As part of its run up to the Electronic Entertainment Expo next month, Nintendo will be hosting its first “World Championships” competition in 25 years.
Details are scant at this point, but qualifying competitions are scheduled for May 30, leading up to a final competition live from Los Angeles (and streamed online) on June 14, the Sunday before E3 officially begins. In the announcement video below, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime hams it up for the cameras, “quitting” his job to train for the tournament on “classic” hardware like the Power Pad, the Super Scope, and the Virtual Boy. That could be seen as a hint that retro Nintendo titles will be an integral part of the tournament… or perhaps we’re reading too much into it.
The first and only Nintendo World Championships were held back in 1990, with Nintendo touring cities around the US (so much for the “world” portion) to test players’ skills on a special, six-and-a-half minute cartridge consisting of portions from Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. Winners of local contests got flown out to the finals at Universal Studios Hollywood, where they competed in one of three age groups for prizes, including a Geo Metro convertible and a 40-inch TV. If that all sounds familiar, it might be because the 1989 movie The Wizard featured a similar competition.
The original MWC competition is best known these days for the ultra-rare competition cartridges given to competitors and contest winners, which are now among the most sought-after collectibles in the game industry. Those carts saw renewed interest last year after several eBay auctions for them got bid up to tens of thousands of dollars, though there is some evidence that might have been due to “shill bidding.”
Last year, Nintendo’s pre-E3 festivities included a Super Smash Bros. invitational tournament, with professional players and walks-on competing live on stage in front of a crowd of thousands at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
Nintendo also announced today that it will once again be foregoing a formal press conference at this year’s show in favor of a livestreamed “Digital Event” scheduled for 9am Pacific time on June 16. The company will also be offering North American players nationwide the opportunity to play Mario Maker before its release at select Best Buy locations on June 17 and June 20.