Less than two days after a rare sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda broke the record for most expensive video game sold at auction, a pristine unopened copy of Super Mario 64 toppled that record Sunday with a $1,560,000 high bid.
The sealed copy of the 1996 video game was notable for receiving a 9.8 A++ Wata grading, the highest possible rating. “Well — we’re a bit speechless on this one,” Heritage Auctions wrote of the item. “What can we even say that would do this copy the justice it deserves? The cultural significance of this title and its importance to the history of video games is paramount, and the condition of this copy is just so breathtaking that we’re really at a loss here. If you have had your heart set on obtaining the highest graded copy of the single best-selling video game on the Nintendo 64 — the first 3D adventure of Nintendo’s mascot, Mario — we only have one piece of advice: this is not an opportunity to waste.”
🎉#HERITAGELIVE #WORLDRECORD!! Super Mario 64 – Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed, N64 Nintendo 1996 USA just sold for $1,560,000 at #HeritageAuctions, smashing previous mark of $870K, set Friday at Heritage for The Legend of Zelda! https://t.co/SUgiijkkzL#SuperMario #Nintendo #N64 #WATA pic.twitter.com/rHpTuZl95l
— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) July 11, 2021
On Friday, a sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda — one of the earliest-known produced variants of the beloved Nintendo game — first shattered the record for most expensive video game when it sold at auction for $870,000.
The previous record was set just three months earlier when an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. sold at auction for $660,000 in April. All three records were established during sales by Heritage Auctions.
“The Legend of Zelda marks the beginning of one of the most important sagas in gaming; its historical significance can’t be understated,” Valarie McLeckie, Heritage’s video game specialist, said in a statement.
While the sealed copy only received a Wata grading of 9.0 — lower than the 9.6 for the record-breaking Mario — according to the auction house, the scarcity of this sealed Legend of Zelda made it a “true collector’s piece.”
“This is the only copy from one of the earliest production runs that we’ve ever had the opportunity to offer, and, possibly will have the opportunity to offer, for many years to come,” Heritage Auctions said of the item.
“Considering this variant was only produced for a few months in late 1987 before it was ultimately replaced by the ‘Rev-A’ variant in early 1988, this statement likely comes as no surprise to collectors. Only one other variant precedes the offered ‘NES R’ variant and that is the ‘NES TM’ variant, which is the true first production run. However, it is also widely believed that only a single sealed ‘NES TM’ example exists, and there is no telling whether or not that copy will ever come to market. Essentially, this copy is the earliest sealed copy one could realistically hope to obtain.”
This variant of Legend of Zelda is only one of two sealed copies known to have been evaluated by video game grading company Wata.
“I had a lot of confidence in this game, and, yet, I still feel like the reality of today’s bidding exceeded my vision of how it would play out,” McLeckie added. “Making history is never an easy thing. I’m just really proud we got to be part of this yet again.”