Here’s Why That NES Zelda Sold For $870,000, According To The Guy Who Designed The Packaging


Zelda© Nintendo

Back when Nintendo conquered the living room for the first time with the NES, one of the key components of that success was branding – something which was handled by GIRVIN Design, headed up by Tim Girvin.

The firm worked with Nintendo to create the ‘look’ of the NES brand, from packaging design to the font type used on the casing and the boxes. Girvin collaborated with the Japanese firm on the Game Boy, SNES and even the Virtual Boy, leaving behind a considerable legacy – a legacy that also includes the iconic Legend of Zelda packaging with its gold cart and cutaway box design.

The original Zelda has been in the news lately thanks to the fact that a sealed and mint copy sold for an eye-watering $870,000 at auction. Tales from the Collection got in touch with Girvin and asked him why he thought the game had reached this incredible price:

To my thinking, the notion of a video game cartridge selling for such an astonishing amount is really about legacy—and experience. People have deep memories of what they experienced as players—and Zelda is, in its own manner, an exploration of mythic dimensionality. That is a deep heritage inside the broad consciousness of humankind—journeys, epic opponents, returns to homeland, adventuring in other realms of experience.

In a manner, as Joseph Campbell, the grand mythologist intoned “…put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

Get out there, adventure, find the dream, uncover the treasure and return to the hearth of your making. Games—any games, in a metaphorical way play to the dream of another place, a different doorway into a newly discovered and explorable world—that might have risk, and might have treasure—some value that can be carried back, even in this dream, to another and more personal place that we define as our safe place—home.

It’s a pretty deep answer, and we’re not sure it quite explains away why such a common game has sold for such a high value when copies are readily available at lower prices (and it’s also available digitally), but Girvin could well be on to something here. If Zelda is your favourite game of all time and you happen to have a spare $870,000 lying around that you don’t need, it’s plausible that you might feel like dropping all of that cash on the best possible copy of the game you can find. We’re not saying we’d do it personally, but we can (kinda) see the thought process. Kinda.

Girvin then reveals that he may have a few mint copies of the game lying around the house:

TFTC: You don’t happen to have a box of these lying around somewhere do you?

Girvin: Yes, I do have some of these lying around—they’re all in storage.

TFTC: Have you given any thought to selling some of it on Heritage Auctions in the future?

Girvin: Yes, wouldn’t that be something?

Now, how much do you think a sealed copy of Zelda signed by the man behind the famous cutaway box would fetch at auction? Answers on a postcard (or in the comments below, either is good).


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