So, you’ve got some cash to burn? You could spend it on the classic luxury items: nice champagne, a new car, gold jewelry… or an NES cartridge. Surprisingly enough, these relics of a bygone era can cost a pretty penny, with some examples running into the tens of thousands of dollars. If an NES cartridge is more your idea of high luxury than bespoke suits, read on.
The 10 most expensive NES cartridges of all time
10. Bubble Bobble Part 2
A sequel to the original Bubble Bobble, the second game in the series was produced for both NES and Gameboy. As they were developed entirely separately from each other, the NES and Gameboy versions have totally different plots and gameplay elements. The NES version, in particular, has become something of a collector’s item and has sold for up to $600.
9. Bonk’s Adventure
Bonk’s Adventure is the first game in the long-running Bonk series. Originally released in 1989, the latest iteration was a Wii U port released in 2016. Bonk, the title character, is an iconically bald infant caveman battling against hordes of dinosaurs. Though you can still play the game on the Wii U, the original cartridge for the NES is quite a bit rarer, and will set you back $850.
8. Power Blade 2
Released in 1992, Power Blade 2 is an ode to retro sci-fi in the vein of Terminator and Demolition Man. It follows a suitably burly action hero employed by the U.S. Department of Defense as he fights to destroy a prototype android that has fallen into the hands of an evil organization. If this sounds like the game for you, get your checkbook ready: the cartridge has been known to sell for around $1,000.
7. Super Star Fox Weekend Cartridge
If you don’t feel like spending a grand on Power Blade, why not go for a classic? Back in 1993, Nintendo held a weekend competition to promote the release of the new StarFox game. Held at around 2,000 locations around the United States on the last weekend of April, the cartridge was given out as a reward for competitors, and is one of the actual cartridges used during the event. Originally listed at $45 dollars back in 1993, this competition cartridge now goes for $1,000.
6. The Jetsons: Cogswell’s Caper
A Jetsons tie-in game, Cogswell’s Caper was well received, with a 73% rating in EGM’s January 1993 issue. This didn’t translate to physical sales, however, and the game did poorly at launch. The game itself is known for its high difficulty, and will certainly provide a challenge to any who can get their hands on a cartridge. Cartridges alone will sell for $1200, but gamers with an in-box cartridge could net an even higher price.
5. The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak!
A Flintstones tie-in game, this 1994 title is exceedingly rare. No copies were ever released to stores for purchase. If you wanted to get your hands on a copy, you had to rent it from the now-extinct rental giant Blockbuster. After Blockbuster fell to the sands of time, copies began circulating online for purchase… but because they’re so rare, you should expect to shell out a pretty penny: a copy will cost you at least $1200.
4. Donkey Kong Country Competition Cartridge
Like the Star Fox cartridge above, this version of Donkey Kong Country was a competition exclusive. Similar to the standard game, this cartridge originally saw use in the 1994 Nintendo PowerFest competition. It was later used again for the Blockbuster World Video Game Championship. This Blockbuster-era relic can still be found, but Donkey Kong fans should be prepared to drop some serious cash for a copy. Most run somewhere in the $2000 range, but some copies have climbed as high as $3000.
3. Little Samson
Little Samson was a Megaman clone from industry giant Taito. Despite being well received, it was doomed for a short shelf life. It originally hit shelves in 1992 during the waning days of the NES’s popularity. Gamers were moving on to the shiny new SNES, and as a result, Little Samson didn’t sell well. Few copies were made as a result of lack of sales, but Taito’s business blunder could be worth a pretty penny to some. Original, in-box copies will sell for $3,000 or more.
2. Nintendo World Championships Cartridge (1990)
This deceptively plain-looking cover graces what is, in reality, a Holy Grail of NES games. The 1990 Nintendo World Championships cartridge housed tie trials of some of the era’s most popular games, from Super Mario Bros. to Tetris. Only 26 copies were ever made, and were only available via a contest in Nintendo Power magazine. If you were one of the lucky few to net yourself a cartridge, you can take that right to the bank. Cartridges have sold for a shocking $30,000 to the right buyer.
1. Stadium Events
Stadium Events is easily one of the most collectible NES games of all time. Originally sold with a floor pad periphery known as the “Bandai Family Fun Fitness” pad, the game was recalled shortly after launch to rebrand the pad as the much-snappier sounding “Power Pad.” Because of this recall, it’s the crown jewel of collectors everywhere. Loose, the copy can sell for $10,000. In its box, it’ll climb to $20,000. Don’t blink, though… last year, a mint condition, sealed-in-box cartridge sold at auction for a jaw-dropping $41,977 dollars. That’s a pretty penny for a manufacturer’s mistake!
Got old NES cartridges collecting dust in the attic? It might be time to take a closer look at them. They might be worth a fair bit more than you think. Who needs luxury items when you’ve got video games?