Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition

Impressions: Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition could be this summer's party game underdog for retro enthusiasts

Grabbing the eggplant with Popo in one of the icy levels of Ice Climber never was so exciting.

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Believe it or not, Nintendo was there in the very origins of esports, together with Tetris and other 80's arcade classics. And I don't mean just the Donkey Kong cabinet competitive fever, but mostly the almost cult-followed Nintendo World Championships, which were held by NoA in 1990, and which takes us to this year's release for the Nintendo Switch.

The old NWC games were played nationwide on a heavily-customised and therefore unique Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge, as competitors tried to record the highest score on Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and precisely Tetris. Stories about the hunt for that rare cartridge aside for another time, the premise lives on with Switch's new release, with the not so small difference that we'll now play 150+ challenges based on 13 NES games, together with a variety of online and offline game modes.

Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition - List of the 13 titles

  1. Super Mario Bros.

  2. The Legend of Zelda

  3. Metroid

  4. Donkey Kong

  5. Kid Icarus

  6. Super Mario Bros. 2

  7. Excitebike

  8. Ice Climber

  9. Balloon Fight

  10. Super Mario Bros. 3

  11. Zelda II - The Adventure of Link

  12. Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels

  13. Kirby's Adventure

I wasn't expecting much to be honest from yet another micro or mini game compilation acting as filler for the Switch's sunset year, so colour me impressed when I realised that my left thumb was hurting after just a few minutes with the classic, sharp d-pad on the NES controller. And I wasn't even playing versus human rivals yet, only CPU ghosts for me to get acquainted with the challenges. It might have to do with human competitive nature, with nostalgia from my childhood spent with those very games, or with the sole fact that some of the challenges are a b**ch and will make you sweat to get the prized S rank.

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So, instead of taking a look at every single game and challenge present in the preview build, there I was, trying to get an S, or what is even more impossible, an "under 4 seconds", on the Super Mario Bros. challenge, which asks you to simply grab the mushroom as fast as you can at the very beginning of World 1-1.

As stupid as it might sound, you have to do similarly with Link's sword in the legendary "it's dangerous to go along" Zelda moment, completing a short lap in Excitebike, getting the Morphball for Samus in the first Metroid, and so on, and so forth.

Nintendo World Championships: NES EditionNintendo World Championships: NES Edition
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Nintendo World Championships: NES EditionNintendo World Championships: NES EditionNintendo World Championships: NES Edition

The interface is really well thought-out, with preview screens where you can get the gist, in Mario Party's fashion, and with quick LR button presses for what you'll basically be doing all the time: replaying again and again to best your Personal Best.

When you've played a bunch of the few-seconds challenges in Speedrun mode, you'll gradually unlock more and more challenges by investing the earned coins. Then, online, were you show off your custom, pixelated player plate, there will be World Championships (but of course) with 5 challenges of different difficulty levels a week, as well as division-split Survival Championships, where only half of the players (those with better scores) survive in a Battle Royale type of deal. Then come the Legend Challenges, so cutely put together that they are presented along with their own Nintendo Power-powered "perfect path" guide with tips, and even then they're quite the thing.

The competitive beauty of the game shines soon enough like this, but it's when you face real people, and even better locally, when it shows its true potential. I played the Party Mode with other seven players on the same split screen, which looks well enough given the original resolution, and also a couple of those Legend Challenges (including that windy portion of The Lost Levels with Luigi), and this worked surprisingly well as a laughable, light-hearted experience, but full of serious rivalry.

So, I ended up quite convinced about what will be my party game for the summer and looking forward to playing the full game on and offline very soon. And one more thing: To me, this is also a new way to enjoy some classics (and their then-groundbreaking mechanics) I probably won't play fully ever again.

Nintendo World Championships: NES EditionNintendo World Championships: NES Edition
Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition

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