Almost four decades after being launched, Super Mario Bros. appears to be increasing in popularity. Or, at least, popularity with vintage game collectors. A sealed copy of the classic game—first launched in 1985—was auctioned off at Heritage Auctions at a mouth-watering price of USD114,000 (~RM486,267) to an anonymous bidder.
This means that this copy of Super Mario Bros. is now the most expensive single game ever, beating out another copy of Super Mario Bros. that sold at USD100,000 (~426,550). If you’re wondering why these vintage games cost such extortionate amounts of money, it’s basically a combination of factors.
For one, the title offers a modicum of nostalgia to gamers who want to relive the early, carefree days of their childhood/teens—essentially, the 80s. Add in the fact that Super Mario Bros. is the all-time top-selling title on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console, and you start to understand its value a little more.
This particular copy is also in near-mint condition, with Heritage Auctions rating it at 9.4/10 and the game still in its original packaging. Plus, there’s also the “vintage” value that cardboard hangtab—which you can see in the images—brings to the package. Here’s an excerpt of the auction site’s explanation:
What’s the deal with cardboard hangtabs? One may, understandably, wonder. 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” unrivalled 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 arch-nemesis, Bowser. This copy will surely serve as a centrepiece for the discerning collector, and is not one to miss out on.
In any case, I seriously doubt that the new owner of the world’s most expensive game copy is ripping it open to stick it into his NES console right now. Instead, this copy of Super Mario Bros. is probably sitting somewhere in a safe (or a glass case, even)—which is a little sad, but perhaps the owner is preserving the iconic game so that future generations can view it in all its 8-bit glory.