A mint condition still-sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES has sold at auction for $114,000 (via The Verge).
It makes the 1985 US copy of the game the most expensive game ever sold.
It breaks the record set by a copy of the same game that sold last year for $100,150. That copy is actually an earlier printing, apparently.
The game was particularly rare for its 9.4/10 condition grade and the specific packaging it’s in, which has a lot to do with cardboard hangtabs. Heritage Auctions described the lot:
“Cardboard hangtabs were originally used on the US 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 US, 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. Super Mario Bros. was one of the launch titles for the NES console in the US, and is the highest selling game on the console of all time. It marks the first game in the Super Mario Bros. video game series, as well as the first appearance of Mario’s archnemesis, Bowser. This copy will surely serve as a centerpiece for the discerning collector, and is not one to miss out on.”
The anonymous bidder has made a bit of history, but it’s hard to say whether the game will continue to rise in value now it’s in someone’s collection.