Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition Is Breathing New Life Into Nintendo Classics

Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition Is Breathing New Life Into Nintendo Classics

Way back in 1990, Nintendo put on the Nintendo World Championships, a nationwide gaming competition held throughout 29 cities across the US. This event featured challenges from a collection of games on the NES console. The classic competition was revived only twice, in 2015 and 2017, but the spirit of the contest is being brought back in a new minigame collection for the Nintendo Switch — Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition, which is coming out on July 7.

NWC is a collection of short sections of famous NES titles ranging from the original Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda to slices of slightly more obscure titles like Balloon Fight and Kid Icarus. Some of the challenges will be extremely easy, such as racing to get the sword in The Legend of Zelda — a task that takes less than 10 seconds to complete. Others are more difficult, such as timing you to finish all three stages of the original Donkey Kong back to back. 

During my preview session, we got to try out several different game modes found in the collection. The first and most robust is the single player gallery. In here you will find 13 game titles with an average of 13 challenges per game. The first and easiest challenge starts unlocked for each game, though you’ll have to earn the others. For example, in Super Mario Bros. you need to collect the first mushroom powerup as fast as possible to win — a task that usually takes about 5 seconds. Another beginner challenge from Balloon Fight required the player to pop a single balloon, another very quick task. Many of these challenges also come paired with a unique instruction screen that, we were told, were designed to look like they came out of an old Nintendo Power issue. 

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An instruction screen for a Kirby’s Adventure challenge.


Upon completion, you’ll earn a letter grade, with S being the highest. The difference between these grades can come down to milliseconds. I was pleased to see that you can quickly restart your run if it goes awry by pressing the R and L buttons, something I’m sure everyone will be doing many, many times.

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Winning at gold level Survival mode.


One of the best parts of NWC is how it presents all this data to you. When taking on a challenge you’ve already finished, you’ll see a second screen beside yours showing your best run. This way you can gauge your progress as you try shaving off time to improve. The better you do, the higher you rank and the more coins you’ll be rewarded. These coins can then be spent to purchase more challenges for each game. Challenges go all the way up to Master (the aforementioned Donkey Kong challenge was found in this category) and range in price from 10 to 300 coins, depending on difficulty.

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You can watch eight screens competing during Survival mode.


Another mode we tried out was Survival. Here you take on three challenges back to back and can select between Silver or Gold difficulties. Silver will put you against two normal and one hard level challenge while Gold will involve two hard and one normal. But it’s not that simple: the survival part comes in when you get pitted against seven sets of ghost data (random player data either from your console or from online). You will see your screen as well as the other seven players happening all at the same time. It’s reminiscent of Mario 35’s layout (everyone on screen at once, all trying to be the first to complete a classic Mario stage). Each round will eliminate the slowest half of the players until one is the winner. 

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Awarding points in Party mode.


The last portion of our preview was Party mode, which had all the journalists in attendance competing against one another in local multiplayer. This mode has you play a series of challenges and then scores everyone based on how well they’re doing. The fastest time will get full points, while each following person will get fewer and fewer, just like how Mario Kart rewards scores during its Cups. 

Each of these challenges also feature a start screen showing off what the task is, and players can even practice before fully completing (just like in Mario Party). During our preview, we played through three rounds of Party mode and even though I did quite poorly in round two (I haven’t played Excitebike in a long time, OK?), I ended up winning the whole tournament. Like I said in my Astro Bot preview — I’m extremely good at video games.

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You come at the king, you’d better not miss.

Sean Booker/CNET

Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition is taking what some would feel are simple, basic video games from yesteryear and breathing some exciting new life into them. Several of the journalists at my appointment commented on how they had never played these games growing up. I was plenty familiar, but the game gave me a new perspective on them. Almost everyone has run through 1-1 from Super Mario Bros., but how many have raced to collect 20 coins in that stage as fast as possible? NWC is dusting off these classics and shining a fun and chaotic new light on them. 

Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition is releasing on July 7 for $30 digitally, or $60 for the special physical edition.

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