Stories about lucky folks selling old video games for unfathomable sums of money make the rounds on a fairly regular basis, but these feel-good stories can be a bit deceptive. Usually, when you hear about an old Nintendo title selling for thousands of dollars, the game is some sort of oddity. A game that was never officially released, only given away in small quantities in a contest or not licensed by Nintendo. These games were huge collector’s item from day one, and they’re exceedingly unlikely to pop up in your parent’s basement.
That said, there are a select few NES titles that were sold on store shelves just like any other game that are now worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Here are the 10 most valuable NES that may actually be sitting at the back of your closet…
Note: The value of a game depends on its condition. If you only have the cartridge, you can only get the loose price, whereas if you have the box and instruction manual, you can get the complete price. You can get even more if the game is still “new” and plastic wrapped, but you’re unlikely to find anything like that in your closet, so I’m not listing those prices.
Note No. 2: Thanks to Price Charting for tracking and providing all these prices. Check ’em out before you give away any of your old games!
DuckTales 2 (1993)
Loose Price: $150
Complete Price: $327
Everybody loves the classic pogo-jumping NES DuckTales game, but did you know they actually made a sequel? DuckTales 2 out after most people had moved on to the Super Nintendo, but it was every bit as good as the original, and goes for a nice price today.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (1994)
Loose Price: $126
Complete Price: $255
Most probably remember this Ninja Turtles-themed Street Fighter clone as a Super Nintendo game, but they also made a version for NES that came out very late in the system’s life. I briefly owned this one, but sold it when my friends shamed me for having the inferior NES version. Thanks, guys.
Snow Brothers (1991)
Loose Price: $190
Complete Price: $3,000
Who didn’t love Snow Brothers? Just me? Sadly, I never owned this baby, but I practically had it on permanent loan for the video rental place. A loose copy of Snow Brothers is worth a solid amount, but check out that complete price. Find this snowy game in your closet, and you may have the cash to pay for a sunny vacation.
Donkey Kong Jr. Math (1985)
Loose Price: $45
Complete Price: $1,305
Another interesting loose/complete price disparity here. A loose copy of Donkey Kong Jr. Math is barely worth your trouble, but if you can find an in-box version, you’re golden. I never felt like I was learning all that much while playing Donkey Kong Jr. Math as a kid, but I’d be all too happy to have DK Jr. add some cash to my wallet.
Bubble Bobble Part 2 (1993)
Loose Price: $225
Complete Price: $950
Another under-the-radar late NES sequel, Bubble Bobble Part 2 is very similar to the first game, but it’s more Bubble Bobble. Who’s going to complain about that? That $950 complete price may almost make up for all the quarters I’ve pumped into Bubble Bobble arcade machines over the years.
Power Blade 2 (1992)
Loose Price: $225
Complete Price: $720
Power Blade 2 was a late NES sequel to a game few people played to begin with. I definitely remember this one being displayed prominently at the mom and pop rental shop, but unlike Snow Brothers, I never tried it out.
Bonk’s Adventure (1993)
Loose Price: $322
Complete Price: $485
Bonk’s Adventure was the flagship game for the TurboGrafx-16, an unsuccessful competitor to the NES. In a super sound business move, the makers of the TurboGrafx decided to bring their adorable little caveman to their competitor’s console. Gee, I wonder why the TurboGrafx failed? I think this one is valued highly largely for novelty value.
Panic Restaurant (1992)
Loose Price: $396
Complete Price: $590
Holy moley, guys, PANIC RESTAURANT! It’s just a silly little game about a cute little chef fighting killer food, but I loved the bejeezus out of Panic Restaurant as a kid. I could never get anybody else to appreciate it the way I did, so I’m glad to see it’s now worth as much as I always knew it was in my heart. Oh, and I do in fact still have a copy of Panic Restaurant somewhere, so ca-ching.
Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak (1994)
Loose Price: $662
Complete Price: $1,700
The backstory behind the value of Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak is a bit muddled. For some time, the belief was that the game was released exclusively through Blockbuster, although some dispute that, saying it was sold on store shelves like any other regular game. Regardless, with the exception of oddities like Stadium Events and Nintendo World Championship cartridges, Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak is considered rarest NES cartridge out there. In this case, not returning your rental to Blockbuster might end up paying off.
Little Samson (1992)
Loose Price: $660
Complete Price: $865
Unlike some of the other games on this list, Little Samson has long been a Holy Grail for NES collectors, mostly because it’s just really good. It has great, striking box art, and the game itself looks really nice and plays almost as well as better-known NES games like Mega Man or Castlevania. Sadly, it was a bit of a flop, so copies are rare and highly sought after.
So, there you have it, the 10 games you should be scouring your basement for right this minute. Trust me, there really is a solid chance you might have them. I own or owned two of the games on this list and have seen six or seven of them with my own eyes, and I was far from a collector as a kid. I think I owned eight NES games total. What about you? Any of these games in your collection? What are some of your favorite obscure games you’ve owned? Let’s discuss.