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NES (Games) Games Idle

Legend of Zelda NES Nintendo Prototype On Sale For $150K 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-going-to-need-a-raise dept.
YokimaSun writes "Following on from Last months Mega auction of rare games that went for a staggering 1.2 Million dollars, comes another auction. This time its of the only Legend of Zelda Nes Prototype cartridge in the world, bundled with it is a sealed copy of the retail version of the game, those of you excited by this news will have to dig deep because the price is set at a mouthwatering US $150,000.00."
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Legend of Zelda NES Nintendo Prototype On Sale For $150K

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  • "Game Special Features Horseback riding is a new and key element in the game play. A great deal of combat takes place on horseback enabling Link to bump his adversaries off their war-horses. Shifting camera system that allows for views behind the back and from above. Camera can be locked during battles. All new characters."

    so.. does this proto have that or did they just copypaste that from somewhere?

  • by NalosLayor (958307) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:11PM (#40818887)
    I hate to be that guy, but is this marketing spam? I mean, it's not like it's some lost version of the game or some unreleased sequel. Its a late prototype of a widely released game that may or may not have the exact same ROM on it as the one that shipped. Rare? Yes. Interesting to anyone other than an high level (read:obsessive) collector? I doubt it.
    • by tuffy (10202) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:19PM (#40818995) Homepage Journal
      It's probably this prototype [tcrf.net] whose ROM is floating around the interwebs, but remains quite valuable as a physical cartridge.
      • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:35PM (#40819193)

        It's probably NOT that prototype, since they stated in the auction that there are no apparent differences that they've seen between it and the final release version. I'd imagine that the missing prologue of the prototype you linked would have stood out. Also, his prototype is stamped NOA for Nintendo of America, and, I believe, has been localized into English, whereas the prototype you've linked is in Japanese. It sounds like his is a much later prototype and from a different branch of the company.

        • by tuffy (10202)

          You're quite right. I should've noticed it wasn't a Famicom cartridge earlier, but only saw the picture and read the description more thoroughly after my post.

          • Now that you mention it, I completely failed to notice that it wasn't a Famicon cart either. That would've been the obvious thing to point out, had I realized it. *facepalm*

            Even so, your post was quite interesting, since while I had heard about that ROM, I hadn't seen much info on it prior to this.

      • by LocalH (28506)

        Nope. That prototype was FDS, not cartridge.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Links to ebay sales of vintage games seems to be a minor theme [slashdot.org] of July 2012 for some reason.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        Why bother with this expensive stuff?

        [walks over and fires up MAME machine, housed in an original Tempest cabinet]

        • by Trepidity (597)

          Collector instinct I guess.

          I do think there are some differences to playing consoles on the original hardware, though. Emulators have been getting better, e.g. improving the fidelity of audio emulation (there are some weird hardware sound chips that are hard to emulate), and in a few emulators, recreating the CRT phosphor decay. But there can still be significant differences.

          On the other hand, all you really need for even that is the console itself, since you can get rewritable cartridges to load ROMs onto.

          • On the other hand, all you really need for even that is the console itself, since you can get rewritable cartridges to load ROMs onto. If I were putting together an original-console setup, I'd probably do it that way, archiving the consoles physically but the games electronically.

            That's a project I've been investigating the feasibility of recently, using a microcontroller or FPGA to emulate cartridges for use with real console hardware. Most ROM-only cartridges could probably be handled by a microcontroller with sufficient memory, but the 16 bit era in particular brought a lot of on-cartridge coprocessors (SNES's SuperFX being the most well known) which would probably bump those firmly up in to FPGA territory.

            The catch of course is that the consoles that would be easiest to do this

            • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@noSPam.hackish.org> on Monday July 30, 2012 @02:02PM (#40820233)

              recent articles about a SNES emulator (maybe simulator in this case) which on paper should be literally perfect

              Ah yeah, I remember that story; found this Slashdot post about it [slashdot.org] from last year.

              That's getting pretty close to perfect, but I think some of the tricky part is not just emulating the console hardware, but the interface with the analog world, which you can get even with a literally exact emulation.

              For example, one of the most common aesthetic flaws in emulators is audio aliasing. If you take the Atari 2600's sound chip, it outputs square waves directly to line-out, because it's a super-cheap chip that is literally a digital circuit (alternating high and low voltages) plugged into analog audio out. Its operation has been reverse engineered so it's emulated bit- and cycle-perfectly by most Atari emulators. But the sound in most of them is still wrong, because when you generate square waves digitally as PCM audio, as opposed to plugging a circuit directly into an analog line-out, you get pretty bad aliasing. Digitally generating unaliased (band-limited) square waves is actually a fairly complex problem, with a bunch of research papers about it. This guy [slack.net] has been trying to get code into some emulators to do it.

              That's just one example, but the observation is that you have to do more than a literal simulation of the original hardware to get it to be a good emulation, sometimes, in this case dealing with the fact that digital simulation of audio-generating chips is inherently different from running those chips to analog audio output.

              • by adavies42 (746183)

                i suppose the worst case is asteroids, which is only properly reproducible with an oscilloscope....

            • by Applekid (993327)

              That's a project I've been investigating the feasibility of recently, using a microcontroller or FPGA to emulate cartridges for use with real console hardware. Most ROM-only cartridges could probably be handled by a microcontroller with sufficient memory, but the 16 bit era in particular brought a lot of on-cartridge coprocessors (SNES's SuperFX being the most well known) which would probably bump those firmly up in to FPGA territory.

              The catch of course is that the consoles that would be easiest to do this with are also those that are best emulated. I'm pretty sure there were recent articles about a SNES emulator (maybe simulator in this case) which on paper should be literally perfect, though it has much higher CPU requirements than others due to its exacting simulation of the individual chips rather than taking shortcuts where available.

              Existing products like Everdrive and Powerpak (and more I may not know about) do exactly that. While you're slightly late, the idea is interesting and implementations can differ widely, so please don't quit and you might produce something far superior to these. For example, VRC7 is not supported by the NES Powerpak, hardware acceleration chips like SuperFX aren't supported on the SNES Powerpak, and certain game save types aren't supported by Everdrive 64

              • I apparently dropped a few sentences somehow. I'm aware of flash carts, I have one for my DS. I'm aiming to have something that will preferably feed from a network server, or if that's not feasible a USB connection. If I add a new game to my collection or feel like playing with another ROM hack I want to be able to just throw it in a share and have it magically end up available on the console. That's how my HTPCs and one special Xbox 360 work already, so I'm sort of spoiled by the convenience and want i

            • by JDG1980 (2438906)

              That's a project I've been investigating the feasibility of recently, using a microcontroller or FPGA to emulate cartridges for use with real console hardware.

              For the NES, this has already been done [retrousb.com]. You're correct that for the SNES, coprocessors would make it a more difficult proposition.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You desecrated an original Tempest machine to make a stupid MAME cabinet? Heretic!

        • by Fishchip (1203964)
          Granted, your Tempest cab probably didn't cost as much as this, but there's a smidgen of irony there.
          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            Granted, your Tempest cab probably didn't cost as much as this, but there's a smidgen of irony there.

            :)

            Yeah, I kinda thought of that just after I hit 'submit'.

  • by Rei (128717) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:13PM (#40818913) Homepage

    Price: US $150,000.00
    Approximately £95,456.28 ...

    Sell it yourself £12.00 Avg used

    Wow, what a deal!

  • by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:15PM (#40818953)
    Steak with blue cheese is mouthwatering. $150,000.000 for an old NES game is jaw-dropping, staggering, and possibly outrageous. Consult with your local thesaurus to learn more.
  • It would be really neat if whoever bought it was to upload the ROM data to the internet for everyone to see and experience. Unfortunately, it's more likely going to sit in someone's collection in a pretty little glass case.
    • The reason that this stinks is because it appears to be the exact same rom that was released. The only reason to release the rom would be to get entusiasts to crowdsource and see if there are actual differences from the released version.

      Someone could of easily just taken a old cartridge rom from a released cart. and put it in its own case. If you could show differences it would be a different story.

      • by JDG1980 (2438906)

        Someone could of easily just taken a old cartridge rom from a released cart. and put it in its own case.

        The circuit board is definitely not the same as the released version. The production version of Legend of Zelda has a standard NES-SNROM PCB. The prototype in this auction uses a custom board labeled "NES-SRP-TEST-02" which appears to have four EPROMs installed, probably 256Kbit each. (The production version has the game code on a single 1Mbit mask ROM.)

        • by LocalH (28506)

          I've never heard of "NES-SRP-TEST-02" and apparently neither has Google. Most prototypes I've seen are either on modified retail boards, custom boards, or NES-TKEPROM boards. Coupled with the fact that I can't see any NES video artifacts (although the video is blurry), I'm having serious doubts about this cartridge's authenticity. The artifacts could be explained away by either blurry camera or RGB-modded NES, but the board is a big red flag one for me. Even if it is authentic, it wouldn't be worth $150,000

          • by JDG1980 (2438906)

            I wonder what the "SRP" stands for. Summer Retail Promotion, perhaps? Does anyone know if Zelda was demoed in toy stores during the summer of 1987? Just speculation on my part. I can't say for sure if it is authentic.

          • by LocalH (28506)

            Doing some research, it appears that this game came through DreamTR, a well known prototype collector. This eases my mind a bit on the authenticity, as he knows what he's talking about. Here's a tiny, tiny bit of info [neswarpzone.com].

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            >I've never heard of "NES-SRP-TEST-02" and apparently neither has Google

            I'd bet it has heard of it now ...

          • by PyroMosh (287149)

            I agree that $150K seems way overly optimistic.

            But why should it surprise you that you've never heard of a board for what may be a one-off prototype?

            Particularly since Zelda was the first game to have battery-backup save (and you can plainly see what looks like a battery on the board), it would make sense that they might create a custom board for testing.

          • by jamesh (87723)

            Even if it is authentic, it wouldn't be worth $150,000 being most likely the final retail binary.

            If someone pays $150,000 for it, then it was worth $150,000. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        ..and the desc is messed up and both the evidence links were dead when I tried them.

        of course if someone bought this without having prior knoweledge of the carts existence, he would be a fool

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Mouthwatering" may not be the best description for this... how about "bowel loosening"?

  • As someone who likes to play games, a prototype cartridge only really has value to me if it's a beta or otherwise different version from the released game or for an obscure game that never actually got released (i.e. the English version of Mother 1 (colloquially: Earthbound Zero), which was translated and localized, but had the plug pulled at the last second before NOA released it). Apart from tossing it in a display case and inviting people to come stare at it for a few seconds, what would be the purpose

    • by noc007 (633443)

      Value is in the eye of the beholder. For someone out there, this is a piece of history.

      It really depends on if a person values it or not. A few examples:
      -Beanie Babies are valuable to some people. I got a scolding before I was about to cut off the paper TY tag; I still don't understand why that stupid tag increases the value of an overpriced stuffed animal.
      -The Mona Lisa is one of the most famos paintings and is considered by some to be priceless. For someone that doesn't understand or care about its histor

      • I agree 100%. However, in this case, there aren't many beholders who's eyes value it at that price.
  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:25PM (#40819079) Homepage
    The Zelda Test cartridge comes in that sort of orangeish yellow color. I used to have one myself.

    Just do a google search for "NES Zelda test cart", and you'll find plenty of other examples. This particular test cart just happens to have a hand written label.

    It's a nice find, but worth no more than $150
    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:38PM (#40819219)

      It's not a test cart, it's a prototype. As they pointed out if you read through the questions and follow some of the links, the PCB for this cart is unlike any of the ones ever seen in a test cart. Externally it looks similar. Internally it's anything but. Hence why it's being billed as unique.

      • I saw the questions section, but I found very little in the way of proof. There is no picture of a test cart's PCB to verify against, and the in article they refer to verify this claim has nothing more than front facing picture and a passing mention of the cart. Do you have a verifiable Zelda test cart PCB picture to compare against?

        If this is a prototype then why did it come out in a test cart's color? The orangish-yellow is a standard in many other test carts. Taking a look at other NES prototypes I fi
        • It makes no sense that they would need to debunk every conspiracy theory, so I don't see why you're expecting them to have posted pictures of a test cart's PCB just to verify that it isn't one. Should they have also posted pictures of a Duck Hunt cartridge or an empty box or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to demonstrate that the item for sale is NOT one of those?

          What they did do is post images of the prototype's PCB, so if your claims are valid, you have everything you need to disprove them. Rather than

          • Ahh sure, why should someone selling something for $150,000 be expected to provide evidence of the item's validity.....

            Why would they post the PCB? Well do you have a spare Zelda test cart to compare against? Even among those who have one; would they open it up? This isn't exactly an easy verification.
            • by JDG1980 (2438906)

              Why would they post the PCB? Well do you have a spare Zelda test cart to compare against? Even among those who have one; would they open it up? This isn't exactly an easy verification.

              Opening NES cartridges is not at all difficult, and there is essentially no risk of damage if you use the correct tool and work with reasonable care. (Japanese Famicom games are actually more of a challenge, because they snap together rather than using screws, and it's easy to break the plastic trying to get them apart.)

          • by Viewsonic (584922)

            I'm sorry, but when trying to sell something like this, it is up to the seller to provide all the verifiable proof. Sadly, anyone buying this cart without a written letter from one of the developers involved, or someone at Nintendo who can certify this as legit, is going to be let down and should probably stay as far away from this as possible.

            • I agree and I disagree.

              Yes, in an ideal case, letters or certificates of authenticity should be provided. I also agree that most people would be setting themselves up to be let down. This isn't something I'd buy, even at $15.

              However, there are some cases where an item may be genuine and may be unique, but because of the nature of the item its authenticity can never be confirmed. As a result, the fact that it exists is taken as tautological evidence that it is what it claims to be, since what else could it b

        • by JDG1980 (2438906)

          I saw the questions section, but I found very little in the way of proof. There is no picture of a test cart's PCB to verify against, and the in article they refer to verify this claim has nothing more than front facing picture and a passing mention of the cart. Do you have a verifiable Zelda test cart PCB picture to compare against?

          Someone on the NintendoAge forum who owns a yellow Zelda test cart said [nintendoage.com] that it has the same PCB as the production cart.

          You can see a photo of the production Zelda PCB here [dyndns.org].

          • As much as I'd like to take the word of Parpunk's random 2007 post I'm not convinced. I have no idea who that is, and given the distinctive test-cart-like features of the game I'm inclined inclined to believe it is not a prototype.

            In addition we don't even know if the PCB in the picture belongs to this game. Who is going to open it up to check it out after buying? Or maybe this was formatted from another non-Zelda PCB with compatible mappers?

            Hey, maybe Parpunk is right. And maybe this is a prototype t
            • If you're the type that's inclined to drop $150,000 on a prototype, there's a good chance you already have a few test carts in your collection and have seen what their PCBs look like, since you'd be used to checking the authenticity of those as well, I should think.

  • Dead Battery? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by guttentag (313541)
    I can see the winner posting a series of YouTube videos:
    • feverishly unwrapping it
    • documenting the unboxing
    • inserting it into his NES
    • playing it for six hours
    • saving
    • coming back to find that his save is lost because the 25-year-old battery is dead
    • throwing a tantrum involving a lot of yelling and smashed ABS plastic
    • a sad, drunken admission that the only reason he bought it was because the battery in his old cartridge had died and he assumed a new one would have a fresh battery
  • by drxenos (573895)
    I've been collecting computer games since the 70s (yes, 70s). I love this kind of stuff! What I really want to see is the prototype cartridge for the Atari 2600 version of Treasures of Tarmin. I would love to have to the ROM from that!
  • I have some early versions of a dice rolling game I made in the late 80's. Never been seen before.

    The game crashes in certain circumstances, but it isn't documented exactly why.

    The bidding starts at $1000.

  • His ebay description says its still in the shrink wrap yet he posts a link to a video of him playing the game with the cart shoved in to an NES console.
  • I am sure I'm overlooking something, but to me, it seems that all you need to do to "create" this prototype, is burn the ROM file (available around the web) onto the EPROMs, place them into a garden variety copy of Legend of Zelda, and that's it. One could even easily make a funky-colored case for the cart, with a 3D printer. A $50-100 expense for a 3 orders of magnitude higher profit.

    • by JDG1980 (2438906)

      I am sure I'm overlooking something, but to me, it seems that all you need to do to "create" this prototype, is burn the ROM file (available around the web) onto the EPROMs, place them into a garden variety copy of Legend of Zelda, and that's it. One could even easily make a funky-colored case for the cart, with a 3D printer. A $50-100 expense for a 3 orders of magnitude higher profit.

      Anyone planning to do this would need to design and fabricate a fake PCB as well, since the PCB for prototypes is consider

      • Thanks. You are right, and you also provided me with some interesting info.

        And I also agree about the prediction of practically indistinguishable knock-offs of rare games from China. Unless they do some TIXE-kind of fuckup.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday July 30, 2012 @01:06PM (#40819569)

    Several posters pointed out that the description seems to be for a newer Zelda game, not the original Legend of Zelda. This isn't because the seller put in incorrect info, but because there's a problem with the stock eBay description. Whenever you sell a video game on eBay, the selling tool will beg you to select the game from eBay's internal database and hassle you if you don't. This database information contains stuff like name, release date, and a short description (the part which was botched here). It also sometimes contains stock photos, which can be (and usually are) deleted and overridden by whoever is posting the listing.

    eBay does the same thing with books and other media as well. You can see this by going to "Sell an item" and entering the media name in the box labeled "Enter a UPC, ISBN, VIN VIN help or keywords that describe your item." There are about 500 entries containing the phrase "Legend of Zelda", so it's not surprising that there might be some corrupted entries and/or duplicates in there.

  • I'm out. I'll just wait for another one to come up for sale.

  • Regardless of it's raraty it's not worth $15,000 I would say maybe $15 or heck even $25 but people need to understand that when eletronics get older they become more worthelss. Sure the game was awesome but comon in the pictures you can cearly see he's taken it apart and states

    I can only speculate that the 2-23-87 refers to the date they completed this prototype and being so close to launch is why there are no differences from the released version. Again I'm speculating.

    which means that he has no idea if it's really the prototype or not. He's just trying to make a quick buck of anyone who will read the headlines and not the fine print.

  • This is a US localization prototype... with no differences which means that it most likely was a release candidate. The fact that they are advertising this as the only one is just marketing. Just because they haven't seen another one doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If it sells for 150k... I would expect to start seeing some real prototypes to start being found by Nintendo Employees from the 80s.
  • Based on the video footage the eBayer posted, there's nothing even remotely "prototype" about this cartridge.

    People who don't work in the game industry just loveto throw around the word "prototype" or "beta" for any kind of pre-release game disc or cartridge that wasn't actually released 100% in its pre-release form. The reality is that a "prototype", in game industry nomenclature, is typically reserved for an extremely early build of the game, well before the game has even gone into production let alone
  • For $150,000, I would take the time to make a "prototype" cartridge. Built with 80s technology, this would not be hard to make at home. The kind of price tag that is being asked for it is something that is reserved for items with verified provenance. And when I said verified, I mean something more than the seller saying "go google 'NES ZELDA PROTO'". Which, interestingly enough turns up a couple of forum threads debating whether or not it's genuine.

    Seriously, making this thing would be an afternoon proj

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      Bingo. You could fab up a custom cartridge yourself for less than the amount asked and still make a tidy profit. There's more than enough information on yonder internets; the NES has long ago been completely deconstructed and understood. I would be very, very skeptical.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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