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Nintendo to revive long-dead 'World Championships' contest

No word yet on remake of The Wizard

By Shaun Nichols, 14 May 2015

Nintendo is planning to hold a new World Championships gaming contest in 2015, marking the first time it has staged such an event in 25 years.

Preliminary rounds of the contest will be held around the US on May 30 at various Best Buy retail stores in major cities. Nintendo has not yet posted location or registration info.

The final rounds will take place and the winner will be announced on Sunday, June 14, ahead of the annual E3 games conference in Los Angeles.

Nintendo has only ever held one previous World Championships event, back in 1990. Inspired by the 96-minute 1989 feature film/advertisement known as The Wizard, the 1990 championships pulled Nintendo gamers from around the country to compete for a grand prize of a $10,000 US savings bond and a Geo Metro compact car.

Though the competition was only held once, it generated a collector's market for the specially-built game cartridges used in the contests. The NES-compatible cartridges were pre-programmed to scroll through three Nintendo games (Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and Tetris) with a set time limit.

Copies of the cartridge were given out to finalists and a few went to a magazine giveaway. They have since become collector's items, fetching tens of thousands of dollars apiece at auction.

Nintendo is banking that a bit of nostalgia will go a long way towards attracting attention at E3. Nintendo's console market share circa 2015 is a far cry from the dominant position it held in 1990. Faced with heavy competition from Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, Nintendo's latest Wii U has struggled to keep up in the market.

Nintendo itself was at least able to crawl out of the red ink in its last fiscal year(PDF) turning a modest profit. ®

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