High scores abound as $384,000 copy of 'Legend of Zelda' drives Heritage's Video Game Auction to $4.46 million

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High scores abound as $384,000 copy of 'Legend of Zelda' drives Heritage's Video Game Auction to $4.46 million
Duck Hunt - Wata 9.2 A++ Sealed [Matte Sticker, First Production], NES Nintendo 1985 USA. Sold on Aug 5, 2022 for: $144,000.

DALLAS, TX.- It’s a secret to everyone except those paying attention over the weekend: The Legend of Zelda again reigns supreme among collectors of classic video games.

The single highest-graded copy of The Legend of Zelda with its original “round seal of quality” sold Friday for $384,000 to top Heritage Auctions’ three-day Video Games Signature® Auction. This example of the 1987 NES Nintendo classic is something of a holy grail: the sole known “Round SOQ” copy graded Wata 9.6 A+, and one of only six known 9.6’s of any variant, including the “Classic Series” re-release in 1992. Which explains the bidding war over the title and the rupees needed to claim the prize offered during this spectacular, completely sold-out event.

Ultimately, the Aug. 5-7 auction tallied a final score of $4,462,774, with more than 1,500 bidders participating worldwide. And it was a thrill ride from start screen to finish:

The auction tallied $2,066,280 by the end of Friday’s first live session; $3,612,931 as day one came to an end; and $4,098,460 after Saturday’s online-only session. The bidding was relentless throughout as every single one of the 489 games offered found a new home, often after intense bidding wars that helped push many of the sealed, graded gems past their initial estimates.

“While we have had auctions realize a higher total overall, this sale was as successful as any other we’ve had,” says Valarie Spiegel, Managing Director of Video Games. “The relative consistency in prices realized and our average lot value compared to past auctions, not to mention the fact that we had many new significant buyers, just goes to show the video games market is here to stay.”

Not surprisingly, one of the auction’s super smashes was 1999’s Super Smash Bros. for N64 Nintendo, a Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed copy of which sold for $240,000. Until now, no one had ever seen a copy graded higher than 9.4; in fact, Wata’s March 2022 population report shows that out of 63 copies graded, not a single one had ever been awarded a 9.8. Until now. This is a 23-year-old game that looks like it was made yesterday.

PlayStation made a strong showing, too, when a Wata 9.6 A+ Sealed first production copy of Capcom’s 1996 franchise-maker Resident Evil sold for $192,000. Everything about this offering is iconic, from the ridged longbox and comic-book legend Bill Sienkiewicz’s artwork on the outside to the terrifying game within. And it’s an exceptional rarity: Factory-sealed copies of this variant are extremely difficult to come by, with this copy tied with one other for the highest-graded example Heritage has ever offered.

As expected, another of the auction’s top lots was the only sealed, first-print copy of Duck Hunt on Wata’s population report. The NES Nintendo classic made its American debut in 1984 as an arcade game before moving to the console in October 1985, alongside Nintendo’s original launch titles. And the light-gun shooter was a hit on all fronts and formats, selling more than 28 million copies worldwide. To find one graded Wata 9.2 A++ Sealed at this late date spells “duck” with a capital L, and explains why this first-timer to market hit a bull’s-eye with a final price of $144,000.

Mike Tyson scored a(nother) knockout Friday when a copy of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! graded Wata 9.6 A+ Sealed [Oval SOQ TM, Later Production] sold for $102,000. The NES Nintendo 1987 game itself isn’t all that uncommon, but seldom does one this highly graded come to market; in fact, this was the third-highest-graded ever offered by Heritage, and according to the March 2022 Wata population report, only four copies of this variant are graded higher, which explains its six-figure success in the squared circle.

And only in the video game auctions can you find Tyson tying with Sonic the Hedgehog, as a Wata 9.6 A Sealed [Printed in Japan, Early Production] copy of the beloved Genesis Sega 1991 game also sold for $102,000. The debut offering of the furry blue fury may well have been the Sega Genesis’ best-selling title – more than 15 million copies were bought during its peak – but seldom are factory sealed, excellent-condition early production copies available at auction. Only two sealed copies of this “Printed in Japan” variant are graded higher on Wata’s March 2022 population report out of only five graded.

Sonic the Hedgehog is unquestionably one of the most significant and adored titles in all of gaming history, joining 1985’s NES Nintendo Super Mario Bros. as a trophy for video-game historians and collectors. Numerous copies of the latter and its variants, spinoffs and sequels were offered in this event, but none scored higher than the Super Mario Bros. graded Wata 8.0 A Sealed [Hangtab, 3 Code, Mid-Production], which realized $96,000. This was another of those holy-grail, holy-heck offerings – a sealed “hangtab” copy that looks stunning no matter the grade.

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