A rare unopened Nintendo Super Mario 64 game from 1996 has sold at auction for a staggering $2.1m, shattering a record set just days earlier for a video game, The Legend of Zelda, which sold for $1.2m.

Sold by Heritage Auctions in Dallas Texas, the auction for the pristine copy of Super Mario 64 climbed in $50,000 and $25,000 increments until landing at $US1.3m.

A further $US260,000 buyer’s premium was added, bringing the total amount paid to $US1.56m ($2.1m).

“After the record-breaking sale of the first game in the Zelda series on Friday, the possibility of surpassing $1 million on a single video game seemed like a goal that would need to wait for another auction,” Heritage Auctions Video Games Specialist Valarie McLeckie said.

In promoting the auction, McLeckie said it was “impossible to overstate the importance of this title, not only to the history of Mario and Nintendo, but to video games as a whole”.

"This is Mario's debut appearance in a 3D world, and it was the most popular – best-selling – video game for the N64,” she said.

“Considering this, and the fact that there are fewer than five sealed in this grade according to [games grading company] Wata, this copy is a true prize for any serious collector.

“This is the only graded copy in a 9.8 A++ which is effectively the highest feasible grade one could hope to receive from Wata.”

Heritage Auctions is scheduled to hold another Video Games Signature Auction on 29-30 October.