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To a video game collector, these games are worth more than just their price tag. These are often referred to as the “Holy Grail” of collecting and are lusted after for years. Adding one to your collection can take years of searching and a hefty bank account to boot.
If you’re trying to collect an entire set of games for any given system, than these are typically the last ones you’ll be looking for. Quite often, they may cost close to the price of the entire collection itself. The unusual circumstances and limited quantities of their release sets them apart from other titles. Age only diminishes the quality that can be found, making them ever rarer.
Gameplay doesn’t matter. Payment through any type of merchant accounts, like Flagship Merchant Services, doesn’t matter. The price definitly doesn’t matter. To a hardcore collector, having one of these games put you in a world of your own. A world of your own creation. To everyone else, well, you found quite the item to list on eBay.
Remember there are copies of these games out there somewhere, probably stuffed away in an attic or closet……..
Keep ï¿½ in mind however, that there are more rare items than what is on this list. Prototypes and Betas are by nature, one of a kind. However, the demand aren’t there for them like the games on this list. This list is a combination of rarity, price and demand.
Here’s the top ten games in increasing price.
10. Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II (Sega Genesis)
Not as much information is available about this game, unlike some competition carts such as those for the SNES. Not surprising however, as it is significantly rarer. Less than five copies have been confirmed to exist, with three of them passing through the hands of our own Nicola.
Apparently, in 1995 Blockbuster organized their second Video Game Championship. For SNES, Rare built the well known Donkey Kong Competition Edition cart. For Genesis, Acclaim made this cart.
There were two categories, up to 13 and over 14 years old. You also had to choose to compete on the SNES or Genesis. From June 14th to July 9th there was a Store Championship Competition, then the WVGC-Finals. Each store had to award a Store Champions with a prize of free rentals for the next two years (two games a month).
The best eleven players then won a trip to San Francisco for the final fight in August, inside the GamePro (gaming magazine) HQ.
Unlike the DK cart however, this cart could not be won, nor bought. Store owners were ordered to destroy the cart after the competition. Not surprisingly however, that didn’t always happen.
The last copy (sold by Nicola), went for a final price of $2,068.05.
Copies Produced: ?
Estimated Price: $,2500+
While having a much higher production run than many of these games on the list (in theory), few copies have been found and the game holds the distinction of being one of the highest priced PC games ever. If that last part sounds confusing, I understand. I too frequently forget that the Vic-20 was home computer, not a console.
In the game, creatures called “garrintrots” have imprisoned the player in Mt. Drash, and the player’s task is to escape the dungeons.
The game itself is a very simple series of three-dimensional randomly generated dungeons, and the idea is to destroy all monsters that stand in way and exit to the next level. There is a time limit as well. The game doesn’t employ custom graphics, but rather uses VIC-20’s graphical characters to draw the game scene.
The game itself doesn’t tie to Ultima series in many ways. Mt. Drash is actually a location in Ultima I.
The game was originally written by one of Richard Garriott’s friends, Keith Zabalaoui, in Coarsegold, California, for Sierra On-Line, Inc in 1983. Sierra, who had just successfully published Ultima II, named the game an Ultima in hopes that it would sell better. They did this without Garriott’s permission – Garriott held the rights to the Ultima name – and due to the relative obscurity of the game, Garriott didn’t hear about the incident until much later.
Sierra originally intended to publish the game as part of the SierraVenture series of games. However, it seems that someone at Sierra had noticed that the game was not going to sell well. Only one advertisement was published (in Compute! magazine), but aside of that, the game was never distributed very widely. Sierra even denied the game ever existed, until Zabalaoui confirmed it actually was finished and was actually shipped to retailers. Approximately 3000 units were made, though exact numbers are not available.
For a long time, a lot of the details surrounding the game were very vague. For example it was believed the game was a cartridge, while in fact it was released on cassette tape. One of the rumors about the game was that Sierra sold a very minimal number of the games, barely enough to get even, then buried the remaining stock at a foot of a mountain somewhere. (This parallels the ultimate fate of Atari’s E.T. game – the remainder of unsold E.T. cartridges were buried in a landfill.) In fact, some retailer had dumped unsold software over a cliff, and this is where some of the copies were eventually found.
In recent years, the game has been extremely sought after by collectors. First copies of the game were discovered and announced in 2000. The first online auction of a copy was in September 2003. Since then, there have been some very rare sightings, but due to high demand, there have been quite a few counterfeit games on the market.
I can find records of four auctions prior to 2006, and think I remember seeing one since then. Price have ranged widely. From $700.00 for a lose cartridge to $1,700 to $3,600 for a complete copy. I think the last copy may have sold for more however.
Another collector (who owns a complete copy) tells me he thinks there are thirteen known copies, of which three are complete.
One of those copies, was even sold by a zero feedback seller! The person to buy that auction certainly had nerves of steel.
Copies Produced: ?
Estimated Price: $3000.00+
While Atari 2600 collecting has dropped to the wayside compared to relatively newer systems like the NES, there are still a lot of hardcore collectors out there.
Only the truly hardcore however, can dream of owning Air Raid.
It was only game released by the company a company known as MenAvision, and to date, no more than five have been found. If a box or manual existed, that hasn’t`t been found either.
The game plays like any standard shooter from that era, pretty much an expensive Space Invaders clone. Except your isn`t above but below the buildings.
The 2600 is no stranger to odd looking cartridges, but Air Raid is up there for this category as well. Sky blue in color, with a nifty handle for insertion. It`s not hard to miss if you manage to stumble across one at a flea market.
The actual print run is unknown, but the amount found so far seems to place Air Raid as the game with the most limited production commercially released Atari 2600 title.
Copies Produced: ?
Estimated Price: $3,000+
Another obscure system, the Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console that was developed by Western Technologies/Smith Engineering.
Unlike other video game consoles which connected to televisions and rendered raster graphics, the Vectrex has an integrated vector monitor which displayed vector graphics. The monochrome Vectrex used screen overlays to give the illusion of color. At the time many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and the company was looking to set themselves apart from the pack by selling high-quality versions of games like Space Wars and Armor Attack.
A liquor company known as Mr. Boston, gave out a limited number of customized cartridges of the game Clean Sweep. The box had a Mr. Boston sticker on it. The overlay was basically the regular Clean Sweep overlay with the Mr. Boston name and logo running up either side. The game itself had custom text, and the player controlled a top hat rather than a vacuum.
While details are scare about this one even on the web, I believe there is at least three known copies.
The Nintendo World Championships was a contest, ala the movie The Wizard. Consisting of eight rounds, all separated into the three age groups. Contestants entered by going to one of 30 local competitions, which were held at the 1990 Nintendo PowerFest. On the first two days of the PowerFest, contestants would play in groups of up to 50 at a time, and the top seven scorers were brought onto a main stage to compete against each other. Contestants could re-enter the first round as many times as they wished.
Each second round winner was invited back to the last day of the PowerFest at that location. All the players in each age group played a third round, and again the top seven scorers were brought on-stage to compete in a the fourth round. The top two scorers in the fourth round then competed head-to-head for the title of local competition winner in their age group. There were 90 finalists, 30 in each age group. Each finalist won a trophy, some other relatively small prizes, and a trip for two to Hollywood for the main Nintendo World Championships event.
The Championships were held at Universal Studios. Each age group’s finalists competed simultaneously in the sixth round, and the top seven scorers were brought on stage for the seventh round. Finally, the top two scorers in the seventh round competed head-to-head for the title of Nintendo World Champion for their age group.
Officially, a player has six minutes and 21 seconds to play in the contest, which is divided up into three minigames. The first minigame of the competition is to collect 50 coins in Super Mario Brothers. The next minigame is a version of Rad Racer where players must complete a specialized Nintendo World Championship course. The final minigame is Tetris and this lasts until time expires. Once time does expire, a player’s score is totaled using the following formula:
- Super Mario Brothers score
- + Rad Racer score times 10
- + Tetris score times 25
Most players focused their tactic on getting a high score in Tetris while other players tried to exploit a trick in Super Mario Brothers where a part of the game can be played repeatedly using warp pipes.
The cart was used as a prize for many of the winners.
I’m unsure of how many fo these have been found as of late, but I believe the last copy went for just over $6,000.00.
Copies Produced: Less than 12
Estimated Price: $10,000.00+
If you`re a long time reader of the site, than you`re familiar with my stance on Neo Geo Collectors. They`re all insane (no offense). While Atari 2600 collectors are a close second, they are so many Neo Geo games which cost big bucks or have limited print runs (often both). Collecting for the system isn`t for the faint of heart, nor for those with light wallets.
Kizuna Encounter is a textbook case for the insanity.
I considered not putting it on this list though. Everyone has heard of Atari or NES, even if you’re not a gamer. The Neo Geo however, is much more of a niche system.
The insane price however, warrants the listing.
The game itself is a tag-battle fighting game from SNK – the makers of many popular 2D fighters. The arcade version is commons common, normally fetching around $50 USD. The Japanese AES version is also relatively easy to find and is identical in every way to the PAL release, except for the packaging and inserts.
Somehow, however, this game is insanely rare. The actual production number is unknown, but there are around five confirmed copies. Another source says that there were at least 12 copies, but 8 of these were apparently shipped back to Japan and relabelled as JPN versions.There is also no confirmation that this game was even commercially released, due to the low production numbers, and the fact that existing copies seem to have been found within a close geographical area.
The last few copies sold went for around $12,500.
Copies Produced: ?
Estimated Price: $10,000.00+
The Nintendo Campus Challenge was a competiton where Nintendo toured universities throughout the United States and Europe to find who could get the highest score in a timed matchup. The cart used for the Super NES competition included F-Zero, Pilotwings, and Super Mario World. Long held as a rumor, the cart was finally uncovered.
In May/June 2006 the Campus Challenge carts used in video game competitions in 1992 generated much excitement in the classic video game world. In a completely serendipitous moment both the NES version and the SNES carts were found by separate people. While the NES version had Dr. Mario, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Pinbot, the SNES version had Super Mario World, F-Zero, and Pilotwings. People competed for prizes, including the grand prize of $10,000 US.
The SNES Campus Challenge cart has an unusual shape, with the PCB board parallel to the SNES. The cart has four rom chips, presumably three for each game plus the additional one to link them all together. It also has the DSP-1 chip, which is used in Pilotwings. There is a set of eight switches, which were likely used to change the settings in the game, although they seemed to have no effect when changed. A phone jack is present, likely to relay the scores to a Nintendo server to determine the grand prize winner.
The game itself works much like the Nintendo World Championships cart. You have a limited time to try and score as many points as you can. Once you complete the task in one game, you move on to the next one. The progression through the game is as follows:
1. After you turn the power on, the titlescreen appears right away, no other screens with info on trademarks and such. A soft version of the Super Mario Bros – Aquatic Interlude plays in the background until you press START.
2. Super Mario World – Get 50 Coins A screen appears briefly to tell you the goal in Super Mario World and then you start off at Yoshi’s House. You get 99 lives, but they are infinite. If you die, you’ll still have 99 lives left. The easiest way to collect the 50 coins would probably be to complete the first level to your right, from Yoshi’s House (Yoshi’s Island 2) using Yoshi. There are 50+ Coins on that level since eating the apples with Yoshi counts. I also tried to avoid all the coins to see if I could proceed onto the next levels or if they were locked out of the Campus cart. But they weren’t. Wild guess is that the progress is not saved at all even though the regular SMW save message appears after completing the Yellow Switch Palace. Now either you can run around until the time is up (6 minutes total gameplay, but similar to the NES-NWC, if you complete the SMW – mission quickly, you’ll have more time to spend on round three) or you get the coins and proceed to the next goal.
3. After getting 50 coins, the score screen appears and sums up how much score you got up to this point.
4. Play F-Zero – Finish 2 Laps The first screen from actual F-Zero is the one where you get to choose your car. Choose between the four found in the original game. Nothing special about the F-Zero round really. There are three computer-played opponents, but you can come in fourth as long as you finish the two laps.
5. After finishing two laps in F-Zero, the score screen appears again and shows you how much you’ve scored so far in both SMW and F-Zero.
6. Play Pilotwings – Don’t forget to use your parachute I haven’t actually played this game on the SNES before, but I guess it’s pretty much the same. On the first level you have to land on a football field. Second level you’re a penguin who has to hit the pool-area. I can’t really make out what the landing place is on the third level as there’s never enough time to get close to the ground. When the time is up Pilotwings is abrutly terminated.
7. The score screen appears for the last time. Soft music in the background, can’t really tell if it’s a theme from some other SNES-game or if it’s especially made for the Campus Challenge. The score screen stays there until you turn the power off or reset the SNES.
There were 35 US universities that participated in the event. Known universities that participated include Central Michigan University, Arizona State University, and Texas A&M University. For the prize for winning at a university, you received a Super NES with Super Mario World, Pilotwings, and F-Zero. Consolation prizes were give to the next three places, at $100, $75, and $50. There were separate prizes for women and men, with the winners of the genders competing for the grand prize. The overall winner got $10,000. In addition, all the winners were put into a draw to win prizes of $5000. According to the USENET reference, the US competition lasted 7 minutes.
There was a European competition as well. It was likely very similar to the US competition, though it is unknown what the prizes were or if the contest was strictly at universities. Additionally, there was a competition in 1992 in Japan, which likely used the same format, though details on this are more sketchy. It may have been called the Champion Competition.
So far, there are two copies known to exist.
3. Nintendo Campus Challenge (Nintendo NES)
Copies Produced: ?
Estimated Price: $10,000.00+
The details on this game are insanely sketchy, I cant even find a picture.
From what I understand it was used at the above event, only on the NES instead of the SNES.
Apparently, the three games were Super Mario 3, Dr. Mario and Pinbot. Only one copy has been confirmed to exist.
Copies Produced: ?
Estimated Price: $10,000.00+
The Nintendo Powerfest was a contest held in 1994 to crown the top video game player in the United States. Competitions were held throughout the country, and top scorers were sent to San Diego to compete for the crown. It was only relatively recently that the first ever copy of the cartridge used in the competition was found.
The Powerfest 94 competition was an attempt at Nintendo to replicate the success of the Nintendo World Championship held in 1990. For whatever reason, this competition never reached the notoriety of the original competition. Perhaps it is because they did not distribute the competition carts, giving a certain mystique over Nintendo fans that the NWC did. Or perhaps it was because of the competition of the Genesis at the time that sort of dried up the hype that Nintendo produced when it was the only player during the 8-bit era. Regardless, very little of the Powerfest 94 competition was known until recntly.
Back in mid 2006, as collector who goes by the name of jollyrancher acquired the Powerfest 94 cart (as well as the Campus Challenge cart).ï¿½ The cart is a bit of a monster, containing several eproms (one for each game, as well as the front-end) and a DSP chip (for Mario Kart). According to d4s, each ROM chip was loaded separately into the snes when it was accessed, and the score data kept on the ram. There are 8 Dip switches that work to change the amount of time you get to play the cart.
There were three games included in the competition cart. In the first section, you played level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. In the second section, you play the first track of the Mushroom Cup in Super Mario Kart. The final part was the home run derby in Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. Much like the NWC, the most points were made in the final game, so finishing the first two games as quickly as possible was key to victory. In the Powerfest competition, the home runs counted for 10,000 points at in the regionals, but in the finals, the value was upped to 1 million points. It is interesting to note that the Dip switches do not change the score you get in Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball, so there perhaps were different versions of the competition cart. The score in Mario Kart is based on how you place in the race, and how many coins you collect. In the competition, you were given 6 minutes to score as many points as possible.
To qualify for the Powerfest tournament, you had to get a high score on the Powerfest cart during Nintendo sponsored events throughout the United States. Regional qualifying events went from May to November. At the events, there were four systems set up, and whoever won on each go got a hat. The top qualifier for each event got a trip to San Diego to participate at the championships. The runner up got a Starfox jacket (presumably) left over from the Starfox Super Weekend Competition.
The top qualifiers were flown to San Diego on November 18-20 for the Nintendo World Championship. Competitors got to participate in many Nintendo sponsored events, and visit Sea World. The competition went ahead on November 20th.
The competitors were separated into four teams, based on the four regions of the US. The preliminaries consisted of 9 rounds of 16 players, where they would once again compete with the Powerfest competition cart. The top 16 players advanced to the next round. All competitors received a copy of Donkey Kong Country, which was released a week after the competition.
From the final 16, additional rounds were played until there were 4 players left. The final four people were in for a surprise, as they would compete using a timed version of Donkey Kong Country (used the subsequent year in the Blockbuster Championships the following year). The prize for victory was a Mustang!
Much like the Campus Challenge competition, the Powerfest languished largely in obscurity until recently.
From what I understand the game was the sold by jollyrancher for $10,000.00 to a seller who then made this attempt to resell it on eBay. Only for a mere $50,00.000 starting price with a $250,000.00 BIN. Not surprisingly, there were no bidders.
Copies Produced: 26
Estimated Price: $10,000.00+
Without a doubt, this is the game that all video game collectors pray they find in the wild. It seems like it’s the rare game the non collecting gamers have heard about. Aside from it’s limited availability, it’s a fun game to play and has a backstory no other games can touch.
Its the same as the Grey NWC, expect with a different shell casing. It however, was much more exclusive and given out to the overall winners.
So, there’s 26 of these out there. It’s nothing in terms of rarity compared to some games. However, the lengths that collectors have gone to for finding a cart in insane. People have actually tracked down the winners using information on the web and in old Nintendo Power Magazines. Now that’s intense.
Now I know there’s at least six of these in collectors hands that I can confirm, but it seems a good majority of these have been found. Rest easy though, there are still a few out there.
In fact, April 17th, 2007, a gold cartridge was inadvertently sold by a father who was selling his sons possessions who had died in Iraq on myebid.com. The father was selling 24 cartridges, with no special attention paid to the Nintendo World Championships 1990 cartridge. The collection sold for $21,400.00.
So what’s the real value? Impossible to say. Tons of collector claim they’d buy one for $5000 but the likelihood of getting one that cheap is low. In fact the much more common (relatively) Grey Cart has fetched more than that lately. The above show’s it getting closer to $20,000. Like anything though it all depends. Most of the sales are “behind door” deals anyway’s. Bottom line, it’s expensive.
If you need one, watch out for ten cent listing day on eBay. One seller likes to list his every now and then for a $20,00 BIN.
Other that, keep your eyes open. Next time you see a Zelda cart with no label, look a little closer…………
There you have it, ten of the most expensive games you can buy.
Who needs ten PS3s when you can have a vintage Nintendo game for the same price……
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