The Cheapest Nintendo NES Games Worth Your Time

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When you add a console to your collection, the first thing you want to do is get a handful of games to keep you busy with your new toy. However, most of us can’t spend afford to spend fat pile of cash for a few games. This budget-friendly list should help you quickly find which games will start you off well without emptying your wallet. (Prices listed are an average eBay price for US games, including shipping)
Check out the other Cheapest Games Worth Your Time articles

Cheap Classics

Super Mario Bros. & Duck Hunt: $3
marioduckhunt-cover.jpg This has to be one of the most common game cartridges of all time. It is probably also one of the most loved cartridges of all time as well as it contains two essential NES classics. This game pack came with nearly every NES sold and use game stores were quickly littered with a number of copies. If you buy this online, you are essentially paying for only the shipping.
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Super Mario Bros 3: $5
Considered by some to be the best Super Mario game ever and one of the best selling games of the era, Super Mario Bros 3. is incredibly common, but is essential for any platformer fan.
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Super Mario Bros 2: $5
While the non-Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was quite a departure from the rest of the Mario series, it still holds a special place in the hearts of many NES fans.
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Metroid: $6
The beginning of one of Nintendo most epic franchises is an inexpensive piece of Nintendo history. Metroid provided one of the first highly nonlinear game experiences on a home console and gave adventure-filled, shooting platformer gameplay laid a solid foundation for the series.
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Castlevania Series: About $5 each
Much like Metroid, the Castlevania series is one of the deepest franchises to start on the NES. It is also one of the few to still have a long legacy of 2D descendants that still have showed up on modern gaming machines. Each installment of the NES Castlevania trilogy can be purchased for about $5 each (about $4, $5, and $7 respectively)
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The Legend of Zelda: $7
Not only was The Legend of Zelda one of Nintendo’s earth-shattering games of the 1980’s, but it also was released as that unforgettable gold cartridge.
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Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out: $9
Even though the gameplay is rather simplistic (but challenging) combination of pattern recognition, memorization, and quick reflexes, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out remains a iconic classic that is still loved decades after its release. Luckly, Punch-Out just squeezes under the $10 threshold.
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Tetris: $5
The grand-daddy of puzzle games in one of it’s purest forms. It may have been experienced more on the original Gameboy, but for a few dollars, you can’t go wrong with the NES version if you are building a collection.
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Bionic Commando: $5
If you need an action platformer that thinks outside the Metroid/Castlevania/Megaman formulas, check out Capcom’s wonderful Bionic Commando. You have a bionic arm that extends and contracts that allows you to grab on to fixed objects to swing around and climb up levels. This will become obviously valuable when you realize you can’t jump.
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Crystalis: $9
In SNK’s Crystalis, the mechanics and story are best described as the precursor of SNES’s Zelda:A Link to the Past. Despite its high graphical and gameplay quality, Crystalis never became a runaway hit, although it is considered today a cult classic.
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Megaman 3: $8
The long-running Megaman series planted its roots on the NES, but the third installment is the only one to be easily obtained for less than $10.
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Kirby’s Adventure: $8
This inventive platformer showed off what the NES could do graphically and what the masterminds at HAL Laboratory could come up with to avoid becoming just another run-and-jump game.
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Battletoads: $5
Rare filled this side-scrolling brawler with levels that have different play styles and impressive 8-bit graphics, resulting in a fun-filled game that avoids being repetitive. And while Battletoads was extremely challenging at times, the gameplay was top-notch as a great cooperative experience with friends.
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Blaster Master: $5
Blaster Master was a wonderful hybrid of side-scrolling action and overhead Zelda-like exploration. If you want a good gaming value that takes a step out of the most famous Nintendo games, Blaster Master is highly recommended.
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Excitebike: $5
A perfect example of a simplistic game that actually requires some skill and strategy to really excel. Excitebike is one of the few 8-bit racers to still be relevant today.
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RC Pro Am: $6
Speaking of relevant 8-bit racers, RC Pro-Am would definately fall into that category as well. Rareware’s classic racer is full of vehicle upgrades, weapons, and all sorts of goodies that keep things entertaining. The animation is also quite impressive for the era.
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Other Cheap Favorites

My Starter Picks For $50 Budget

If I only had $50 to spend on starting out an NES collection, here would be my top picks (in order of priority):

  • Super Mario Bros. & Duck Hunt: $3
  • Super Mario Bros 3: $5
  • Super Mario Bros 2: $5
  • Tetris: $5
  • Metroid: $6
  • Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out: $9
  • Legend of Zelda: $7
  • Blaster Master: $5
  • Battletoads: $5
  • Total: $50

27 Comments

  1. bonefish says:

    Ducktales hell yeah!

  2. Davs says:

    A few months ago, I’d have been annoyed that Kid Icarus didn’t get a mention. But then I downloaded it on Virtual Console and found that the nostalgia I held for the game was far greater than the game itself. Anyway, Tecmo Bowl might be one worth mentioning, too. It’s primitive as hell, but still good fun (unless you’re playing against someone using Chicago). And I’m glad to see Kirby’s Adventure on the list. I missed that one back in the day, having moved on to the greener pastures of the Genesis before it came out. But I also downloaded that on VC, and I’d have to say it’s probably the best NES game I’ve downloaded.

  3. racketboy says:

    Besides what you said, Kid Icarus can reach more than $10 many times. I was being a little pickier on the prices this time around since there are a LOT of cheap NES games that are good.

    I was really close to including Tecmo Bowl, but it just didn’t make the cut since I wanted to keep this one rather brief.

  4. aaron says:

    i got that smb/duck hunt cart for a dime at a flea market.

  5. Kate says:

    I’ve been a loyal Nintendo for years now and I was surprised that you didn’t add Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to this list. Excellent choices though.

  6. cowgod says:

    where are people getting these games so cheap? there’s a used game shop where i live and they are asking $20 for smb 3! i can’t imagine trying to go yard sale hunting because it will cost more in gas than any money i would save and ebay doesn’t seem to have prices that cheap.

    what am i missing?

  7. racketboy says:

    Sounds like those places are asking way too much — they probably don’t sell many of them.

    eBay alone is a good place to start — just use the links I have up above

  8. cowgod says:

    well, i may need to retract my previous statement somewhat… i visited the shop i mentioned today and found some games that seemed reasonable. smb 3 was only $15 and not $20 as i said (even though i still think that’s too much). i saw some others that were $5 such as crystalis and ninja gaiden. i guess i just need to take your recommended price list with me to see if i can barter some. 🙂

  9. bbadeau says:

    You can still find inexpensive NES carts around (at least around here in the Willamette Valley, Oregon 🙂 but it does take some looking. Goodwills still tend to be a good choice as well as some game traders (like Game Crazy here locally). I get some items on EBay but the problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a base line for pricing. The same game can sell for $5 or $25. From my experience it would be difficult to get the games in your list for $50 or less on EBay. The price you mention is pretty close but does not consider the Shipping and Handling charges that can double the price.

  10. racketboy says:

    Actually, the prices I listed did inlude shipping prices as that is a major consideration. Perhaps prices have increased since then — I’ll need to update these in the near future.

    Thanks!

  11. Jon says:

    Duck Hunt Factory sealed $150.00

    Super Mario Bros. Factory sealed $200.00

    I want there to be those Video Games

  12. Ziggy587 says:

    Whaaaat? Kirby should be in the starter picks! That’s one of my favorite NES games!

  13. ian says:

    for peoplefindig that games are more than these prices, that is because they are probably a) misinformed (ie: because it’s old it’s worth
    money) or b) they are chanrging a collectors price. for example at a game shop zelda will usually be around $30, but at a salvation army you can find one for $3.00.

    good places to look are:

    thrift shops (salvation army, value village)
    garage sales
    flea markets
    classified sites like http://www.craigslist.com or http://www.kijiji.com

    also ask around at work or school, or ask family members,

    using these teqniques I have gathered over 250 nes games, aswell as other games like snes, atari, etc, almost 1000 games total, in under 2 years.

    hope this helps somebody

  14. Macster85 says:

    It does help me a lot, but do you know about any value villages in California? (Central Valley more specifically)

  15. At least Racketboy knows how much the NES Zelda is worth. Play N Trade wanted 40 bucks for it LOOSE.

  16. Frop says:

    i never liked crystalis because it just threw you into a boss battle right at the beginning.

  17. Kizul Emeraldfire says:

    Where’s Zelda II: The Adventure of Link? D: It’s one of the least-liked Zelda games (“Side-scrolling dungeons? In MY Zelda game?”) from what I’ve heard from people, anyway, but it was the first Zelda game to have a magic system, as well as certain items and enemies that appeared in later Zelda games, such as the Boots (which allowed Link to float over water), which probably later became the Pegasus Boots, and were possibly expanded upon as The Ocarina of Time’s Hover Boots (which allowed you to walk on air for a few seconds), along with the Cross, which allowed Link to see invisible enemies (sorta like an early version of the Lens of Truth). Plus, it had the first appearance of Shadow Link, the awesomest (and last) boss in the game! 😀

  18. name says:

    Anyone know of where I could buy like a 42 in 1 NES game? I used to have one, and I’m trying to buy another one

  19. Leilani Wilson says:

    Amazon is by far one of the best shopping sites I’ve found online. Prices for games are cheaper than even listed above and I’ve never had any problems with shipping or payments. Def check them out if you’re looking for cheap games or systems. Also my fav NES game is def Friday the 13th!! Still gets my heart racing when Jason comes for you..lol

  20. JBOGames says:

    Frop, there is no boss battle at the begging of Crystalis. You have to get a sword, find a flute, awake a windmill guard, get the refresh magic, level up to be strong enough to fight cave enemies, find a ball of wind, level up again to be strong enough for the boss, then you fight the boss. If going through 4 areas, and having to level up as a requirement, and unlock areas, is right at the begging of the game, then you really are playing some boring ass games.

  21. MJongo says:

    Why buy Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt when you can get the almost equally common Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt/World Class Track Meet at the same price?

  22. NESFan says:

    Are these values for just the cartridges? How much more if you want the booklet/instruction manual and/or box?

  23. racketboy says:

    Yeah, it’s for the carts. A complete copy can more than double the price at times — many people threw away the boxes and manuals (and cardboard got beat up), so they are getting hard to find.

  24. This list proves that the NES is one of the cheapest and easiest consoles to collect for if you’re not worried about the boxes and since they were flimsy cardboard I rarely care about them.

    You can find the best games at just about ever flea market or completely littering ebay.

    If you’re just getting into collecting retro games you should go with your favorite console first but if that console isn’t the NES, NES collecting makes a great side project especially since most clone systems work pretty well to hold you over until you can get a real NES.

  25. Romeu says:

    Found this website (and this article) today. Very interesting read. However these prices are very outdated. Even if you’re just looking for the cart you won’t be able to get them for 5$ (let’s also say 5€ since I’m from Europe … I know it’s not 1:1 exchange rate)
    Getting them CIB then you’re talking at least 10x more. I have a Final Fantasy CIB and I wouldn’t even dream of selling it for under 100$.