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One of the rarest NES games traded into game shop

Earlier this week, Pink Gorilla, a Seattle-based used game store, made an unexpected discovery in a box of NES trade-ins: a copy of the super-rare Nintendo World Championships 1990 cartridge.

Winners of the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, a touring competition featuring popular games, received copies of the Nintendo World Championships 1990 cartridge. The game combines three Nintendo titles — Super Mario Brothers, Rad Racer and Tetris — which participants had six minutes to progress through hoping to achieve the highest score in their round. Nintendo also rewarded winners of the Nintendo Power Magazine contest with gold versions of the cartridge.

According to Pink Gorilla Games, the man who brought the cartridge into the shop did not know the true value of the collector's item. "He was pretty blown away with the offer," shop owner Cody Spencer told IGN. "I made sure to explain to him what the item typically sells for and what we would offer him and why... The seller had no idea what it was nor where he got it." The man, it seems, collected NES games before the boom in popularity led to today's soaring prices.

Most view the Nintendo World Championships 1990 cartridge as the rarest and most valuable NES game ever released. Original estimates determined that Nintendo had distributed 90 grey versions and 26 gold versions; however, the discovery of more gray cartridges has increased that number. 

"It was originally believed that only 90 copies of the grey cart were made," said Pink Gorilla owner and The Video Game History Foundation co-director Kelsey Lewin. "But as more and more have popped up over the years (somewhere around 75 copies), it's now believed that several hundred were made with serial numbers as high as 348."

The cartridge that passed through Pink Gorilla, labelled #302, has already found a new home. The buyer declined to share the total of the purchase; however, the store confirmed that it "sold for what you'd expect. Not way more, not way less." According to IGN, gray versions of the cartridge usually sell for $15,000 to $20,000. Back in 2014, one of the golden versions went for $100,088 on eBay.