Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Nintendo PowerFest '94

An article recently caught my eye about the Nintendo PowerFest '94 game cartridge which appeared on ebid recently with a 'buy it now' price of $300,000! Here's a look at why the asking price was so much and why this particular game cartridge is so rare.

In 1994 Nintendo held a gaming event across stores across America with the winner of each event winning a trip to San Diego to take part in the World Championships. The events were a score based competition using a special game cartridge that consisted of three challenges within a time limit of six minutes. The games and goals were:
  • Super Mario Lost Levels: Complete the first level as quickly as possible.
  • Super Mario Kart: Complete 5 laps on the first track.
  • Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball: Play a home run derby and hit as many home runs as possible.
All these had to be completed within a time limit of six minutes with a final score calculated based on time completed, coins collected, finishing position and number of home runs hit. So that's the basics of the competition but why is the cartridge priced so highly?

The reason is that there were only ever 33 cartridges made for the event with 32 of them given back to Nintendo and reused for parts. So that leaves 1 cartridge left. And is this lone cartridge which is so sought after by video game enthusiasts, especially people that actually took part in the competition.

You can see a picture of the cartridge plugged into an American SNES in the picture opposite and as you can see it's quite bigger than standard cartridges, with the printed circuits on show and the different game chips visible. The cartridge also has a cord coming out the back which was used to network up to 8 different consoles and displayed players scores on a screen and the timer which stopped all machines at 6 minutes.

For a personal account of one man's love for PowerFest '94 have a look at this Nintendo Powerfest 94 Map Select blog post.

There were other Nintendo competition cartridges over the years which I will take a look at in an upcoming post.

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