Sealed Mario game sells for US$1.56 million as retro game prices soar

Other gaming related merchandise, like Pokemon cards, are seeing their value rise.
Other gaming related merchandise, like Pokemon cards, are seeing their value rise Photo credit: Getty Images

Kiwi gamers looking for a potential windfall should start checking their collections after a massive spike in the auction prices for retro games.

Just last week a sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sold for US$870,000 at Heritage Auctions, setting a new record.

But that was eclipsed over the weekend when a sealed copy of Nintendo 64 classic Super Mario 64 sold for a stunning US$1.56 million.

Super Mario 64 was the first game to feature the titular plumber in 3D and released in 1996 to wide acclaim.

The cartridge was rated a 9.8 on the Wata Scale, with an A++ grading for the seal. The Wata scale was introduced in 2018 for retro games, aligning itself with the 10 point scale used by Comics Guaranty to grade comic books.

A 9.8 is the second highest grade available, indicating it's in near perfect condition. A++ for the seal indicates it's like new and in the condition it was in when it left the factory.

The last year has seen the market for retro games increase tenfold.

Just last July a mint copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES sold for US$114,000 to claim the record price. That was bested in April this year when a sealed version of the same game sold for US $660,000.

It was considered rare because it was released in the short window between the game's initial release and Nintendo adding the Trademark symbol to their game boxes in early 1987.

Other gaming-related merchandise has seen a big boost in the last year, like the value of Pokemon cards.

Ebay listings of cards rose by 1046 percent in the first quarter of 2021 and have been boosted by high-visibility stunts, like that of YouTuber Logan Paul.

He purchased vintage sealed box sets of Pokemon cards for US$300,000 and then opened them live and auctioned off individual packets for as much as US$1 million each, Bloomberg reported.

Paul also wore a mint-condition Charizard card, worth US$1 million, on a diamond encrusted necklace to his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.