From Super Smash Bros. to Castlevania, rare video games up for bid at Heritage

Auction includes first public sale of graded hangtab version of Castlevania

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A sealed SNES console from the early 1990s is among the auction highlights. (Credit: Heritage)

Some of the rarest and most valuable sealed video games on the planet will hit the auction block this weekend at Heritage.

With more than 300 items up for bid, here are some of the most intriguing lots we’ll be keeping an eye on.

1987 NES Mega Man (Wata 9.4 A+ “Dr. Wright" misprint, first production)

The first Mega Man title was released to moderate success, however, it spawned a franchise of more than 50 titles across various consoles, with sales numbering more than 40 million units worldwide.

Wata has graded a total of 18 sealed copies of the original game, with a mere four examples featuring the “Dr. Wright” misprint, an error found only on first production copies which was later corrected to “Dr. Wily.”

The last time a comparable copy sold publicly, it reached $75,000 at Heritage in November 2019.

1987 NES Castlevania (Wata 9.2 A+ hangtab, first production)

Castlevania has long been one of the most popular titles for vintage game collectors, however, this is the first time a sealed and graded hangtab, first production example has been offered publicly.

The timing of this sale is particularly intriguing, given the recent sale of an ungraded hangtab copy for more than $90,000, which set the record for the most expensive video game ever sold on eBay. That title has since been graded CGC 9.4 A+ as part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Collection, stemming from a historic find of video games which we reported on in April.

With just two other sealed hangtab copies graded by Wata, this lot is one of the most significant pieces to come to market in recent memory.

1999 N64 Super Smash Bros. (Wata 9.8 A++)

The sole Wata 9.8 A++ copy in the Wata census, the last time this game sold was back in August 2022, when it sold for $240,000.

Considering how the market has shifted in the time since, this will provide an excellent test for high-end demand in a sector that has yet to totally find its footing since its precipitous decline from COVID highs.

1996 Game Boy Pocket Monsters Aka (VGA 90+)

A historic title responsible for launching the Pokémon brand, there are none graded higher in VGA’s census. Copies of this game rarely appear at auction, particularly in high grade.

An inferior, VGA 85 Qualified copy previously sold for $1,560 in August 2022.

1985 NES Stack-Up (VGA 80 matte sticker, first production)

One could argue the 17 NES “Black Box” titles released along with the console’s debut represent the foundation of the collectible video game market.

Among those titles, Stack-Up ranks as one of the rarest to find sealed. This can likely be chalked up to its association with the Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.), a toy robot accessory that Nintendo used to market the NES as a toy rather than a video game system (meant to quell retailer’s fears after the video game market crash of the early 1980s).

R.O.B. was phased out rather quickly, meaning that Stack-Up, one of two NES titles to utilize the toy, was produced in extremely limited quantities.

Due to its oversized box, Wata does not even grade the title. However, VGA has authenticated a total of 18 sealed examples.

This particular copy features a matte sticker, which accompanied the earliest NES production, prior to switching to “Glossy” stickers in 1986.

The most recent sale of a sealed Stack-Up came in February of this year, when Heritage sold a later production but higher-graded copy for $4,680. As for sales of matte-sticker variants of the game, we’ve seen a handful in the past 18 months, led by a $10,200 result for a similarly graded copy with a superior seal in January 2023.

1992 SNES sealed console (VGA 85)

For the same reason vintage video game titles are so hard to find in sealed condition, consoles are that much more rare. It’s not very often we see sealed consoles make their way to the front of the heap in these major video game auctions, with few exceptions, such as the $120,000 sale of a sealed NES Deluxe set in November 2023, which remains the all-time record for any commercially-available video game console.

Though copies of sealed Game Boys are fairly common to see at auction, as is the case with a VGA 85+ example selling this weekend, we’ve never seen this particular SNES variant appear for sale.

Differentiated from standard SNES copies by its inclusion of “Zelda: Link to the Past,” VGA has only authenticated four examples from this variant and only one at a higher grade.

The lot includes proof of purchase dating the console’s purchase to December 1994, two years after the initial release of the console, which might act as a deterrent for collectors who tend to favor first and early productions as the most desirable.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.