Make no mistake, we've got endless love for chunky plastic cartridges and proper printed manuals (remember those?), but the convenience of digital games is hard to deny and over the last decade or so digital distribution has taken off to the point where often physical versions aren't even an option these days. Whether we like it or not, there will come a point when physical discs and cartridges simply aren’t manufactured anymore.
We've still got the classics on the shelf, though. We discussed yesterday how our most treasured items often aren’t worth much, but a mint copy of Majora's Mask is nothing compared to the truly eye-watering prices some retro games can fetch and with each passing year it's getting harder and harder to reclaim childhood favourites at reasonable prices.
To make ourselves feel better (or should that be worse?) we've gathered below a dozen of the priciest games you can buy for Nintendo hardware today. The older they are, the more expensive they get (obviously), so you'll find plenty of NES games below, but anything that originally came in a fragile cardboard box will invariably fetch more than the plastic equivalent.
To avoid a rabbit hole of test cartridges, prototypes and special carts manufactured in very limited amounts for contests and such, we've stuck to good old fashion full retail titles here - games you could have bought for $60 when they released originally, if you only knew. We've also eliminated Limited Editions and stuck to officially licensed games, so you won't find any of the naughty adult-only titles sold in special stores or via mail order, either.
To find out the most expensive Nintendo games going Price Charting was an invaluable resource and provided nearly all the figures below, with the CIB figure coming from the last documented copy sold on eBay. These games are presented in no particular order because prices are constantly fluctuating and estimates are just that - estimates.
So, let’s move over from the cheap shelving to the locked cabinet, press our collective noses to the glass and look longingly at rarities we’ll likely never get our grubby hands on...
Stadium Events (NES)
Complete-in-box (CIB): $30,100 (2017), Loose: $7630.04
Ah yes. We kick things off with an obvious one that has taken on near-mythical status. There's always the hope that a distant relative will gift you their old NES collection and this will be nestled, pristine, in the collection. Developed to use with the Family Fun Fitness Mat (better known as the Power Pad), the game was recalled by Nintendo in the US after the company bought the mat from Bandai and rebranded both it and the game, which meant very few copies remained in the wild. The PAL version wasn't recalled, however, and can be found - especially PAL B - comparatively cheap for under a 1000€. Bargain!
Spud's Adventure (GB)
CIB: $1884.42 (2018), Loose: $203.24
Developed and published by Atlus for Game Boy in 1991, you control the titular Spud and climb a tower gaining XP and keys to move ever upwards and save a tomato Princess. It sounds like a winner, but this game's scarcity has pushed prices right up over the years, with several examples on eBay at the moment with asking prices of well over $3000.
Hagane: The Final Conflict (SNES)
(CIB): $1,896.45 / C $2,500.00 (2020), Loose: $466.50
A 1994 action-platformer in the Ninja Gaiden mould, CAProductions' Hagane: The Final Conflict offers ninja cyborg action and is something of a cult classic, not least because of the rarity of the original cart. It arrived in North America in 1995 as the Super NES was winding down, and its rudimentary graphics probably didn't attract gamers at the time. If you did see through all those phoney next-gen polygons being thrown your way in ads, well done! You're sitting on a small, cartridge-shaped goldmine.
CIB: $1,700 (2019), Loose: $449.99
With an already limited production run thanks to the pricey 32MB cartridge it came on, Shantae for Game Boy Color also released after the launch of the Game Boy Advance and consequently didn't sell as well as it could (or should) have. For some unclear reason publisher Capcom sat on the finished game for months, but fortunately WayForward would take the protagonist on to even greater heights in what became an excellent platforming series.
Mega Man X3 (SNES)
(CIB): $1689.68 / 1,526€ (2020), Loose: $586.73
The PAL version of Mega Man X3 on Super NES has been sold for over $2000 in the last year, although the latest sale at the time of writing is a far more sensible $1689.68. Why not get two, eh?
With Mega Man X Legacy Collection available on Switch, you've got to be super dedicated to shell out for an original cart. It was released late in the console's life cycle as Capcom was winding down its 16-bit projects, which explains its limited availability. Definitely one we wish we had snapped up at the time.
Aero Fighters (SNES)
(CIB): $1326.00 (2018), Loose: $582.81
Complete copies of SNES shmup Aero Fighters (or Sonic Wings, if you prefer) have fluctuated over the past few years, with examples selling as 'low' as $400 and as high as $2700 depending on condition. It's a reminder to collectors not to be over-eager or hung up on the limited 'supply' of these games. It's important to remember that 'demand' isn't necessarily high as well and bargains can be had if you're patient.
Bargains like $415 for a worn out Aero Fighters cart, for example. Plus postage.
The Flintstones: The Surprise At Dinosaur Peak (NES)
(CIB): $1,896.44 / C $2,499.99 (2019), Loose: $673.22
Some say this was another Blockbuster rental exclusive, others say it was a normal retail game sold like any other. Regardless, there weren't many copies made and getting your hands on one today will likely involve selling off non-essential organs or vital parts of your vehicle. Still, Fred never needed an engine in his car, did he?
Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally / Speed Racer (SNES)
(CIB): $2683 (2014), Loose: $1348.48
Separately these games aren't too pricey, but this combined cart is a real rarity because it was only available as a pack-in title with the Exertainment exercise bike peripheral itself. We'd be satisfied to have the two individual games and still call our SNES collection 'complete'. We would, of course, be lying to ourselves and everyone else, though. Therefore, this is essential.
Little Samson (NES)
CIB: $2,999 (2020), Loose: $1057.78
A Taito-published game for NES, Little Samson just didn't sell very well back in 1992 despite being a rather excellent platformer from producer and writer Shinichi Yoshimoto who had previously designed Capcom classics such as Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Strider. With the ability to switch between four playable characters at will, it's a cracking little game and worth tracking down if you've got a few grand eating a hole in your pocket.
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
CIB: $1815.50 (estimate - no data), Loose: $800
Very specifically the 5-screw variant. If you're unfamiliar with the difference between the 3-screw and 5-screw cartridges, it's not too hard to educate oneself. The 5-screw version has two extra screws holding the front and back of the cartridge together, you see.
This may seem like a minor cosmetic difference (because it is), but the 5-screw cartridges were phased out by Nintendo in 1988 with subsequent games (and reissues) using only the 3-screw casing, so the extra secure carts are more sought after. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! is already hard to come by after Nintendo replaced the titular boxer with Mr. Dream (pictured above), and the version with two extra screws is the rarest 5-screw cart there is. A loose specimen sold in November last year for a cool $800 and a CIB version hasn't turned up in a long time.
Clay Fighter: Sculptor's Cut (N64)
CIB: $2,499 (2020), Loose: $391.56
A updated version of notoriously rubbish (although not quite as rubbish as its reputation suggests) fighter Clayfighter 63 1/3, the 'special' Sculptor's Cut was a Blockbuster Video exclusive available for rental only. However, once N64 titles were no longer of interest to the average kid renting a game, the stock was sold off like any other retail release.
Limited production numbers aside, the real thing that bumps this game up in price is the rarity of its box and manual. Cardboard cases wear out fast, so it's easy to imagine these ones disintegrating rapidly as they changed hands from one punter to another. Consequently, the peripheral materials command a much higher price than the loose cartridge itself.
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
CIB: $100,150 (2019), Loose: peanuts
No, not your dog-eared copy with notes in the manual. Despite being one of the most popular games of all time, mint examples of Super Mario Bros. aren't easy to come by and last year a pristine and certified copy sold at auction breaking the six-figure mark for the first time ever for a single video game.
It wasn't quite a standard copy, though - it was a rare 'sticker-sealed' version. Apparently only two copies were sold with just stickers sealing the box (the others were wrapped in plastic) which is what pushed this one's value into the stratosphere.
Of course, it's entirely possible to pick up Super Mario Bros. in reasonable condition for a fraction of that price, but 'reasonable condition' isn't sexy, is it? 'Pristine', 'untouched', 'A+++', 'never-opened', 'minty-fresh', 'sticker-sealed' - these are just some of the adjectives that true collectors prize, and if you're after the other sticker-sealed copy of SMB, you'll need very deep pockets indeed.
And there you have it - a dozen of the priciest games for Nintendo obsessives like us to throw their cash at. Just bubbling under was Virtual Bowling for Virtual Boy; hardly the most in-demand game (or console), for sure, although the Virtual Boy always had an allure for us, maybe because us Europeans never had the migraine-inducing pleasure back in the day. We liked the game in our review, although $1300 might be pushing it.
Got any of these sitting in the cupboard? Planning on picking any of them up? Let us know your most valuable games and how you got your mitts on them below.
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... Aero Fighters is worth WHAT!?
This article and the fact that the publishers refuse to re release games for modern systems is why i don't feel guilty playing emulations and buying cheap Chinese reproductions.
These prices aren’t correct. Also CIB is not the same as sealed.
Sees Super Mario Bros. (NES) on the list.
Oh man, I actually have something that is worth something
I do own my fair share of rare games. I tend to find them really cheap with luck.
Including but not limited to.
PAL ghostbusters 2 on gb
PAL castlevania symphony of the night on ps1 (I got it for free alongside 74 other games from very generous people)
Jojo’s bizarre adventure on the dreamcast
Jojo all star battle on ps3
Marvel vs capcom 2 on both dreamcast and ps2
Chrono trigger on the ds.
All of these CIB. Last time I looked them up These ranged from €80 (marvel vs capcom 2 on ps2.) to €300 (symphony of the night.)
First thing im doing when I get home today:check screws on my cart of Mike Tysons punch out.
Proud owner of X3, was super close to spud one day but some dude snitched and told the seller how much it was worth and the sale was cancelled
Edit: Or how about a copy of Nintendo World Championships?
I have super Mario Bros boxed but not sealed. The cart has alot of my germs tho. Actually the carts disgustingly discoloured
Edit. Just thinking about it makes me sick
Edit. I have to actually see if it works still.
@koekiemonster : I think people are crazy for paying upwards of hundreds, let alone thousands, on old games that aren't even sealed.
@1UP_MARIO : How much for the germs?
Probably the two rarest games I own is a C.I.B. copy of Chip N Dale 2 and my copy of Earthbound with the strat guide and box.
@Silly_G lol. I have to see if my cart works.
@darkswabber Marvel VS Capcom 2 on PS2 is currently priced at around 67€ (average) for the NTSC-U version and 35€ for PAL. Not really an expensive game compared to these values. Personally I don't own any of those games on the list (PAL territory here) but I happen to have Mega Man X2 on SNES which can fetch a nice 535€, more than the NTSC-U version.
@peachflavored wow MVSC2 on ps2 seriously dropped in value.
Not that I was looking to resell it, it’s one of my favourite games. I played it a lot but I’ve switched to the dreamcast version last december.
I sold a PAL Little Samson (loose) as part of a bundle a few years ago for about 75€... I think you just made me want to go hiding somewhere people won't see my tears...
I sold my copy of Sculptors Cut several years ago for big $. I had bought it at blockbuster used like 20 years ago for like $15. I also have Mike Tyson’s Punch Out but sadly it’s the 3 screw version. Not worth much.
I have a PAL Mr Gimmick for NES and a Shantae for GBC. They're probably my most valuable games.
I also have some other games that seem to go for high prices these days, such as PAL versions of Gale of Darkness, Thousand-Year Door and Path of Radiance.
I have to check my 2 copies of Mike Tysons Punch out!!
Clay Fighter: Sculptor's Cut is definitely one I hope to get one day, I loved that game. I'm surprised to see MMX3 being so expensive.
I sold Rule of Rose for PS2 for about $10. 2 years later, used copies were going for close to $200. Hold on to niche horror games. They tend to go up in value, even if they are kinda crap.
So these are Europe prices? I saw Mega Man x3 on amazon today for $200.
@CurryPowderKeg79 Personally, I don't feel there's anything unethical about emulating games you already own or games that are no longer on the market (abandonware).
Interestingly, as classic game compliations become more common, it's becoming more of a murky water as to what is and isn't actually abandonware anymore.
@BFahey3 the article explains for each one which specific version is worth a lot.
Nice article, I know its a Nintendo site but I'd like to see the same for Sega games, as a Sega kid most of my collection from my younger years is Master System to Dreamcast.
Little Samson should have done so much better when it released. It’s so much better than most of its contemporary NES games, and yet it remains mostly forgotten.
I have a few NES games that aren't totally worthless. Bubble Bobble 2, Chip & Dale 2, and TMNT Tournament Fighter. None are in good condition, granted. Honestly, there weren't too many simultaneous co-op games for the NES, and Chip & Dale 2 was one of the best. Enough fond memories of playing with my sister that I don't mind it's not in mint condition.
(Though Bubble Bobble 2 could have stayed in it's box for a few hundred bucks)
And these prices are why I'll opt for the VC every time. Or if that isn't available, emulation is an option.
One of the reasons I ended up getting Rockman X3 instead. Fortunately the Super Nt can play Super Famicom cartridges.
It's a fine hobby collecting rarities, but I can't get behind the idea of buying a video game for the purpose of not opening it. I never sell my game old games collections (SNES, N64, GC, Wii all intact except for a stolen Goldeneye 007), but I like playing them to completion, when possible
I need to check my Punch Out once I get home. I honestly never heard of the screw difference before (unless it has something to do with the lockout chip?).
@Bobb there are collectors that collect for the cases, game and booklets rather than for playing the game itself.
I have a huge collection and I’m only interested in playing some of it, although I try out stuff on occasion to try and find games I otherwise wouldn’t have liked. But often I grab games from my collection and start looking at the box and booklets/pamphlets.
I think it's a myth that Nintendo recalled Stadium Events.
While I don't know if he ever cam back with proof, he said it was highly unlikely Nintendo would recall a game, as it was rather un-economical. More like, since it was a peripheral-based game, it was likely given an exception to Nintendo's standard minimum print order of 10,000 copies.
Shantae is not a 32-megabyte game. It's a 32-megabit (4 megabyte) game, which was very common in the Game Boy Color's lifespan (Nintendo pretty much only made GBC carts in 1, 2 and 4 MB sizes. Apparently there was one or two 8 MB games made at some point. Densha De Go and one other game I'm forgetting.)
I have Spud's Adventure and Aero Fighters, but the Japanese versions that I think are only worth sane amounts of money.
@GameOtaku Collectors have been using that screw difference (it's a case variation) to inflate their game value since the mid 2000s. Early in 1988, Nintendo redesigned the cartridge case. Whereas they previously used normal Phillips screws, after that they used the custom "gamebit" screws.
I'm seeing many copies of Spuds Adventure for 20 dollars on Ebay
Just checked my Punch Out! 3 screws
Sadly I don’t have any of those but I do have the gold Japanese version of Punch-Out!! and a fairly nice condition Blockbuster Final Fight Guy.
I have Sculptors Cut! unfortunately loose... but one of my most expensive pieces in my gaming collection.
I got my copy of Cowboy Kid for 5 dollars at a pawn shop. Its worth about 450. It will be on ebay sometime soon. My Mike Tyson is a 3 screw but I own about 5 - 5 screw games. I also have Gun Nac but its one of my favorites along with Terra Cresta so Im not selling it. To bad Gradius, Klashball, Quantum Kabookie and original Bomberman arent worth much. I feel Ultimate Air Combat and Mule were hard to find and should be worth more and so should my bible games and color dreams but hey. I always say Im about to unleash a boatload of games on ebay. I keep trying then changing my mind.
Still waiting for the value spike on loose copies of Shadowgate that I wrote ICP on with a sharpie back in the day.
@Shiryu Even a Micronics developed game is susceptible to Shm*p price-inflation.
And use, I asterisk out the vowel because I absolutely refuse to type or say it.
I used to write the cheatcodes and passwords on mine back in the day for some of them but it comes off.
No chance . Enjoy Ice climber and the Mario games.
Is there some truth to some games with a certain chip being worth more i.e. Lockout chip?
Funcoland used to sell stadium events for like $1.
I'll have to check my punch out cart. If its the $800 version I will for sure sell it. Holds little sentimentality to me.
A western version of Chronno Trigger complete in good condition is really expensive. Secret of Evermore, too. And a lot of games that came out around the end of the SNES lifespan that are hard to find are also impossible to buy unless you have a lot money to spend on it. Prices are surrealistic, although they don't melt like the things in Dali's paintings
I have a cib GameCube CUBIVORE. I think it is worth around $200. Such a great game.
According to reddit all these can be found by looking in your attic, cleaning your house or a workmate will just give them to you.
Whew, I didn't own any of these but I remember going to my buddy's house to play the power pad. He had a hilarious technique for running on the mat.
Luckily I've never had a copy of a rare game I foolishly traded in or sold for a horrible return.
This was a fun read!
Rendering Ranger R2 is one of the rarest Super Famicom games. Magical Pop'n is also super expensive.
Sadly pirate copies of these are all over eBay and even Yahoo Japan now. I've even heard of paste copies being found in Akiba. It's a minefield.
These prices show what a crazy world we live in. Do people genuinely pay that kind of money?
@Gravitron "Brand New" bootleg copy from China.
@GameOtaku All NES games have a lockout.
If a certain chip makes a difference, it would be an obscure print variation.
The only example I can think of is some early third-party Famicom games, from the seven licensed companies Nintendo let print their own carts (using whatever hardware they wanted). The specific example I am thinking of is IREM. Their early carts seem to have used EEPROMs. But, a few, such as Spelunker, got later reprinted with standard ROM chips. (in the case of those early IREM games, the difference is that the early prints had a red LED on the cart, and later prints removed the LED. I have both print variations of Zippy Race. However, I hear the non-LED Spelunker is worth a bit of money. Probably nowhere near the $400 or so one recently-closed shopping site I bought a lot of JP games from, wanted for that game. )
Bono's Adventure and TMNT Tournament fighters for the NES have both went through the roof.
Tengen’s Tetris? I imagine it is quite collectible.
Thanks. I heard something about certain screw nes carts having special chips at a convention several years ago and thought this may be one sort of case.
@Smashfan502 Sorry, I updated my post with an apostrophe. Tengen was Atari’s NES development branch. They made an NES version of Tetris, but it was only in stores for about a month, because they got sued by Nintendo.
I've got a few digital games I've never opened...
@Tandy255 Thing is, in the month it was available, Tengen Tetris supposedly sold like 50k copies, which is probably still a higher seller than many third-party games.
@GameOtaku The only other case I think of a chip mattering is when there is a print variation and one is more usable by repro-makers.
Probably the situation where this would be most prevalent would be the Master System. Early on Sega made games with separate mapper and ROM chips, but later on produced custom ROM chips with the mapper embedded. Only the former are easily hackable.
@Silly_G Paying even much for sealed games is just as ridiculous, since those are only display pieces that you can't actually play.
My most desired rare game is the Donkey Kong Country Competition Cartridge. Shame that didn't get a mention.
@Trajan Yeah, unless you're a rich collector yourself, or you really want to keep fighting Mr. Tyson instead of Mr. Dream, that's a pretty easy decision to make with those "Punch-Out" carts, since you can just rebuy a digital version of the game for $5 on Wii U or 3DS or even play it on Switch for no extra cost if you have an NSO membership.
@BulbasaurusRex : I would prefer to pay a bit more for a sealed copy of an obscure game that I am interested in playing, but certainly not at the absurd amounts quoted above!
@BulbasaurusRex Yeah I already have it on my SNES classic. If the game was important to me I'd keep it, but I don't really care about the game.
Whoa... pretty sure I actually have a CIB Mike Tyson's Punch-Out packed away in a box somewhere. Time to go digging to see if it's the 5-screw variant. I know I kept that over the years though because of the fact that they quit making it with Tyson on it.
One of my finest days as a retro game collector was when I purchased a loose copy of Little Samson at a church rummage sale for $12. They mistook it for a religious game because it was in a plastic tub with games like Bible Adventures and King of Kings. At the same sale, I also picked up TWO sealed copies of Super Noah's Ark 3D for SNES.
Exactly! I remember dragging my mom all over town for a copy of Mega man X3 when it first released and nobody had it. I never did find a physical cart and I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay some scalper upwards of 500 dollars for it. I got no problem emulating in situations like this! Besides it's not like I'm making a profit off anothers work. I'm not selling the roms. I'm only playing them.
Ah dang, I had a copy of Mega Man X3 when I was a kid. Too bad I sold all my SNES games in 1996 to buy a Nintendo 64!
My friends rented a house and in basement was a link to the past snes in sealed box. He just gave it away with all the other games thinking old garbage
Why would Speed Racer be a pack-in game for a BIKE peripheral? Do you pedal to move the Mach 5?
It's crazy to think that I have two copies of the Mike Tyson's Punchout!! 5-screw version sitting on a shelf: one I got for my birthday and one my friend gave me when he didn't want all of his video game stuff anymore when we got to high school because it "wasn't cool" to play video games anymore at that age.
@Magician ,yes of course ..I have a Grey NWC..
@BulbasaurusRex ..I once had a copy of DKCC ,as well as Starfox SuperWeekend .I unfortunately long since sold them both ..
@darkswabber sorry to be the bearer of bad news ,but none of the games you mentioned are considered truly “rare “..At best the titles you named are uncommon..
@Desrever ..Yeah I have a Grey NWC Cart that is totally worthless ..😉
@DreamStar and I hate to break it to you but A PAL copy of symphony of the night Is among the rarest PAL ps1 games and jojo’s bizarre adventure all star battles is among the rarest ps3 games.
The others I mentioned where based on their average price and not their rarerity which indeed isn’t equal to eachother.
@darkswabber ..Well CV Symphony of the Night NTSC is pretty common and I am going with the rarity based on that ,since I am not a PAL collector ..I just checked several sources about the rarity of CV SOTN PAL ,that game is not listed on any PAL PSX rarity list .As for All Star Battles for the PS3 yes it is rare ,although not as rare as NBA Elite 11 for the PS3 .
Well written and to the point. I appreciate the detail in this article!
@Tandy255 ..It’s uncommon at best ..I have a copy ,it’s not super rare as once believed ..
@DreamStar Symphony of the Night NTSC is actually quite valuable as long as it’s not the “Hits” reprint. I have the original copy with the case. If mine was sealed it would be a couple hundred dollars but since mine is opened it is only worth about $100. It still works because I have played it recently on the old PS2 using the “backwards” function. As far as rare Nintendo games go my personal rarest is a physical copy of Yo-Kai Watch 3 3DS (NTSC). I found it for $5 in a bin at Walmart a few months ago only to find out that there wasn’t many physical copies made and that my game would have been in the $70 and up range had I not opened it lol.
@RabidPikachu ..The Saturn Version of the Game is actually more expensive than it’s American PS, counterpart ,which I own ..
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