Retro Zelda Game Sells For Nearly $US4,000 ($5,608) Thanks To Ramen Sticker

Retro Zelda Game Sells For Nearly $US4,000 ($5,608) Thanks To Ramen Sticker
Image: Nintendo / MobyGames

A rare Famicom Disk System copy of the original The Legend of Zelda was recently purchased for thousands of dollars, all because the disk features a sticker with the name of a popular instant noodle brand.

As first pointed out by Japanese author and game collector Jironosuke and then Tales of Arise lead English translator Tom James, a Yahoo auction closed yesterday that saw the aforementioned action adventure game variant selling for 453,000 yen (or around $3,966 USD ($5,560) at the time of this writing).

The only difference between this copy of the game and the normal release, however, is the presence of the logo for Myojo Foods’ Charumera brand ramen on the disc’s label.

The Legend of Zelda's original Famicom disc is on the left, while the Charumera version is on the right. Spot the difference? (Image: Nintendo / MobyGames / Gaming Alexandria / Kotaku) The Legend of Zelda’s original Famicom disc is on the left, while the Charumera version is on the right. Spot the difference? (Image: Nintendo / MobyGames / Gaming Alexandria / Kotaku)

According to the auction listing and a super informative Gaming Alexandria investigation from last year, the Charumera version of The Legend of Zelda was given away to 1,500 lucky participants of a 1986 lottery drawing hosted by Nintendo and the food company to celebrate the latter’s 20th anniversary. The contest also awarded Famicom and Famicom Disk Systems embossed with the Myojo Charumera name.

When gaming preservationists got wind of this Zelda variant in 2020, many wondered if the Charumera version’s content was changed in any way. Gaming Alexandria’s deep dive into the game’s origins (courtesy of a copy purchased on eBay for $US1,000 ($1,402)) also showed that the underlying code was identical to the original release.

The only other copy of this noodle-branded Zelda I’ve been able to find online was sold in 2016 for $US1,500 ($2,103) by an eBay seller located in Spain. An image shared by Legends of Localisation of the game in the wild saw it priced at 35,800 yen (or only about $313 USD ($439)) while other anecdotal reports claim that it’s gone even lower in previous online auctions and at brick-and-mortar video game shops in Japan. Recent years, however, have seen a huge surge in prices for valuable retro game collectors.

Is Charumera Zelda going to be the latest wallet-draining rarity for collectors? Probably not. But it’s funny that something as simple as a ramen logo on a sticker is enough to drive up the price even this much.

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