Super Mario beats himself with a new auction record for a cartridge, while Nintendo celebrates thirty years of the Super NES
Day of records and celebrations for the Japanese gaming giant Nintendo: 30 years ago, on November 21, 1990, the Super Famicon console debuted in Japan, which would later arrive in April 1992 also in Europe with the international name of Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or, as everyone has always called it, Super NES). This 16-bit console was a worldwide success, at a time when the first Sony PlayStation (1994) was yet to be born.
The package also included a copy of the video game Super Mario World, the fifth chapter of the (already then) legendary Super Mario series (which this year, in turn, is 35 years old). The same series that, two years earlier, had seen the launch of Super Mario Bros. 3 which, today, has set a new record. A cartridge of Super Mario Bros. 3 was in fact sold at auction by Heritage Auctions for 156,000 dollars. This is a new record for a Nintendo console game, which beats the previous one held by a Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge. The love of the fans for the most famous plumber in the world, therefore, is still very much alive after more than three decades.
The thirty years of the Super NES.
After the enormous success of the first NES in 1983 (almost 62 million pieces sold until the end of production in 1995), Nintendo managed to do the encore seven years later with 300 thousand copies sold in a few hours. At the end of its career, in 1999, the Super NES stopped at 49 million units sold, which, although less than the success of the NES, were far more than the 29 million Mega Drive sold by competitor Sega from 1988 to 1998.
While the NES had almost no competitors and had in its house a champion like Super Mario, the Super NES had to fight with the Mega Drive and Sonic the Hedgehog. The latter character, while never reaching the success of Super Mario, gave him a lot of trouble and, above all, showed the world what was the direction in which gaming was going: a frenetic speed of gameplay, which had to be supported by an increasingly robust hardware.
The 156 thousand dollars of Super Mario 3
If this was the story and these were the numbers of the NES and Super NES much of the credit, as we said, was undoubtedly the character of Super Mario. It's not so surprising, for this reason, the auction closed at 156 thousand dollars for an original cartridge, sealed and with anti-shoplifting of Super Mario Bros. 3.
The peculiarity of this cartridge, which has pushed the price so high, is the position of the word "Bros.": it's on the left, above Super Mario's hand, and not in the middle like most of the cartridges sold. It is a cartridge belonging to a very limited series, because Nintendo after a while moved the "Bros." to the center because it realized that put on the left was not visible.
A graphic error, in short, which was soon corrected. But if the majority of people would never pay attention to an irrelevant detail, this is certainly not the case for the world of collectors. In this environment, (small) numbers translate into (large) prices.
And so it was with this cartridge, which, with its $156,000 final bid shatters the previous record of $114,000 for a cartridge sold, again by Heritage Auctions, in July. Even then, it was a small production lot that was later withdrawn.