There were very few games that had label variations in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The most notable ones have always been the Red-Label Blades of Steel and Yellow-Label Metroid which saw re-releases and have easy-to-see differences. Less common are the re-released versions of The Legend of Zelda and Adventure of Link where the cartridges are not only gray instead of gold but have “Classic Series” written along the tops of their boxes.
However, one label variation only recently came to my attention and that’s of Super Mario Bros. 3! Let’s take a look at the most common version we see in the wild first:
OK, we’re quite familiar with it by now. Let’s look at the rarer label variation that actually preceded this one:
It might be tricky to spot the difference but if you have an eye for design it should stick out to you. It’s the left-justification of “Bros.” in the title. Oddly enough, this is one variation that has nothing to do with a re-release at all. Quite obviously, the justification was changed because of the sloppy overlap of “Bros.” with Mario’s right hand. Frankly, it’s surprising nobody noticed the obfuscation before it was released.
The problem likely occurred when they adapted the cart label to the box. The label on an NES cart has an aspect ratio of about 0.63, but it’s 0.67 for the box. When Mario was moved upward to accommodate this change the hand overlapped the text and nobody seemed to notice until the print run began. The way I imagine it is that they pulled the first one off the line and celebrated the release of what they knew would be a great game and huge seller…and that’s when one of Nintendo’s underlings pointed it out to the embarrassment of the executives.
They probably got fired, too.
While the variation is rarer, it isn’t noticeably pricier to purchase online. Most sellers don’t even recognize it to be different in the first place. If you’re a hardcore collector, though, it may be worth it to you to acquire both.