Presented by RetroSportsGamer
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When one conjures up images of older sports games, they most likely think of a stack of sun-bleached PlayStation 2 games; victims of being sorted through and left to bake under the hot sun at a flea market or swap meet. For years, the steady giants like Madden or FIFA have been mass produced across numerous gaming platforms, becoming nearly irrelevant just a year later when the next iteration is released.
Outside of a few classics that are still played (but worth hardly anything) through fan competitions or online leagues, the shelf life for sports games is incredibly short and the basic tenants of supply and demand dictate that many are worth just a fraction of their original retail price. (This is a good opportunity to look for valuable games that most people wouldn’t realize are worth much)
In thirty years of gaming, there are a small number of sports games that broke this mold and, for reasons that will be detailed, are rare and in some instances worth a considerable amount of money. In this piece, we have looked across generations of gaming systems, including Japanese and European releases, in determining the rarest and most valuable sports games. There are some caveats when dealing with such a huge sample. When looking at rare consoles like the Neo Geo AES, it is inherent that the sports games for that system will be worth considerably more than other consoles’ games.
We have looked to establish a baseline to what the common sports games are worth on the system to determine if a game really deserves inclusion. When two prices are shown below, the amounts represent a range that the game has sold for in the last six months to a year, with the condition or completeness of case and manual dictating the higher number.
|Stadium Events – Nintendo Entertainment System – $2,125 – $24,000
The legend of this game has been told numerous times and the game remains one of the most valuable video games regardless of genre. Upon its original release, Nintendo decided to grant the game a first party production, recalling the scant initial cartridges that had been sent out and renaming the game. 2000 copies are believed to have been the total distribution tally, but that does not 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. Auctions and appearances of this game are seldom and a graded copy has gone through eBay a number of times in the last year. While it recently sold for $24,000, the same copy was then listed later by the same seller for an astronomical buy-it-now amount, indicating the previous auction fell through.
Check for Stadium Events on eBay
|Super Sidekicks 4: Ultimate 11 – Neo Geo – $8,000-$10,000
The Super Sidekicks series is quite popular among soccer/football fans and this extremely rare version is one of the most valuable Neo Geo games period. This is technically the final game of the series (Neo-Geo Cup ’98 was released later, but is actually a rehash of Super Sidekicks 3) and was only released in Europe.
Check for Super Sidekicks 4: Ultimate 11 on eBay
|Neo Turf Masters – Neo Geo – $1500-$1950
Behind only Metal Slug for US value on the Neo Geo home AES system, Neo Turf Masters commands a monster price. For those looking to experience the game, the Neo Geo MVS cart goes for $65-$85. The game is also on SNK Classics Vol. 1 (many platforms) and is available on the Virtual Console. Big Tournament Golf, the Japanese version of Neo Turf Masters, goes for around half the US asking price ($750-$900).
Check for Neo Turf Masters on eBay
|NBA Elite 11 – PlayStation 3 – $800-$1500
EA famously pulled this title back and then cancelled it entirely after already shipping to retailers. A recent “new” copy (“never played” is a better definition since it was not sealed in order to show the insides) went for $817 after 26 bids. Sealed copies will range from $1000-$1500. The value has really started to go up in the last six months and barring a warehouse being found with thousands of copies, NBA Elite 11 will only become more desirable to collectors in the years to come.
Check for NBA Elite 11 on eBay
|Virtual Bowling – Virtual Boy – $1,300
This Japanese-only release should not be confused with Nester’s Funky Bowling in the US. Developed by Athena, a copy recently sold in Japan for $1,300 in June 2011.
Check for Virtual Bowling on eBay
|Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition Net Link – Sega Saturn – $400-$700.
This NetLink version of Daytona USA: CCE is in fact the rarest North American Sega Saturn game. It was available only through Sega’s online store, and making it even rarer is it’s almost totally indistinguishable from the regular version of Daytona USA: CCE. The only notable differences are found when opening the case up; the game features a black and white NetLink booklet underneath the standard booklet, and the disc has a small NetLink logo. Unfortunately there is such a small sample size of sales of the last year or so that our examples are very limited.
Check for Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition Net Link on eBay
|Punch-Out Special Edition – Famicom – $400
This gold cartridge edition of Punch-Out predated the US Mike Tyson version. 10,000 copies of the game were produced as part of a Nintendo Golf competition in Japan.
Check for Punch-Out Special Edition on eBay
|James “Buster” Douglas Knockout Boxing – Sega Master System – $300-$400
This boxing title can boast that it is the rarest game on the system outside of Sonic the Hedgehog’s US release. Released later in the Master System’s life, James “Buster” Douglas’ more known Genesis counterpart is only worth 1/100th of the Master System version.
Check for James “Buster” Douglas Knockout Boxing on eBay
|Street Slam / Dunk Dreams / Street Hoop – Neo Geo – $150-$225
A rarer Neo Geo sports title relative to more popular franchises like Baseball Stars and Super Sidekicks, the game had three different names depending on the region it was released in. Street Slam is a 3-on-3 NBA Jam type clone from the early ‘90s and as with other Neo Geo release, is considerably more affordable in its MVS and also Neo Geo CD format. While not on any SNK compilation, the title is on the Virtual Console for those without any Neo Geo hardware.
|Great Ice Hockey – Sega Master System – $200
How does a common US game go from being worth $5 to $200+? The Japanese version was only released through a magazine contest that coupled the title in with a Sega Sports Pad giveaway (before the Sega Sports Pad’s official release in Japan). No box was ever made for it.
Check for Great Ice Hockey on eBay
|Go! Go! Birdie Chance – PC Engine CD w/ Super CD-Rom – $125-$150
There is something for everyone with this list! This all-girl golf game is a Japanese exclusive on the PC Engine CD and requires the Super CD-Rom card.
Check for Go! Go! Birdie Chance on eBay
|Pro Sport Hockey – Nintendo Entertainment System – $35-$150
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.com
|Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball – Intellivision – $30-$100
The first sports game to use multiple camera angles, IWSB (for short) also used both the Intellivision ECS and IntelliVoice modules. Pretty groundbreaking title in the history of sports games and if found complete, can fetch up to $100.
Check for Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball on eBay
|World Series Baseball starring Deion Sanders – 32x – $40-$80
One of the rarer 32x games, this is World Series Baseball ’95 on the Genesis ported to the 32x with upgrade graphics. A cart in good shape can go from $30-$40 and also sit unsold at $50 on a marketplace like Amazon. Recently just the cart and a beat up box went for $40 (and quickly). Finding even the opportunity to bid on a complete copy is very rare.
Check for World Series Baseball starring Deion Sanders on eBay
Check for World Series Baseball starring Deion Sanders on Amazon.com
|NCAA College Basketball 2K3 – Gamecube – $35-$80
Another example on this list of a game recalled, Sega Sports cancelled this game for the Gamecube shortly after release so copies are pretty sparse. Ebay sales go from $40-$50 and up depending on condition and completeness but this is one I’ve seen decline in value in recent years.
Check for NCAA College Basketball 2K3 on eBay
Check for NCAA College Basketball 2K3 on Amazon.com
|ESPN NBA Hang Time – Sega CD – $50-$65
The Sega CD is not known for its sports titles, and is really only highlighted by a handful that EA brought over from the Genesis (NHL ’94, FIFA ’94, Bill Walsh College Football). Sony Imagesoft published this lesser known title.
Check for ESPN NBA Hang Time on eBay
|John Madden Football Championship Edition – Sega Genesis – $30-$50
A rental store exclusive (and also via mail order), this game was tossed aside with other commons and could be found very inexpensive in video store used bins in the late ‘90s. Today, complete sets that are not mangled with rental store stickers can command over $50 but listings are rare. A good instruction manual can go for up to $20 itself as collectors look to piece together a nice set.
Check for John Madden Football Championship Edition on eBay
Check for John Madden Football Championship Edition on Amazon.com
|Mutant League Hockey – Sega Genesis – $15-$50
More valued than its cousin Mutant League Football, Mutant League Hockey has seen a bump in price over the last year, with complete auctions going for up to $50 now. The standalone cart goes for around $15.
Check for Mutant League Hockey on eBay
Check for Mutant League Hockey on Amazon.com
Additional Rare and Valuable Sports Games
- Super Sidekicks 4 – Neo Geo (JP) – $600-$800
- Windjammers / Flying Power Disk – Neo Geo $140-300 (JP $100-$200)
- Baseball Stars 2 – Neo Geo – $100-$130
- Space Squash – Virtual Boy (JP) – $80
- Super Copa – SNES – $50 – $150
- Super Sidekicks 3: The Next Glory – Neo Geo – $70
- Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball – Nintendo Entertainment System – $25-$50
- ISS Deluxe – SNES – $40 – $80
- ISS 2000 – N64 – $30 – $60
- NFL Blitz Special Edition – Nintendo 64 – $15-$50
- Jimmy Connors Tennis – Nintendo Entertainment System – $10-$45
- 3D Baseball – Sega Saturn – $30-$40
- Slap Shot – Sega Master System -$20-$40 (US release has the blue label and is the rare copy)
- Tecmo Super Bowl II: Special Edition – Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo – $15-$40
- Mega Man Soccer – Super Nintendo – $20-$30
- Chavez II – Super Nintendo – $15-$40
- Olympic Soccer – 3DO – $25
Special thanks to Digitpress, VGPC and neo-geo.com for the resources their sites provide.