Nintendo World Championships

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Nintendo World Championships
Nintendo World Championships logo, 2017.png
GenreVideo game competition
CountryUnited States
InauguratedMarch 8, 1990; 31 years ago (1990-03-08)
Most recentOctober 7, 2017 (2017-10-07)[1]
Organized byNintendo of America

The Nintendo World Championships (NWC) is a nationwide video game competition video game tournament series, 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.

In 2014, Nintendo released NES Remix 2, featuring the reminiscent Nintendo World Championships Remix, which uses emulation and online leaderboards to incite informal public competitiveness.


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.[2] 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,[3][4] in the Fair Park's Automobile Building in Dallas, Texas, and ended up touring through 29 cities across the United States.[5] 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,[6][7][8] 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.[9]

Three 1990 World Champion titles were given. Jeff Hansen won in the 11 and under category, Thor Aackerlund won in the 12–17 category, and Robert Whiteman won in the 18 and older category.[10][11]

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.

After the World Championships, Nintendo sponsored additional similar competitions including the Campus Challenge in 1991 and 1992, and PowerFest in 1994, before reviving the World Championships in 2015.


The Nintendo World Championships 1990 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.[12][13] 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 1990 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.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]


A screenshot of Narcissa Wright's run through a level in Super Mario Maker, during the final of the 2015 Nintendo World Championships.

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.[22] Qualifying competitions began on May 30 in eight Best Buy locations across the United States.[23] 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.[24]

The live video of the Championship's final event was streamed online from Los Angeles on June 14, 2015.[25] 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".[26] 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.[27][28]


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.[29]

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.[30]


In 2015, Gamesradar summarized that "The Super Mario Maker climax ended Nintendo's championships on a pitch-perfect retro note."[26] 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."[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Nintendo World Championships are returning this October". Nintendo. August 8, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  2. ^ "Nintendo Power Flash Canada Issue 5, 1989" (PDF).
  3. ^ "The Story of the First Nintendo World Championships - IGN". IGN. May 13, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  4. ^ "The Nintendo World Championships '90". AtariHQ. 1997. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  5. ^ "NWC Contestant Information - Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. November 18, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  6. ^ "The quest for the golden Nintendo game - Ars Technica". Ars Technica. September 12, 2011. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  7. ^ "Nintendo's Powerfest '90 Is The Video Game Olympics - tribunedigital-chicagotribune". Chicago Tribune. December 7, 1990. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  8. ^ "The Azure Heights Forum: Nintendo World Championships 1990". December 7, 2000. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  9. ^ "Nintendo World Championships 1990 for NES". September 16, 2005. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  10. ^ "Scan of official contestant information flyer". Bob Whiteman. October 18, 2008. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  11. ^ McFerran, Damien (December 24, 2018). "Feature: The Real Wizard: A Nintendo World Champion's Tale". Nintendo Life. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "Nintendo World Championships 1990". Retrieved July 7, 2009.
  13. ^ Theobald, Phil (March 7, 2009). "Playing with Power". Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  14. ^ Digital Press Mini Rarity Guide. Messiah Entertainment. 2005.
  15. ^ Holy Grails of Console Game Collecting
  16. ^ "The Holy Grails of Console Gaming - The Rarest, Most Valuable, and Desirable Games Ever". RetroGaming. 2006. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  17. ^ "Nintendo World Championships 1990". Archived from the original on July 10, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  18. ^ Hendricks, JJ (June 23, 2009). "How I Got Nintendo World Championships Gold". Price Charting. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  19. ^ "The quest for the golden Nintendo game". September 12, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  20. ^ "The $15,000 NES Cart". May 1, 2008. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
  21. ^ "NINTENDO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NWC 1990 Cartridge". December 11, 2009. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  22. ^ "Nintendo World Championships headline Nintendo's expanded lineup at E3 2015". Nintendo. May 13, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  23. ^ "Nintendo World Championships Headline Nintendo's Expanded Lineup at E3 2015". MarketWatch.
  24. ^ Nintendo World Championships - Announcing More Details!. Nintendo. June 9, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  25. ^ Nintendo World Championships 2015. Nintendo. June 14, 2015. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Kietzmann, Ludwig (June 14, 2015). "Nintendo World Championships conclude with hellish Super Mario gauntlet". Gamesradar. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  27. ^ Osborn, Alex (June 15, 2015). "Nintendo World Championships 2015 Winner is John Numbers". IGN. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  28. ^ Leone, Matt (June 14, 2015). "John Numbers wins Nintendo World Championships 2015". Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  29. ^ "Nintendo World Championships 2017 – Official Site". Nintendo. October 7, 2017. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  30. ^ "Congratulations to Thomas G., your #NWC2017 champion! 🏆". Twitter. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  31. ^ Kollar, Philip (June 15, 2015). "Nintendo World Championships was the best E3 kick-off we could have hoped for". Polygon. Retrieved June 15, 2015.

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