News Article

Rare Final Fantasy II NES Cartridge Hits eBay

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

This one's only $50,000

A little while ago we posted news of a prototype cartridge for The Legend of Zelda on eBay, with the seller pricing it at $150,000 — though ultimately it went for around $55,000. Today brings another NES cartridge with a price tag to make the eyes water; this time it's a copy of Final Fantasy II on NES for $50,000.

The seller, eBay user fefea, has provided some history on the product page to explain why this cartridge is, assuming its authenticity, rare enough to justify its high price. Final Fantasy II — the original NES sequel — didn't get a worldwide release, meaning it was only playable in Japanese, while the Final Fantasy II on Super NES that most know was actually Final Fantasy IV in Japan. What this listing hopes to prove is that publisher Square Soft USA had at one point intended to release the first NES sequel in North America.

In terms of the authenticity of the cartridge, plenty of images have been posted, with the back story being that the publisher had produced it to be shown off at the 1991 Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The seller has owned this copy for about nine years, and despite the label marking it as a 'sample', it apparently plays the entire game in localised English.

You can check out the eBay page for yourself if you want to see more, with the seller's cat making two cameo appearances in the photos. Another rare cartridge going for big money: any wealthy collectors out there?

[via ebay.com, uk.ign.com]

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User Comments (32)

Retrowire

#2

Retrowire said:

Very interesting. This one may have some rarer qualities than the LOZ prototype did. But they're gonna need to put up some video proof.

SpaceKappa

#6

SpaceKappa said:

It's not fake. I did some research out of curiosity, and while I forget the gentleman's name who's selling it he's a very well-known game historian with an outstanding reputation in the community. The only way it's fake is if he wants to throw away a reputation he's spent many years building up.

XD375

#7

XD375 said:

Yeah, I've known about the Final Fantasy II prototype for at least six years; I've even played it myself through certain methods that I normally wouldn't approve of.

Stuffgamer1

#8

Stuffgamer1 said:

I have a friend who wishes he could afford this...I think he's crazy. But that's just me. :P

Lin1876

#10

Lin1876 said:

It might just be a different model, but that doesn't look like a typical NES prototye board. I recently watched Clan of the Gray Wolf take apart one of the Earth Bound (Zero) prototype carts, and it looked significantly different inside.

Still, my understanding is that a NA version of Final Fantasy II did exist before it was cancelled, albeit in incomplete form, so I'm not going to dismiss it. The bigger issue is that I don't have $50k to spend on it.

FantasiaWHT

#11

FantasiaWHT said:

@SpaceKappa - or he was snookered by the person who sold it to him in the first place (or that person was snookered by whoever they got it from, etc.).

Without some first person verification, there's really no way to know whether this is legit or not.

SpaceKappa

#12

SpaceKappa said:

@FantasiaWHT Man, everyone is a skeptic these days! :P

His name is Frank Cifaldi and he's a very respected game journalist and historian. There's been a lot of talk about the validity of this cartridge but the consensus is that if Frank Cifaldi is selling it then it is 100% legit.

The best comment was over at Kotaku: "Frank Cifaldi is a known game collector/historian. He's worked for 1up and Gamasutra, amongst others.

If anyone knows how to preserve a cartridge, it's Frank. If anyone's going to know the legitimacy of a cartridge, it's Frank. This is not likely a scam unless he's looking to trash a reputation he's built over many years."

Stuffgamer1

#13

Stuffgamer1 said:

@SpaceKappa: Everyone SHOULD be a skeptic when it comes to a $50,000 purchase. And...y'know...neither this article nor the eBay listing itself goes into the man's reputation like that. :P

Personally, I cannot understand the desire to purchase this there are far superior versions of the game on PS1, GBA, and PSP. But I collect games for playability, not rareness, so this clearly just isn't my bag regardless.

TheChosen

#14

TheChosen said:

Now this one I can actually believe to be legit. As was said, I know this prototype is not only possible, but has been seen before already.

I'd stick with the GBA one though. Good luck to all the collectors out there.

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#15

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

@SpaceKappa In all honestly I don't read reviews much except on here so I'm not familiar with this Frank Cifaldi and his work. So don't blame me for being skeptical when the price tag costs more than my 4 years of college and textbooks combined.

SpaceKappa

#16

SpaceKappa said:

@Stuffgamer1 Well, anyone who bought this only to play it is crazy. :P You're right, though; research had to be done as to who was actually selling this, but once the research has been done into Frank Cifaldi as well as the history of Final Fantasy II In North America (there were lots of promotional materials produced; the game was going to be released but was cancelled at the last minute) there's little doubt. If you're considering dropping 50 g's on a game you should do your homework!

There are better versions of Final Fantasy II, of course - mainly, EVERY OTHER VERSION EXCEPT THIS ONE :P - but you're spending $50k to be the only person on the planet with the NES version of Final Fantasy II in English. If I had that kinda scratch just kickin' around I'd probably go for it. Final Fantasy is one of the biggest names in gaming so lots of people are going to want this.

marshallamps

#17

marshallamps said:

Its a little scary for me. I see a few things with the auction that would red flag me from even a $5000 offer but thats just me.

#1 I'm sure he gave good money for it so why dump the ROM? Are we supposed to think the Square or the second owner dumped it? Why would they? I would think it would be easier to prove legitimacy and worth more if the cartridge itself contained the only version of it known and there was no easy way to find ROM of it on the net. If you were going to fake it, you would at least need the ROM of it which everyone has access to. As most folks know, there are ways to get these roms on a chip within a cartridge.

#2 And this is just a petty thing but I am curious as to why a Nintendo/NES collector (as hardcore as this guy would have to be to pay this type of money for a FF Proto) would own a Yobo (an Nes/SNES repro knockoff type machine) console. Wouldn't someone dealing in NES collectibles of this level and rarity at least be using an NES or at the very least an NES with replaced 72-pin connector? Its my understanding the Yobos have a cartridge slot that is so snug and holds the cartridge so tight that people have actually damaged the gold connectors on the game carts themselves with them. They purposefully made the Yobos this way so people could plug their vintage games in and make them work easily, even if the game was dirty, slightly corroded, etc. This way the old games will actually haver a higher likelyhood of working with the new Yobo(and similar repro machines) than they will in an old NES. But the downside? Its BAD for the cartridge! Why plug a proto into one of those? It screams newb and newb and protoype cartridge in the same spot send up a red flag for me.

#3 The vintage and collectible video game market is increasingly being hit with counterfeits created by scammers looking to cash in on BIG bucks. When you get into these dollar amounts there is heavy incentive. Everyone just saw that the Zelda rarity went for $55k. More then likely its how the pricing was considered for this item, being as its $50k. Lastly, its really not nearly as difficult as people might think to fake these type of carts. They have crude hand labeling, basic stickers, and chips that can contain anything that someone wants to put on them (given they have the proper equipment and knowledge).

Without the proper paperwork, photos and provenance NONE of them are worth these type of prices IMHO.

All those are just my opinions and concerns. I certainly don't mean to offend anyone.

KingMike

#18

KingMike said:

FEFEA? That's actually the name of a former ROM release group that Frank Cifaldi was part of (though that was near the end of the NES ROM dumping era, so they most released redumps of games that lacked good dumps and ROMs of bootleg games), so there's a good chance this is the very cart the ROM on the Internet came from.
He is a well-known game historian and preservation and has paid a lot of money to obtain prototype carts and promotional material of canceled games.

theblackdragonAdmin

#19

theblackdragon said:

guys, we're not here to discuss ROMs in general or the morality thereof (as per our Community Rules), so if we could steer this conversation away from that (except where it actually holds merit toward the discussion at hand, as in marshallamps' first comment and KingMike's subsequent one), it would be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance :3

Gridatttack

#23

Gridatttack said:

Not willing to pay that price. :P
Also, its only worthy if you are a collector.
At lest its not a scam like the zelda one.

Neram

#24

Neram said:

That Prototype Zelda cartridge started a new trend: Scamming people by taking NES carts, putting a white sticker on them, and coming up with an elaborate story of how this super rare cartridge made it to the hands of some average ass guy trying to make a buck on eBay.

Seriously, what are the chances of there being a Zelda cartidge almost just like this selling for 50k just a few weeks ago, and then all of a sudden a "Final Fantasy II" cart that looks the same selling for the same price? This is obviously fake, and the seller is trying to do the same as the Prototype Zelda seller, because he saw that it actually worked for him.

AntiGuy

#25

AntiGuy said:

Obviously it's a fake, still some lousy rich clown or insane collector is gonna fall for it, I'm sure...

Onett

#26

Onett said:

I could pay off my student loans and build a fancy home theater system in preparation for my Wii U with that kind of money. Maybe I should consider selling my original boxed copy of Clayfighter: Sculptors Cut.

Starwolf_UK

#28

Starwolf_UK said:

@Neram Ignoring the whole who the seller is, it could be a case of seeing that these things do in fact sell for big money so selling them while the market is hot which is why more have appeared than on average...of course that is going to bring more counterfeit attempts but you can't assume all of them are. Or none of them for that matter...that said going for an existing dump would be a risk if you were a hoaxer because the original dumper could appear to call you out.

Makes me wonder what happened to this FFI prototype in the end (Garage sale purchase, likely from former Nintendo employee):http://www.digitpress.com/forum/showthread.php?92562-Final-Fantasy-Proto-found-(-I-think)Its probably still sitting safe in the owners collection, for a few more years (the EPROMs only have a finite lifespan)

Millenia

#30

Millenia said:

Wow. That would be awesome if the buyer dumped the ROM so that everyone else could experience the first official NES translation. Those chances are slim to none though. Whoever purchases is very lucky!

GN0LAUM

#31

GN0LAUM said:

The seller's name is Frank Cifaldi. He has been on Retronauts many times. Colleague of Jeremy Parish of 1up.com and certainly a very respected gaming historian. He's the legit deal. I certainly think he should turn it into bidding auction instead of a BUT IT NOW, but I don't doubt Frank's reputation.

TheDreamingHawk

#32

TheDreamingHawk said:

I wish FFII NES got more attention. It's not as Epic as FFVI, but it's still a lot of fun and probably the best out of all the NES FF games.

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