We seem to get a couple of these carts every year, and I love to mention them as they’re pretty neat little games and fetch a really nice price. Basically, they are just glorified pirates which were marketed to rental stores.
Our occasional contributor Limbofunk has done quite some research on these and their origin.
They were manufactured by some random company in South America and distributed by a company named Video Store Services in the 80s and 90s. VSS specialized in selling fixtures, racks and other items to rental chains and independent stores.
SmartBoy games were created with the intent of offering a cheaper option to have popular games without having to pay the premium for licensed titles.
According to the original owner of VSS, the carts did not sell very well and eventually were dropped from their product catalog.
To date five titles have surfaced, with Tetris (Tengen) being the most common. Others have included Arkanoid, Super Mario 2, Super Mario 3 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Some of the prices I have on record are:
Mario 2 – $306.00 (June 2010)
Tetris – $269.99 (June 2010)
Tetris – $214.50 (August 2009)
Tetris – $261 (Pre August 2009)
More have gone up for BINS that were not relisted when unsold, and probably sold through private offer.
I’m not sure what the numbers in collector hands are on these now, but they’re probably still under ten confirmed for each game. Hopefully Limbofunk will weight in if he has been keeping track. Last I heard from him there were six Tetris carts and two each of the others.
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