Every gamer goes through that phase where they have a sudden outpouring of nostalgia and they decide to go through their old NES games. However, considering the NES was released in the 1980's, it is getting pretty up there in years. Those games may actually be worth something to collectors these days. Sure, some of the Mario's, Mega Man's, and Legend of Zelda's may be worth a nice chunk of change, but some of the true gems for the collectors are not the big names but rather the obscure ones.
The following rare NES games are the rarest of the rare. Some of them are extremely unlikely to be found lurking in your attic while others just might be in a box somewhere gathering dust and rising in value.
The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak
Estimated Value: $220 -$450
By all accounts, The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak shouldn't be a rare game. However, it came out in the summer of 1994; a full three years after the SNES came out. For gamers that know about console timelines and longevity, the NES was nearing the end of its run. In fact, this particular game came out closer to the release of the N64 than the SNES so the NES era was near its end. As the game was released long after many had moved from the NES, The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak only had a limited run of 10,000 copies. It was this rarity that made it such a collector's item.
Since the game seems a lot like the usual run-of-the-mill games that were released for the NES, unknowing owners often didn't take much care with this game so finding one in good condition is a real find.
Punch-Out Special Edition
Estimated Value: $130 - $500
It's extremely unlikely that NES players have this particular game just laying around. The special edition of Punch-Out comes in a beautiful golden cartridge (much like Legend of Zelda.) Around 10,000 cartridges of this game were given out in Japan during the Nintendo Golf competition before the actual Punch-Out game was released. This version doesn't have Mr. Dream or Mike Tyson as the final fight, but rather Super Macho Man is the last character of the game. One has to stop and realize that they will be paying at least a couple hundred dollars for a game that is not even finished.
Estimated Value: $600 - $850
Cheetahmen II is obviously the sequel to Cheetahmen, but the problem is, it was never officially released. The game developers completed it, but it was never sold on the market. In 1997, 1,500 copies of the game were found in a warehouse and sold in the secondary market. The game is frequently poorly handled, but even in poor condition it can fetch around $600 due to its rarity. Also, it should be noted that the game is said to have so many bugs (because it was never truly beta tested) that it is darn near unplayable.
Bubble Bath Babes
Estimated Value: $700 - $900
With a title like Bubble Bath Babes, it sounds like a movie that should be in the back room of a video store rather than in an NES collection. As it happens, it isn't far from the truth actually. The game is an adult version of Tetris where the player arranges bubbles with similar colors until they touch and disappear. There are also some distracting girls with little to nothing on in the background. The game was produced in limited qualities, sold in a VHS box instead of the traditional NES box and very few ever sold. This game was sold through video stores (likely in that aforementioned back room) and not through game stores. As it was not something that parents would probably get their children, this game is pretty rare.
Estimated Value: $800 - $1,500
Ah, multiple games on one cartridge were the best. Even if they were dumb games, getting more than one for the same price is always the best. However, even with six games on Caltron 6-in-1 they did not add up to even one good game. Caltron 6-in-1 is the first and only game made by Caltron Industries. The game was never licensed for the NES and all of the games inside are all very low quality and generally terrible games. The six games on the cartridge include Cosmos Cop, Adam and Eve, Magic Carpet 1001, Balloon Monster, Porter and Bookyman, and all where thinly veiled rip offs of other NES games so Nintendo did not license it.
Family Fun Fitness Stadium Events NTSC Version
Estimated Value: $900 - $4,000
The PAL version of this game released in Europe is not quite so rare, but it will still sell for a nice price. However, for those that manage to get their hands on a true NTSC version, they have a real gem. After Bandai released the game, Nintendo bought the rights to it, renamed it World Class Track Meet and bundled it with the Power Pad accessory to boost the sales of the new gadget. Of course, they recalled all the Bandai versions, but around 200 or so are still floating around out there. Comparatively, the World Class Track Meet version sells for about five bucks, so only the versions that escaped recall are worth a bunch of money. In 2010, a sealed copy of the unrecalled game sold for $41,000 dollars, so this game is a real find.
Estimated Value: $900 - $5,000
If Myriad 6-in-1 seems familiar, it is because it is just the aforementioned Caltron 6-in-1 in more generic repackaging. After Caltron Industries went out of business, Myriad purchased the remaining inventory of Caltron 6-in-1. They changed the packaging and restickered the cartridges and basically left everything else the same. Since the games inside were rip offs of other NES games, it continued to go unlicensed by Nintendo. Myriad didn't make any new versions of the game so there were only around 100 copies to begin with. As many of the games were pretty terrible, one could imagine a few copies ended up in the trash, so probably less than 100 now.
Nintendo World Championships Gray
Estimated Value: $5,000
While not as rare as the gold version, the gray version of Nintendo World Championship still sells for well over $5,000. This cartridge comes from a game competition that Nintendo held in 1990 to determine the best NES players in three different age groups. The winner in each age group was given one of these cartridges. The event was hosted in a number of different cities, but there is only 90 cartridge thought to be left in the world.
Nintendo World Championships Gold
Estimated Value: $15,000
The gold version of Nintendo World Championships is much like the gray version of the cartridge, but rarer. The Nintendo World Championships Gold cartridge was thought to be the Holy Grail of NES collecting for a long while. However, it is no longer the rarest game, or even the rarest NES game. Nintendo gave out 26 of these during their World Championship event in 1990, so they are quite rare. Both the Gray and the Gold cartridges host Super Mario, Tetris and Rad Racer on them. After six minutes, the cartridge gives players a combined score for all three.
Legend of Zelda Test Cartridge
Estimated Value: $18,000
The Legend of Zelda cartridges are notable for being a spot of gold in a usually gray sea of NES cartridges. However, there is one very rare Zelda cartridge that isn't gold or gray, but rather an ugly mustard yellow. This cartridge was never meant to be released; it is a test copy of the game. No one is quite sure exactly how it got out, but there are around 25 copies floating around out there.
Nintendo Campus Challenge
Estimated Value: $20,000
In 1991, Nintendo held a video game tournament on college campuses across the country. Made especially for the competition, Nintendo made a cartridge that had Super Mario 3, Dr. Mario and PinBot on it with a six minute limit. After the competition, the cartridges were rounded up and destroyed...or so they thought. One of the cartridges was discovered in an ex-Nintendo employee's garage and sold for $20,100. So if you end up with this cartridge, you are extremely lucky and probably paid out the nose for it.