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Nintendo World Championships Logo

The Nintendo World Championships was a 1990 Nintendo-promoted video game competition and accompanying NES game cartridge, that toured twenty-nine cities across the United States. The competition was based on scoring points in the custom cartridge's three Nintendo Entertainment System games (Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris) within a time limit of 6 minutes and 21 seconds. The competition was based loosely on the movie The Wizard. Through the use of emulation and online leaderboards, Nintendo features the reminiscent Nintendo World Championships Remix in 2014's NES Remix 2 for the Wii U.

City Competition structure

The Nintendo World Championships had three separate age groups (11 and under, 12-17, and 18 and over). The city contests were held over the weekend and began on Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday night. Over three days, players qualified for the semi-finals over two rounds. The first round a player had to score at least 175,000 points in the "Pods" area. To qualify for the semi-finals held on Sunday night, contestants had to play on a seven player stage and score at least 200,000 points.

On Sunday night, the semi-finalists were divided by age group, and each semi-finalists group played in the "Pods". At most, 100 could play at a time. The top seven scorers from each age group then played in a final round on stage while Terry Lee Torok and John Michael Phane moderated play by play to the crowd. Out of the seven scores, the top two scorers played head-to-head for City Champion.

The finalist won a trophy, $250, and a trip for two to the World Finals at Universal Studios Hollywood. The runner-up won a Nintendo Power Pad and a Game Boy.

World Championships competition structure

The world finals were conducted similarly to the city contests and were located at Universal Studios
The 1990 Nintendo World Championships
The 1990 Nintendo World Championships
Hollywood in the Star Trek Theater, now Shrek 4D. Each age group's thirty finalists played one round for the top seven positions. The 18 and over group played first, followed by the 11 and under, and completed with the 12-17 age group. Each age group's top seven played and the two top scores played head-to-head for the age group title.


Contestants played a specialized game cartridge designed specifically for the contest. Officially, a player has 6 minutes and 21 seconds to play, which is divided up into three minigames. The first minigame of the competition is to collect 50 coins in Super Mario Bros. The next minigame is a version of Rad Racer where players must complete a specialized Nintendo World Championship course. The final minigame is Tetris, and this lasts until time expires. Once time expires, a player's score is totaled using the following formula:[1]

(Super Mario Bros. score) + (Rad Racer score x 10) + (Tetris score x 25) = final score
Gameplay of the Nintendo World Championships Cart
Gameplay of the Nintendo World Championships Cart

There are two methods to obtaining fifty coins in Super Mario Bros. The first method involved going down the first pipe, collecting 20 coins, finishing the board, and getting the remainder of the coins in World 1-2. The second method has the player dying twice on World 1-1, which proved to be much faster. Thor Aackerlund used this method during the tour to get the World Record score of over 4,000,000 points.

The highest score with the first method during the city tour was 2,800,000 by Jeff Falco.

The first two games were modified so that a player could not get a "game over". In Super Mario Bros., the player is given 99 lives, and in Rad Racer, the in-game timer is permanently fixed at 99 seconds. In Tetris, however, stacking a line of blocks over the top of the playing field will effectively end the game prematurely, as the player can not start again; the game would freeze at the "game over" screen until the 6:21 competition time runs out.


Three 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. Below is a full listing of the ninety finalists from each city for each age category.

City 11 and Under 12 through 17 18 and Over
Dallas Peter Carter Jeff Baker Ray White
Cleveland Adam Misosky Mike Winzinek Darko Tankosic
Philadelphia Paul Lee Josh Caraciolo Vince Kailis
Pittsburgh Mike Trogdon Phil Evans Bruce Trogdon
Detroit Shaun Joyce John Wyman Chris Dillard
Indianapolis Shannon Gresh Steven Gingerich Chris Holt
Boston David Moreton Jason Orlando Steve Factor
New York City Michael Alex Alex Markovich Robert Whiteman
Hartford Jeremy Wall Eric Trinagel Mike Ferranti
Chicago Jacob Winch Mark Cabanayan Kevin Papke
Houston Long Khuu Thor Aackerlund Marcelo Gonzalez
St. Paul Andrew Luers Curt Thorn Pat Kensicki
Oklahoma City Heather Martin Kevin Gilley Pete Florez
Phoenix Justin Grant Jeff Bender Richard Watson
Seattle Nicholas Membrez-Weiler Justin Ellstrom Eden Stamm
Portland Dallas Lang Mike Stricklett Chris McCormack
Norfolk John Yandle Kenny Welch Bob Bender
New Jersey Jared Cohen David Lopez Mike Iarossi
Cincinnati Reid Somori Jeff Brearly Tim Ross
Milwaukee Jason Brandos Tim Drews Donna Thomas
Kansas City Randy Napier Jason Haag Alan Von Ah
Oakland Christopher Vu Robin Mihara Michael Pirring
Los Angeles (week 1) Michael Scott Chris Tang Grant Nakata
Los Angeles (week 2) Al Paung Kanan Alan Hong Colleen Cardas
Salt Lake City Heeth Kell Jeff Falco David Jachmann
Denver Dustin Durham Shannon Webster Cassandra Ross
New Orleans Johnny Crosby Paul Williams John Yates
Atlanta Jeremy Tomashek Nick Wietlisback Joe Somori
Miami Bradley Brunet Daniel Raymond Erik Aackerlund
Tampa Jeff Hansen Rich Ambler Rob Minasian

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.

Thor Aackerlund went on to become the official games spokesperson for Camerica Corporation, a direct competitor to Nintendo, immediately after winning the Nintendo Championship in the USA.

Jeff Hansen went on as 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.


The top winner in each age category took home a $10,000 U.S. savings bond, a new 1990 Geo Metro Convertible, a 40" rear-projection TV, 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.

The remainder of the top seven of each age category received a thousand dollar savings bond.

Semi-finalists in each city received $50 in Nintendo Cash as well as an "NWC" semi-finalist white baseball cap with two collector Super Mario pins.

The top seven finalists in each city received a Game Boy portable console. The winner of each age division received $250 cash, a pair of Reebok sneakers, a U-Force game controller, and a gold painted cup trophy.


There was two versions of the cartridge created.

1. 1990 Nintendo World Championships Gray , the ones that were given away to the finalists of the competition.

2. 1990 Nintendo World Championships Gold , the rarest one, that got given away in a Nintendo Power competition.

The Nintendo World Championships competition was based on a custom NES cartridge by the same name. Ninety of these copies exist as the official gray cartridge and were given out to finalists after the championships concluded. The other 26 are gold—like the The Legend of Zelda cartridge—and were given out as prizes in a separate contest held by Nintendo Power magazine.[3] Each gray cartridge has a unique number making the cartridge easier to track and difficult to counterfeit. However, the gold cartridges have no unique identification numbers and are difficult to track and authenticate. The circuit boards in the gray and gold cartridges are identical. Both versions of the cartridge feature DIP switches on the front which select the time limit of the game. To play the cartridge, one must have a controller connected to both controller ports and press start on the second player's controller. For the competition, there was a special switch that would start all games simultaneously.

Collectible Value

The Nintendo World Championships 1990 game cartridge is considered to be the most valuable NES cartridge ever released and one of the rarest, second only to the NTSC version of Stadium Events. Because fewer gold cartridges were manufactured, they are rarer and demand a higher price than the gray cartridges. The gold version has been described as the "holy grail" of console game collecting, similar to items from other collectible hobbies, such as the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, or the Action Comics #1 comic book.

On March 18, 2007 an online auction listing appeared in which a cartridge appeared to have been inadvertently included in a bereavement sale of 24 NES games. According to the auction, a father was selling the possessions of his deceased son. The auction ended at $21,400, though collectors have speculated that neither the listing nor the bids were legitimate. In 2008, a cartridge went for $15,000, and the next copy to surface sold in June 2009 for $17,500. In December 2009, a copy was auctioned on eBay as part of a charity auction for World Vision; the auction ended with a winning bid of $13,600. The high bidder failed to pay and the cartridge sold privately for $18,000.

For the 2011 Child's Play Charity Auction, a donated gray version of the cartridge sold for $11,500.

On season 6 episode 25 of History Channel's Pawn Stars (February 11, 2013), Pat "the NES Punk" Contri offered both gray and gold versions to employee Chumlee for $35,000, who counter-offered $15,000. The sale was not completed.

Reproduction Cartridge

Retrousb actually made a reproduction cartridge for the game (illustrated). You can buy it here.

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The reproduction cart of the nintendo world championships.

"This NWC 1990 Reproduction cart plays exactly like the original so you can see how you stack up against the best on real hardware. No more wondering if your emulator is giving you the correct time limit. The cart is complete with DIP switches, which can be set up for the official contest time of 6:21. The multi region Ciclone in the cart means it will work on NTSC, PAL A, PAL B, or Asian NES systems without needing to disable the lockout chip. If you have a top loader this board will still work fine, unlike the original. The game will run slower on PAL systems but the time limit will be extended. The printed manual includes exclusive NWC content from Rich Ambler and Thor Aackerlund who battled for 

the championship. Tips and cheats are published like never before! This isn't just a repro, it is a complete in box game.

This cart has been produced so it will not be confused for an authentic gray or gold cart. The board is drastically different and uses completely different chips. If anyone is trying to sell these as original they should be reported immediately.

No donor carts were harmed in the making of this game. " - RetroUSB's website

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