Console: Game Boy
Amazing Tater is a puzzle adventure game for the original Game Boy. The second part of a series called Kwirk (or Puzzle Boy in Japan), the game features simple gameplay: the player pushes blocks around the screen to solve a series of puzzles.
Unfortunately for developer Atlus, audience reception was poor and sales were far lower than its predecessor. This was likely due to a mix of poor marketing and a general distaste for the vegetable-based character design.
The rarity of Amazing Tater went unnoticed until 2012 when cartridge prices jumped from $15 to $130. The most notable copy sold for $1,688 in 2016—a well-preserved, complete set that included all reading materials and the original box. There's a similar listing on eBay now for $1,799.99.
Console: PlayStation 3
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is an action-adventure game by studio Naughty Dog. It was released on the PlayStation 3 back in 2009, but only a lucky few got their hands on the Fortune Hunter Edition. This special pack included:
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
- Collectible art book
- Replica of the Phurba Dagger artifact
- Autographed case from the Naughty Dog team
Winners were randomly chosen from a pool of users who participated in the demo weekend contest. Any PlayStation user who played the game online was entered into the drawing automatically.
Console: Game Boy Color
Shantae is a platformer for the Game Boy color created by husband and wife duo Erin and Matt Bozon. The two struggled for years to get Shantae off the ground. It wasn't until 2002 that it finally found a home on the Game Boy Color.
The timing of its release proved to be detrimental, having arrived after the Game Boy Advance launch. Sales were low and, according to Kotaku, only 25,000 copies are estimated to have been produced—making Shantae a highly sought-after rarity.
Copies in sealed mint condition have sold for over $2,000 as recently as 2017. Even today, authenticated mint copies can go for $2,100.
EarthBound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) is a JPRG classic for the SNES. The game was released in 1995 with a serious price tag of $70. Customers received a small package of items to accompany their game—this included things like a full-sized guide book, scratch-and-sniff stickers, and more.
The Nintendo 64 arrived a year later, making it hard for Earthbound to compete. Reception with American audiences was already low, pushing the game further into obscurity as only 150,000 copies were sold. Since then, the game has adopted a bit of a cult following and is included as one of the games on the Super NES Classic Edition.
Factory sealed copies have reportedly sold for over $3,000 as recent as 2013. Today, a sealed mint set can fetch over $2,100, while loose copies are worth at least $100.
Harvest Moon is a farming simulator for the Super Nintendo. It was released the same year as the Nintendo 64, making it hard to thrive in a market where gamers were already moving to the new system.
Harvest Moon was developed by Marvelous Entertainment, but the North America rights are held by Natsume. In 2016, a rare copy of Harvest Moon for the SNES was auctioned by Natsume and sold for $2,199.99. Loose copies are easily worth $100.
Elemental Gearbolt is a shooter for the PlayStation developed by Alfa System in 1997. The game itself isn't notably rare, but the Assassin's Case Edition definitely is. Fewer than 50 cases were produced for this special edition and only four are confirmed to have sold. The Elemental Gearbolt: Assassin's Case Edition includes:
- Aluminum embossed case with the Elemental Gearbolt logo
- Sealed copy of Elemental Gearbolt
- Golden Namco GunCon controller
- Red or Gold PlayStation memory card
- Letter from Working Designs
This special package could only be won at the Elemental Gearbolt tournament at E3 in 1998. Collectors will be hard-pressed to find a copy available for sale. But if you do find one, it's usually in the $2,200 range.
Console: Game Boy
Mega Man V, an action platformer for the original Game Boy, is part five of a bigger series known in Japan as Rockman World. Mega Man V stood out from its predecessors with new levels, bosses, and original assets. The game was met with mixed reception, likely contributing to lower sales. It didn't help that this was the fifth game in the Mega Man franchise, released while audiences were already feeling a bit of series fatigue.
Today, Mega Man V is one of the most sought-after rarities in the gaming market. Sealed copies can go for up to $2,500, with loose copies selling for around $100.
Console: Xbox 360
Dead Space is a survival horror game for the Xbox 360. When it was released in 2008, EA announced the Dead Space Ultra Limited Edition version of the game. Only 1,000 units were produced for pre-order on the EA Store. This rare package includes:
- Dead Space for the Xbox 360
- Bonus content
- Animated Downfall DVD
- Lithograph artwork
- Graphic novel
- Ishimura crew patch
It's not easy to get your hands on this collector's set, but it's not impossible either. Bids have reached as high as $2,500 as recent as 2018. There's a listing on eBay right now with a Buy It Now price of $2,400.
Console: Atari 2600
Pepsi Invaders is a unique edition of the classic Space Invaders. It was part of a gift package, which also included an Atari 2600, for Coca-Cola executives at a sales convention in the early 1980s. The box is plain with a small sticker that reads, "Atari Goes Better With Coke".
"Atari Goes Better With Coke."
The game plays just like Space Invaders, but this time the aliens have been replaced with letters to spell PEPSI. The top of the screen reads "Coke Wins", but programmer Christopher Omarzu insists he has no memory of adding it to the game.
Finding a copy of this promotional game is very difficult as only 125 copies were ever made. A complete Pepsi Invaders set sold in 2013 for $3,500. Loose cartridges can sell for over $800.
Console: Game Boy
Spud's Adventure is an action RPG based on the Puzzle Boy series (see Amazing Tater above). Instead of working through puzzles, this game is a full-fledged action RPG. The story follows Spud, an eager potato who's determined to rescue Princess Mato.
The developer of Spud's Adventure, Altus, didn't create many copies of this title—making it one of the rarest Game Boy games. Collectors have paid up to $3,500 for a mint copy. Loose copies sell for around $200.
Console: Nintendo 64
ClayFighter: Sculptor's Cut is an update for ClayFighter 63⅓, providing more characters and gameplay elements. This edition was released as a Blockbuster Video rental exclusive in 1998, meaning you could only rent this game from Blockbuster.
Getting your hands on a copy today is tricky—especially if you want the original box. Many of the Blockbuster stores discarded or lost them over the years. If you manage to find a copy with the box, it could go for up to $4,000.
Wrecking Crew was released in 1985 for the NES. The game wasn't designed with Mario in mind, but he eventually made his way to the role of protagonist. You play as Mario—smashing objects in a certain order without trapping or injuring him. The game also included a level editor which would become a recurring feature in various future Mario titles.
Unfortunately, American players were unable to save their progress. The Japanese version used a tape drive accessory to save progress which was unavailable to American customers. Sealed copies of Wrecking Crew have sold for as much as $4,060.
Today, a new copy of Wrecking Crew can fetch over $1,600.
Console: PAL SNES
Batman Forever is a beat 'em up game based on the Batman movie of the same name. The game wasn't well received by fans and sales were lower than expected. The rare edition mentioned here is the Batman Forever Limited Edition for the PAL SNES.
This cartridge is hard to get your hands on and is known as one of the rarest SNES games. Loose copies alone can net more than $500. There are very few official records of recent sales for this game, but estimates put new mint copies in the $4,000 range.
Console: SNES/Life Fitness Exertainment System
Separately, these games aren’t worth much—but combined they're seriously valuable! This combination cartridge for the SNES contains both Entertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer. Both of these games were compatible with the hyper rare SNES exercise bike, Life Fitness Exertainment System. Pedaling the bike in real life controlled your character in the game.
The SNES bike was sold in a bundle with the special 2-in-1 cartridge. This makes the cartridge about as common as the Life Fitness Exertainment System. Mint copies of this cartridge can go for more than $4,800.
In 2013, Capcom sent a promotional package to prominent media members with a rare edition of DuckTales for the NES. Only 150 packages were created, making this one of the rarest video games out there today.
The package included:
- Golden DuckTales NES cartridge
- Metal DuckTales lunchbox
- Quackety Quack! music program guide
- Certificate of authenticity
- Shredded money
An auction was started in 2014 at $5 for a special Artistic Proof version. This auction ended with a sale total of $5,100.
Console: Neo Geo
The King of Fighters 2000 English version is considered one of the rarest games for the Neo Geo. There are only 100 copies confirmed to exist, making sales few and far between. The game had an extremely limited release in North America.
If you manage to spot a loose copy, you'll be extremely lucky. In June 2017, this mint-in-box copy was sold for $5,750.
The Flintstones: The Surprise At Dinosaur Peak! was released as a rental game exclusive. Many publishers at the time were skipping the traditional market in favor of the lending business model—especially considering the SNES was released 4 years prior.
As with many rental exclusives, finding a nice copy with the box intact is rare. For many years, this game flew under the radar. By loose copies were selling for $250. Today, a mint copy with a box can fetch over $6,600!
Super Copa is a Spanish/Portuguese version of another game called Tony Meola's Sidekicks Soccer. It was developed by Sculptured Software and released in 1993. It used the same engine as NCAA Basketball and NHL Stanley Cup Hockey.
The game was only issued in Latin American countries, making it very hard to find. The limited release puts a sealed mint copy in the $6,900 range.
Console: Atari 2600
Atlantis II was released for an Atari 2600 tournament in the early '80s. Copies of Atlantis II were given to winners of the tournament. The gameplay itself is identical to Atlantis with only a few changes: faster speed and a new scoring system.
Copies of Atlantis II are beyond sparse. There are very few confirmed sales of this cartridge. There was a copy, however, that managed to sell in 2011 for $6,982.
Little Samson is an action platformer released for the NES back in 1992. Like many NES games released after the SNES launch, its sales were limited. Many fans were already investing in the latest Nintendo console, leaving Little Samson behind.
Unboxed cartridges of this title go for as much as $1,000. Mint-in-box editions are well over the $8,000 price range. This poorly timed NES classic is easily one of the rarest NES titles you can find.
This special version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was created for a Hong Kong audience, where most residents speak both English and Cantonese. These cartridges were not very common, but they do appear from time to time in various auctions.
If you're lucky enough to get your hands on Super Mario Bros. 2 Asian Version, you're looking at a cartridge valued at more than $1,000. Mint copies have been reported to have sold for more than $10,000.
Console: Atari 2600
Created by Steve Slack from Inspiration Video Concepts, Red Sea Crossing was released in 1983 with only 100 copies having ever been produced. The team only marketed the new game in a few magazines and it quickly dissolved into obscurity.
So far, only 2 copies have surfaced. The original advertisement also promised a coloring book and audiotape, but neither of these have been found. A copy of Red Sea Crossing sold in 2012 for $10,000.
Console: Mega Drive
This cartridge was created for the Blockbuster World Championships II (although it only took place in America, not worldwide). Contestants could choose to play either NBA Jam Tournament Edition or Judge Dredd on the SEGA Master System, or Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo.
After the tournament ended in July in 1995, Acclaim ordered the Mega Drive cartridges be destroyed. Only a handful have appeared over the years, but they are out there! A rough copy can easily go to $2,000. In 2013, one appeared in a SEGA bundle at Goodwill, fetching $10,500.
In 1994, Nintendo held a competition in North America called Nintendo Powerfest. Teams played three SNES games: Super Mario Kart, Super Mario All-Stars, and Ken Griffey Jr. Home Run Derby. The Nintendo Powerfest cartridge contains a competition version of all three games.
33 cartridges were created for the competition, but 31 of them were recycled for parts. Only 2 cartridges are confirmed to exist. A few sales have taken place over the years, putting the average price around $15,600.
Console: Mega Drive
Tetris was developed in the early '80s under the USSR. The game itself was considered the property of the state at the time. International licensing for the title quickly became confusing. SEGA, having their own edition for the Mega Drive, decided to cease production after the fallout of a lawsuit with the Kyoto-based publisher Tengen and their NES version of Tetris.
Because of the low production numbers, this edition is notoriously rare. One lucky buyer snagged a signed copy featuring the autograph of Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov for $16,000. It's said to be the only one like it in existence so he tried—and failed—to sell it for $1,000,000.
Tetris made our list of the best games from the year you were born. Find out what year!
Nintendo's Campus Challenge event was held in 1992. Contestants were up against Nintendo's finest games—Super Mario World, F-Zero, and Pilotwings. Competition versions of the games were put together on a single cartridge created just for the event.
After the competition, the cartridges were ordered to be destroyed. Only 3 have been confirmed to exist since the 1992 competition. In 2009, one of these cartridges surfaced and sold for $20,000.
Super Mario Bros. for the NES is far from rare—it's one of the most popular games for the console. But that didn't stop collectors from losing their collective minds over this factory sealed copy that showed up in 2017.
If you've got a copy of Super Mario Bros. lying around, you're better off playing it. But if it happens to be in the original box with the factory sealing, you're looking at a potential $30,000 payoff.
Console: Atari 2600
Air Raid is well known in the gaming community as the rarest Atari game. It's the only game ever created by Men-A-Vision and was released in 1982. The gameplay is simple and involves defending Manhattan from flying saucers.
A copy surfaced in 2012 from a man who supposedly received it in the early '80s. He owned a drug store and was given a copy to test by a sales rep. He contacted the rep after deciding the game was a poor fit for his customers. The sales rep told him to hang onto the game since nobody else wanted it either. Air Raid sold for a total of $33,433 at auction.
Only 2,000 copies of Stadium Events were ever produced. Of those 2,000 copies, only 200 made it to store shelves—even then, it was exclusively sold at Woolworths in the Northeastern United States. The game was recalled and released under a new title: World Class Track Meet.
Only 11 copies of Stadium Events have ever been confirmed. A copy made headlines in 2017 when it sold for over $41,000.
Nintendo held a competition in 1990 in search of the greatest NES player, sending a team across the United States to compete using a special championship cartridge. The cartridge contained a single level from each of several games used in the competition, as well a set of physical DIP switches to toggle between them.
The Nintendo World Championships event shared its name with the [gray] cartridges used to compete in the event, as well as the [gold] cartridges given as prizes to the winners.
There were originally over 1,000 cartridges used throughout the competition. Winners were given commemorative cartridges, while the majority of the remainder were repurposed for the upcoming Campus Challenge event.
Fun fact: the 1989 movie The Wizard, which was basically a giant Nintendo commercial, was the inspiration for the Nintendo World Championships event. Just check out the final scenes from that film and you can imagine what the actual event was like:
Watch the video:
Only 90 gray and 26 gold carts are confirmed to exist. In 2014, one of the gold cartridges sold at auction for $100,000. The buyer insists the bid was a mistake, but who wouldn't want the opportunity to get their hands on this piece of Nintendo history?
It doesn't take a AAA title to earn a spot as one of the highest-grossing video game franchises. Play your cards right, and you can join the big leagues.