Presented by Racketboy and G to the Next Level
Are you wondering if your Sega Genesis collection has any valuable treasures in it? This month we take a look at Sega’s most popular console of all time and its most desired games. Since the console wasn’t a huge success in Japan, we will find quite a few rarities in its library, but there are some other gems from the rest of the world as well.
Prices Current As of March 2021
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 cartridge by itself. The second price is the highest price in the past three months, which is usually for a gem mint copy with manuals included, etc. (Sealed game values, when available will be listed beside in parenthesis). The list is ordered by the balance of the two cartridge-only and mint 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.
Over the last few years we’ve seen certain titles rise out from under the radar to become big collectors pieces. We have also seen the values of completed copies rise quite nicely. If you have had a nice library for some time, you should see some nice increases in overall value, but if you’re just getting started, things are starting to get pricey. Since we’re seen some fluctuations, I’ve kept in some of the past values from previous revisions so you can see the changes and we have some historical reference.
Limited Edition Collectibles
These picks range from the unreleased or unlicensed games that found their way into collectors hands to rarity box sets that saw limited production before “Limited Edition” was commonplace.
Tetris: $16,000 – $30,000
This elusive variant of the classic puzzle game was developed alongside Sega’s System-16 arcade version, but never reached shelves after legal bullying from Nintendo over exclusive console rights. Sega had the Megadrive console port completed and seemed to have started production of the Japanese cartridges in 1989, but ended up scrapping what came off the assembly line.
Interestingly enough, Wikipedia currently claims it was “estimated that only between 5 and 8 copies were produced.”. Anyone that is familiar with manufacturing production can guess that what really happened was that a bigger production run (probably in the thousands) were put out (the costs of setting up the run wouldn’t have nearly covered a super-small run) but then management told staff to destroy what was produced to avoid legal issues. What most likely happened was that some crew members smuggled a few units out the door and just a few still survive in the wild. Apparently, there are about 10 copies known to be floating around.
One of the most well-known original copies of the Megadrive port was put for auction in 2011 at an ambitious starting bid of $1 million (right up there with the $500K auction for Atari 2600’s Gamma Attack.). Granted, the case was autographed by Tetris creator, Alexey Pajitnov (still alive so autograph shouldn’t add too much value), but it’s still more about about getting exposure than actually looking to part ways with the goods. The owner of that cartridge paid 11,000 Euro (approx. $13,000 USD) back in 2008. He also mentioned back in 2011 that he turned down two offers of 12,000 GBP (about $20,000 USD). With the retro market heating up, a complete copy that shows strong legitimacy should sell for $30,000 or even more.
Outback Joey: $2,000 – $8,000
Before the Wii Fit, there were some attempts to tie in fitness training and motivation in with video games. Outback Joey was one piece of the effort on the Sega Genesis (see also the Extertainment game combo on the SNES)
Outback Joey itself a respectable-looking platforming game in which the player’s heartbeat and motion controls the speed of Joey, the kangaroo in the game. The game was only bundled with the Heartbeat Personal Trainer (which, in of itself is a rare variation of the Sega Mega Drive console — see video) exclusively in North America. The Heartbeat Personal Trainer can run any NTSC Genesis games, but came bundled motion sensors that tied into supported games.
The Outback Joey game cartridge was never sold separately as it required the Personal Trainer’s fitness controllers and this set only had a production run of 1000 units. Sometimes, you may see an Outback Joey game cartridge sold by itself on the aftermarket, but that would imply that there was a Personal Trainer unit that either got lost or damaged. There is not a standalone box for the Outback Joey game. It had a manual, but the only box is for the Heartbeat Personal Trainer console and controls itself.
Before 2010, there were a few bare cartridges floating around under the radar under $100 as the game/set wasn’t especially apparent to mainstream Genesis collectors. Around 2012/2013, the set got more attention and sets started to demand over $1000 and cartridges had been selling for $150 to $400.
The last six years, there has been one unit surfacing on eBay each year. In 2015, a copy of the game along with the Personal Trainer and box sold for $1950. The next year, in 2016, a bare cartridge of Outback Joey sold for $2025. In 2017, however, a complete copy of the Personal Trainer and Outback Joey sold for $7000 and again for $8000 in 2021. In 2021, another cart cartridge sold for $2000. So, it seems that cartridges are holding pretty steady, but those complete copies are quite the treasure.
Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II: $2,500 – $5,000
Much like the competition carts mentioned in the NES and SNES rare and valuable lists, Blockbuster World Championships II is a special promotional cartridge developed by Acclaim that was utilized in various Blockbuster stores during a contest they held to see who could get the most points in truncated versions of NBA Jam and Judge Dredd to compete for prizes. In the case of this Genesis game, the cartridge was never meant to be distributed.
While there was said to be 67 of these units produced, the current estimates are that only a few known copies of these Blockbuster cartridges remaining, so they may be even more rare than the NES World Championship cartridges. However, they don’t quite have as exciting of a story behind it (ever watch “The Wizard”?).
The Genesis cart is actually more similar to the Super Nintendo Championship cartridge featuring Donkey Kong Country. However, unlike its SNES counterpart which could be won by contestants, Acclaim’s cartridge was ordered to be destroyed after use, drastically cutting down on the number of surviving legit cartridges. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s boring, small-text label isn’t exactly as inviting as the graphical labels of its peers.
A copy of the Blockbuster cartridge was sold in 2015 for $3,000 on eBay. At one point, bidding got up to $3,500 but a buyer fell through. This shows a nice increase from our previous estimate was $1,600 to $2,500 in 2013. Also, one copy was spotted on an auction on Goodwill’s website for 2 Genesis consoles, a couple controllers and 6 games — one of which was the Blockbuster competition cartridge. The auction closed for over $10,000, but its hard to know if the transaction was completed. Now, in 2021, you can find one listed on eBay (not sold) with an asking price of $25,000.
Ecco The Dolphin Box Set: $210 – $1500
Most Sega fans are well aware of the underwater, puzzle-filled adventure, but you most have probably never seen this rarity. According to an old Sega Force magazine, Sega made a deal with a London aquarium which housed a real dolphin named Ecco that would be benefited by the proceeds.
This beautiful box set was sold in very limited quantities in a handful of shops. In addition to the game, the box set included a handful of items including an Ecco t-shirt, an audio cassette tape, and a certificate among other things.
A complete box set sold for about $1300 USD on eBay back in 2011 but again only sold for $280 in 2012 (the box set was missing the CD and T-Shirt) (Check out more pictures of the set here)
Sega released a limited collector’s version of this game for the Mega Drive in Australia, most likely due to the character’s popularity there. In addition to this hidden gem of game (it has a good Metroidvania vibe to it), the box set contained a set of the Phantom Glow Zone stickers and a Phantom key-ring.
This set doesn’t show up very often — especially in complete and pristine condition. With the regional limitations and the relatively low-profile contents, it’s not surprising that complete copies didn’t really stick around people’s homes. There is a pretty solid-looking copy up for sale on eBay (in the Spring of 2021) with the asking price of 2000 GBP / $3800 USD. It may have a couple dings on the box, but it has all the inserts, key chain and all that goodness.
Maximum Carnage Box Set: $450 – $1000
Who says that there isn’t anything worthwhile on QVC? Apparently there were 5,000 copies of this Maximum Carnage box set made and they were sold (perhaps exclusively) on the QVC home shopping TV channel. This particular box set has a polished presentation and included lapel pins and a book containing the first few issues of the Maximum Carnage comic that the game was based on.
Sealed versions of the set had sold for about $400 before our 2013 guide revision and opened copies sold for $160 to $300 range shortly after. Even though this Maximum Carnage Box set seems much more common than the Phantom 2040 set above, we have seen some growth in the interest of this box set and the values have started to challenge the Phantom set. In late 2020, we saw a few complete copies of the Maximum Carnage set. One sealed set sold for $1,000, while opened copies sold for $450 and $500 each.
Recent Growth of North American Retail Games
Following the trend of the NES, SNES, and some other mainstream retro consoles with high historical and nostalgic value, we are seeing a strong increase in complete and mint values. Loose cartridges are also increasing significantly, but it’s been surprising on how comparatively fewer complete games are entering the resale market.
There has been an especially strong premium on rather rare games that also have a cardboard box variant as long as that box is in great condition. As a Genesis fan, I always tried to shy aware from those cardboard boxes as they are a pain to keep looking nice (and I just liked the protective value and sharp look of the hard cases).
Despite being less than four full years since our last guide revision, I noticed a lot of ranking shifting with the North American retail releases. So our of curiosity, I decided to chart out the major movers. In the chart below I compared the average pricing between the different the average loose price levels for a game and their highest mint copy sale during the time frame. I compared those averages between our November 2017 guide and this March 2021 guide to calculate the value growth percentage. If you’d like to see the full 2017 guide for comparison, I have made it available to my Patreon members. (Only $1 of support or more is needed to access)
After the chart, we will dig into the details of the top North American, Japanese, and PAL Sega Genesis/MegaDrive games — we have a lot to cover!
Treasured Standard USA Releases
Crusader of Centy: $400 – $3000
Not only did this game rise from relatively obscurity over the past decade, but it has overtake the might MUSHA as the top grail in the North American Genesis library.
Crusader of Centy is an Action RPG that has the look and feel of an old-school Zelda game with a more youthful sense of style, but still containing a challenge. Originally published as Ragnacenty in Japan (and Soleil in PAL regions) by Sega but published in the US by Atlus, Crusader of Centy also presents a compelling narrative that touches on moral issues and pulls at heart strings.
Altus is known for doing smaller print runs for some of its earlier games and this one is no different, commanding a higher price tag than other similar Megadrive Action RPGs, such as Light Crusader or LandStalker. Usually their games have a bit more of a cult following after them, but Crusader is a bit more low profile — just gradually creeping up in value until taking off after being featured in our 2013 guide – increasing almost 400% between 2013 and the 2017 guide revision (putting it at #2 ranking at the time with a $140-$580 range). The rise was just getting started though as the next four years (2017-2021) saw another 375% overall increase.
As impressive as that last increase is, it should be noted that much of that increase calculation is from mint values of the sensitive cardboard box that the game was sold in during the later Genesis years. The highest-priced mint copy we saw was only $580 back in 2017. Now, gem mint copies are up 417% from there.
It’s interesting, in recent auctions, a beat up cardboard box doesn’t offer a huge premium over a bare cartridge that is in good condition. It’s also worth mentioning that a manual on its own is worth a few hundred dollars. So a lot of the “cheaper” boxed listings are because they are missing a manual. Same goes for the condition of the inner insert that is designed to hold the cartridge inside the cardboard box (although, nothing stops a seller from swapping in a better-condition insert from another cardboard-boxed Genesis game. Anyway, completist Genesis collectors have been raising the stakes for this retail rarity.
M.U.S.H.A.: $190 – $1,500
Shmup fans are always willing to pay good money for a quality shooter and on the Genesis, MUSHA is main target on the platform. The game earns its strong reputation through great graphics, gameplay, and an iconic hard rock soundtrack. You play a character in a mech (as opposed to a space ship) with the ability to pick up smaller ships to accompany you as power-ups. These smaller ships can take damage for you and fire in a variety of methods.
Coming from the Aleste series of shooters from Compile, MUSHA was relatively popular in Japan but the game never caught on stateside until well after the 16-bit generation was over. On a side note, it was never released in Europe, so importing is especially appealing over there.
MUSHA is a solid example of a steadily-climbing collectable over the past 15 years. It’s never been an especially cheap game, but it also wasn’t always this high on the collectibility rankings, but powered its way to the top just a handful of years ago. (But these last couple years, got overtaken by Crusader of Centy, above)
Bare carts went from $25 range in 2008 and got to the $100 range in 2012 to 2014. It steadily made its way near the $200 range for bare carts around 2016 (obviously, you can score some cheaper than that, but not much lower for authentic carts).
Complete copies have had a stronger trajectory (which has been the case for a lot of Sega Genesis games this last decade, but especially shmups). CIB only had a modest premium pre-2010, but mint, complete copies were already hitting over $300 by 2013. It’s been a steady increase since then. In our last 2017 guide revision, MUSHA complete copies could be scored for between $270 and $400. These last 4 years (2020, especially) saw a lot of demand growth, and not a lot of people want to part with this beauty. Recently, the $1500 price range has been sure to include pictures of the registration card and, in one case, the original purchase receipt (always a cool touch!)
The Punisher: $85 – $675
Licensed beat-em-ups were all the rage in the 90s and The Punisher jumped on the bandwagon, but with a rather limited Genesis/Megadrive-exclusive port of the arcade game. Interestingly enough, The Punisher was one of the few games Capcom published on the Genesis (they usually favored Nintendo’s platforms and let Sega port some arcade titles like Strider). Instead of porting it themselves, they outsourced the work to Sculptured Software.
A lot of graphical cuts had to be made and while the port played fine, it wasn’t especially great. Despite it being the only console port of the arcade game, it was a late release for the console (1995) and didn’t sell that well. Now it is a bit of a challenge to track down — especially in complete condition, which included a temporary tattoo that is often missing in listings on eBay.
A nice rise from our #7 spot in 2017 to the #3 spot in 2021 with just about a 200% increase in value over those four years. Granted, most of that percentage game is from complete copies (a mint copy in 2017 was “only” $200). But The Punisher has been a steady riser over the last decade, but just hasn’t let up much at all.
Splatterhouse 2: $85 – $420
The Splatterhouse series is well-known for being the precursor to the survival horror genre and being one of the first solid examples of a gory game that actually had solid gameplay to back it up (in the style of the 2D beatemup). The original arcade game’s most high-profile port was on the TurboGrafx–16, but the sequel was welcomed onto the Sega Genesis in 1992.
Interestingly enough, Splatterhouse 3 commanded a higher premium over this second installment up until a few years ago. Splatterhouse 2 has essentially doubled in value between 2013 and 2017 while its sequel has increased just gradually. And while base cartridges didn’t increase drastically from the $60 levels in 2017, mint complete copies nearly doubled again from $260 in 2017.
Castlevania Bloodlines: $65 – $434 ($770 Sealed+Graded)
With Cardboard Box: $80 – $330
With Plastic Case: $90- $434
Bloodlines is the only Castlevania title to be released on the Genesis and retains the classic feel of the NES trilogy, yet with the added power of the Genesis. The graphics aren’t as detailed or colorful as the SNES version, but it pushed the capabilities of the Genesis to achieve many effects that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on the system.
Many of the bosses are very large and are composed of many sprites that combined into one entity. Being innovative in both gameplay and graphical effects, Bloodlines has many features that make it stand out, including the option of two playable characters with distinctly different play styles. In the end, Bloodlines is typically ranked relatively highly in both the Castlevania franchise and the Genesis action library.
Castlevania Bloodlines is one of those great combinations of a solid entry in an iconic franchise that also didn’t have a huge print run. Previously just a bit more valuable that its Konami sibling, Contra Hard Corps (which actually got bumped down out of the primary list into the honorable mentions), it appreciated much more significantly since it 2017 price range of $53 to $210. That’s right: mint copies of Bloodlines have more than doubled in the last four years (vs “only” a 50% overall increase for Contra Hard Corps since 2017).
In my recent research, there’s still a surprising amount of sealed copies of Castlevania Bloodlines around. Granted, most of them are of the cardboard variety (later release and probably a lot remained as retail overstock). So while some games like Crusader of Centy have a huge premium for a mint cardboard release, you won’t see the same effect on the cardboard Bloodlines variants — there’s just more of a supply of not only mint, but sealed units out in the wild (that will most likely stay that way).
It’s also worth mentioning that there are two different cardboard variations of Bloodlines. As one of the Racketboy community members, @johnny_iucci informed me, there is “one with the typical slipcase cover where the whole inner tray slides out, and one where the cardboard box opens from the top (flip top) and you pull the game out of and inner tray (like some of the mid release N64 games).
Trouble Shooter: $100 – $300
While M.U.S.H.A and Truxton rank rather high on the list of best Genesis / Megadrive shmups, Trouble Shooter leans more towards the rare oddity in the genre’s library. It has a quirky art style and sense of humor that is reminiscent of 90s anime and distinguishes itself from other Genesis/Mega Drive shooters by featuring two jetpack-wearing heroines instead of a space ship. You can choose your weapons at the beginning of the level and you have the ability to have both girls focus their aim forward or one fire backwards and one fire forward.
As fans of the scrolling shooter genre have built out their Genesis library, they have noticed than Trouble Shooter can be hard to stumble upon. Over the last handful years, it has made its ways out of obscurity and become more of a cult-classic collectors item.
Trouble Shooter is definitely one of those games that most of us probably never saw or noticed back in the 90s. However, after shmups as a genre have grown on us retro fans and we start to appreciate interesting art direction and rather stunning cover artwork, its hard to not desire to have a mint copy of Trouble Shooter sitting on your shelf.
Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel: $70 – $375
Released in a time when anthropomorphic mascot platformers were plentiful, Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel was a pretty good gem that moves at a quick pace (though slower than the SNES version), combined with unique flying and acrobatic skills for its time.
A spin-off of Sunsoft’s Aero the Acro-bat series, one of Zero’s more interesting features is the large numbers of offensive action (such as limited shurikens and nun-chucks) and flying actions like diving and swooping. Its innovative features can be a bit tricky to control, but it stands out from the crowd of mascot action titles and is a nice way to round out a Genesis collection.
Splatterhouse 3: $70 – $350
Splatterhouse was the precursor to the survival horror genre and its third installment plays more akin to Double Dragon (but with more gore and violence, of course) than its sidescrolling predecessors. The game was also non-linear in the maze that you have to find your way through within the time limit, which if you run out of time may not end the game but will change the storyline and ending. Not many beat-em-ups took this more open-style approach during this period, making it ahead of its time.
Splatterhouse 3 was also the last game in the cult-classic series before the 2010 reboot of the series (which may have sparked interest in the previous games).
El Viento: $85 – $300
Wolf Team (who has a diverse history of games, including the likes of Arcus Odyssey, Granada, Sol-Feace, and various entries in the Tales Of… series) created a trilogy of games on the Genesis and Sega CD known as the “Earnest Evans Series”, of which El Viento is first game released, but the second installment in the trilogy. It’s a fast and furious action title that is quirky and interesting, but does have some rough edges and odd design choices. El Viento is certainly ambitious, attempting graphical feats that were unseen on the MD at the time, such as huge explosions and screen filling octopi.
It’s not a game for everyone, but I can see how fans of the Genesis and unpredictable action titles (fans of Strider will probably enjoy it) would like to add this to their collection. It was released in 1991, but unsurprisingly
It’s not a game for everyone, but I can see how fans of the Genesis and unpredictable action titles (fans of Strider will probably enjoy it) would like to add this to their collection. It was released in 1991 but unsurprisingly, had a fairly small print run. If you’d like to see a review that captures the game (and some of Wolf Team’s other work) check out this video.
Mega Turrican: $75 – $300
The Turrican series came to fame on the Commodore 64 and the Amiga platforms and is heavily inspired by the likes of Metroid (huge levels to explore and morph-ball function) and Psycho-Nics Oscar (visual design and weapons). Mega Turrican is technically a sequel to Turrican II, which was rebranded as Universal Soldier (based on the 1992 film) on the Genesis. Other than this interesting licensing move, Mega Turrican is the only game in the series to land on a Sega platform.
With very stylish graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, and a much more balanced difficulty level than its predecessors, Mega Turrican has steadily risen in popularity over the years. The developers, Factor 5, would go on to make more classics on other consoles, but this would be one of only two games they made for the Genesis. Their other game would be International Superstar Soccer Deluxe, which never received a US release.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist: $60 – $335
During this game’s release in the early 90’s the Ninja Turtles were at its peak and the arcade game “Turtles in Time” was bringing tons of quarters. The SNES received a great port of Turtles of Time, but the Genesis got a bit of a different take on the game. There are some similarities, but Hyperstone Heist has fewer, but longer levels in addition to some differences in special effects and audio. It is a more challenging game and has become a valued part of the Genesis library, but often got overlooked during its initial retail period.
While the Ninja Turtles have always maintained pretty solid popularity and nostalgia, we’re getting into a stronger nostalgia style with the target age group getting more disposable income and these 90s TMNT games are prime targets for mainstream collectors. Bare carts have had a steady increase over the years, but we’ve seen mint/complete copies more than double over the last four years alone.
Phantasy Star IV: $50 – $360
Sega’s iconic and influential RPG series originated on the Master system, but the first three sequels built momentum on Sega’s 16-bit platform. While the series, as a whole, is quite strong, this fourth installment often ranks at the top of fans’ lists.
Phantasy Star IV also happens to be a rather late release on the Sega Genesis for a major first-party game. It was an early 1995 release, a bit before the Sega Saturn made its retail debut.
With the game being a popular RPG release and later in the release schedule, Phantasy Star IV has never been a cheap pickup. Up until recently, however, its always been a “honorable” mention in this Rare and Valuable guide, but as mint/complete copies become more of a premium, those particular copies have been getting higher on collector’s priority lists. As a result, this has cause a ranking jump from #20 in our 2017 standard retail North American list to #4 in 2021.
However, the higher above-$300 sales are for mint cardboard pieces, purely because they are harder to keep in good shape and those crispy examples are so hard to find nowadays.
Since our last 2017 guide, bare cartridges haven’t appreciated much from their $50 range, but mint, complete copies were maxing out at only $150 just 4 short years ago. But if you go back about 5 years to 2012, bare carts were only about $23 and complete copies could go for $50 or less.
Skeleton Krew: $55 – $355
This obscure run-n-gun set in an isometric perspective with a heavy 90’s comic book inspiration was always a bit of a hidden gem in the Genesis library (you can read more about the game itself at HG101) This release had been hanging out in the honorable mentions lists on this guide for a while, but just broke through with impressive value growth over the last 5 years to make it into the higher rankings.
Interestingly enough, the game was never released in Japan or Asia, but it does seem heavily stylized for the 90s American market. It also was a mid-1995 release for the Sega Genesis that is quite tricky to find at all in the wild — even in cartridge-only form.
Skeleton Crew is also a rather impressive technical marvel with its detailed graphics and use advanced effects such as sprite tilting and simulated floodlights.
Much like Phantasy Star IV above and many other late-issue Genesis games, the mint cardboard copies has the highest price premiums due to the scarcity of those in new condition.
In our 2017 guide, Skelton Krew was only commanding Skeleton $36 for a bare cartridge and a max of $125 for a mint complete copy.
Rolling Thunder 3: $70 – $354
This is the first console exclusive in Namco’s classic run and gun series and the last in the series. Since they didn’t have the arcade and its way of pushing quarter consumption, Namco made some adjustments to the gameplay formula that make it a bit more approachable and easier to progress in a home setting. Unfortunately, Rolling Thunder 3 also loses its two-player mode in the process.
It’s also noteworthy that, in addition to being a Sega Genesis exclusive, it was never released in Japan as the series was typically more successful in North American than in its homeland.
As a collectable, Rolling Thunder 3 has been another stealthy entry on this list. For most of its aftermarket life between 2000 and 2014, you could score a copy for between $10 and $20. In 2015, you were starting to see it creep into the $25 to $80 range. But even in our 2017 guide, it was only about $30 for a cart and a range of $70 to $85 for a nice, complete copy.
Streets of Rage 3: $72 – $310 ($1500-$3000 Sealed)
The Streets of Rage series has always been a mainstay in Sega fans’ libraries and a go-to franchise for beatemup fans in general. The Streets of Rage series, in general is right up there in terms of Capcom’s and Konami’s arcade brawlers, but were always console exclusives.
The first two games in the series were always rather plentiful, despite being in high demand. The first in the series also saw a re-print in newer box art and was included in the Genesis 6-pack compilation cartridge. By the time Streets of Rage 3 was released, however, in mid-1994, the Genesis was starting cool down in advance of the 32X and Sega Saturn debuts. The scrolling beatemup genre was also starting to fall out of favor for a while as Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat kick-started the hot one-on-one fighting genre. As a result, Streets of Rage 3 saw a lower print run than its peers and initially sold to only established fans of the series.
2020 saw not only a big boom in mint/complete copies of iconic franchises, but a revival of the Streets of Rage franchise with Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games producing a Streets of Rage 4 for modern consoles and the PC. This new installment was given great attention by its creators and the retro community response was quite strong. This symphony in Streets of Rage interest has boosted not only copies of loose cartridges but caused mint copies and sealed copies to skyrocket in value. With its relatively smaller print run, SoR3 has never been cheap, but back in 2017 it was only in the $45 for carts and a max of $100 for a complete copy. Seems like a steal now.
Elemental Master: $80 – $290
TechnoSoft is well known for their Thunder Force series, but Elemental Master stands as a worthy addition to their catalog of Genesis games. For this title the developers decided to break away from the science fiction themes of Thunder Force and Herzog Zwei and instead draw upon fantasy elements for the game’s visuals.
Players start with a standard parallel two-beam shooter, but unlike many shmups, all the additional weapons are permanent. The four elemental power-ups can be charged up to release an explosive blast; the main default weapon becomes chargeable after the first four stages are completed, which gives the player the game’s most powerful weapon. The game features vertical scrolling, but you can shoot both up and down. It’s a great addition to a Genesis shooter library, but easy to see why it may have been passed over when it came out.
Vapor Trail: Hyper Offence Formation: $63 – $320
Vapor Trail began as an arcade game by Data East and was ported to the Genesis/Mega Drive by Telenet Japan. It’s a vertical shooter that puts the player in the cockpit of one of three different fighter planes and shows strong influences by the Raiden series. It was also followed up by a mech run-n-gun style shooter by the name of Wolf Fang and another vertical shump called Skull Fang (which was part of the Sega Saturn shmup library).
Obscure 2D shooters typically command a premium — especially is they are relatively enjoyable to fans of the genre. The Sega Genesis shmup libraryis quite plentiful, but a lot of collectors are looking to pay a good deal more for titles like Vapor Trail to round out their collection.
Like most obscure gems, Vapor Trail could be found between $10 and $20 in various conditions pre 2012. The next 5 years saw a gradual increase leading to the $28 to $75 price range in our 2017 guide. But with mint copies pretty much quadrupling over 4 years time, you can tell the premium for complete copies of shooters are on the rise.
Grind Stormer: $75 – $220 ($1000 Sealed)
2017: $40 – $160
Known as “V – V” in Japan, this shmup from Toaplan saw a rather limited release on the North American Genesis. For the longest time, this release went under the radar, but as Shmup fans are building up their collections, this one is joining MUSHA at the top of the list. It’s not without its flaws, mainly a lack of polish that other games (Thunder Force 4, Eliminate Down) proved were possible on the console. This is not the best shooter around, but if you are a collector or a Toaplan fan then it’s worth tracking down.
Another factor to its rise in value is the high amount of faulty carts (a known problem with certain Tengen Genesis releases), making functional copies worth much more. They can be repaired though, so if you have the know how you could potentially save there.
Sparkster: $74 – $210 (eBay)
In the avalanche of 2D platformers during the 16-bit era, it was easy for a game like Konami’s Rocket Night Adventures to get lost in the shuffle. Rocket Knight Adventures has more technique and plot than many other platformers in the era, but mostly got its following after the 16-bit era had past.
And while Rocket Knight Adventures was a bit of a hidden gem for a while, its sequel “Sparkster” (named for the game’s protagonist) got even less exposure (and was also featured on a and even more rare and valuable SNES game).
Due to it being a later-era release of modest popularity, Sparkster has never been very inexpensive. Even at its most affordable years, it could be found for $15 to $30 for a bare cart. Once collectors released that it was rather tricky to find complete copies of this gem, mint copies started commanding over $100 from 2014 on. It’s been a gradual climb since then.
Gunstar Heroes: $60 – $210 ($260 Sealed)
As possibly the best 16-bit run-n-gun game and one of the most loved in the genre altogether, Gunstar Heroes has become a mainstay in the Genesis lineup. The basics of the game are very easy to pick up – you have four weapons to choose from, each of which can be combined in a variety of ways while playing. In addition to shooting, players can slide, jump, kick, and perform some basic melee moves (such as throwing). Each level of the game is relatively short (though well designed), but they function primarily as the lead up to some of the most memorable and impressive boss fights to ever grace the genre.
Gunstar Heroes also happens to be one of the best technical showpieces for the Sega Genesis with its impressive graphics (including scaling and rotations) and sound. The game isn’t terribly uncommon, but it isn’t one that Genesis action fans will give up easily.
Gaiares: $45 – $255
Among the Genesis shooters, Gaiares rests relatively high among the bunch. The developers had no problem using the console’s color palette to generate some excellent looking visuals, especially with boss fights. What really sets Gaiares apart is the power up system. Following your ship is a Gradius-like option, but unlike Gradius you can launch it at an enemy and gain their unique type of firepower; repeated launches into the same enemy equals a more powerful version of said weapon.(Down
The game is not uncommon and can be tracked down relatively easily but a CIB version, raises the stakes of the investment. In fact, we’re seen quite a solid increase in a mint/complete copy from its $175 peak in 2017.
Note: Major Cool Down: Alert – Truxton: $48 – $160
(Down from 2017 values: $40 – $225)
This is the first time we’ve brought attention to a game that has seen noticeable decline. But considering how much many complete Genesis games have appreciated over the past 5 years or so (especially shooters), I wanted to call out this instance.
Since our last guide revision in 2017, bare cartridges have held quite steady, but complete copies have actually cooled down a bit (which has been super-rare in this market) from the $225 highs we witnessed. Perhaps the recent re-release of the Toaplan shump page have helped take off some of the buying pressure. As a result, Truxton’s stature on this list (dropping from the #4 spot in 2017) took quite a stumble.
This arcade vertical shooter from Toaplan was an early release for the Genesis/Mega Drive, hitting shelves not long after the debut of the console. The game still looks great and it will ooze nostalgia as Truxton feels a bit more classic than then the rest of the Genesis shmup library, feeling right at home with other Toaplan shmups on the console such as Fire Shark, Hellfire, and Grind Stormer (V – V).
The Expensive Japanese Megadrive Imports
Snow Bros. – Nick & Tom: $600 – $1400
Snow Brothers is an arcade port of the puzzle platformer title of the same name but Toaplan and has gameplay very similar to Bubble Bobble. Interestingly enough, there’s a Snow Bros. game ranking quite well on the Rare and Valuable NES guide and an honorable mention Gameboy guide. Apparently, the fact that these didn’t sell real well in the 8-bit era didn’t convince a localization to the North America for the 8-bit generation (and the SNES didn’t get a port of the game at all). It’s also worth noting that instead of Capcom doing the ports, like they did in the 8-bit era, Toaplan handled this Megadrive version themselves and then had it published by Tengen.
We had this Megadrive import listed in only the $130 – $300 range back in our 2017 guide, but this one has really kicked into gear to become one of the hottest import games for the Megadrive. Granted, there weren’t a lot of sold copies back then to survey for sale values, but it’s been interesting to see more of these copies pop up out of Japan on eBay (recent sales for complete copies in early 2021 for $1050 and $1400). Perhaps, the inclusion of the game on the Japanese version of the Megadrive Mini helped boost awareness of this game in recent years…
Eliminate Down: $800 – $1350
Even though most people won’t enjoy it as much as MUSHA or the Thunder Force series, Eliminate Down is one of the better (and most difficult) 2D shooters on the Megadrive. It was developed and published by a pair of obscure companies: Aprinet and Soft Vision, of which before this, Aprinet’s Megadrive development history only consisted of golf and pachinko games. Despite their lack of commercial success or shooter experience, they managed to produce one of the best shmups on Sega’s platform and an essential title to play for any fan of the genre.
This horizontal-scrolling shooter features highly-detailed sci-fi graphics and the game shines by having constant action, creative mini-bosses and bosses on every stage, and a good soundtrack. Eliminate Down also innovates with major fights and attacks that feel fresh and interesting.
With more attention being brought to the Genesis shmup library, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Eliminate Down has been climbing in value over the years. At the beginning of the decade, you could score this import for around $200. In 2013, the value climbed to $400 range before heading toward the $1000 range in our 2017 revision. There is a Korean release as well that was released by Samsung, but is even rarer than the Japanese release.
Panorama Cotton: $500 – $1300
This pseudo 3D shooter had incredible psychedelic backgrounds, making the Megadrive hardware do things that the Nintendo fanboys claimed were impossible on the Sega machine. The Cotton series has always been popular with the hardcore shooter crowd so this colorful and innovative installment doesn’t disappoint. Panorama Cotton was also not released in PAL or US regions as well, presumably because of its quirky content that might not appeal to the typical American demographic at the time — much like why Battle Mania Daiginjo (see below) was not localized.
The game on its own is rare enough (about 5,000 copies were produced), but if you really want to show everyone up, try to find the game with the rare Panorama tea cup that was available initially for free to anyone that sent in a coupon to the publisher. Only about 300 of those tea cups exist and its presence with the game could increase the overall value of a complete package substantially. There was a teacup on eBay that sold for $380 on its own without the game. Extra things like having all the registration cards can make all the difference too — like in this mint condition piece that sold for $1020. So if you do the math, if you had a mint, ultra-complete copy (with cards & tea cup) you could be looking at at $1300 to $1500 piece.
Battle Mania Daiginjo / Battle Mania 2: $600 – $1070
This sequel to the quirky anime-inspired shooter, Trouble Shooter (known as Battle Mania outside of the US and is featured later in this guide) improved greatly over the original game, but was deemed too niche to bring outside of Japan.
Much like its predecessor, it features two jet pack-equipped anime girls to shoot up the battlefield. In addition to some improved gameplay, controls, level designs, and sprites, Battle Mania Daiginjo also featured detailed cutscenes and a rockin’ soundtrack that was rather impressive for the stock Megadrive hardware.
Overall, this is a true import gem for those that enjoy quirky shooters and appreciate some anime style and humor. Much like other rare shmups on the platform, prices have been climbing quickly. Previously available for $90 to $245 in 2013, it’s now nearly 3 times that value in 2017.
Acclaim Japanese Releases: $300 – $900
Batman Forever, Justice League, Maximum Carnage, Virtual Bart, WWF Raw, Judge Dread
These games are all plentiful and dirt cheap in the US, but in Japan, only a few copies of these games were released. Most of these games were published by Acclaim during the last days of the Genesis and the publisher actually took some extra European game boxes, stuck on a new T number and a barcode on the box, and a Japanese cartridge for the quick and dirty release. Now they are simply collectors pieces.
It is very difficult to get solid prices on these games as they rarely appear. Every so often one will show up on Japan’s Yahoo auctions or eBay.
Alien Soldier: $390 – $620
Most Sega Genesis fans remember Gunstar Heroes as the premier run-and-gun shooter from Treasure. Inside the US, this is definitely the case, but our friends in Europe and Japan were privileged to experience a challenging and impressive game by the name of Alien Soldier. (see both Alien Soldier and Gunstar Heroes featured in our Best Genesis Action Platformers Guide)
As usual, Treasure really put a lot of creativity into Alien Soldier’s graphics and animation. The characters are large, extremely detailed and fluidly animated. A stark opposite to most other side-scrolling shooters, the levels are notably short and easy before reaching a boss. This results in the game being a rush that seems to push the Megadrive to its limit more and more with each fight.
The cartridge is very difficult to find in either region and the boss-laden game will also show you that it is just as hard to complete as well. Because of its Treasure pedigree and being one of the best Mega Drive games not brought to the US, it has been climbing in value over the last decade. Just 5 years ago you could score Alien Soldier for between $80 and $180, but now you’re looking at three to four times that amount for an original copy.
The Expensive PAL Megadrive Games
Megaman: The Wily Wars: $1000 – $1200
The Wily Wars served as a compilation of remakes of the first three Megaman games in addition to an extra “Wily Tower” gameplay mode which let the Blue Bomber battle a fresh batch of robot bosses before facing Wily in the final castle. The compilation features an upgrade to the original games’ visuals, as well as arranged music. However, one of the most exciting features at the time was that the compilation provided battery back-up for each game to resume your progress.
This classic Megaman complication was also available in North America to play through the Sega Channel service, but only saw a true retail release in Japan and PAL territories. It is the only Megaman game to be released on the Megadrive and one of the few on a Sega platform.
Back in our previous guide revisions in 2013 and 2017, The Wily Wars was hovering in the $300 to $500 range, but the popularity of this title has continued to grow. Despite being much less rare than the Fatal Fury 2 PAL release, it has more than doubled in value over the last 5 years to overtake FF2 in the PAL collecting universe.
Fatal Fury 2: $250 – $1,000
This one might come as a surprise as the North American version is so common, but the PAL version of Fatal Fury was actually an exclusive to the Australian market. There is supposedly a few copies of a European version of the game circulating, it wasn’t made available for public sale. (although keep an eye out!)
Most boxed copies have gone for the $500 range over the years (including this copy without a manual for sale for $570 AU / $430 USD). However, there were copies that have sold for $1000 in the past.
Much like the Japanese Acclaim titles mentioned above, this is still one of those holy grails to find, despite being a “common” worldwide game.
Nightmare Circus: $180 – $230
A less exciting game that originated on the Sega Channel was this oddity from Funcom. Nightmare Circus is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that was hampered by unresponsive controls and shoddy hit detection. Adding to the frustration was its level design in which the stages are never-ending — you are trapped there with constantly-respawning enemies until you die or reset the system.
Originally scheduled for a North American physical release in 1995, it was cancelled due to the Genesis being on its way out in lieu of the Saturn and the game not meeting quality controls. It found a home on the Sega Channel on-demand service before getting a Brazilian release in 1996 via TecToy, even in its unfinished state. Nightmare Circus has seemingly becoming one of the more infamous PAL-exclusive Tec Toy releases, with some publications during its development believing it to be a “potential Donkey Kong Country-killer.” Oh, how wrong they were.
Daze Before Christmas : $100 – $320
It’s not too often you see a video game with a holiday theme, but Daze Before Christmas is simple platforming game where you play as Santa and can also switch to his evil twin, “Anti Claus” by drinking a cup of coffee.
This game was also developed by Funcom and published by Sunsoft. It had a very small print run and additional runs were cancelled due to quality issues and Sunsoft USA being on the brink of bankruptcy. With all these struggles, it seems that the game was only released in Australia on the Megadrive.
It was also revealed by the lead programmer that the game used a lot of the code from the Funcom-developed game based on the movie We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.
Top Unlicensed / Homebrew Releases
While most people think of unlicensed games as the cheap crap that came out during the console’s heyday, the Genesis has seen a number of recent releases that are just as good as some of the high-profile games in the Genesis library. Because they were produced in rather small quantities and most of the original purchases aren’t looking to get rid of their copy, the values can stay quite strong. Here’s some of the biggest collector’s pieces.
Pier Solar and the Great Architects
Pier Solar was a completely homebrew release that was developed by Watermelon Co (and started as a project of the classic Sega website, Eidolon’s Inn). This 2010 release also had the option to use the Sega CD for extra audio content. The first print run actually had three variations with different languages, different box artwork and different label artwork.
There are 800 of each of the three editions. The Posterity Edition is also first edition that was to thank the earliest supporters of the project. The Posterity Release has a sticker on the package and a additional magazine. The exact number was never published, so we can only estimate. It was limited to 500 copies but not all of them have been sold.The Reprint does not have all languages and the CD is not included. It has a different box (plastic clamshell) and a different box artwork and label artwork. Numbers were never been published for the Reprint Edition, so it’s completely unknown how many of them have been sold.
While they are still good collectors items, the copies of Pier Solar have decreased in value 25% to 50% since 2013.
Beggar Prince (First and Second Editions): $90 – $135
This is the game that kicked off the “new” Genesis releases. Beggar Prince was the first new Genesis product released since Majesco published Frogger in 1998, and gamers everywhere were excited at the prospect of owning the game in cartridge form, complete with box and manual. Though Beggar Prince originally appeared in Taiwan in 1996, the rest of the world had never seen it, so it was seen as “new” for everyone in the West.
The American company, Super Fighter Team created an English translation of the game and did the first commercial release in 2006. By September 8, 2006, all 600 copies had been sold. However, a month later, Super Fighter Team announced that they had begun taking pre-orders for a second production run of 300 copies. By June, 2007, this production run had also sold out.
The total print run for Beggar Prince with the original cover art is 900 copies. These first printings of Beggar Prince held their value a bit better than other homebrew releases, but have still seen a slight decrease over the last few years.
Beggar Prince (Third Edition): $70 – $100
This third print run included several changes including higher-quality cover art, became available for pre-ordering on October 9, 2007 and started shipping on November 27, 2007. This print run had 600 copies bringing the total print run of the game to 1,500 copies.
Back in 2013, this Third Edition held up in value to the first pricing rather wall (between there being less copies of the variant and the preference of many current Genesis owners for the new art), but over the last few years, the resale value of the third edition has declined about 40% (down from the $115 to $137 range in 2013)
Additional US Sega Genesis Games of Value
These games are quite collectible; resulting in a high resale value, especially for complete, boxes copies.
- Shining Force II: $45 – $250 (eBay)
- Growl: $50 – $235 (eBay)
- Mazin Saga Mutant Fighter: $42 – $250 (eBay)
- Ristar: $40 – $248 (hard to find cardboard box in good condition) (eBay)
- Mutant League Hockey: $55 – $215 (eBay)
- The Legend of Wukong (Homebrew): $90 – $200 (eBay)
- Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker: $60 – $200 ($1000 Sealed) (eBay)
- Alisia Dragoon: $73 – $190 (eBay)
- Contra Hard Corps: $50 – $220 (eBay)
- Aero the Acro-bat 2: $45 – $170
- Warsong: $50 – $150 ($500 Sealed) (eBay)
- Valis: $36 – $175 (eBay)
- Time Killers: $71 – $160 (eBay)
- Warsong: $50 – $150 ($500 Sealed) (eBay)
- Double Dragon $26 – $205 (eBay)
- Chiki Chiki Boys: $37 – $170 (eBay)
- Master of Monsters: $53 – $205 (eBay)
- Ghostbusters: $52 – $205 (eBay)
- Dune: The Battle for Arrakis: $50 – $182 (eBay)
- Death and Return of Superman: $44 – $200 (eBay)
- Lightening Force Quest for the Darkstar: $47 – $176 (eBay)
- Sunset Riders: $45 – $165 (eBay)
- Ys III Wanderers from Ys: $37 – $160 (eBay)
- Syd of Valis: $35 – $130(eBay)
- Beyond Oasis: $45 – $195 (eBay)
- Valis III: $35 – $170 (eBay)
- Scooby-Doo Mystery: $41 – $130 ($500 Sealed) (eBay)
- Arrow Flash: $28 – $130 (eBay)
- Doom Troopers – $26 – $190 (eBay)
- Thunder Force III: $40 – $190 (eBay)
- Arcus Odyssey: $36 – $145 (eBay)
- Blades of Vengeance: $35 – $155 (eBay)
- New Horizons – Uncharted Waters: $40 – $105 (eBay)
- Mystical Fighter: $48 – $100 (eBay)
- Uncharted Waters New Horizons: $30 – $105 (eBay)
- Phelios: $25 – $106 (eBay)
- Star Odyssey (Homebrew) : $40 – $80 (eBay)
Additional Valuable Japanese Imports
- Vampire Killer (JP Castlevania Bloodlines): $350 – $500 (eBay)
- Comix Zone: $200 – $300 (eBay)
- Greylancer: $140 – $350 (eBay)
- Twinkle Tale $120 – $287 (eBay)
- Yu Yu Hakusho – $130 – $160 (eBay)
- Ristar – $80 – $160 (eBay)
- Contra – $80 – $160 (eBay)
- Nagoya Home Banking – ???
Additional Box Sets / Special Releases
- Miracle Piano (Full Keyboard and Game Cartridge Set): $60 – $80 (eBay)
- Ecco Tides of Time Box Set
- Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Box Set
- Primal Rage Box Set (picture)
The Rarest US Genesis Games At Affordable Prices
Each of these games have a rarity rating greater than 6, but routinely sell for less than $50 for Complete-In-Box. If you are a Genesis 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.
- Joshua Battle for Jericho: $30 – $70 (eBay)
- Liberty or Death: $32 – $55 (eBay)
- Rolo to the Rescue: $24 – $50 (eBay)
- Crossfire: $25 – $50 (Sealed copy sold for $100) (eBay)