Nintendo World Championships 1990
The information in this
article may not be 100% accurate; I didn't attend the events (I was six at the time), so I've
had to piece together the information here from experience playing the
ROM, and hearsay gathered from the internet.
This was a cart made for a series of tournaments in 1990, wherein
competitors were pitted against one another in a competition to
get the highest score. 116 copies of the cartridge are known to
exist, 90 of which were plain gray carts were made for the
competitions. These carts weren't intended to be released to the
public, but after much pressure from the contestants (and their
parents), Nintendo caved and gave them away to the tournament's
finalists. The remaining 26 carts were gold in color, and were
given away in a Nintendo Power contest. Due to its rarity and
place in nintendo history, the cart is considered the holy grail of the
NES library, and copies have been traded online for thousands of
NWC1990 is basically a compilation of three games (Super Mario
Brothers, Rad Racer, and Tetris), and gameplay switches between them
when certain criteria are met. In addition, a time limit is
imposed on the games, ranging from five minutes to nine minutes and
forty-one seconds, depending upon the settings of the dip switches on
the cartridge. For the competitions, the time limit used was
minutes and fifteen seconds.
Pressing Start on controller two begins the timer, bringing up this
screen. Afterwards, you'd be dropped into Super Mario Brothers,
goal of collecting fifty coins as quickly as possible. An easy
enough task; most veterans of the game can accomplish this task in
about a minute and fifteen seconds.
Armed with 99 lives and a hankerin' for some coins
Once you gathered enough coins, you'd be taken to this cheery screen,
then it was off Rad Racer. However, between the "victory" screen
of Super Mario Brothers and the start of the race, about twenty-five
seconds pass, with the timer ticking down the entire time.
Go fast and don't hit signs or other cars. Not exactly a top
gaming strategy, but it was a popular piece of software at the time.
Once you finished
the race, the total points earned from the race would be
multiplied by 10 and added to your score. Of course, the main
focus here was not the score, but to finish as quickly as possible -
the course took a solid two minutes to finish, even longer if you made
a mistake that sent your car screeching to a halt.
Another fifteen-second wait was in store, and then it was off to the
final event, Tetris. This was the part that could
make or break a competitor in the tournaments - some players scrambled
to make as many single lines as possible, while others stacked blocks
as high as possible waiting for the straight pieces to rack up
Tetrises. The players who seemed to do the best, though, were
those who played in a more "casual" manner, laying their blocks
where they could and scoring doubles and triples whenever
possible. By contrast, the points from a reliance on singles
didn't add up enough, and those relying on Tetrises were often
disappointed when the straight blocks didn't come up when needed (a fate every Tetris player knows all too well).
Nintendo's jealously-defended prize,
Alright, one Tetris coming up...
Once time ran out, your score in Tetris was multiplied by a whopping
the tally of all three games' scores would be presented to you.
The ROM I'm running seems to end after about 5 1/2 minutes, so this
was my final score on a good run
Of course, the intended path was for players to
first two events as quickly as possible, then rack up points in
Tetris to skyrocket their final score with that massive 25x
multiplier. It seemed like a solid
strategy, earning the top players in excess of 400,000 points in
the lower age brackets, and well into the millions in the higher ones.
What won a few of the contest meets,
though, was a popular trick in Super Mario Bros, where the player would
warp to World 3-1 and repeatedly bounce Mario off of a Koopa shell on the stairs before the flag to rack up points.
After accumulating a huge score using this method, the player would
then quickly collect their last few coins,
rush through Rad Racer, and use their last few seconds to lay a few
bricks in Tetris - a strategy that would earn them in excess of 900,000 points. Nintendo
hadn't anticipated this twist before the tournament began, so they had
no choice but to award these players the victories.
Here's an article
the tournaments on |tsr's page.
of the cart by Pat the NES Punk
You can also buy a reproduction cart
of NWC1990 here for $55, complete with some tips from the tournaments'
top scorers. Test your skills against your friends!
One-line synopsis: A shame it wasn't more widely
released. This is a pretty fun way to test your video gaming
skills against your friends.