Original Super Mario Bros. copy sells for $114,000

Sure, video games are getting ever more expensive, but this takes the cake (or Panettone, rather). A copy of Super Mario Bros. for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) has sold at auction for $114,000.

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The game created an empire for Nintendo, attributing much to the success of the original NES. Without it, Nintendo may not be the gaming juggernaut it has become over the last 35 years. The original Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985.

It isn’t known who the lucky recipient is, but it is the highest price ever paid for a video game – at least on record. To put that in context, you could buy 1,900 copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for that amount of money.

The game sold more than 40 million copies throughout its history. There have been many (many) games featuring the titular characters from this original icon, on every single platform Nintendo has ever released. It has become part of the lexicon in a way very few characters ever do (regardless whether in gaming or not).

The previous record for a video game sale sat at just over $100,000. It was also a copy of Super Mario Bros., which sold for $100,150, but there was another interesting one that sold for a similar amount. A very rare game called Nintendo World Championships sold for $100,088 in 2014. There were only 116 copies of the game ever produced.

According to the auctioneers, Heritage Auctions, says the “cardboard hangtabs” added to the retail packaging is what makes it so rare.

“What’s the deal with cardboard hangtabs? One may, understandably, wonder. Cardboard hangtabs were originally used on the U.S. test market copies of black box games, back before plastic was used to seal each game. As Nintendo began to further establish their company in the U.S., their packaging was updated almost continuously. Strangely, the addition of the plastic wrap came before the box cutting die was altered to remove the cardboard hangtab. This rendered the functionality of the cardboard hangtab completely useless, since it was under the plastic seal. There are four sub-variants of the plastic sealed cardboard hangtab box (this particular copy of Super Mario Bros. being the “3 Code” variant) that were produced within the span of one year. Each sub-variant of the cardboard hangtab black box, produced within that timeframe, had a production period of just a few months; a drop in the bucket compared to the title’s overall production run. In short, a cardboard hangtab copy of any early Nintendo Entertainment System game brings a certain air of “vintage” unrivaled by its successors.”