Nintendo’s Next World Championships Involve NES Speedruns At Home

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Key Takeaways

  • The Nintendo World Championships start July 18th.
  • The company is launching a 'NES Edition' game that challenges you to speedrun segments of classic titles.
  • The digital game costs $30 on Switch, and a deluxe physical copy sells for $60.

Nintendo has announced that its next World Championships will begin July 18th, and this year the focus is on speedrunning classic NES games.

The gaming giant is releasing a Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition title for Switch on that day. It tasks you with completing speedruns taken from some of the 1980s console’s best-known first-party titles, including Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda.

You can focus on beating your own times in a single-player mode, and challenge up to seven other local players through a Party Mode. If you have a Switch Online membership, you can enter the signature World Championships Mode to compete in five rotating weekly challenges and put your best times on a worldwide leaderboard.

The digital copy of the game is available to pre-order for $30. A $60 physical Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition — Deluxe Set gives you a non-functional replica of the original tournament’s gold cartridge as well as collectible pins and art cards.

The Nintendo World Championships debuted in 1990 and had competitors face each other in a city-by-city tour that culminated in the World Finals, where the top players used the gold cartridge to play tourney-only minigames. The winners in the three age categories won cars, savings bonds, and TVs in addition to taking home trophies.

Nintendo revived the World Championships in 2015 and had most contestants qualify at eight U.S. Best Buy locations. The winners and eight invited guests played in the finals. The prizes were smaller, but the winner got a trophy from Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto.

The 2017 event repeated the 2015 format, but was notable as the first to be livestreamed on Twitch and YouTube. It’s also the only one to date to have taken place during the Switch era.

The 2024 World Championships represent a fundamental break for Nintendo. Now, the competition is treated as another game release that anyone can try at home. This isn’t completely shocking. Online gaming and livestreaming were already popular in 2017, and that’s even truer seven years later. There’s just not as much pressure to hold in-person tourneys as there was before, and this gives even amateur speedrunners a more realistic chance of proving their worth.