Back in the mid-80s, video games were a dying medium. The Video Game Crash of 1983 had shaken investor faith in the entire industry. A steep fall from $3.2 billion in revenue in 1983 to just $100 million in 1985 had brought the game industry to its knees.
This crash led to the end of the Second Generation of Video Game Consoles and the bankruptcy of numerous companies that had made their name in the video game industry. Analysts in the US thought that video games had been a fad, just a flash in the pan and that the future of entertainment was still movies and TV shows.
Then Super Mario Bros came out.
When you think of a classic video game, you think of the standard-bearer from the Third Generation of Video Game Consoles, Super Mario. First released on the Famicom in Japan in 1985, the side-scrolling platformer was swiftly localized in English and released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States. The game was an overnight hit, making “Nintendo” and “Mario” household names.
The gameplay was unlike anything people had seen before. A fast-paced action game with numerous enemies smoothly moving across the screen looked like something from the future in 1985. Nintendo resurrected the flagging US video game industry with the release of one game, singlehandedly revitalizing the medium.
The hits just kept coming for both Nintendo and the Super Mario series, and both remain household names to this very day.
Of course, buying an unopened copy of the game that launched modern interest in gaming isn’t easy in 2021. For one thing, NES games were packaged in a flimsy cardboard box, making them significantly more challenging to keep pristine. For another thing, back in the ’80s, no one saw video games as collector’s items worth saving.
These factors contributed to the record-setting auction of an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros in April of 2021. Dallas-based Heritage Auction House hosted a Comics and Art Auction in April that featured a new, unopened Super Mario Bros box, with the untouched cartridge still resting inside. The extremely rare find sold for an eye-watering $660,000 after a frenzied auction session.
Of course, that number dwarfs the previous record for a Super Mario Bros cartridge sold at auction, which had stood at $114,000 at the same auction house. The unique conditions required to make this copy sell for so much are related to its production run. The copy of the game was created in 1986 and wrapped in a unique shrink wrap layer used for a short production window.
As such, this copy of the game is even rarer than your average unopened Super Mario Bros, as it is from the shortest production run that collectors can identify. The seller, who asked to remain anonymous, remarked that they had purchased the game some 35 years ago and left it in a desk drawer for the intervening time. Since then, they hadn’t thought about it until hearing how much another sealed copy had sold for.
Let this be a lesson in taking good care of your video games. Who knows, there might even be some money in it someday!