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The Rarest Mario Kart Game Isn't What You'd Expect

With any type of collecting, you'll find that some items are worth more than others. In the video game world, that tends to translate to physical game cartridges from the earlier consoles. When it comes to the Mario Kart franchise, you might think the very first game in the series, Super Mario Kart, would be worth the most. Super Mario Kart released in 1992 for the SNES and became the first of 10 home-based titles in the franchise (there were also several arcade versions).

If you only consider individual games, a Super Mario Kart cartridge certainly tops the list of valuable Mario Kart titles. Although, a Mario Kart 8 Limited Edition packaged with a spiny shell figurine is also highly coveted. But, when it comes to rarity, Super Mario Kart actually has the honor of being part of a collection that makes up one of the rarest video game releases in the world, since there are only two known surviving copies.

Super Mario Kart was included in PowerFest '94

Back in 1994, Nintendo held a video game competition called PowerFest '94. For the event, which included contests across the U.S. and Canada, the company created 32 custom SNES cartridges that included introductory parts of three games. You had six minutes to finish Level 1-1 of Super Mario Lost Levels, take five laps around the first track from Super Mario Kart, and hit as many home runs as possible in Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. Following the tournament, most of the PowerFest '94 games were reportedly destroyed for parts. 

Prior to 2012, only one copy was known to have survived until someone contacted a buyer named JJ Hendricks claiming to have found another. Hendricks wrote about the experience for Price Charting, saying the entire process of purchasing the cartridge ended up taking over two years and cost him $12,000. But, in a fitting conclusion, he was able to meet up with Rick Bruns, the collector who owned the only other PowerFest '94 cartridge. The two even used their copies to compete head-to-head with PowerFest '94 cartridges for the first time since 1994. 

Most Mario Kart games appear to be pretty well-stocked and not at all rare enough to draw the attention of collectors. But, thanks to PowerFest '94, there is one short, legendary version of the original game that has taken its place in video game history. Mamma mia!