In the original game, Mario must save the peace-loving Mushroom People from the Koopa, a tribe of turtles known for their black magic. The game spawned an enduring theme song and multiple variations, including Super Mario 64, in which Mario faces an array of obstacles and adversaries as he tries to rescue the kidnapped Princess Peach from the villain Bowser.
“He’s like the Mickey Mouse of video games,” Ms. McLeckie said of Mario. “He’s just so recognizable and really resonates with a wide audience of people.”
Chris Kohler, a video game historian and the editorial director of Digital Eclipse, a video game studio that makes collections of classic games, said in an interview on Monday that he would have expected an older video game to contend for the sales record. He said that collectors could find copies of Super Mario 64 — not in mint condition but with the original box — for much less.
“That was what kind of blew me away about that sale,” he said.
Mr. Kohler said he remembered spending part of his first paycheck on Super Mario 64 when it was released.
“If you had told me at that point that somebody was going to buy a sealed one for $1.5 million in 25 years’ time, I don’t know what I would have done,” he said.
Many buyers are new to collecting video games and have crossed over from comic books and coins, according to Mr. Kohler.
Don’t expect an unboxing video from the buyer, whom the auction house declined to identify. Ms. McLeckie laughed when asked whether the collector would actually play the game.