A new item has entered the world of video game collections. A tremendously rare NES game cartridge was auctioned for over $30,000,and is now listed for $10,000 more than that. But what can you expect for something as rare as a Super Mario Bros 3 prototype?
A recent listing on Heritage Auctions ended on Friday. The listing was for a Super Mario Bros 3 prototype NES cartridge, or to be more specific, it's a Kid Icarus game cartridge with sections of the casing cut out of the front to provide room for additional hardware. The words Super 3 are written on the front in blue marker.
The auction ended on Friday, hitting a whopping $31,200.00. Though if you view the listing page now, the new owner appears to be accepting offers on the object, as long as the offer is $40,560 or more.
Wata Games, a major video game collection and verification company, has confirmed the authenticity of the cartridge, visible from the sealed case. While they usually provide a grade, this particular unit was simply scored as PRO for prototype.
So why is the hardware exposed?
The computer chips you see exposed in the image are called EPROMs. These are programmable computer bits that developers can remove, erase, and modify. Being able to do this easily was important for development, as regular changes to the code were required. Developers often use donor games as a host, too. Oftentimes, NES games have actual different hardware inside the cartridge. The original Legend of Zelda has its own internal battery, for example, which was used to maintain the save data when turned off. If you want to copy a game onto a cart, you'd need to find one with the same specifications. In this case, it was Kid Icarus.
While impressive, this isn't the highest selling object in video game collecting. That record goes to the Nintendo Play Station Super NES prototype, which sold for an incredible $360,000. Its fascinating to see a major part of video game history make it to this day, all the same.