The Rarest and Most Valuable NES Games
Considering how much of a nostalgic powerhouse the NES is, there should be little surprise that Nintendo’s 8-bit library is filled with so many collectors pieces. And opposed to the Super Nintendo’s rare and valuable list, the most desirable NES games are not necessarily the most popular games. Because of the unassuming nature of these titles, you may be unaware of the treasures that could be found in a local garage sale, flea market, or your own closet.
In stark contrast to the Cheapest Games series, this series will round up the rarest and most valuable games for a given console or handheld so you’ll know what to look for whether you are buying or selling. Below you will see two prices beside each title. The first is the average daily selling price, which is typically the going rate for the cartridge by itself. The second price is the highest daily selling price of recent history. The list is ordered by the balance of the two prices. Note that some of these games are not rare in the sense that there are not many available, but rare relative to demand, which makes the games expensive. It is also worth nothing that we are not including prototype cartridges.
Note: Values updated on May 25, 2010
Limited Edition Collectibles
|1990 Nintendo World Championships: Gold Edition: $15,000 – $21,000
In 1990, Nintendo famously held a gaming tournament in Los Angeles, California, not unlike the one in the finale of the cult classic film, The Wizard. While admittedly a mainstream competition (most of us could have won with no problem), the event was a high point in Nintendo’s glamorous reign at the top of the gaming market, and is remembered by many with great enthusiasm. After its promotion in the popular Nintendo Power and through the Powerfest tour, kids everywhere practiced feverishly in hopes of heading to this event, seeing the wonder of light and sound, playing some Rad Racer, and winning it all.The actual game is a timed compilation of three titles (Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer, and Tetris), each adjusted for the tournament, and containing a unique scoring system. The 1990 Nintendo World Championships: Gold Edition was the contest prize in one of Nintendo Power’s monthly promotions. One grand prize winner and twenty-five equally as fortunate runners-up were each sent a single copy (which makes 26 copies in the wild). What gives these competition cartridges an incredible dynamic is that, while so few copies exist, they were distributed to winners throughout all of North America. Many rare/prototype games and systems with this low of a production, had their entire allotment sent to or found in a single localized area.See Latest 1990 Nintendo World Championship Gold Cartridge on eBay
|1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge: $14,000 – $20,100
The 1991 Nintendo Campus cartridge was created by Nintendo for a video game competition like the Nintendo World Championships in 1990, but this one would tour college campuses and spring break hot spots. The cartridges had three games on them, Super Mario 3, PinBot, and Dr. Mario and a time limit of about 6 minutes. You tried to get the most points on all three games within the allotted time. After the event the games were all supposed to be destroyed but this one was found at an ex-Nintendo employee’s garage sale in 2006.
Up until recently, it was hard to pin down a value for this cartridge as it never really surfaced on the marketplace. It was recently sold privately for $14,000 and then later resold for $20,100 — bringing it just shy of the mark for the 1990 Gold Nintendo World Championship Cartridge.
See Latest 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge Cartridge sale on eBay
|1990 Nintendo World Championships: Grey Cartridge: $5,000 – $8,356
These essentially have the same story behind them as the Gold cartridge mentioned above. However, the more common grey cartridges were the ones actually used in the tournaments and were then given to each of the finalists. The grey carts had a print run of 90 and has a monochromatic label and, like a lot of EPROM exposed prototypes, has a hole in its casing, but for displaying dipswitches.
What is rather interesting about these cartridges is the fact that only about half of the cartridges have reportedly surfaced, so there are still more out there hidden in somebody’s closet, garage sale, or flea market. Even though these are cartridge-only releases, condition can be a large factor. A grey cartridge sold in December of 2012 on eBay for over $8300
See Latest 1990 Nintendo World Championship Grey Cartridge on eBay
Coveted Unlicensed Games
The NES had a number of unlicensed titles that didn’t receive the Nintendo Seal of Approval. Since most of them had a very limited release, it isn’t a surprise that many are worth quite a bit.
|Myriad 6 in 1: $700 – $2,900
The 6-in-1 Myriad cart and its sibling, the Caltron 6-in-1 (see below) have become some of the more standout collector’s items on the Nintendo Entertainment System. As the name suggests, they are a collection of 6 games, which are about as good as you’d expect from an independent, unlicensed title.While the games themselves was released many times, these actual carts were released twice, the other time from Caltron, who reportedly went bankrupt during it’s production. Myriad Games would later acquire the leftover carts, shipping them out in a new box, and with a numbered label for the price of $69. That sum might have seemed steep then, but it would be a steal for that today. While it might be slightly outdated information, a Digital Press posting lists #888 is the highest number found, so it’s unlikely that more than a thousand exist.
Two copies (one sealed and one complete in box) were listed for $4,500 and $3,120 respectively, but neither received bids for those asking prices
Look for Myriad 6 in 1 on eBay
|6-in-1 (Caltron): $525 – $2080
The original Caltron 6-in-1 release is about equally as hard to find as the Myraid 6 in 1, but generally commands a tad less. It is worth noting that there have been a number of suspected counterfiets showing up on eBay recently and usually sell for about $150. (looking at the feedback shows the sellers have been selling multiple copies). Most recently, a loose copy has sold for over $1,000.
Look for Caltron 6 in 1 on eBay
|Bubble Bath Babes: $500 – $1,275
Peek A Boo Poker: $705 – $1,352
Hot Slots: $605 – $1,352
The games from adult publisher, Panesian, obviously didn’t meet Nintendo’s strict content guidelines. And even without the whole Seal of Approval business, the chances of your average retailer carrying the games would be pretty slim. So what was Panesian (the publisher) to do? Ship it only to video stores as a mail-order release. I’m not sure it can be said how many copies are out there, but it is presumably less a thousand.It is very easy to imagine, even with the game’s immense rarity, that you could walk into a flea market, thrift shop or video store and discover one of these games hidden away for a dollar. Why is that? The game wasn’t packaged in the cardboard box typical of most NES releases, but rather in a VHS-esque movie case.The copies still left unclaimed for are most likely shoved in with regular old moviesrather than games, meaning there are plenty of unsearched places to look for it.Bubble Bath Babes is a puzzle game featuring an 8-bit rendered, unclothed female at the bottom of the screen. Peek A Boo Poker and Hot Slots are your standard poker and slot machine games with extra “character” so to speak.Judging from the cover art, I think we all have an idea of what kind of video store might still contain it…but a grail is a grail, and this one goes for over half a grand, so don’t hesitate to uncover a copy for yourself (or for eBay).The prices for each of these games seems to be skyrocketing over the last few years.Just a few years ago, you could find these pop up on eBay for $500 or less. Since then they have nearly doubled in price if recent successful eBay auctions are any indication. I have not seen a completed auction of Bubble Bath Babes in a while, but that is not surprising as it is considered the rarest and most valuable of the trio. Considering the recent prices of both Peek A Boo Poker and Hot Slots, one could come to the conclusion that a complete copy of Bubble Bath Babes could raise more than $1400.If you want to get a landmark NES collection off to a good start, here are all three in one auction.Check for Bubble Bath Babes on eBay
Check for Peek A Boo Poker on eBay
Check for Hot Slots on eBay
|Cheetahman II: $400 – $503
Thinking back to the early 1990s, you can probably easily recall how incredibly popular the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were (at least in the US). The Cheetahman franchise was a relatively bizzare attempt to capitalize on the idea of humanoid animal action heroes. (I guess those at Active Enterprises thought it sounded like a good idea). In addition to the unlicensed Nintendo games, the publisher actually had high hopes of cashing in with action figures, t-shirts, a cartoon TV show before the word spread of the the series’ lack of quality.Despite the franchise’s lackluster performance a second installment of Cheetahmen was completed, although not officially released. Eventually, but 1997 all of the reported 1,500 copies of the game left their warehouse and were sold to the public. However, once people actually played the game, they realized there was more to its cancellation than it’s namesake. To this day it is known as one of the most unplayable games of all time.
Check for Cheetahmen II on eBay
Treasured Standard USA Releases
|Stadium Events: $1,800 – $8,800
What makes this otherwise standard game so rare, is that just after its release, it was recalled. As an official third party title, Stadium Events made use of an accessory called the Family Fun Fitness Pad. It required the player(s) to run or step rapidly in order to complete each event. Upon its release, Nintendo decided to grant the game a first party production, recalling the scant initial cartridges that had been sent out.The game would later become “World Class Track Meet” and would be played with Nintendo’s own controller the “Power Pad”. Both became very common and were boxed-in with many NES consoles. But Stadium Events, the original anomaly, had snuck out in ever so limited numbers. 2000 copies is believed to have been the total distribution tally, but doesn’t consider how many of those were sold prior to Nintendo’s recall. Some have suggested that no more than 200 actually made it into NES owners’ homes. It should be noted that PAL versions were not recalled and are not worth as much (even though many eBay sellers try to pass them off as rarities)
Check for Stadium Events on eBay
|Bubble Bobble Part 2: $100 – $340
If you’re an old-school gaming fan, it is hard not to love the Bubble Bobble franchise. The original is a common mainstay in the NES library, but Bubble Bobble Part 2 was released in 1993 which was very late in the NES’s life span. Two years after the SNES was released actually. Because of this the game never sold very well and became very rare.
Check for Bubble Bobble Part 2 on eBay
Check for Bubble Bobble Part 2 on Amazon
|Little Samson: $90 – $200
Little Samson is a gem of a platformer developed by Taito to try and mimic the huge success of other platforming games on the NES. Even though it did a good job in terms of graphics and gameplay, it didn’t quite have the marketing power to prevent it from selling poorly. Now that NES fans are delving back into the large library looking for Hidden Gems, Little Samson has risen in value.
Check for Little Samson on eBay
Check for Little Samson on Amazon
|The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak: $120 – $250
As the NES era drew to a close, publishers like Taito released many of their games exclusively to game rental companies while bypassing the traditional retail market. The Flintstones II is the best example of this in the US, but is a bit easier to find in Europe. Of course, since it was primarily a rental game, finding a complete copy in good condition is especially challenging.
Check for Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak on eBay
Check for Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak on Amazon
|Bonk’s Adventure: $60 – $250
While it was know primarily for being the leading franchise on the TurboGrafx-16, Bonk also received a release on the NES. This rather limited release didn’t get much attention on this original publication of this list in 2008, as it was selling for between $30 and $60 at the time. However, the selling prices have more than doubled since then and a complete copy has sold for $250.
Check for Bonk’s Adventure on eBay
Check for Bonk’s Adventure on Amazon
|Snow Brothers: $49 – $150
Snow Brothers is an arcade port that is very similar to Bubble Bobble in terms of style. The game did not sell very well despite its solid gameplay. In fact, Ocean had licensed the game for the Amiga and Atari ST but canceled the games part way through development because of perceived bad sales.
Check for Snow Brothers on eBay
Check for Snow Brothers on Amazon
|Fire ‘N Ice: $45 – $153
Fire N Ice is the sequel to the NES favorite, Solomon’s Key (and is called Solomon’s Key 2 in Europe and Japan). Like many rare NES games, it was released in after the NES lost popularity and did not sell well. The name change in the US probably didn’t help any either. However, once again, releasing an NES game in 1993 was a recipe for creating a collector’s item.
Check for Fire N Ice on eBay
Check for Fire N Ice on Amazon
|Duck Tales 2: $42 – $130
Duck Tales 2 is the sequel to the original Duck Tales game on the NES and is, of course, based on the Disney TV series that many of us grew up with. The single biggest determinant in the game being hard to find now and a collector’s item, it was released in 1993. I wish I was still buying NES games back in 1993 instead of moving onto the SNES and Genesis.
Check for Duck Tales 2 on eBay
Check for Duck Tales 2 on Amazon
|Stack Up (Complete): $160 – $248
Remember R.O.B. The Robot? Gyromite may be the most popular game to play with the NES’s early companion, but Stack Up was yet another option for our friend. I’m putting this on the bottom of the list because the game itself isn’t very rare (can be found for about $15), but it is very hard to find in complete condition due to all the pieces that were included.
Check for Stack Up on eBay
Check for Stack Up on Amazon
|Pro Sport Hockey: $25 – $140
Here is your rarest and most valuable widely released sports game on the NES. Pro Sport Hockey is the only NHLPA licensed game on the NES, and standalone games go from $30-$40. Complete copies of the game have received a lot of action in recent auctions and can run from $130 to $150.
Check for Pro Sport Hockey on eBay
Check for Pro Sport Hockey on Amazon
|Dragon Warrior IV: $35 – $120
Dragon Warrior IV is the final NES installment of the popular Enix RPG series. The game was another classic case of a game coming out too late in the NES’s life to sell very well. The game received much critical praise when it was released. As a matter of fact, Nintendo Power rated it the 2nd best game of the year. The best sale of recent history was this complete and pristine copy that went for nearly $130. Keep in mind, that isn’t sealed — a sealed copy would go for far more – especially since it is part of such a popular franchise. However, since the release of a DS remake in 2008, the value of this game has done down significantly — falling out of the top 10. (We’ve bumped it down, but kept it on the list for documentation)
Check for Dragon Warrior IV on eBay
Check for Dragon Warrior IV on Amazon
The Rarest Japanese Famicom Games
I don’t have a ton of information or pictures from the wonderful world of Famicom games, but here are the most treasured Famicom and Famicom Disk games via this thread at Famicom World. Most of these were issued as prizes for game competitions. The values are primarily from Japanese transactions on Yahoo! Auctions. If you would like more information and pictures of some of these check out this article.
- Kinnikuman Muscle Tag Match Golden Tag Cartridge (8 Made) $7328 – $9770
- Rockman 4 Gold Cartridge (8 Made) $5370 – $5765
- Uranoid Ii (300 Made) – $4885
- Obake No Q Tarou Wan Wan Panic Present Version (100 Made) $1759 – $3900
- Meimon ! Daisan Yakyuubu Gold Cartridge: $2440
The Rarest Japanese Famicom Disk Games
- Wakusei Aton Gaiden Kokuzeikyou$290 – $1,000
- Clu Clu Land $1,000 – $3,200
- Gold Disk (Japan Course) + Plate (100 Made)
- Alien II
- Zelda No Densetsu Charumera Version : $1000
- All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros (3000 Made) $830 – $1280
Additional Rare & Valuable PAL NES Games
- Mr. Gimmick: $600 – $750
- Vindicators (Australian HES version) : $600 – $710
- The Flintstones: Surprise At Dinosaur Peak: $600 – $750
- Jetsons: Cogwell’s Caper: $ $300 – $400
- Parasol Stars: $50 – $80
- Banana Prince: $45 – $75
- Noah’s Ark: $35 – $60
The Rarest USA Games At Affordable Prices
Each of these games have a rarity rating greater than 6, but routinely sell for less than $30. If you are an NES collector and see a boxed or sealed copy of any of these on eBay for a low price, you might want to snatch them up — you may never see them again.
- Wacky Races: $11 – $15
- The Jungle Book: $5 – $7
- Nobunaga’s Ambition II: $16 – $30
- Puzznic: $5 – $10
- Ms. Pac-Man: $12 – $20
- Race America: $4 – $6
- The Jetsons Cogswell’s Caper: $14 – $20
- Qix: $14 – $20
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: $6 – $10
- Jimmy Connors Tennis: $5 – $25
- Galaxy 5000: $8 – $12
- Hatris: $6 – $8
- Swamp Thing: $9 – $20
- Cowboy Kid: $16 – $23
Additional US NES Games of Value
These games aren’t especially rare, but are quite collectible regardless resulting in a high resale value, especially for complete, boxes copies.
- Action 52 (Unlicensed): $100 – $190
- Panic Restaurant – $80 – $180
- Menace Beach (Unlicensed): $80 – $139
- Secret Scout (Unlicensed): $56
- Contra Force: $40 – $130
- Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom: $40 – $110
- Dragon Warrior II: $20 – $80
- RC Pro-AM II: $38 – $50
- Bomberman II: $37 – $50
- Mario Time Machine: $33 – $50
- Bandit Kings of Ancient China: $30 – $50
- Dusty Diamond All-Star Softball: $35 – $40
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters: $25 – $40
- L’Empereur: $32 – $34
- Ultima Warriors of Destiny: $32 – $35
- Faria: $31 – $50
- Dragon Warrior III: $29 – $101
Credits: Rarity scores are courtesy of my friends at DigitalPress.