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Super Mario 64 cartridge sells for $1.5 million, smashing Zelda world record set days earlier

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Jul 12, 2021, 4:13 PM EDT

Old-school Nintendo power lit up the global auction market for video games over the weekend. In the span of just two days, Zelda and Mario joined forces to bring a one-two wallop to the auction block, fetching consecutive world record prices for a pair of pristine copies of retro gaming cartridges.

On July 9, a sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda for the NES shattered previous auction records by fielding an incredible $870,000 through a sale presided over by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. Link’s original Nintendo outing scooped up far more rupees than the previous record holder: a copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES, which (via CNN) collected $660,000 coins at auction back in April. 

But it didn’t take Mario long to power up and get back in the game. Just two days after Zelda sent prices soaring link Link on a high-flying sailcloth ride, a sealed copy of Super Mario 64, the 1996 hit that took 3D-camera gaming mainstream on the Nintendo 64, ground-pounded the short-lived record right into the dust. Also hosted at Heritage Auctions, Mario’s classic platformer sold for an incredible $1.56 million, including fees. Not too shabby a return for a hard-working plumber, eh?

With three video game auction records all set within a four-month span, nostalgia-minded investors appear to be dialing in on the real-world value that retro cartridges can carry as high-grade collectibles. And with two of the founding members of the original Super Smash Bros. vying back and forth for the title, there’re probably no better video game mascots than Link and Mario to safeguard their high-priced treasures. 

Via a separate CNN report, Heritage said the Super Mario 64 record marks the first time that a video game has ever sold for more than $1 million, with the specimen of the game cartridge itself receiving the highest-possible A++ grade on the industry-standard scale used by grading & certification company WataGames

“After the record-breaking sale of the first game in the Zelda series on Friday, the possibility of surpassing $1 million on a single video game seemed like a goal that would need to wait for another auction," Heritage Auctions games specialist Valarie McLeckie said in a statement, according to the report. "We were shocked to see that it turned out to be in the same one!”