Friday 10 July 2009

Nintendo World Championships 1990

One of the fabled gold Nintendo World Championships 1990 NES carts popped up not too long ago and sold for a whopping £10800, making it probably the most expensive complete NES game of all time. Why so much? Well, only 26 carts of its type exist in the whole world, (though there's a further 90 boring old "grey" carts) and only 12 of those 26 carts have ever surfaced. Since obviously these things are no longer being produced in any format, demand is very high.

Originally these carts were used in a timed contest, with some fancy DIP switches on the side to adjust the time (the default being 6 minutes 21 seconds... don't ask me why). They were released in small quantities as competitions via Nintendo Power and other events, and are now deemed "the rarest of the rare" as far as video games go (if you discount Nintendo's PowerFest '94 event in which only one sole SNES cart survived and went for thirty times that amount)

But what's a NWC game look like? Well... a bit like this

Yes that's right, some kind soul did dump one of the 116 NWC carts a few years ago. But is it honestly worth £10k? No. Well, not from a gaming perspective anyway. You could probably obtain a large amount of the NES's game catelog for that price, but if you do feel the need to invest... probably wise to hang onto the game once you've received it, because every time one pops up on ebay it sells for more than its predecessor.

So the contest was simply to "get points", but in order to do so you need to play Nintendo games. After the time is up, the points are totalled and... that'll be your overall score. There's not much use for these carts unless you're competing with someone, as you'll see, but with scheduled events such as these you have to admire Nintendo's efforts in the late 80s/early 90s. Shame they didn't continue that outside of America and Japan. "World" Championships this isn't.

First up, Super Mario Bros. Yes, a third of your money would be going into purchasing one of the most common NES games on the planet, and it's a gimped version at that, obviously lacking the two player mode and giving you 99 lives. Your task? Get 50 coins, making it the most time consuming of the three titles. As soon as you get 50 coins you'll move on, but if you don't bother, I'm assuming you can probably beat the entire game as per normal, as long as you do it within the time limit (which by the way, is never shown on screen so you better make sure you have a stopwatch if you're wanting to be strategic).

Second, Rad Racer, a game by Squaresoft from the days where they weren't afraid to make games outside the RPG genre. Simple stuff this time around - finish the track. Personally, I don't see what's so "Rad" about Rad Racer. Sure it might have been "rad" for the hardware, but it was originally released in 1987, a year after the the hugely successful OutRun, and by the time 1990 had rolled along, there were plenty of better racing alternatives. There's been some minor changes to reflect the NWC, and some modes have once again been dropped.

And finally, a forced game of Tetris's A-type mode from the gimped Nintendo version. This game goes on forever, and is just an extra way to score points. As usual, we'd have been much better of with Tengen's offering, but to give them credit, at least they had the sense to assign the rotate commands to buttons this time around. I would expect that normal kids probably wouldn't have been able to get up to this round (or at least stay here long enough to get some lines). Might have been better to have split those six minutes into three equally timed sections in which players have to score as much points as possible.

And that's it. So if you're interested do note that you're paying ten grand for what is essentially some gold coloured plastic. But to give them credit, the concept of 26 golden NES carts scattered across the world is quite fun... it's just a shame that the internals of those carts are worth nothing.

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