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Rare Super Mario Bros. cartridge sells for $660K, highest price ever for a video game

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Sealed NES cartridge outsells Nintendo Play Station prototype

Artwork of Mario from the original Super Mario Bros. NES box art Image: Nintendo

A copy of Super Mario Bros. for NES just sold for $660,000 at auction, making it the highest-priced video game collectible ever. The previous record holder was the prototype Nintendo Play Station, which sold through Heritage Auctions in 2020 for $360,000.

That outlandish price is more than four times the previous record holder for a video game: a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 that sold for $156,000 in November 2020. The previous world record for a copy of Super Mario Bros. was $114,000, which was set in July 2020.

What made this copy of Super Mario Bros. — a widely available video game released in 1985 — so special? Well, it was still factory sealed, for one thing, and rated 9.6 by Wata, a video game collectible grading company. This copy still has its retail hangtab attached, the box does not have a trademark symbol, and it is part of an extremely low print run.

A photo of Super Mario Bros. for NES in acrylic casing Photo: HA.com

Here’s the item’s description, from Heritage Auctions’ listing:

Not only is this the finest plastic-sealed copy with a perforated cardboard hangtab we’ve ever offered of any black box title, it is also the oldest sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. we’ve ever had the opportunity to offer. This is only the fourth version of Super Mario Bros. ever produced, and its window of production was remarkably short. Just to paint a better picture of how short this really was — the nationwide release for the console came in mid to late 1986, and black box games distributed for that release did not have the “Game Pak NES-GP” code. It’s worth mentioning that Nintendo managed to add the trademark symbol to the Nintendo Entertainment System on their game boxes by the beginning of 1987. That certainly doesn’t leave much time at all for this variant to be produced in-between the two!

The record-setting auction for Super Mario Bros. wasn’t the only impressive sale of a classic NES game on Friday. A copy of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! sold for $102,000, as did copies of Mega Man for $144,000 and Tetris for $36,000.