Most of the hottest game releases for next-gen consoles are going to run you $70, an increase gamers are not relishing. That’s nothing compared with a copy of the original Super Mario Bros for NES. This sealed cartridge is set to shatter records with its auction price, which is creeping up on $400,000 with several days still to go.
The Nintendo Entertainment System occupies a special place in many a nerd’s heart. Some NES games, such as the Super Mario Bros. series, have become cultural touchstones that people still play to this day, and some love these games so much they’ll pay exorbitant amounts of money to own rare physical copies. Nintendo rolled out the NES in select markets with various types of game packaging, which has led to multiple “versions” of some titles. Many of them are worth a whole lot of money, too.
Heritage Auctions runs most of these rare NES game auctions, and its high-profile latest listing is about to set a new record. The game in question is a copy of the original Super Mario Bros., which first came out in 1985. However, this isn’t one of the early “test market” boxes, several of which have sold for substantial sums. The latest copy of SMB to hit the auction block is from a subsequent batch of game carts that were the first to be shrink-wrapped when they hit store shelves. The game is, of course, still shrink-wrapped. It will presumably remain that way, as any attempt to open it and play the game would destroy all of its (very significant) value. The box has been rated a 9.6 out of 10 by WATA Games, meaning the packaging is in nearly perfect condition. It also has an intact hangtab, indicating it was never even hung up in a store.
The age, condition, and specific box properties make this copy worth a boatload. The auction price is sitting at $372,000 at this time, and it could climb further. Even if it doesn’t, this auction will easily set the record for the most expensive single video game. The previous record was set by a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 with a slightly different box logo (see above) that was modified in later batches. That game sold for $156,000, which is nothing to sneeze at for a game that retailed for about $60 in 1990.
As the years wear on, these rare copies of classic games will only become rarer and more expensive. After 30 years, only very carefully preserved copies are in good enough condition to sell for big bucks. If anyone reading this is independently wealthy and would like to steal the game out from under the current high bidder, you’ll have to put up at least $384,000.
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