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A sealed Legend of Zelda NES cartridge just sold for S$1,177,458

The ultra-rare, early production copy was put up for bidding by Heritage Auctions.

“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” If that doesn’t send your mind tumbling back to heady, nostalgia-ridden days of yesteryear when we swore that blowing on cartridges was the best, and only, way to get your game on, we probably can’t do much to get your childhood back. 

The Legend of Zelda – for the rare few who wasted their youth in the outdoors, or all places – is a video game among video games. The Nintendo creation pretty much did what Super Mario did for the platforming genre – it set the stage for fantasy role-playing as we know it today.

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In other words, getting your hands on a sealed, early production copy of the cartridge in mint condition (and definitely free from saliva damage, as it were) would be quite a coup indeed.

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This iteration of the game was produced for just a few months in 1987 after the game’s initial run. What you’re looking at is the “NES R” variant, which is only preceded by the original “NES TM” variant. According to Heritage Auctions’ press release, it’s believed that one copy of said original variant still exists – but until its brought to market, the cartridge on offer will remain the earliest sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda that anyone can realistically get their hands on.

In no uncertain terms, that makes this cartridge a collector’s item that’s near impossible to beat. Its owner is getting one of the earliest, if not the earliest, copy of a product that’s seminal to the gaming industry. Link (the hero that comes on the box isn’t, in fact, Zelda) is, to this day, one of Nintendo’s primary mascots.

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This isn’t the only piece of noteworthy memorabilia that’s exchanged hands under the facilitation of the auction house. A near-mint copy of Batman’s first solo appearance in Batman #1 was sold for US$2.2 million in an auction in January this year. 

In the game-related sphere, a Nintendo Playstation prototype console (that never made it to market) was sold after a winning bid of US$360,000 last year, while another ultra-rare copy of a Nintendo game, Super Mario Bros, sold for a record-breaking US$660,000. That sale, facilitated by none other than Heritage Auctions in April, propelled the copy from the game’s fourth printing run into the history books as the largest sum ever paid for a piece of video game history.

So you can see why the video game collectible’s market isn’t just for super-nerds or hardcore fans. For more information, head to Heritage Auctions’ site.