Footage from the 1990 Nintendo World Championships

The Nintendo World Championships in 1990 was the first nationwide video game competition hosted by Nintendo. Throughout the year, the tournament visited 30 cities in America and gave players a chance to compete for a spot in the World Finals in December 1990.

There were three different age groups: 11 years and below, 12-17 years, and 18 years and above. Two finalists in each city across all three age groups won a trophy, $250, and a trip for two to the World Finals in Hollywood, CA. The ultimate prize for each age group was a $10,000 savings bond, a Geo Metro convertible car, a 40-inch projection television, and a gold Mario trophy.

Games that were used in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships tournament included Super Mario Brothers, Tetris, and Rad Racer. At the World Finals, a special NES cartridge was specifically used that adapted all three games into a timed competition. Each cartridge featured a dip switch which set the amount of time to complete the games, shorter or longer than 6 minutes and 21 seconds.

These Nintendo World Championship cartridges have become the most rare and valuable cartridges ever produced, fetching tens of thousands at auction in recent years. 90 copies of the gray cartridges were given to finalists and 26 copies in gold were given away as prizes through Nintendo Power magazine. However, it appears more gray cartridges were made than what were passed out at the World Finals with 353 being the highest numbered cartridge found to date.

Apparently, there was a video that was sent to each finalist that recapped the World Finals tournament but this footage comes from a contestant, Jason Orlando, who competed in the Boston event in April 1990…

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'80s Kid, '90s Grad, and '00s Dad. I've been writing and podcasting about 1980s pop culture since 2011 at my Rediscoverthe80s.com website. I collect vinyl, cassingles, '80s comics, Batman memorabilia, and all things Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.