A decade ago, the world of classic games was a small community of game enthusiasts that would scour garage sales and flea markets for cherished childhood gems and then brag about their finds online. Now, classic gaming is big business as more and more people try to cash in on the nostalgia bug.
There’s no denying the power of nostalgia - even I come back to games decades old from time to time. But where most people can just download an emulator and relive their childhood for free, enthusiasts demand the real thing. That means original hardware, all meticulously maintained and cared for, and an old CRT screen TV to play it on. Many have entire rooms of their homes devoted entirely to displaying and playing their collection. And sometimes those collections can be worth tens of thousands or more.
How can these old games and systems be worth so much? As with anything in economics, it all comes down to supply and demand. The demand comes from the gamer generation coming of age, growing up and having kids of their own, and wanting to give their little tykes the same kind of gaming experience they had when they were young - or simply wanting to relive the golden age of gaming themselves. But these old games simply aren’t made anymore, and every year the supply of antique games gets more and more restricted as systems and cartridges age beyond repair, making those that remain ever more valuable.
If you’ve got a plastic tub of old games and systems lying in your attic, you could be sitting on a gold mine. Here we take a look at 15 classic games that are worth a fortune.
With thanks to PriceCharting.com for their pricing data.
15 Power Stone 2
Ahh, the Dreamcast. Truly a pioneer of game consoles, although sadly Sega’s last system to be made. We owe a lot to the Dreamcast: it was the first of the 6th generation consoles capable of displaying 640x480 graphics, it was the first system to have an internal modem allowing online gameplay, and it was the first and only system to feature a memory pack you could take away to play minigames on its tiny screen.
Power Stone was an instant classic from the Dreamcast era and its successor, Power Stone 2, refined the 3D brawler archetype to a gleaming shine. Being built near the end of the Dreamcast’s lifespan meant that not many discs were produced, making it a rare and valuable find. Loose discs can be worth $60.00 to the right buyer, but for real value you have to find it brand new and still in its shrink wrap, where it can be worth up to $300.00.
Estimated Value (New): $300.00
14 NCAA College Basketball 2K3
NCAA College Basketball 2K3 is a bit of an anomaly among classic game collectors. Sports games are a dime a dozen on consoles since every year they just make a new one, and besides that they’re just not very popular. What makes NCAA College Basketball 2K3 so special is that they made a very limited number of these games for Nintendo’s GameCube, so for collectors looking to flesh out their GameCube collection it can be worth a pretty penny.
You can find used and loose discs online for around 100 bucks, but if you have one new and still in shrink wrap you can ask for upwards of $400.00 for it.
Estimated Value (New): $400.00
13 StarCraft 64
This is where classic games get weird. StarCraft for PC was a phenomenon that swept the world and to this day is still being played in Korean arcades. StarCraft 64 was a port to the Nintendo 64 and it is awful. As a real time strategy game built for PC, it was designed with having a mouse in hand to control all your various units. The N64 controller, while arguably one of the better controllers ever made, still wasn’t nearly as fast as a mouse when it came to selecting and commanding your army.
On top of that, PC video rendering had long since left the Nintendo 64 in the dust, requiring the port’s video resolution to be scaled down, so it was hard to even see the battlefield. Every time the computer would engage you, it felt like an ambush since you simply couldn’t see much of the map. Playing against a human opponent on split-screen was like trying to play through a keyhole.
As a result of its awfulness, they didn’t make many, and, for this reason alone, cartridges still in the box command a premium with collectors.
Estimated Value (New): $550.00
On the surface, Gun-Nac looks like any other top-down scroll shooter from the NES era, albeit with a bizarre bunny fixation. And you’d largely be right, but what makes Gun-Nac special is the gameplay itself. The animation of your ship really gives it a sense of speed, something that was often missing from other shooters at the time. As with most shooters, the screen could be filled with enemies, but your ship’s power-ups were more than capable of continually wiping out everything that came at you, giving you a real sense of power. People also look back fondly on a wacky game where carrots and toasters come to life and try to kill you.
When you combine this with the fact that not too many cartridges were made, and collectors aren’t willing to give them up, it pushes the price of this game way beyond its initial sale cost.
Estimated Value (New): $1000.00
11 DuckTales Gold Cartridge
The original DuckTales was a much beloved NES action platformer featuring everyone’s favourite racist representation of capitalism, Scrooge McDuck. In 2013, Capcom announced they were making DuckTales: Remastered, a remake of the original DuckTales but with 3D environments and updated, hand drawn characters. The release would be for all major console systems at the time and, in preparation for Remastered, Capcom also made an ultra-limited run of 150 NES cartridges of the original DuckTales, but with a gold painted shell.
Despite the fact the NES had been out of production for 18 years, Capcom made all new circuit boards and tested them to ensure they would work on decades old hardware. Then they refurbished 150 lightly used NES cartridge shells, painted them gold, and sent them out to various PR firms around the world.
Although not part of the NES’ original production run, it’s hard to deny the appeal of the first new NES cartridge made in nearly 20 years.
Estimated Value (New): $1,300.00
10 Chrono Trigger
As perhaps the greatest RPG of all time, it’s not hard to see why original Chrono Trigger cartridges are in high demand. And owing to its popularity, there were lots of them made. Trouble is, as one of the most popular games ever made, a sealed box with Chrono Trigger still inside is guaranteed to go up in value over time simply as a museum piece.
Of course when I say this, I’m referring specifically to the Super Nintendo cartridge. The only thing keeping Chrono Trigger’s price from getting utterly stratospheric is the fact there have been many versions of the game made for other systems, including PlayStation, Nintendo DS, and even a version for your phone. If you’re looking to play it for the first time, I recommend the DS or phone versions as it has some extra end-game content that never made it into the PlayStation version.
If you want a sealed original box though, you’re going to pay out the nose.
Estimated Value (New): $1,500.00
Remember how I said Gun-Nac was a great shooter for the NES era? Well, M.U.S.H.A. is a great shooter from the Sega Genesis era. However, M.U.S.H.A. assumed you’d gotten your feet wet with shooters on the NES and didn’t pull any punches. This game is Hard with a capital H. It’s not quite Ikaruga levels of bullet hell, but it’s damn close.
M.U.S.H.A. came out shortly after the Genesis’ release and it pushed the system to its limits. The screen would be filled with bullets and baddies, terrain would be coming at you at speeds thus far unseen on consoles, and all the while playing some pretty nice 16-bit tunes too.
But in this case, there were more cartridges released in Japan than in North America, so finding an English version means you’ve found classic game gold.
Estimated Value (New): $1,580.00
8 Outback Joey
You may be asking yourself, “What the deuce is Outback Joey?” Well, it’s a very rare game for the Sega Genesis. It was packaged with an equally rare version of the console called the Heartbeat Personal Trainer, which was a very early attempt to get people to exercise while also playing video games. The system came with a bunch of sensors that you would strap to your body and your little Joey character would move based on your heart rate. The idea here was to play the game while also running on a treadmill or something.
If that sounds as stupid to you as it did to me, then we can both pat ourselves on the back! The system was a complete failure and they only made 1,000 units. Such a limited run means the game is super rare and a prized find for collectors.
Estimated Value (New): $2,025.00
7 Donkey Kong Country Competition Edition
Back in the 90s, competitive gaming wasn’t really a thing just yet, but there were attempts. In what would be a precursor to modern speedrunning, Nintendo held PowerFest ‘94, a competition held outside local department stores whereby the players would play specialized versions of SNES games with the intent of getting as far through the game as possible in 5 minutes. One of those games happened to be a much beloved SNES classic, Donkey Kong Country.
After PowerFest, these cartridges would be sent to Blockbuster where they would be used for their World Video Game Championships II and then sent to Nintendo Power where they were sold in their subscriber’s catalog. With only 2,500 cartridges ever made, seeing one of these on the open market will usually come with a very high price tag.
Estimated Value (New): $2,800.00
6 ClayFighter: Sculptor’s Cut
ClayFighter was a fighting series first done on SNES that poked fun at the very popular fighters of the time, such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Instead of blood and guts or flashy fireballs, you had these animated clay figures that’d beat the snot out of each other, something that mom and dad could be marginally happier about.
A success on the SNES, ClayFighter 63⅓ was the N64 sequel which poked fun not only at fighters, but other titles of the time for all having “64” at the end of their names. An updated version was later released called ClayFighter: Sculptor’s Cut, featuring added characters, updated story lines, and tweaks to the game’s combat. For some reason, instead of being released for wider retail, it was only available to rent from Blockbuster, and when that error in judgement didn’t pan out (one error among many), the company went bankrupt and the game was finally released upon the world.
There were only 20,000 copies made, and given the poor treatment rental games received, that number has vastly decreased. Sealed copies of ClayFighter: Sculptor’s Cut are extremely rare and extremely valuable.
Estimated Value (New): $3,000.00
5 Aero Fighters
Man, collectors really like shoot’em ups. Unlike the other two shmups on this list, nobody ever considered Aero Fighters to be particularly good. The whole military themed top-down shooter had been done to death by that point and, while the sound effects and graphics were competent for the era, it didn’t get a whole lot of notice.
As an unpopular port from an arcade game, what it did get is a limited production run. Even still, prices for the cartridge remained relatively low, but spiked in 2016 when collectors trying to flesh out their SNES libraries found out that this particular game was really hard to come by. As such, finding one of these babies still sealed in the box means you’ve struck pay dirt.
Estimated Value (New): $6,999.99
4 Mega Man X3
Like Zelda and Metroid, Mega Man is just one of those Nintendo franchises with a lot of fans. Mega Man X3 in particular is considered to be one of the best in the series and certainly the best of the 16-bit era.
Couple a rabid fan base with a generally popular SNES title and, on top of that add the fact that Mega Man X3 was made toward the end of the SNES’s life with a (you guessed it) limited production run, and that’s a recipe for value. How much value? Used and beat-up cartridges often go for upwards of $300 on eBay, while brand new boxes can go for insane prices. Like, small car prices.
Estimated Value (New): $6,999.99
3 Red Sea Crossing
Religion and video games don’t often mix outside of satanic imagery. Here we have one of those rare instances of a game designer trying to make a wholesome game about religion, in this case the biblical tale of Moses crossing the Red Sea. And when I say “a game designer,” I literally mean one dude in his garage programmed this Atari 2600 game and tried to sell it in Christian magazines. It never sold, so the only copy ever made was the lone demo copy he programmed. With a production run of one, Red Sea Crossing is considered the Holy Grail of Atari games.
Get it? Religious game? Holy Grail?
Anyway. The programmer never bothered to make a box for it, so you can only get it as a loose cartridge. It still sold at auction in 2012 for $10,400.00, so if you ever see it again outside of a museum, expect to sacrifice your firstborn.
That’s another religious joke. Never mind, I’ll see myself out.
Estimated Value (Loose): $13,800.00
2 Family Fun Fitness Stadium Events
Stadium Events is a fitness game designed to be used alongside the Family Fun Fitness mat, basically an early precursor to the Dance Dance Revolution mat. The game has four events (100m dash, 110m hurdles, long jump, and triple jump) and your performance depends on what you do with your feet on the mat. For the 100m dash, you basically run in place and the speed at which your feet move determines how fast your in-game athlete moves.
What caused the game to become so rare has more to do with marketing. Nintendo saw Stadium Events, thought it had potential, decided to outright buy it from Bandai (the makers of the game and mat) and then rebrand the game as World Class Track Meet and the Nintendo Power Pad.
For a fitness game, it sold relatively well and the Power Pad and World Class Track Meet are fairly common. The original Stadium Events, however, is super rare. It’s estimated only 200 copies of the game were sold before being recalled to be rebranded as World Class Track Meet. It’s also got a bit of a reputation among collectors as the game you mortgage your house for.
Estimated Value (New): $35,000.00
1 Nintendo World Championship Gold
Nintendo has been trying to encourage competitive gaming for quite awhile. We’ve already mentioned Powerfest ‘94, but an even earlier competition held in 1990 was the Nintendo World Championships. Much like Powerfest, the idea was to play short, customized version of games (in this case Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris) on the NES in a limited time and whoever got furthest won.
Nintendo created two cartridges for the competition; 90 Nintendo World Championship in a grey cartridge and 26 Nintendo World Championship in a gold cartridge. The grey cartridges were given to winners after the competition and the gold cartridges were raffled off in Nintendo Power Magazine.
As these were never intended for sale, you can’t find them sealed in a box. But don’t worry, you’ll still get top dollar for them. At the very pinnacle of game collecting prices can fluctuate a bit, but a Gold one sold for $100,000.00. in 2014.
Estimated Value (Loose): $100,000.00