King Koopa is going to be green with envy. A recently held auction featured a very special item: A vintage Super Mario Bros. cartridge. This forgotten copy of one of the earliest versions of the original Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System fetched a record-breaking amount. Check out the details of the monumental video game auction below!
Early Super Mario Bros. for the NES
At this point in history, there are few who do not know who or what the Mario Bros. are. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, the characters and the game franchise have ascended to the pop culture awareness reserved for only a few. In the same way Mickey Mouse and Superman are universal icons for their brand and company, the Mario Bros. property (particularly Mario himself) has become globally recognized.
But such was not the case prior to Super Mario Bros. Canonically, the first appearance of Mario is Donkey Kong (where Mario was still named "Jumpman"). Later on, Mario would be featured in the Mario Bros. game with his brother Luigi as a palette swap. Both games were very popular and box office hits in the arcades. However, the Mario Bros. IP would truly hit its stride upon the release of the Super Mario Bros. game for the NES (or Famicom in Japan) in 1985.
The mega-hit side-scrolling platform game would elevate Mario to become the official mascot of Nintendo, reaching 50 million units sold. The Super Mario Bros. game would be re-released multiple times, including as a packaged compilation and remade for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994 as part of Super Mario All-Stars. Many would credit the success of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. for single-handedly rescuing the video game industry from the slump after the Atari implosion and massive video game crash of 1983. It has been immortalized in the Video Game Hall of Fame.
Details of the Rare Auctioned Super Mario Bros. Copy
As Super Mario Bros. was re-released and newer versions created to meet the demand, the older cartridges would become scarce. Thus, unopened and unused copies of the older Super Mario Bros. have become a collectible item in recent years.
The discovery of the record-breaking sold copy came about innocently enough. The seller, who remained anonymous, stated that he had bought the copy as a Christmas gift. However, he placed it at the bottom of his office desk and forgot about it for the next 35 years. The game pack would remain untouched during that time until the seller rediscovered it and checked if it could be worth something off the secondary market.
According to Heritage Auctions, this particular Super Mario Bros. pack is the most pristine and finest sealed black box copy they had ever encountered, complete with the perforated cardboard. It should be noted that this copy still featured a shrink-wrap sealed plastic packaging. This copy of Super Mario Bros. was part of the fourth series production, which and had a very short production period before a new version was created.
The packaging also featured the Game Pak NES-GP trademark notice. That might seem to be trivial point. However, the practice of the familiar trademark notice by Nintendo to the Nintendo Entertainment System games would not be standardized until 1987, which adds to its rarity. WataGames graded this copy at 9.6 and A+ condition. This makes it one of the highest graded piece of this particular game and version.
Collect 660 Thousand Gold Coins!
The rare Super Mario Bros. game copy became the featured lot for its set, along with other rare video games up for auction. Ultimately, the unit sold for an astounding $660,000. Although it was expected to sell well, this ultimate bid was not foreseen.
#HERITAGELIVE #WORLDRECORD!! Super Mario Bros. - Wata 9.6 A+ Sealed [Hangtab, 1 Code, Mid-Production], NES Nintendo 1985 USA obliterates the record for the most ever paid for a video game when it sells for $660,000 in HA’s Comics Auction! #SuperMario https://t.co/mxT0c6zdK5 pic.twitter.com/nPuMQtpsfP
— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) April 2, 2021
Heritage Auctions Video Games Director Valarie McLeckie had this to say:
As soon as this copy of Super Mario Bros. arrived at Heritage, we knew the market would find it just as sensational as we did. Even so, the degree to which this game was embraced outside the market has been nothing short of exceptional, and that aspect of this sale has certainly exceeded our expectations. Though, I suppose we can't be too shocked; who doesn't love Mario?
The previous highest sold copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. was also conducted through Heritage Auctions for $144,000 in July of 2020.