So you've got yourself a Collector's Edition of Majora's Mask on the Nintendo 64? Big deal. I see you have a sealed limited edition copy of Shenmue for the Dreamcast? You got nothing, son.
What you're about to see are the rarest and most valuable video games in the history of the art form. From games that were sold through magazine advertisements, to cartridges that were made but never released; these are 20 video games that if you own you need to keep (or sell and make a shit-ton of money).
20 Rarest & Most Valuable Video Games Out There
The company Gammation had a great run. They made one game called Gammation and it never released. Did I say great run? Only a few cartridges of this title were created, but only one of the originals is known to exist. It's owned by Anthony Denardo and has been listed on eBay before for $500,000. It's never been sold though so it's unsure how much this game is actually worth. Nice try though, Denardo!
Created by MenAvision, who sound like an even more sexist version of Activision —the idea! — Air Raid is estimated to have a mere 12 cartridge copies left in existence. The only one which was complete with a box was sold for $31,600; the owner said that it had been sitting in his basement gathering dust for over 20 years. I'm gonna go take a look in my attic now.
This is an unusual one. Birthday Mania was only sold through magazine advertisements and had to be specifically ordered from the company, Personal Games. I suppose this is pretty personal! Part of the game involved you blowing out birthday candles...sounds like a right laugh. As you can imagine, it wasn't very successful and only two people claim to own the game, only one of which has confirmed it. The highest offer made was $6,500 but the owner rejected it.
The Music Machine
This little thing was only sold in Christian bookstores. Who the f**k thought that would be a good idea? Naturally it was no hit and apparently plays a lot like Kaboom, except really religious. A sealed version of this game can allegedly sell for up to $6,000. Guess I should take a look in some Christian booksto...actually no.
Nintendo World Championships
The "Holy Grail" of video games. In 1990 Nintendo held a gaming competition in Los Angeles, California. Players would compete for the combined high score in 3 specially timed challenge games: Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer and Tetris. 116 cartridges were made and given to finalists, 90 of these being grey and the others gold. Of the 26 gold cartridges, 13 have surfaced. If you can actually find one of those that remain they go for over $20,000 a piece. One of the grey cartridges was sold for $8,000 on eBay but all of the others have yet to appear.
This here is the rarest officially licensed game for the NES. Nintendo pulled it from shelves in order to remake and rerelease the game as World Class Track Meet (terrible name, lads). Only 2,000 copies of the game are believed to have been purchased by retailers and only about 200 sold to consumers. The rest were recalled and destroyed. Only around 20 have surfaced and only 2 of them are in their original packaging. One of these was purchased by the online retailer, JJ Games, for $41,300. An opened, boxed version sold for $13,000 on eBay.
More Nintendo competitions! In 1991-92 Nintendo held competitions at 60 college campuses in the US. Players would compete for the combined high score in 3 specially timed challenge games: Super Mario Bros. 3, PinBot, and Dr. Mario. Only a single copy of Campus College is known to exist as most of them were destroyed after the competition wrapped. This copy now belongs to Jason Wilson, the man with the biggest video game collection in the world. It was uncovered by Rob Waters in 2006 in the basement of a Nintendo employee. Wilson bought it off him for $20,000.
Active Enterprises pulled a really dick move by putting a golden sticker on 1,500 copies of the original Cheetahmen which claimed they were sequels. In reality, it was just the original with a gold sticker. However, they somehow managed to misspell the damn thing and called it Cheetamen. These were never released but found in a warehouse in 1997 and then sold to the public. It's thought to be one of the worst games ever made but it can sell for over $1,500.
This here is an unlicensed cartridge containing 6 games: Cosmos Cop, Magic Carpet 1001, Balloon Monster, Adam and Eve, Porter, and Bookyman. The company that made this, Caltron, eventually went out of business and their inventory was purchased by Myriad, who relabeled and packaged the games. Less than a hundred of these cartridges are thought to exist and, when in good condition, they can sell for over $3,000 a piece.
Legend of Zelda Test Cartridge
A collector found three of these cartridges in a flea market in 2005. After asking around online, no one seemed to have a clue what they actually were. As more surfaced, it was discovered that they were test cartridges used in Nintendo Service Centers. The gameplay is still the same as the original Zelda cartridge. They can sell for over $500.
Bubble Bath Babes, Hot Slots & Peek-A-Boo Poker
Say hello to three unlicensed adult oriented video games released in 2001. They were very hard to find at their time due to the fact that they featured nudity and it's estimated that around 1,000 cartridges exist. They came in VHS-style NES cases and can sell for $500 to over $1,000. Why hello there!
Oh look, another one of these strange Nintendo competitions! This one was held in 1994 and was based on scoring points in 6 minutes using a special game pack. The games involved were Super Mario Lost Levels, Super Mario Kart, and Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball. Only 33 of these cartridges were created and only one of them remains. Its starting bid is set at $25,000. Interested?
Used in the Powerfest '94 championship finals, this is a special timed version of the original Donkey Kong: Country. You've only got five minutes to collect as many points as possible. Apparently 2,500 copies of the game were made and they can sell between $500 and $1,200.
Star Fox: Super Weekend
Isn't every weekend with Star Fox super? Ha...ha...I'll stop. These cartridges were used by Blockbuster Video for in-store competitions. The cartridge featured time limited single player missions that had been modified, as well as an exclusive bonus level. Depending on how well you scored, you could win a t-shirt, a jacket, or even a trip to international destinations! Today, you can find these cartridges selling for around $400. Those free flights are long gone though.
Heralded as one of the greatest games of all time, this was one of the most popular role-playing games for the Super Nintendo. Seeing as it's so popular, cartridges of Chrono Trigger can sell for over $1,000 if sealed. However, you can still find loose cartridges for around $40.
Sonic The Hedgehog
The US version of this famous game is a lot rarer than the European PAL version (The Master System was more of a success in Europe). But the only difference between these two versions is the barcode sticker on the back of the box, which begins with 01008 instead of 49743. You can imagine how many faked versions have been sold over the years! But original copies have been sold for up to $1,000 on eBay.
Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II
These cartridges were used to promote NBA Jam and Judge Dredd. In the Summer of 1995 over 300,000 people took part in the competition around the world. Winners were given a year's worth of free game rentals from the store and those that took part received some trading cards. All copies were all ordered to be destroyed once the competition ended and only two are said to have survived. One of these has sold for $2,000.
Miracle Piano Teaching System
What do you think this was supposed to do? Yep! Designed to help you learn the piano in 1990, this little cartridge came with a keyboard. You could learn hundreds of lessons from the game and the keyboard could even be used independently. It can be found for around the same price as its original retail price, $500. The Genesis version of this game is the most difficult one to find.
Available on the Mega Drive, this is thought to be the rarest cartridge for the console. Because of legal battles, this was never actually released, even though Nintendo won the copyright in the end. We only know of 10 copies, one of which was sold in 2008 for $14,600. The owner even managed to get it signed by the creator, Alexey Pajitnov.