How much will you pay for a piece of history? For some, that momento is priceless, to the point that they’d pay six digits just to have exclusive ownership of what would otherwise be a footnote in the annals of history. That definitely seems to be the amusing yet completely unsurprising case of a sealed and pristine copy of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System, a copy that has become historical in two senses, breaking records as the most expensive sale of a single game.
By itself, the Super Mario Bros. game is already historic. It was the first in a series that would live for decades up to now. It is also the highest-selling title on the NES throughout the console’s history. But beyond being a collector’s item, this particular sealed copy also carries some added vintage quality to it.
According to the Heritage Auctions website, this copy bears the marks of cardboard hangtabs that maybe unimaginable by today’s standards. However, those hangtabs, in particular, were also the byproduct of Nintendo’s fast iteration of its packaging practices to adapt to the US market. This one, specifically, may have been part of the “3 Code” batch that was only in production for a few months.
More than just the game itself, the sealed copy is also a rare item that has remained protected for nearly four decades. That is apparently enough for the item to be sold at an auction for $114,000, squarely beating last year’s sale of a $100,000 Super Mario Bros. copy in the same pristine condition.
Does it make sense? Probably not to anyone except the anonymous buyer and some well-financed collectors. Then again, such things are not unheard of and it’s almost reassuring to see that there are people who value these games as historical and cultural human artifacts worth paying for.