Nintendo has been in the video game industry for over 40 years. In that time there have been some extremely rare and valuable games released for Nintendo’s consoles. The rarest games were for the NES, and most were competition cartridges for special events. These competition carts are getting near impossible to find as collectors have snatched them up in the past couple of decades. Many of the other rare Nintendo games were either promotional games, unlicensed games, or Blockbuster Video exclusives. There are some games that released for the general market, like Mega Man 5 & 6, that command a high price, but they are still way down the list in terms of overall worth and rarity.
10 Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages & Seasons – Limited Edition
These were games for the Gameboy Color, and not many people seem to remember them when discussing Zelda games. These two games featured gameplay and a graphical style very similar to the original Legend of Zelda title. The game incorporates the changing of the seasons into the gameplay; with some areas only accessible during a certain season. There were only 500 copies of the Limited Edition released; which included both games as well as promotional items – like a shirt and an actual, working boomerang. The price is currently around $1,150.00, but a complete-in-box copy can fetch about $2,200.00
9 Cheetahmen II
The original Cheetahmen game appeared on the Action 52 cartridge for the NES. Action 52 is also a fairly rare game, and was made (in)famous by The Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) on Youtube. Cheetahmen II is a broken game that was clearly unfinished; as the outer cartridge case is just a repurposed Action 52 cartridge with a simple gold label. There were less than 2,000 of these produced; making them rare to find – even on Ebay. There are a lot of reproduction Cheetahmen II cartridges out there, so if you want to buy one make sure it is genuine. These generally sell for about $1,300.00.
8 Duck Tales – Gold Cartridge Edition
The original Duck Tales is itself a game that commands a fairly high price, but is not particularly rare. When Capcom remade this classic game in 2013 they decided to release a very limited kit that includes a functional gold copy of the original NES cartridge along with some other promotional items – like a really cool lunch box. There were only 150 of these kits produced; so the prospect of finding one is very slim. If you do find one, the average price is $1,400.00. There is one for sale on Ebay right now for $3,000.00 – at least it has free shipping.
7 Donkey Kong Country Competition Edition
This was a special version of the classic Donkey Kong Country that was used in the Nintendo PowerFest ’94 competition. The game was changed for the competition; a timer was added (which for some reason is in the middle of the screen), and the available levels were changed slightly. The cartridge itself looks very similar to the standard version. The only difference was that the top-right corner of the label says “Competition Edition” in a red triangle. Only 2,500 of these cartridges were made, and if you manage to locate a copy their value is approximately $1,650.00.
6 Myriad 6-In-1/Caltron 6-In-1
This is an unlicensed compilation cartridge for the NES. This game was originally titled Caltron 6-in-1, but when Caltron went out of business their remaining stock was purchased by Myriad Inc. and resold as the Myriad 6-in-1. The 6 games on the cart are clones of popular games – like Space Harrier and Buster Bros. The Caltron version is rare, but the Myriad version was limited to 888 copies. Each copy was numbered, and if you have a copy with matching serial numbers (for the cart, instructions, and box) the value is significantly increased. A copy of the Myriad 6-in-1 commonly sells for about $1,400.00, but a complete-in-box copy goes for about $3,000.00.
5 Nintendo Campus Challenge 1992
This was a large, unusual looking cartridge that looks more like an add-on for the SNES when inserted into the cartridge slot. This cartridge was used for the Campus Challenge in 1992, which was a competition held on 35 college campuses in North America. The cart had limited versions of 3 classic SNES games: Super Mario World, Pilotwings, and F-Zero. The cartridge also had an input for a phone jack, so it could relay information to a server at Nintendo’s headquarters. There are only two of these confirmed to exist, with a rumored third copy somewhere out there waiting to be found. The value of these cartridges is estimated at $4,000.00.
4 Stadium Events
For many collectors, this cartridge is the Holy Grail of NES games. Stadium Events was a follow-up title for the Family Fun and Fitness accessory for the NES. Family fun and Fitness, from Bandai, was a large pad that plugged into the controller port. The reason this sounds like Nintendo’s Power Pad is because Nintendo liked this idea so much they purchased the concept from Bandai and re-branded the accessory. When this happened, all the Family Fun and Fitness pads and games were removed from store shelves. A copy of Stadium Events demands about $10,000.00, $21,200.00 for a complete in box copy, and about $28,500.00 for a sealed copy.
3 Nintendo World Championship – Grey Cartridge
In 1990 Nintendo launched the Nintendo World Championship competition. In the U.S. there were 29 cities included in the tournament. These competitions used special NES cartridges that had parts of three games: Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. The contestants would play through the 3 games, and the winner was decided through an algorithm that factored in several criteria, such as time and points. These carts have become very sought after, and there isn’t a consensus on the number produced. The highest confirmed serial number is 353, and if you want to buy one be prepared to fork over about $19,000.00
2 Nintendo World Championship – Gold Cartridge
These cartridges have the same circuit board inside as the grey World Championship cart, but instead of the dull grey case they have a shiny gold case. These gold variants were given away as prizes in a mail-in competition featured in the Nintendo Power magazine. There were only twenty-six of these produced, making them one of the rarest NES games ever made. It is highly likely that not all 26 of these carts have survived to today. One of these, with the label missing, was sold on Ebay for over $100,000.00 in 2014, but the official value is closer to $20,000.00.
1 Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991
The Nintendo Campus Challenge was structured much like the Nintendo World Championship from the previous year. The only difference being that this competition was held at various college campuses around the U.S., as well as a few other venues like Disney World. The three games on this cartridge are Super Mario Bros. 3, PinBot, and Dr. Mario. There has only been one Campus Challenge 1991 cartridge found; it is unknown if there are more, but common sense dictates there must be. This unique (so far) cartridge was sold in 2009 for $20,100.00.
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