Top 10 Most Expensive Games Ever
10. Nintendo World Championship
Went for $5,000+
Back in the day, Nintendo had a bit of a penchant for holding game competitions all across America. Coast-to-coast, kids with cat-like reflexes and arthritic thumbs would flock to these competitions to compete in fierce combat over a session of Rad Racer, Super Mario Bros. and more. Central to these gruelling contests were bespoke cartridges made up of all the game segments combatants would have to play in order to win.
Image courtesy of JJ Hendricks.
What happened to most of these carts is a mystery, although every so often a stray copy will appear on eBay and shift for insane amounts of dosh. Nintendo World Championship is one of those carts. The games included on the cart are Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and Tetris. If you find one in a car boot sell, buy it, lest you want to regret it forever.
9. Atlantis II
Went for $6,000+
There are many ludicrously expensive Atari 2600 carts that sell on eBay from time to time. One of the most sought after is Atlantis II, a contest edition of the original Atlantis. Like Nintendo World Championship, Atlantis II is a bespoke build designed specifically for gamers to compete for a grand prize of $10,000.
Not a bad prize you will probably agree, but the runner-up prizes were a kick in the stones. Runners up won a set of snorkelling gear, which is a tad shite if you happen to live in the middle of America, miles away from the nearest stretch of water. Also, developer Imagic hit a problem when four players maxed out the score counter, leading to a stalemate over the top prize.
This is one well-travelled cartridge.
8. The Ultimate 11
Went for $10,000+
Because FIFA and PES now follow a yearly release schedule, it’s hard to imagine them becoming collectible. But The Ultimate 11: SNK Football Championship is the most collectible footie game of all time, selling for more than $10,000 the last time one was found on eBay. It’s the fourth game in the popular Super Sidekicks series.
Launching on Neo Geo and across arcades in 1996, the game contains an impressive 80 national teams, which was an impressive feat considering it came on cartridge instead of disc. It’s a refreshing title in many ways, because it puts a mad arcade spin on the genre, with power up bars and awesome sprite work. To be fair, anything looks better than Wayne Rooney’s scanned-in mug.
7. Nintendo Campus Challenge
Went for $10,000+
Yet another Nintendo competition compendium, this time geared towards SNES games. Unsurprisingly, Campus Challenge was an America-wide competition held in 1992, spanning 60 colleges across the country in the search for the ultimate SNES master. The cart housed samples of Super Mario World, F-Zero and Pilotwings, tasking each player to meet certain criteria to proceed to the next round.
In Super Mario World, you had to collect 50 coins as quickly as possible. You could only access Yoshi’s house and the first two stages, so while grabbing 50 coins wasn’t exactly difficult, you really had to move without thinking twice. In F-Zero, you had to finish two laps of the first course as quickly as possible, while Pilotwings gave you all three variants of the ‘Don’t Forget Your Parachute’ minigame. The final winner was Jeff Hanson, who walked away with a cool $10,000. Well done that lad.
6. Nintendo Powerfest 94
Went for $10,000+
A third Nintendo competition to enter the list, the Powerfest ’94 cart housed a tougher gauntlet of games than previous compilations. Culminating at Sea World in California, the contest saw kids trying to meet set criteria in three games within a harsh six-minute time limit.
The three games on offer were Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario Kart, and weirdly, Ken Griffey Jr. Home Run Derby. All-Stars was the hardest of the bunch, tasking kids with beating the first stage of Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels. If you’ve played this beast before, then you already know that it’s not an easy game by any stretch. Bloody Nintendo sadists!
Only 33 of these cartridges were ever made, and while 32 were recalled and deconstructed by Nintendo of America, one final cart still pops up on eBay from time to time, now going for about $300,000. Which is just crazy money really.
5. Nintendo World Championships Gold
Went for $17,000+
Guess what? Yep, that’s right. This is yet another Nintendo tourney cartridge, except it’s exactly the same as the first Nintendo World Championship cart, but you know, gold. The America-wide competition was held in 1990, following hot on the heels of Nintendo cash-cow movie The Wizard. Riding the coattails of the movie’s popularity, Nintendo loosely based the competition on the flick, except for the glaring omission of Super Mario Bros. 3, which was clearly the highlight of the movie.
It’s the same as the original, but golden! Courtesy of JJ Hendricks.
The three contested games were exactly the same as the first World Championship. Select sections from Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and Tetris had to be bested in just six minutes for a chance to win prizes. The finals were held at Universal Studios in Hollywood, with finalists battling it out for the top prize of $10,000, a 40” TV and a gold-painted Mario statue. Not a bad haul for playing a few games.
4. Kizuna Encounter
Went for $12,500+
Produced by SNK in 1996, only 12 PAL copies of Kizuna Encounter were ever created for the NeoGeo, making it a sought-after collector’s item. Like much of SNK’s game stock, Kizuna Encounter is a 2D fighting game that boasted superb sprite work and an engaging combat system. The most notable feature was the tag system, which really mixed the gameplay up from its predecessor, Savage Reign.
While the PAL code goes for in excess of $12,000, the Japanese cart was mass-produced and is nearly identical to the European equivalent, shifting for just $50 on eBay. It actually makes you wonder why collectors don’t simply go for the Japanese cart instead, but then again some people do have more money than sense.
3. Nintendo Campus Challenge
Went for $20,100+
Oh look, another rare Nintendo competition cart. The NES version of Nintendo Campus Challenge toured around 60 college campuses across America, pitting nimble thumbed students against each other for cash and glory. The format was similar to other Nintendo tourneys, with a harsh six-minute timer and criteria spread across three games.
This could earn you upwards of $300,000!
First up, players had to collect a mere 25 coins in Super Mario Bros 3. The key here was to fly up to the top of the first stage and use the secret warp pipe to enter a room rammed full of coins. If you didn’t know this trick, then you were in trouble. Next, players had to score 100,000 points in Pin*Bot, then clear 100 tiles in Dr.Mario. This challenge was particularly gruelling and only one known copy of the cartridge exists today.
2. Air Raid
Went for $31,600
Another Atari 2600 relic, Air Raid is an anomaly because of how weird it looks. For starters it’s a blue cartridge with an odd handle on the base, as if gamers were having trouble figuring out how the cartridge slotted into their console. Developer Men-A-Vision clearly gave us gamers too little credit.
Due to a scant production run, Air Raid has become a true collector’s item, with the last known copy shifting for a whopping $31,600 at its last eBay auction. Whoever is sitting on this copy might as well be perched upon a golden egg. They’re probably keeping it warm until the value goes up further, so who knows when we’ll see it resurface again.
1. Stadium Events
Went for: $41,300
So here we are then, the motherlode of video game collector’s items. Stadium Events doesn’t appear to be the most likely of rarities, but this rare 1986 gem fetched an unprecedented $41,300 on eBay in 2010. It was one of two games created exclusively for the Family Fun Fitness mat, a peripheral that predates the dance mat. Nintendo make a peripheral-based sports game? You must be mad!
The cart housed a slew of Olympic games events including the long jump, 100m dash, triple jump and 110m hurdles. Specifically, it was the American version of the game that garnered the huge eBay sale, thanks in part to its small production run and limited release. Sold in only a few specialist shops, only 20 copies of Stadium Events are rumoured to exist, propelling it to the zenith of collector’s wish lists.