Blockbuster Video World Game Championships

Did anyone else participate in the Blockbuster Video World Game Championships?

Here is what I remember most from the 1994 Championships (details may be a bit hazy)…

I recall participating in at least three of these “competitions” at least at a local level, the first taking place in 1994 and featuring the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.

Once competitors chose their platform, a time slot was provided to come into the store and sit with a Blockbuster Employee who kept track of the score. In the Royal Palm Beach branch where I competed, there were two TVs set up in the store, with a chair and the dedicated games, which were as follows: SNES: Clay Fighter Tournament Edition, TMNT: Tournament Fighters, and NBA Jam (I’m pretty sure these games were selected on the basis of the designated “Tournament” status proclaimed in their title); Genesis: NBA Jam, Sonic 3, and Virtua Racing, for some reason.
Each game was timed, and at the end of the designated time (5 minutes each game, and one quarter for NBA Jam, I believe? Not too sure on that), the record keeper would write down your accumulated points for each game. On the SNES side, this was the actual in-game score for the two fighting games, and number of points scored in NBA Jam – all were weighted and combined. An in-store leaderboard of the top 10 for that location on each platform was displayed behind the checkout desk, in carefully scribed dry erase marker on a foam-core whiteboard bearing the World Game Championship logo.

GamePro Magazine had some sort of tie in, lending their name and “ProTips” to a print guide for competitors to achieve the highest score possible.
I managed to win the SNES division for my local store, and I even had my picture in the local newspaper, and received a handful of giveaways including a branded metal Pin, T Shirt, Hat, and a rather sizable trophy. I was also given my choice of the competition carts, choosing TMNT: Tournament Fighters, since it was the 90’s and fighting games were so rad, and a few free rentals at the store.

As store SNES Champion, I was invited to the Fort Lauderdale Semi-finals. I made friends with another area store SNES champion (Jason, from Wellington, FL), and my mom drove us both to the Ft. Lauderdale location. Once we arrived at the competition, I was given the chance to compete in a head-to-head match on the SNES port of NBA Jam. A stage was set up with 4 or 5 TV’s and folding chairs for each competitor. No, it did not look like a scene from the Wizard. It was more like the practice session for a high school rendition of the Wizard of Oz. We were told that we would play a full game, and the winning player would move on to the next round.

Naturally, the Chicago Bulls was my preferred team (I think they had the advantage against every other team). My opponent had the same first choice of team, but since he was asked his team selection first and the moderator already locked in his team, I froze. Rather than ask for a coin toss or explain that Chicago was also my first choice, I just Charlotte. My mindset was shaken and this threw off my game so much - I didn’t know who my back up team was, and I was totally unprepared. I ended up not playing my best, convinced that team choice made all the difference and I ended up losing my 4 points.

There ended my eSports career.

I competed in the next year’s event which had a timed run of Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, using a special competition version of the cart that would freeze at time up so the Banana count could be tallied. I did not place that year. The last competition I recall participating in at Blockbuster was on the PlayStation, with Jumping Flash and Street Fighter Alpha as the selections.

Who else had any experience with any of Blockbusters World Game Championships? I’d love to hear your stories.
Sadly, I don’t know where any of the swag ended up. I think my parents might still have the trophy in their shed, but I’m pretty sure everything else is lost to time.

Here is the newspaper photo featuring three of the local store champions (Including my goofy face)

I love it! I really didn‘t know how these worked - and you learned at a young age how much of esports is about the mental game I guess. Do you think about that loss sometimes? Is it like those old highschool quarterbacks who are like "if only I had made that toss, I would’ve gone to nationals" or something?

Also, do you still have your TMNT: Tournament Fighters cart?

You should see if your parents have that trophy!!

@exodus#1264 I really did not think much about it, until I wrote about the importance of having a “plan B” - but I was thrilled as a 14yr old just to be able to interact in this capacity. At the time, arcades were the competitive scene - Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II‘s, Killer Instinct, and all the NEO GEO MVS’ machines kept my competitive itch scratched, so no fun washed up guy living in a van down by the river type of impact in my life. : )

Sadly, I went through a “video games are boring” phase at the end of the SNES life cycle and gave away everything…only to play Resident Evil on the PlayStation at a friends house and dive back in and never look back.

I'd love to get ahold of the trophy - will require me making a short trip to dig around for it. 90% its there. Also, 90% the metal pin is at their house as well.

This is incredible. I had no idea this was even a thing before reading this.

It sounds like a really interesting experience. I love gaming competition that's a combination of various games and trying to hit a high score/progress the farthest in a limited time. It's a shame this doesn't seem to be as much of a thing anymore.

it‘d be fun to organize a twitch thing around - like the multi-person speedruns but across multiple games and everyone’s an amateur.

Maybe a strange first post but I couldn't resist, sorry.

I very briefly competed in the Blockbuster Game World Video Championships, I guess this would've been 1995? I remember being really excited and sure of myself about how well I'd do even if I didn't know what the game was going to be.

I went into the store and saw the game setup (you're a lot better at remembering the visual details than me, I'm jealous). Donkey Kong Country. I can't remember if I still only had a Genesis at the time or not but either way I hadn't played this yet. Still, I'd been getting frustrated at the performances of the kids on Nick Arcade and Video Power for long enough now that I felt confident I wouldn't make a fool of myself.

Unfortunately, the local radio station ("Z100...Rocks!") was doing a remote there and I was ambushed by an interview with a morning zoo DJ named Rick Christian. Older "cool" long hair don't care guy asking me on air something like "So you like video games huh?" and me tonelessly replying "Yes" was enough to shake me to my core and everything after is mostly a blur. I know I didn't do well and teared up a little in the car ride home.

I still thought it was really cool but it's the only year I remember it existing in my small town. Congrats on doing so well!

@ttzop#1315 what a cool memory! I‘m pretty sure that would be 1995 - the competition carts for the SNES (Donkey Kong Country) and the Sega Genesis (Judge Dredd plus NBA Jam TE) were created just for that event, and fetch a pretty penny from collectors. I’m pretty sure they were not meant to get into the hands of the public, but made a tempting gift for store owners to give to their local winners.

I didn't fare as well that year (I actually misunderstood and rented Judge Dredd for the SNES to practice, since the local store had the "competition games" placed in a special rack).

Like you described, there was a nervous energy that my still teenage self still did not overcome - I'm sure the radio interview would have pushed me over the top as well!

What a 90s memory that is @ttzop! badgered by a shock jock into performing poorly at a snes game and tearing up on the ride back while presumably declaring vengeance!

@JonDHarrison how good did you get at judge dredd? that game's actually pretty decent. I guess (music aside) the game's probably better on snes in this case, but the genesis one has blood so is obviously way cooler and for ADULTS

@exodus#1336 not too good, actually. I only practiced the first 5 mins of the game over and over for score.

And I was not ADULT enough to have a Genesis. I would not be allowed to play games on Sunday afternoon if there was BLOOD

meanwhile I was playing turbografx games, they didn't even have ratings :oncoming_police_car:

@“JonDHarrison”#p1261 I was a Store Champion but didn‘t make it to the World Championship, which I was fine with. I remember most of everything you said except my competition involved NBA Jam, Donkey Kong Country, and a racing game. I got regional high scores in Donkey Kong (literally by 1 banana, lol) and the racing game but my score on NBA Jam was poor enough to not include me in the World Championship. I don’t like sports games anyway, lol, never did. Still got the framed award, which I still have, and the free game rentals so I was as happy as could be.

This is rad. I never got to participate, but was always so jealous and excited about it when I'd read about it in magazines. I really wanted to compete in Clayfighter LOL