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Take a walk down memory lane with the 1990 and 2017 competitors

On July 18, the Nintendo World Championships: NES™ Edition game is coming to you live—from your living room! You’ll be able to relive classic game moments and test your speedrunning skills in over 150 bite-sized challenges across classic NES games*.

To get you ready for the challenges that await, we thought we’d take a walk down memory lane with a few folks who competed in-person at the Nintendo World Championship events:

Jeff Hansen — 1990 Nintendo World Champion

Thomas G. — 2017 Nintendo World Champion

YellowKillerBee — 2017 Nintendo World Championships Competitor

Now, let’s learn about the road that led these competitors to the main stage!

When did you get into gaming?

Jeff: I think I was 5 years old. We had an [older gaming system], but it had shorter games—not a lot of memory back then. The NES™ system was eye-opening because it had [different] worlds and levels. It was innovative and a lot of fun as a kid. The other thing is growing up in my neighborhood, not everyone had a game console. So, people would always go to my house and watch me play. We had bunkbeds, so we’d have 6 or 7 kids sit on multilevel “rafters” watching me play video games. It was a lot of fun to get together, all the kids in the neighborhood, going through games and playing together.

Thomas: Most people may say that they asked their parents to buy them a system, but for me, my older sister had a Nintendo™ 64. So, as far back as I can remember, I've just always been playing games.

YellowKillerBee: My brother worked all summer to buy his first [gaming] system. My parents owned a resort and he worked all summer, bailing boats and picking up trash, to earn $100 to buy his first NES. Then, I saved up my money and I bought my first game, Mickey Mousecapade. The next summer, my brother decided he wanted a pair of shoes, and he sold [the system]! I was furious. So, when we bought our Super NES™ system, I made sure that I paid half so he couldn't sell it. But my brother and I were always into gaming from a young age. Even now, like we both are still into gaming.

What lead you to enter the Nintendo World Championships?

J: I really didn’t think I was going to get into competing. I went to the original Power Fest 1990 thinking I was just going to play a couple of new games that nobody had ever played before. But it was my parents that saw that talent and said, “Hey, Jeff, you should really try your hand at this.” I think it really was a cool thing to experience because, honestly, it was the first time competitive gaming or anything like that had been done before. It was still a huge production—but not the level that competitive gaming has gotten to today.

T: I'd look on YouTube or Twitch and see people playing and think, “Yeah, I could beat that guy.” Then you try it and realize, “Oh…it's harder than it looks.” Eventually, I went in person. After you enter you see the benefits of meeting other competitors and seeing what they’re all about.

YKB: When I turned 30, I discovered speedrunning. It was almost a nostalgic way for me to experience old games, but in a different way. There's a lot of exploits and tech that goes into the process. I thought, “I'm an adult with adult responsibilities, I can’t spend all weekend grinding.” But then I gave it a shot. I did a couple hours at a time and ended up loving it. So, I ended up getting invited to the Nintendo World Championships after volunteering at a charity doing speedrunning events.

Do you still feel that competitive fire?

J: It depends on the situation and what I’m doing. I don’t compete in video games much anymore. I feel like I’m getting a little older, but I still do like to get onto Tetris™ 99 every now and then to make sure I can get first place at least once. There’s a little bit of that, but I take that little bit of that fire, that desire, and that passion, and I apply it to other things in life. It’s not just video games, it’s how do I teach my kids things that are important in life, but also relax and have fun with them. Sometimes we’ll invite our neighbors to our house and have little competitions. I’ll bring out the old games and whoever gets the highest score will be invited over for dinner.

T: From time to time. I’m not at the level that I was before, but I do still like to play Chess or Smash. It really depends on the game though. If it’s anything other than Smash, I don’t think I would be willing to spend as much time to learn anything else.

YKB: I’m not speedrunning as much because my business got really busy and became all-encompassing for a while. But I still game every day. I like to think I'm more competitive with myself than with other people. I'll go play golf and try to beat my score each time.

Editor’s note:

We’d like to thank all the contestants who took a moment to chat with us! If you’re looking to get set for your own at-home competition, you can click on the link below to pre-order the game.

*NES games are not included in their entirety.