A sealed copy of the original Super Mario Bros. was sold at auction for $114,000, which makes it the most expensive video game ever sold! The previous record was $100,150, which was also for an original copy of Super Mario Bros. in similar condition.
So why did this copy of Super Mario Bros. sell for so much? Well it was graded 9.4 out of 10, which means that it is near-perfect condition. On top of that it is a really rare US retail version with a cardboard hangtab. Heritage Auctions explains the cardboard hangtabs and why they are so rare…
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” unrivaled by its successors.
The winner of the auction remains anonymous.