Collecting has become a prominent aspect of video gaming. Whether it’s newcomers looking to find the games of yesteryear that they might have missed, or old timers trying to re-acquire their childhood favorites, demand for retro and nostalgic games has taken off. While you can find a stack of common Nintendo and Atari fare at just about any flea market or garage sale, some are more elusive. Here’s a few rare and valuable games and the stories behind them.
Nintendo World Championships 1990 (NES)
Perhaps the most well-known rare Nintendo game, this cartridge was created for the Nintendo World Championships event in 1990. Players from all around the U.S. competed to prove their Nintendo skills and become one of the 90 finalists in three age categories. Finalists advanced to the main event in the newly-opened Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles. Ultimately, there would be one grand champion from each age category.
The cartridge itself is a triathlon format. Within a time limit, players had to get 50 coins in Super Mario Bros, complete a course in Rad Racer and get a high score in Tetris with their remaining time. As such, 90 special cartridges were created with all three of these games in one. After the event, these were given out to the 90 finalists. In addition, 26 more were produced in a special gold plastic and given away to winners in a Nintendo Power contest. So, with only 116 produced in the world; it’s no wonder this one of the rarest games of all time. Copies have been known to sell on eBay between $12,000 and $20,000.
Stadium Events (NES)
Stadium Events is perhaps the only rare NES title that could be called a rival to Nintendo World Championships. Stadium Events was released for the NES in 1987, but was quickly recalled after Nintendo saw the game and its Power Pad peripheral, and decided they wanted to release it as a licensed accessory. It was then re-released as World Class Track Meet, which went on to be a moderately successful game. Because of the recall, original versions of Stadium Events are much more sought after. A complete, sealed copy owned by a former Nintendo employee sold for over $35,000 on eBay back in January.
NBA Elite 11 (PS3)
What’s a sports game doing on this list? Especially one so recent? Usually old sports games clutter up the shelves and bins at your average used game store, but this one is an exception. EA’s NBA Live series was to be revived in 2010, going by the title NBA Elite. By the time the game would have been completed, however, the season would have been over. Rather than waste time with a game that would be obsolete before it hit shelves, EA made the decision to cancel it. Only a handful of copies of this game made their way into the public’s hands by way of advance copies given to athletes as a promotion. The ones that do exist are a glitchy mess that barely resemble a complete game. Copies have sold for a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Burning Rangers (Sega Saturn)
In the distant future, fire is one of the few hazards left. In this third person action title, the player takes control of futuristic firefighters doing battle with deadly blazes. It got positive reviews, but its unconventional premise and its release toward the end of the Sega Saturn’s lifespan contributed to its lack of sales. American copies can sell for upwards of $200, but importing a Japanese version can be much less expensive.
Air Raid (Atari 2600)
Perhaps the rarest game for the Atari 2600 is Air Raid. An unlicensed title made by the company Men-A-Vision (the only game the company ever made), only three copies of Air Raid have been confirmed to exist. The oddly-shaped cartridge features baby blue plastic and a strange T-shaped handle design. Anticlimactically, the game itself is a fairly generic space shooter, but in any case, they have regularly sold for over $30,000 on eBay.