Presented by Racketboy and G to the Next Level
The Sega CD was ahead of its time and didn’t quite get the support it deserved (although better than its sibling in the 32X). However, despite its reputation for Full-Motion-Video games and ports of Genesis/Megadrive games with CD audio tacked on, there are actually a handful of collectable titles (including some exclusives) in cult genres like RPGs and 2D shooters. These collectable genres and the relatively low print run, and the ultra fragile and often-lost/damaged manuals have driven complete copies of the Sega CD library to a bit of a premium.
Prices Current As of April 2018
In stark contrast to the Cheapest Games series, this Rare and Valuable 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 game disc by itself. The second price is the highest price in the past three months, which is for a complete copy of the game in good condition. 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.
Keio Flying Squadron: $355 – $1360
Even though the Sega CD was initially infamous for their Full-Motion Video (FMV) games, the optical add-on did end up getting some solid exclusives and ports for shoot-em-up fans and other old-school genres. One of the quirkiest and most imaginative shooters to hit the American shores for its time, JVC-published Keio Flying Squadron is a title that is quite sought after not just for the Sega CD collectors but for fans of the shmup genre. Keio stuck out from the crowd even more by its heavy use of Japanese culture throughout the game itself and on the box art, which at that period was normally repackaged in other ways to appeal to Western markets.
Starring a spry bunny girl named Rami riding atop of her pet flying dragon Spot (who can spawn mini-option shot dragons), they are on a mission to take out the super-intelligent raccoon army who stole their family’s “Special Holy Object,” whom of the raccoon army’s leader, Dr. Pon, has an IQ of 1400 and is apparently a member of Greenpeace. It’s even wackier than it sounds, and is only a fraction of what makes the game so charming.
Add in extremely colorful graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, addictive gameplay in the vein of Konami’s Parodius games, plus a very fair difficulty curve and there isn’t much wonder why it is high on so many Sega CD want lists. Unfortunately, the game has risen in value quite dramatically in the past few years. In the early aughts, Keio could be found for under $100. Around 2014 and 2015 the game started picking up steam as a big collectors piece with a range of $140 (disc only) to $700 for a pristine complete copy. Just in the last two years, we have seen some spiking in values, nearly doubling or tripling in that time. The game did get a sequel on the Sega Saturn but the developers changed it to an action/platformer and Rami appears in a puzzle party game on the PlayStation in Japan only.
Fun fact: As a promotion, JVC included a playable first level demo of Keio Flying Squadron in packaged copies of the UK’s Sega Pro magazine. However, the company haphazardly printed full copies of the game that players could unlock the remainder of the full game with a level select cheat code. This demo disc is becoming sought after for collectors as well.
Snatcher: $230 – $716
Snatcher is the classic example of a low-profile game that comes out during the final days of a short-lived console (actually an add-on in this instance) and is only discovered by hardcore gamers. Developed by Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear Solid fame) and his Konami teammates, Snatcher showcased an entertaining experience and creative cyberpunk story built upon strong sci-fi influences such as The Terminator and Blade Runner.
Instead of being a typical FMV game that was quite common on the Sega CD, Snatcher is similar to the graphical adventures of old on the PC (some gamers refer to it as a “digital comic”). Actually, it was originally released in Japan for the NEC PC–8801 and MSX2 computers in 1988. It later went on to be ported to other consoles, but the Sega CD version remains as the only English release. Released in late 1994 on the Sega CD, it didn’t actually get released on the Mega CD in Japan, but on the Playstation and Saturn a couple years later. Snatcher is widely regarded as groundbreaking for the adventure genre, in that it introduced visual novel characteristics to flesh out a deep back story. Snatched benefited from the CD medium with impressive sprite-based FMV’s and solid voice acting, as well as some excellent music, both in composition and quality.
After reviving the Metal Gear franchise on the Playstation in 1998, Kojima was brought more into the mainstream spotlight, his work on Snatcher started to get more attention. In the early 2000s, Snatcher started to become the main cult classic title that Sega CD fans started to talk about and was typically demanding the top prices (around $120 to $150 in early aughts) within the Sega CD library. After 2010, copies of Snatcher started hitting the $200 to $300 range before breaking into the $350 to $500 (or more for sealed) range these last few years.
The Space Adventure: $230 – $450
Following much of the same strategy as Konami did with Snatcher, Hudson’s brought over a digital comic/manga from on older platform (the PC Engine CD, in this case) and updated it for the Sega CD. The Space Adventure is based on the manga and anime series Cobra by Buichi Terasawa.
Space Adventure also happened to be one of the last games released on the Sega CD in North America and Europe, but never saw a Japanese Mega Drive release (much like Snatcher). The game has one of the smallest print runs, even compared to other niche Sega CD games. Most Sega fans never even saw this game show up much until the collecting scene started growing.
While this title may have risen out of obscurity with die-hard Sega CD collectors and it does have some redeeming characteristics such as graphical presentation and plot, it doesn’t quite match the production quality of Snatcher, despite its similarities. The dialogue and voice acting are laughable, even by mid–90’s standards.
Whereas Keio Flying Squadron wasn’t nearly as valuable in the early aughts, it was still on Sega CD fans’ radar as a solid shmup to pick up. The Space Adventure, however, didn’t get much exposure (as most people never saw it or played it) and it easily got overlooked due to the likes of Snatcher and Rise of the Dragon being solid graphical adventures for the platform. In the early aughts you could easily find the game for between $40 and $60 with it sometimes climbing to $100 to $170 between 2010 and 2014.
Popful Mail: $110 – $360 ($425 Sealed)
If you’re a fan of Japanese RPGs — especially on the Sega CD, Sega Saturn, and Playstation, you are probably familiar with the publisher, Working Designs. Their speciality was localizing cult hits from Japan that most US publishers wouldn’t take a risk on. They were passionate about their craft and it showed in both the production quality of the game and the physical media artwork and finish.
While Working Designs did bring over some games for the Turbo-Grafx–16, they really made their mark on the Sega CD. The most well-known work was the Lunar series (mentioned below), but Popful Mail is one of the quirkier and harder to find of their Sega CD releases.
At its core, Popful Mail is a 2D platformer / RPG hybrid that lets you switch between three different characters — each with their own health bar. The game is pretty, funny, and very quirky, and better yet, it made it out of Japan. With voice acting and anime-styled videos no less! If you’re a fan of titles like Ys or anime like Slayers, this is likely a title you’ll enjoy. It should be noted, the difficulty was toned up for the US release, so don’t expect it to be a cakewalk.
The Sega CD port of the Popful Mail remains the only English version of the game (it did get a Japanese port, but no PAL version), but it did see Japanese ports on the Super Famicom, PC Engine CD and Windows. It also originated on the PC–8801 (like Snatcher) and PC–9801.
Radical Rex: $100 – $290
This rather unoriginal platformer easily got lost in the mix among all the competition in 1994. However, even going back to visit Radical Rex, nobody was really missing out on much. Young children could possibly enjoy it, but the controls also troublesome at times.
Aside from the CD audio soundtrack, there are no real difference between the Sega CD version and its cartridge-based brethren on the Genesis. The game was only released on this CD format in North America, despite getting a Mega Drive version in Europe.
Despite this being one of the least interesting games on this list, it also seems to be one of the rarest as copies on eBay only have a completed sale once or twice a month (about half as often as Snatcher, but about on par with Space Adventure).
Earthworm Jim: Special Edition: $75 – $250
One of the most popular characters of the “‘tude” era of mascots, Earthworm Jim stood earthworm-above-shoulders on the rest with incredible visuals, endearing characters, and non-stop action. You never knew what was going to happen next when playing his game and it did incredibly well on Genesis and Super NES. It even spawned toys, a comic book, a cartoon series, and a sequel, Earthworm Jim 2, the year after it was released.
But before Jim could get beaten up by grannies in the sequel, he made a pit stop on the Sega CD with Earthworm Jim: Special Edition. This is essentially a beefed up port of the Genesis game, with a completely redone CD soundtrack, new animations, a new level called “Big Bruty,” and even alternate endings depending on what difficulty you play on.
All of these enhancements are exclusive to this version of the game, which is assumingly the main reason why it has grown in value over the years. However, it can definitely be said that Jim’s outing on the Sega CD is the definitive edition of the first game and has hovered around the $100 mark in CIB condition since the late 90s before jumping to the $150 to $200 range over the last two years.
Shining Force CD: $75 – $200 ($230 Sealed)
When the Sega CD’s entry into the Shining Force Strategy RPG series hit the shelves, it was at the height of the series’ popularity, so it’s completely understandable why Shining Force CD is so desired among fans of the genre.
A port of the two Shining Force Gaiden games on the Game Gear (only one of which was localized outside of Japan as The Sword of Hajya), Shining Force CD gave a lot of bang for your buck. A combination of easy-to-get-into yet complex grid-based combat with its trademark stylish battle cutscenes, the gameplay is incredibly addictive as “just one more fight-syndrome” definitely kicks in. It’s also a very fun game to grind and build your character levels up, which arguably wasn’t very common in strategy RPGs at the time. Guardiana, the world of the Shining Force series, also felt much more open here than in previous games on the Genesis.
The rather quiet release of the game (it was in 1995, after all), as well as the general low amount of RPGs on the Sega CD have made Shining Force CD quite covetable among gamers today. However, it is an absolutely solid entry into Sega’s iconic Strategy RPG series. Also, make sure to have a Sega CD backup RAM cart handy as you will need it to proper save across all the scenarios of the game.
Fatal Fury Special: $50 – $200
As much as everyone loved their Sega Genesis and Super Nintendos in the 90s, SNK’s Neo-Geo was the elite gaming console that perfectly replicated an arcade experience, with a handful of solid fighting games in their library. The Fatal Fury series was an early cornerstone franchise for SNK and the series did get some ports to other platforms. The Sega CD port benefited from niceties like the arcade intro, endings, and arcade-authentic audio, but it did suffer in graphical aspects like animation frames (and cutting scaling and parallax like the other 16-bit ports).
Fatal Fury Special also happened to be one of the rarest Sega CD games in the library, but as of recently has actually had less completed sales than the likes of Radical Rex. Copies of the game were going for a modest $20 to $40 up until 2015 when collectors started targeting those rarer pieces for their collection.
Lunar Eternal Blue: $70 – $180
Yes, RPGs are the main reason to pick up a Sega CD a decade after its release (Shmups are another solid genre). While it may not be the RPG wonderland that is the original Playstation or the SNES, it does have quite a few titles that will keep RPG fans entertained for many hours.
One of Working Designs’ first big projects was working on Lunar Silver Star (mentioned below), which was named Best RPG of 1993 by GameFan magazine, and eventually went on to become the #1 best-selling Sega CD title of all time. The sequel, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue was released late in the Sega CD’s lifespan, so it’s harder to come by. Much like Silver Star Story, the game is classic JRPG that will keep you busy for a long while. The recorded speech in the game alone runs for over an hour and a half. The game uses twice as much dialogue as its predecessor.
Both installments in the Lunar series saw enhanced “Complete” editions on the Sony Playstation (which hold some value in their own right) and digital downloads on the Playstation Network. Even with these “superior” versions, the original Sega CD installments have held their value rather well over the years. The Playstation versions may have prevented the Sega CD titles from reach values in Snatcher territory, but they are still a solid cornerstone of a Sega CD collection.
Lords of Thunder: $60 – 200
2D shooters are indeed one of the best genres to collect on the Sega CD, but they are also one of the most valuable. Lords of Thunder was originally released on the TurboGrafx–16 Super CD system (and known in Japan as Winds of Thunder on the PC Engine), but received a port to the Sega CD courtesy of Sega and Virgin Interactive in the tumultuous year of 1995. A pseudo-sequel to the PC Engine’s Gate of Thunder, Lords of Thunder artistically took the side-scrolling shmup action from a traditional sci-fi setting to a gorgeous fantasy medieval setting with a splash of steampunk mixed in for good measure.
The team behind Lords of Thunder was the Red Company (which later became Red Entertainment), who brought us the Bonk (PC Denjin) series, Tempo on the 32X, and other sought after releases such as Thousand Arms on the original PlayStation and Tezuka Osamu’s Blood Will Tell on the PlayStation 2.
It’s debatable whether it was a worthy successor to Gate of Thunder to some, but through it’s striking visuals, exciting boss battles, and its iconic heavy metal soundtrack, Lords of Thunder has earned a place atop shooter fanatics and Sega collectors alike. The Sega CD port may have taken a bit of a visual hit (and the sound effect volume drowns out the soundtrack somewhat), but was overall very well done. As a bonus, the music from the disc can be played in a CD player or can be ripped into mp3s so you can rock out to the killer soundtrack on the go.
Valuable Early-Release Cardboard
At the beginning of the Sega CD’s lifespan, games were released in cardboard boxes with a plastic tray and manual inside. Some of the boxes for these games are not only hard to find, but nearly impossible to find in mint condition. Below are some of the more collectable/rare titles of the bunch. We will list the disc-only prices for comparison, but we will also share a high and low range for complete copies of the games to give you an idea of the premiums for mint copies
- Wonder Dog – $15 (disc) $200-$500 (complete) (eBay)
- Rise of the Dragon (First Run) – $15 (disc) $50 – $355 (complete), $700 (sealed) (eBay)
- Night Trap (First Run) – $30 (discs), $70 – $300 (complete)(eBay)
- Final Fight CD – $30 (disc), $70 – $300 (complete) (eBay)
Additional Games of Value
- Robo Aleste: $28 – $160 (eBay)
- Lunar The Silver Star: $28 – $150 (eBay)
- Terminator: $50 – $140 ($152 sealed) (eBay)
- Wild Woody: $53 – $100 (eBay)
- Android Assault: $40 – $130 ($200 sealed) (eBay)
- Soulstar: $40 – $125 (eBay)
- Crime Patrol: $30 – $120 (eBay)
- Shadow of the Beast II: $50 – $98 ($143 sealed) (eBay)
- ESPN NBA Hang Time 95: $40 – 190 (eBay)
- Vay: $35 – $132 (eBay)
- Flink: $35 – $110 (eBay)
- Night Trap (Re-Release): $30 – $83 (eBay)
- Lawn Mower Man: $30 – $70 (eBay)
- Novastorm: $30 – $60 (eBay)
- Dungeon Explorer: $25 – $65 ($300 sealed) (eBay)
Read about how Brandon / supersparkster scored this Keio Flying Squadron and other great additions to his collection without killing his budget in our recent retro collecting interview.