Super-Rare Nintendo Game Goes to Auction
Old-school game enthusiasts of the world must have been rubbing their hands together with glee – especially hard-core collectors with a bit of money. For the first time since 2011, a super-rare NES game (Nintendo Entertainment System for those not in the know) has been put up for auction on eBay.
In 1990, a mere 116 copies of Nintendo World Championships (NWCs) were made for a nationwide tournament of the same name and never intended for general sale. The NWCs toured across the US, with contestants trying to score as many points as possible in three NES games – shortened versions of Rad Racer, Super Mario Bros., and Tetris – within a 6 minute 21 seconds time limit.
All 90 semi-finalists were awarded a grey games cartridge like the one auctioned on eBay while the runner-up became the proud owner of a Nintendo Power Pad (a NEW floor mat game controller) and an Original Game Boy (one of the first handheld video-gaming devices). But if you became a finalist you would win a trophy, $250, and the pièce de résistance: a trip for two to Universal Studios, Hollywood, for the World Finals.
There is a downside to this item, however, aside from the fact that the opening bid was the princely sum of $4,999 (£3,000). The condition of this rare game cartridge is pretty poor – the label has been ripped off and “Mario” has been scrawled across the front in biro. “This is quite unfortunate but happened many decades ago,” stated the seller in the description on the famous auction website. But the seller is denying responsibility for this ‘damage’ claiming that whoever had done it simply were not aware of what they were in possession of.
Regardless of the less-than-mint condition of the cartridge, it is expected to fetch quite a lot of money. The game is so hard to come by that the condition is not expected to be an issue for keen collectors. “It’s like finding the rarest Ferrari, but with a scratch,” explained Chris Scullion, games editor for Computer and Video Games, “you’d still buy it. They are considered the holy grail among Nintendo collectors.”
In a separate competition, Nintendo Power magazine released 26 even rarer copies of the game. These golden cartridges were given away as prizes in a golden shell reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda and are worth even more today than the grey versions.
With more copies still known to exist of the NWC cartridge, it isn’t considered to be the rarest video game in the world. An Atari 2600 game Air Raid holds that title, selling for $33,433.33 (£20,251) because it included the world’s only known copy of the game’s instruction manual.
The last time a grey NWC cartridge went to auction was in 2011 for Child’s Play Charity, and went for more than $11,000 (£6,000), but it was in better condition. The latest auction finished yesterday, around midnight (GMT) and went for an astonishing $99,902.00 (£60,524.63). In his description of the cartridge, the seller said, “The cart plays just fine and may some day worth much more”, and now he knows just how much.