Extra: A Taste of Nintendo’s Last Tournament

On June 5, 2014 by Jason Rechtman

Extra: A Taste of Nintendo's Last Tournament

It’s not every day Nintendo hosts an official tournament. In fact, it’s barely every decade. So when Nintendo announced next week’s Super Smash Bros. Invitational tournament as part of E3 2014, fans were naturally excited. Sure, there are official Pokemon tournaments every year (we’ve even competed and wrote about the experience), but those are hosted by The Pokemon Company. The Smash Bros. tourney, on the other hand, will truly be our generation’s Nintendo World Championship, our real-life version of The Wizard’s Video Armageddon. Well, except for the fact that Nintendo already did it four years ago with the oft-forgotten Wii Games: Summer 2010. The company zigzagged across the country for their Olympic-style competition with the grand finale taking place in our own backyard, the Los Angeles suburb of Redondo Beach. Let’s take a look back to get a glimpse of what may be in store for Tuesday’s Smash Bros. Invitational.

In many ways, the Wii Games: Summer 2010 was more of a Nintendo World Championship than the Smash Bros. Invitational will ever be. Much like the real Olympic Games that the tournament was loosely modeled after (they even signed on real Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson as the event’s “ambassador”), participants could compete in whatever game they were best at: Basketball or Bowling in Wii Sports Resort, racing in Mario Kart Wii, Hula Hooping in Wii Fit Plus, or time trials and coin grabs in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The participant pool was an equally varied group of players, including two-person teams of kids, kids and their parents, teens, and seniors – after all, the tournament was centered around a system billed as all-inclusive, casual friendly, and for ages 9-95.  To gather these participants, the Wii Games stopped in 24 different cities for qualifying tournaments hosted at local Six Flags theme parks and various shopping malls. The best of the best then won a free trip to the national championship in Redondo Beach.

Like the Olympics itself, the Wii Games offered plenty of spectacle: an opening ceremony (left) and a competitor Wii Fit warm-up (right).

Like the Olympics, the Wii Games included spectacles. Left: the opening ceremony. Right: a competitor Wii Fit warm-up.

To match the scale of the tournament, Nintendo built a massive, two-story tent on the Redondo waterfront that was completely open to the public. With 6,000 square feet under the canopy, it offered room not just for tournament play on the first floor, but also for the Wii’s entire E3 2010 lineup on the second floor. This meant that for the first time, the public had the chance to try out games such as Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Wii Party, NBA Jam, GoldenEye, and Epic Mickey, along with an assortment of already-released titles. Or they could hang around the ground floor to watch competitors as they did practice runs and competed against one another, be it at individual kiosks or on the large stage in the back.

Nintendo also offered a variety of freebies to keep visitors busy when there was no tournament play. Just for showing up, you’d receive a free shirt, although none of them were Wii Games branded. More interesting, however, were the Coin Cards given to all attendees. By playing specific games, you would earn a coin sticker, and once your card was full, you could redeem it for a number of different prizes. It’s a strategy Nintendo has since used at conventions such as Comic-Con and PAX to ensure people actually demo all the games on display.

All visitors received a Coin Card for earning prizes, along with a Wii Games pin and free shirt coupon.

All Wii Games visitors received a Coin Card for earning prizes, along with a Wii Games pin and free shirt coupon.

The Wii Games: Summer 2010 were a big endeavor for Nintendo, but it’s hard to tell if it all paid off. For gamers, it was certainly a fun opportunity to not only be recognized for their skills, but to also get together and compete. For Nintendo, however, it may not have been worth the cost and required coordination – Summer 2010 ended up being the only Wii Games ever held. But now, four years later, Nintendo is taking a different approach with the Super Smash Bros. Invitational. The competition may only be in one place this time, but the host venue of LA’s Nokia Theatre is massive and has been home to major events such as the Emmy Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. Throw in 3,000 fans, 16 top Smash Bros. players, and all of Nintendo’s big names being in town for E3, and you’re bound to have some surprises. For a taste of what it could be like, check out the below gallery of Wii Games: Summer 2010. The image quality is admittedly a bit low due to the photos being taken on a smartphone, but they give you a good idea of how Nintendo approaches its tournaments. Be sure to also check back throughout next week for our full coverage of E3 2014, including the Smash Bros. Invitational and beyond.

Leave a Reply