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Earlier this year, Nintendo announced that the Nintendo World Championships NES Edition would be arriving on the Nintendo Switch later this summer. As a certified ’90s kid, I was immediately excited. Some of my earliest memories are of playing NES with my siblings and friends—the NES practically felt like a member of my family growing up.

Like NES Remix before it, Nintendo World Championships NES Edition focuses on bite-sized chunks of classic NES titles. However, while NES Remix focused on mixing and matching NES games in strange and unique ways, Nintendo World Championships NES Edition really focuses on the speed-running and social aspect instead. As someone who likes to spend a lot of his free time both playing classic NES games on Nintendo Switch Online and watching a variety of speedrunners on Twitch, this game immediately spoke to me.



So, when Nintendo asked if I wanted to come out to San Francisco and give the game a shot before its official release date on July 18th, I jumped  further than Mario at the opportunity. So, I hopped on a plane from Wisconsin to California and prepared myself for some speed-running goodness.


Gotta Go Fast

Upon arrival, the first question I was asked was whether I wanted to play with a Pro Controller or the classic NES controller. Of course, being raised on the NES, I went with the latter. Once I got my controller and set up with the game, I was asked to create a profile. Here I was asked to pick a name, a catch phrase, and an icon. But,  one thing I did not expect while creating my profile was to select my favorite NES game. I assumed it would be a list of every first-party NES game, but I was shocked to see that nearly every single officially licensed Nintendo Entertainment System game was on this list! You can’t believe how excited I got when I scrolled through the titles and found Yo-Noid, one of my all time favorite retro platformers of all time —just one of those little touches that make this game amazing for Nintendo fans who grew up in the NES era.




For my playthrough, I was able to experience three of the four main modes that Nintendo World Championships NES Edition had to offer: Speedrun mode, Survival mode, and Party mode. A fourth mode called World Championships Mode, which has you competing for top scores with players online, was not available at the time of my demo.

Speed Run mode features over 150 micro-challenges from 13 classic NES titles. Each challenge tasks you with completing an objective as quickly as possible. Some of the simpler challenges include entering the cave in The Legend of Zelda and acquiring the sword. However, as you progress, the challenges become significantly more difficult, such as defeating a boss in The Legend of Zelda or completing an entire stage of Donkey Kong. Each challenge awards you coins to unlock additional challenges in the mode and, more importantly in my opinion, grants you a rank. During my time playing, I saw ranks ranging from B to S. You might think that a veteran player like me would be earning S ranks left and right, but that wasn’t the case. While I did get several S ranks, mostly in Donkey Kong, I found it extremely challenging to consistently achieve them in other titles. In fact, I couldn’t even get an S rank in the very first Legend of Zelda micro-game, which asked me to get the sword. I’m not sure how I could have gone any faster, but I must have missed something obvious.



And for me, that’s one of the many joys of this game. While 150 mini-challenges might not seem like much, I found myself completely focused on improving my time and score. The speed-running mentality immediately took over, and I even asked the Treehouse team if it was okay to keep replaying the same stage over and over. I was that determined to get S ranks as often as I could. And when it did happen, I was ecstatic. Although I only had about 20 minutes to play around in this mode, I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to jump back in for more.

About 20 minutes after sitting down to play Speed Run mode, the Treehouse staff told me it was time to move on to the next mode. While I was upset I couldn’t get S ranks in more challenges, I was still ready to try something new. Next up, I got my first taste of Survival mode. Let me tell you right off the bat, this one’s tougher than it may seem.



Survival mode consists of two divisions with three challenges each. Long story short, you’re pitted against seven ghost players and compete in three curated challenges, with  the top 50% moving on to the next round. Make it to the last challenge and get the best time to snag the win. At launch, Survival mode has two divisions: a Silver Division with relatively easy to moderately difficult challenges, and a Gold Division with significantly more difficult challenges. I started in the silver division and had a selection of Balloon Fight, Super Mario Bros 3, and Super Mario Bros 2. Once again, the tasks seemed relatively easy, like popping a balloon in Balloon Fight, defeating a Hammer Brother and collecting an item in Super Mario Bros 3, or jumping to the top of a mountain in Super Mario Bros 2.

What adds to the pressure is seeing all eight players simultaneously playing the same stage on one screen. While I did my best to focus on my own performance, I couldn’t help but sneak a peek at how my competitors were doing. I tried the Silver Dvision a few times and managed to best it once, which felt great. However, once I moved over to the gold division, things got a bit more difficult. Several of the challenges were recycled from the Silver Division, like defeating a Hammer Brother as quickly as possible or jumping my way up a mountain in Super Mario Bros 2, but one specific challenge from Kirby’s Adventure had me pulling my hair out.




The task was simple: acquire a fireball power-up and move through the course as fast as possible. But for some reason, something just did not click with me for this challenge, and I found myself constantly losing time to enemies and spikes. No matter how many times I tried, I could not best the Gold Division. But that’s okay! In fact,  it’s one of the reasons I liked this game so much. While some of these challenges were relatively easy for me, the fact that I still have so far to go to master this game has me extremely excited about its replay value.

Finally, I ended my session  with the multiplayer party mode. While I had a blast with the single-player modes, the pressure really ramped up when I was pitted against three members of Nintendo’s Treehouse. Party mode allows you to select either a single challenge to compete against your friends or a challenge pack that consists of multiple challenges strung together. These challenge packs range from extremely easy to extremely difficult. Once you and your friends are ready, you can start your challenge and aim for the fastest time. At the end of every challenge, you’re given a point value based on your performance. These points are then calculated at the end of the pack to determine the winner.



One of the cooler aspects of this mode, which I assume is also in the single-player mode, was the classified information feature. Several of the challenges were pretty difficult, so more than once, there was a new icon on the screen called “classified information” that gave you a Nintendo Power-esque guide to show you how to complete them. It’s these little touches that really add more nostalgia and charm to the game. Even though I had just met the people I was playing with that day, the thrill of the competition had us yelling in excitement and groaning in despair. Even with a relatively small amount of time in this mode, it’s clear to me that this could be the next go-to for my game nights with family and friends.



And that was it—my demo was over, and I left just wanting more. Everything about my experience filled me with nostalgia, joy, and a little frustration. The challenges were quick and fun, and there were so many of them that I think even the most talented players will have plenty to do for a long time to come. The Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition launches on the Nintendo Switch on July 18th. Pre-orders are now live at Best Buy for the Deluxe Edition, which includes a physical copy of the game, pins, a replica gold cartridge, and art cards.


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Written by Jason Ganos

Nintendo super fan since birth, Jason is the creator of Amiibo News and editor-in-chief at Nintendo Wire. One of his life goals is to provide the latest Nintendo news to fellow gamers with his natural know-how.