Rare Factory-Sealed Legend Of Zelda Cart Fetches Record $870K Bid At Auction

The Legend of Zelda NES Cartridge
The winning bid for what is believed to be the earliest sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) checked in at $870,000. Not too shabby for a cartridge that sold for $39.99 back in 1987. Even if accounting for inflation ($39.99 in 1987 is equivalent to around $95 today), that's a massive haul.

It is also the biggest haul ever for a video game, a distinction that previously belonged to a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. that fetched $660,000 at auction just a few months ago. What is it exactly that makes these games of yesteryear so valuable today? It is a combination of factors, like still being sealed and in mint condition.

What truly sets them apart, however, is the production runs they came from. In this case, it is the "NES R" variant that commanded a king's ransom. According to Heritage House, the auction site that sold the cartridge for a fortune, it was only produced for a few months in late 1987 before it was replaced by the "Rev A" variant in early 1988. It is an extremely rare copy.

"Only one other variant precedes the offered 'NES R' variant and that is the 'NES TM' variant, which is the true first production run. However, it is also widely believed that only a single sealed 'NES TM' example exists, and there is no telling whether or not that copy will ever come to market. Essentially, this copy is the earliest sealed copy one could realistically hope to obtain," Heritage House explains.

It was given a 9.0/A (out of 10/A++) rating by Wata Games, which denotes there could be some light to medium scuffing or other marks, and no more than a few minuscule holes, typically found on the corner edges.

Zelda is one of the most iconic game franchises around, spanning over two dozen titles (including original releases, ports, and remakes), and The Legend of Zelda is the one that started it all. The franchise has never really waned, though it has seen a resurgence of sorts, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch, and an untitled sequel (often referred to as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2) having been announced during at E3.

Even so, it is pretty remarkable that retro game cartridges from the 1980s are fetching some enormous sums at auction. As such, we're highly curious to see what eventually dethrones this latest one as the highest priced video game ever sold at auction, and whether or not it will be another NES cartridge. Time will tell.

Top Image Source: Heritage House