DALLAS -- Vintage video games have entered into a new, almost surreal realm of collecting, leaving many gobsmacked at how quickly the market has developed.  

The first standalone Video Games Auction at Heritage Auctions soared past pre-auction expectations, amassing nearly $8.5 million in total sales. The star of the event was a nearly pristine condition Super Mario 64 game that sold for a world record $1.56 million.

The 1996 sealed cartridge, graded a 9.8 on a scale of 10 by authenticating company Wata Games, was a launch title for the Nintendo 64 console, and was one of the most influential early 3D platformers. There are "fewer than five" copies in such condition, Heritage Auctions said.

Super Mario 64

A 3-D Super Mario game, which sold for about $60 when it was released in 1996, sold for $1.56 million at Heritage Auctions. The cartridge was the best-selling game for the Nintendo 64 console 25 years ago.

The record-setting sale took place only two days after an early production copy of The Legend of Zelda from 1987 had sold for a then-record $870,000 at the same event.

“After the record-breaking sale of the first game in the Zelda series on Friday (July 9), the possibility of surpassing $1 million on a single video game seemed like a goal that would need to wait for another auction,” Heritage Auctions Video Games Specialist Valarie McLeckie said. “We were shocked to see that it turned out to be in the same one!

Valarie McLeckie

Valarie McLeckie

The vintage video game market explosion has sent shockwaves through the collecting world. A little over a year ago, a copy of  Super Mario Bros. (Wata 9.4) [Hangtab, 3 Code, Mid-Production], NES Nintendo 1985 USA, sold for $114,000, the first time any game sold for $100,000 or more. Twelve months later, Heritage wrapped up a three-day event in which 15 games sold for at least that much, including the seven-digit result at the top of the sale.

Last April, an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. that had been bought in 1986 as a Christmas gift but sat forgotten in a desk drawer fetched $660,000, a record at the time, according to Heritage Auctions, which brokered that sale.

The standalone event at Heritage was so popular that it drew more than 2,000 bidders from around the world, another sign of the international interest in video game collecting. The event boasted perfect sell-through rates.

The record-setting copy of Super Mario 64 is the highest-graded copy of the single best-selling video game on the Nintendo 64 – the first 3D adventure of Nintendo's mascot, Mario.

Other top results for games featuring Mario included:

For more results from the Video Game Auction, go here.

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