Vintage gaming products are hot, and that refers both to price and popularity. Nintendo is one of the dominant gaming systems of the late 20th century, and many present-day collectors grew up with Nintendo products, with the games themselves as some of the most sought-after accessories.
All of the following games are from the three Nintendo systems that dominated the 1980s and early 1990s: the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Super Nintendo (SNES) and the Nintendo 64 (N64). The insane price tags for these games are more than just nostalgia, as many of them have historic or sentimental value which also makes them expensive.
10 Nintendo World Championships, Gold Edition (NES)
You've probably heard of this game before, even if you're not into video games or antique toys. It's the most expensive Nintendo cartridge of them all, across all three platforms, with cartridges selling for more than $26,000. Like other valuable cartridges, the history of this one includes a contest. These gold cartridges were actually the prizes for winners of the Nintendo Power sweepstakes connected to the Nintendo World Championships. Prices for the grey cartridge that were actually used in the contest are also high, going for more than $13 000.
9 Stadium Events (NES)
It seems like a totally normal, even dull game, with nothing special about it. It was a brand name switch that made this particular version of this game so rare and therefore the most valuable of the entire Nintendo library. Only 200 were produced by Bandai before Nintendo bought the smaller company and re-sold the game under their own brand and a new name, World Class Track Meet. A loose cartridge of Stadium Events costs over $12,000 while a complete boxed set with the manual is twice that much, almost $24,000.
8 Earthbound (SNES)
A confusing marketing campaign and some localization issues make certain versions of Earthbound hard to find and amazingly expensive. In Japan, this game is known as Mother II, and it's part of a popular RPG series with a dedicated fan following. It's got a great storyline, clever and moving dialogue, and memorable characters. A version that's still in a decent box with an intact manual can coast as much as $1500, and as crazy as that is, it's still one of the cheaper selections on this list.
7 Nintendo PowerFest 1994 (SNES)
There are only two of these cartridges in existence, which explains the prices. You know just by looking at it, it's not because of the design. We have to admit, the gaming setup, which includes quirks like a phone jack and three unique Nintendo games, is pretty cool despite the look.
There were 33 of these rough cartridges produced for the Nintendo Powerfest 1994 contest in 1994 and two survived to become collector's items. One was purchased by a collector for $12,000 in 2012. Other details about the game, and how it survived the purge, are shrouded in mystery.
6 Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 (NES)
The story here is similar to the PowerFest 1994 cartridge but taken to the next level. As the name conveys, these cartridges were used in a contest in 1991 hat took place on various school campuses. Only a limited amount was made specifically for the tournament, and all but one were returned to Nintendo to be recycled for parts. Being one of a kind, it was greedily sought by collectors as the Holy Grail of gaming, perhaps the only other Nintendo cartridge that could compete with Stadium Events when it came to the price. The only known copy of Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 sold on eBay for $21,000 in 2010.
5 Clayfighter: The Sculptor's Cut (N64)
If a movie can have a sought-after Director's Cut, then why can't a video game? Well, that's not exactly what this is, but it parodies a lot of the Hollywood hype that you find in video games. The name is the part of why the Clayfighter games are popular. It's because of the clever humor and satire written into what would be a fairly normal fighting game.
This particular run of the game is expensive because it's an updated version of the original, ClayFighter 63 1/2 (a play on the "64" that appeared on most N64 games) and was only available at Blockbuster as a rental. Even loose, the game runs a high price, more than $400 dollars. If you want a new factory sealed copy, prepare to pay as much as $3,100.
4 Stunt Racer 64 (N64)
The story with Stunt Racer is similar to that of ClayFighter, in the sense that it was part of a limited release that gamers could only experience via a Blockbuster rental. The concept of the game was unique, and it found a niche among dedicated fans. It's set in the future when cars have special modifications for fancy stunts like barrel rolls and flips. The loose cartridge alone is fairly economical, especially compared to others, selling for a mere $225 dollars, but add an intact box and manual to that, and the prices jump to more than $2000.
3 Snowboard Kids 2 (N64)
How many snowboarding games were there back in the 1990s, anyway? What makes this one so special? There was an interesting twist in the gameplay that made it a racing game similar to MarioKart, which is one reason, and this was also a fan-favorite with lovable characters that a lot of gamers and collectors enjoyed as kids. Out of all the games on this list, this one is more about genuine nostalgia than any other, but it's still the rarity that decides the price. If you do come across a version still in the box, you can sell it for almost $700.
2 Starcraft 64 (N64)
For those PC gamers out there, yes, this is what you think it is. For those of you who are more familiar with consoles, Starcraft was one of the early real-time strategy games that came out in the 1990s courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment. Yup, that's the same company that gave us World of Warcraft. It's normal to play these kinds of games on consoles now, but how did this happen in the year 2000? We're still not sure, but the late release and weird Nintendo/PC crossover are what makes this game special, and when it's a factory sealed copy that's been graded by a recognized video game authority, it's special enough to be worth over $900.
1 Harvest Moon 64 (N64)
A late release in 1999 and a fairly small supply were part of what made this game valuable, but it was the storyline and gameplay that made it popular. This was one of the earliest farm simulation games and one of the few to appear on any console. Harvest Moon 64 was the third in the Story of Seasons franchise, with a drama all it's own.
With a loose price of $36 and a factory sealed box selling for $253, this could be the cheapest game on the list. Graded and sealed copies, however, are exceedingly rare, with prices ranging from $1000 to almost $3000.