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 recently some stock footage from a local TV station has surfaced that shows what it was like to be at one of the cities on the Nintendo World Championships tour. This particular footage was filmed at the Kingdome in Seattle which was the former stadium for the Supersonics, Mariners, and Seahawks professional sports teams.
In this first clip, you’ll see the stations that each contestant had when they played the video games. You’ll also get to meet one of the Nintendo game counselors and watch him demonstrate a special controller for physically challenged kids. Finally, watch as a new reporter tries to setup his news story with some cosplayers dressed as Mario and Robocop.
In the next video, watch Nintendo consultant and “game master” Howard Phillips answer questions from the audience. They hand our fanny packs as prizes and many of the kids are sporting NWC (Nintendo World Championships) hats which I imagine were also given out. The finalists are also introduced and the announcer gives some play-by-play as the competition starts.
In the third video, you’ll get to see one of the champions crowned and receive the first place trophy and prizes. Then in “victory lane”, the champions are interviewed alongside their parents.
In the final video, you’ll get to experience more of the atmosphere surrounding the Nintendo World Championships from the floor and stage.