the Japanese competition, Yuichi Suyama, and became the World Champion at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nintendo Campus Challenge". Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  2. ^ "Greatest Video Game Garage Sale". Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  3. ^ "Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 Price History". Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  4. ^ "Behind the Sale: 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge Cartridge". 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  5. ^ "Campus Challenge Video". Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  6. ^ "Campus Challenge Winner Video". Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  7. ^ "Nintendo Campus Challenge". Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  8. ^ "And Now, the $25,000 Super Nintendo Cartridge". 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  9. ^ "Nintendo 1992 Campus Challenge". Retrieved 2009-08-10.
  10. ^ "Nintendo Campus Challenge". Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  11. ^ "Nintendo Campus Challenge". 1991-04-14. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  12. ^ Weston, D.B. (2012-08-07). Greatest Moments in Video Game History. DB Weston. p. 62. ISBN 9781301174140.