North Texas Daily

Denton shop celebrates Nintendo anniversary

Denton shop celebrates Nintendo anniversary

Denton shop celebrates Nintendo anniversary
March 10
00:02 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

This past weekend, Denton nerd haven Freaks and Geeks held the Nintendo World Championship 25th Anniversary Celebration, honoring the anniversary of the first Nintendo World Championship in Dallas.

“When we first had the idea to start up Freaks and Geeks, I knew that Denton was the quintessential art town and that this style of shop would fit in nicely,” Freaks and Geeks co-owner Alec Featherstone said. “I wanted the shop to be like a ‘Geek and Nerd YMCA’ in which Dentonites could come and experience geek culture through what the shop had to offer and the events we hosted.”

The very first Nintendo World Championship tournament was held in Dallas in 1990, where gamers of all ages were able to participate in Tetris, Super Mario Bros. and other Nintendo game competitions. 

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Patrick Scott Patterson, left, and 1990 Nintendo World Champion Thor Aackerlund discuss the history of the competition. 

The tournament toured 29 cities across the U.S., finding the top gamers from each city and sending them to Universal Studios to compete for the championship. The challenge was a 6-minute and 21-second run in which players had to complete three tasks: collect 50 coins in Super Mario Bros., finish the first race in Rad Racer and earn as many points in Tetris with the remaining time.

Today, a Nintendo cartridge from the event is worth more than $100,000.

Freaks and Geeks co-owner Beth Baalman said when people reached out to them about hosting an anniversary celebration for the event, they were eager to get started.

“It made perfect sense,” Baalman said. “It kicked off in Dallas and Nintendo was just the ultimate home console. Since Freaks and Geeks is [literally] in a home, it seemed like the perfect atmosphere.”

Multimedia personality and Denton resident Patrick Scott Patterson attended the first Nintendo World Championship and was at Freaks and Geeks to celebrate this past weekend.

“Back then, Nintendo was the Paramount Pictures of video games and there had never been anything near the scale of what this championship was,” Patterson said. “It really revolutionized gaming.”

During the weekend’s celebration, guests from all over the metroplex competed against one another in Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, watched movies about the championship and learned more about the history of gaming.

On Saturday, Patterson educated attendees on the history of the anniversary celebration before they went head to head in competition. On Sunday, the store showed films detailing champions of past tournaments in addition to screenings of “The Wizard” and “Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters.”

“I became fascinated with not only gaming itself, but the history of it,” Patterson said. “I hope that by coming out and celebrating the anniversary of this event, it not only allowed people to have fun but it also inspired them to look into the video games that they love.”

Patterson, along with 1990 Nintendo World Champion Thor Aackerlund, played against spectators in the numerous games available.

Aackerlund said in addition to being the very first Nintendo World Champion, he currently holds the world record in Tetris. He spent the weekend battling gamers who hoped to best his score.

“It opened up so many opportunities for people, both in gaming and in meeting fellow gamers in their own backyard,” Baalman said. “How many times do you get to interact with a hero like that? Or have this wide scale of a friendly competition with people who have the same passion as you?”

Baalman said the turnout for the event was more than substantial.

“We had people from all over DFW come that had never been to the store,” Baalman said. “I think that people really got perspective of how things started compared to life today.”

Featherstone said he hopes people take more out of the weekend than just a new high score in Tetris.

“I just really wanted to celebrate the history instead of the value,” Featherstone said. “I hope it made a lasting impact on people to take this knowledge and dig deeper. We only have one life to live. We were born the way we were born. So we have to live life engulfed in what we love.”

Featured Image: Players competed against each other in NES Remix Pack for the Nintendo Wii U this past weekend. Photos by Riley Stephens – Contributing Photographer

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