'Super-rare' Nintendo game hits eBay
An extremely rare Nintendo game is expected to fetch thousands of dollars in an eBay auction.
Only 116 copies of Nintendo World Championships were ever made, as part of a special event in 1990.
The first bid came in at $4,999 (£3,000), but the game is likely to fetch more, one Nintendo expert said.
Unfortunately for collectors, the cartridge is in poor condition - with a ripped label and "Mario" written on it in ballpoint pen.
"This is quite unfortunate but happened many decades ago," explained the seller in his description of the "super-rare" item, adding that whoever wrote on the label did not have "a clue what they actually had".
End Quote Chris Scullion Computer and Video Games
They are considered the holy grail among Nintendo collectors”
Created for the Nintendo Entertainment System - better known as NES - Nintendo World Championships was designed for a competition, and never went on general sale.
The game features shortened versions of three classics - Super Mario, Tetris and Rad Racer.
Competition entrants were given six minutes to amass points on the games, with whoever came top winning a trophy, a trip to Universal Studios and various other prizes. A detailed history of the contest and its winners can be found on Wikipedia.
Each of the 90 semi-finalists was given a grey cartridge like the one now up for auction.
Rarer still are the "golden" cartridges of the same game, sent out as part of a separate competition by Nintendo Power magazine.
Genuine copies of the game are hard to come by, and so the poor condition would not be too much of a deterrent to keen collectors, predicted Chris Scullion, games editor for Computer and Video Games.
"It's like finding the rarest Ferrari but with a scratch - you'd still buy it.
"They are considered the holy grail among Nintendo collectors."
In 2011, the same game sold at a charity auction for $11,000 (£6,600) - but it was in better condition.
The auction is set to end on 25 January.