Nintendo World Championships cartridge set to sell for $100,000 today on Ebay, potentially setting a new world record for the highest price of a video game ever. Originally released in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, there were 116 copies released for competitions held in 29 cities across the U.S. in the largest video game tournament the world had yet seen. Held over three days with up to 100 players competing at once, thousands of kids were divided into age categories, with the top scorer of each age group named a champion. There was an unofficial final round between the three winners, but all three received grand prizes including $10,000 savings bonds, a 1990 Geo Metro convertible, and 40” television, and a gold Mario trophy. The competition is fondly remembered by enthusiasts, and over the years the number of cartridges circulating has dwindled to a paltry 90 known units.
On top of this, the game was never released for mass sales, so the original copies were all there would be. Ultra rare gold (plastic) cartridges are also known to be circulating but rarely surface. With a Nintendo World Championships cartridge set to sell for $100,000 the very clear example of the games value has rekindled interest in a contest that ended almost a quarter century ago, highlighting the power of nostalgia and the lengths people are willing to go to complete a collection. The cartridge currently up for sale is in very poor shape, the label has been ripped off and the plastic is showing its age, which is to be expected. Despite this it is still an original release, not one of the re-releases seen in 2008. These are identical to the original games but have blue plastic shells and different internal electronics. Despite the damage, it is still an extremely hard to find Nintendo World Championships cartridge, which is responsible for the unearthly price tag.
Since the cartridges were made for competition, it does not contain a full game, but rather levels from three separate games that players raced through to earn high scores in 6 minutes 21 seconds. The challenges were to collect 50 coins in the first level of Super Mario Bros., get the fastest time on a specially designed course in Rad Racer, and then use the remaining time on the clock to get the highest score possible in Tetris. Scores from each game were combined using a formula to determine the final score, which decided who would advance to the next round. Even the cartridge for sale will only play these games, and only for the set time limit. Although the competition is long over, the scores are still available to view online, meaning whoever buys the rare game will technically be able to compete with those who triumphed long ago. While the Nintendo World Championships cartridge set to sell for $100,000 is out of reach for most, whoever can afford it will not only acquire a piece of gaming history, but also have a chance at the ultimate high score.
By Daniel O’Brien