Winning a Gold N64 Controller from Nintendo Power
One of my most prized gaming possessions is a Gold N64 Controller. Whenever people see it, they're always amazed at how I managed to get one. And, no I didn't spray paint it myself!
I actually went to a lot of hoopla to obtain it. Back in 1997, Nintendo Power had run a contest called the "Mario Kart 64 Nintendo Power Cup" where they gave away 1000 Gold N64 controllers, along with 5000 Mario Kart 64 calling cards. (Does anyone even use calling cards anymore?)
To qualify for the contest, you need to race on Mario Raceway in the time trials mode and finish with a time under 1:30:00. To enter the contest, you needed to mail in a printed photo with the completed contest form. They allowed unlimited entries.
Mario Kart 64 Nintendo Power Cup details from magazine scan
At the time, I was only 11 years old, and I really wanted one of these gold N64 controllers, so I decided to give a shot. I convinced my mom to let me enter the contest, and there were a few logistical things I needed to take into account.
1. I needed to practice playing Mario Kart 64 and make sure I could actually beat the 1:30:00 time, from what I recall it wasn't entirely easy, but eventually I was able to beat the time consistently.
2. Make photocopies of the contest entry form - I really wanted this gold N64 controller, and they allowed multiple entries according to the contest rules.
3. Purchase some stamps from Canada Post for sending to the USA (Nintendo Power's mailing address was in Redmond, WA)
4. I needed a roll of 35mm film so I stole one from my dad's photography collection.
Two decades ago, there was no screenshot button on your controller to take a screenshot. There were no smartphones, heck I didn't even have a digital camera, so I was unable to review the quality of the photos.
After I beat the required time in Mario Raceway, I attempted to take photos of my TV screen with a camera. I tried my best to follow the instructions which suggested to not use a flash. Nowadays, photo editing is so easy that something like this could be easily Photoshopped, so such a contest wouldn't be feasible.
One roll of 35mm film would take 24 photos, so I proceeded to use the entire roll for my Mario Kart 64 time trial expedition. After developing the photos, maybe about 10 of the prints had the race time legible, so I filled out the forms and sent them in to Nintendo Power to get them stuffed into the ballot box.
A month or two later, a package arrived at my door with the gold N64 Controller, meaning that I had won! They didn't call me or anything, it just arrived and I was super excited to receive it!
Since I was just a kid at the time, I didn't do anything special with my controller, I just used it like any other controller, and it saved me money from buying an additional one. Whenever people see it, they're always curious how I got it, and it's neat that this special controller has a story to tell.
In hindsight, it might be worth quite a bit of money to collectors if I kept the controller in mint condition. However, this is still a cool little piece of gaming history that I am proud to be part of, I wouldn't ever want to give it up.
A little skill, perseverance and luck in Mario Kart 64 brought me the gold, and it's something that I will always remember.