A mint copy of one of the most beloved classic video games was sold for a record-breaking price at auction this week. The 1985 title Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System, was sold by Heritage Auctions recently that broke the record of $100,150 the same title sold for at an auction last year.
Super Mario Bros. is a classic for a number of reasons, starting with that it was the most popular NES game in the console’s history. It also is the first appearance of Bowser, a staple of the franchise moving forward. All of that is why a copy in very good condition had already owned the current record for highest-priced video game sale in history. But this new copy, also in remarkable condition and featuring a few unique elements, broke the record recently and went for a record $114,000.
A sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. just sold at auction for $114,000, which is a new record for the sale of a single game. Bet the owners of the $100,000 one, which is an earlier printing, feel great today. pic.twitter.com/lVdcla8d19
— Chris Kohler (@kobunheat) July 10, 2020
As The Verge pointed out, Heritage Auctions explained in detail that a very special feature on this copy made it particularly valuable: cardboard hangtags that are an odd part of the game console’s packaging history.
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.
The new record copy was graded 9.4 out of 10, about as close to perfect as you can expect for a game that was released more than three decades earlier.
[h/t The Verge]