Super Mario Bros. holds a special place in video game history for sure, but this week it lost its title as most expensive video game ever sold. Several copies of the decade-old game have hit the auction block in recent months and garnered record-setting sales prices, but this week a new champion emerged from Nintendo’s stable of NES classics.
Heritage Auction, which has handled a number of high-profile video game auctions in recent months, announced on Friday that a 1986 NES copy of The Legend Of Zelda sold at auction for $870,000, surpassing a pair of Super Mario Bros. copies that held the record at times over the last year.
The copy, rated a 9.0 by a grading service, beat a near-mint 9.6-graded edition of Super Mario Bros. that Heritage auctioned off for $660,000 in April of 2021.
“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,” Heritage Auctions video games specialist Valarie McLeckie said in a statement. “Making history is never an easy thing. I’m just really proud we got to be part of this yet again.”
Given the skyrocketing perceived value of basically every collectable over the last year, it’s entirely unclear how long this game will actually hold the title Heritage says the particular variant of this copy may be one of two unopened copies in existence, but time will tell if this holds up or we find a new record-holder as more copies are uncovered.
In other Zelda news, a Japanese man was arrested for selling modded versions a more modern Zelda game: Breath Of The Wild. Kotaku reported that Ichimin Sho was caught selling the copies, for about $31 USD, that had versions of Link with modified abilities, special weapons and other tweaks requested by gamers.
He posted his services onto an unspecified auction site, describing it as “the strongest software.” He would provide modded save files that would give the player improved in-game abilities and also items that were difficult to obtain were made available as requested by the customer. In his original listing, he reportedly was charging folks 3,500 yen (around $31 USD) for his service.
Niigata Prefecture police spotted the listing and arrested Sho on July 8 for possibly violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Law. After being arrested, the man admitted he had sold modded saves and software before, telling police he had sold about 10 million yen (around $90,000 USD)in the past year and a half.
There’s also a group of more white hat Zelda modders that are reportedly recreating an Ocarina of Time demo that debuted a year before the game’s eventual 1999 launch. All of that involves, you know, actually opening up the game and tinkering. So don’t expect any of those stories to yield as lucrative results as the auction.