Got a sealed copy of Duck Hunt and think you’re a boss? Good effort. Got a black NES glistening on its shelf like an ore deposit from Breath of the Wild? Actually, that’s pretty cool. But do you really know what would make your bustling collection of NES cartridges really pop? A few of the rarest cartridges ever made for the progenitor of the current era of video games consoles.
Although some of the most collectable NES games are infamous due to their unplayability and sheer brokenness, the fact that many were either released in limited quantities, taken from the shelves early into their lifespan or never released commercially makes them an even tastier proposition for collectors worldwide.
So, which ones to go for? Well I’ve had a little jog around the outskirts of the web and have come across a number of gems, just for you. So, pull up a pew and join me for a look at-
5 Of The Rarest NES Cartridges Around
Ready to begin? Let’s start with a true gem.
Nintendo World Championships
Rarity – Never released commercially
Price – $32,000
The very tip of the iceberg of rarities, Nintendo World Championships is literally the holy grail of video game collectables. Issued in 1990 for a Nintendo-hosted competition of the same name, gamers came together to compete across three timed challenges in Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer and Tetris. 90 of the official grey cartridges are said to exist, and were given to the finalists of the competition. However, another 26 gold ones are said to also be out in the wild. Similar in radiance to the gold The Legend of Zelda NES cart, these 26 were issued in a separate competition held by the seminal retro magazine Nintendo Power, making both the grey and cold variants the rarest and most valuable NES carts ever made.
Rarity – Pulled from sale early
Price – $10,500
The rarest officially licensed NES title, Bandai’s Stadium Events was released and then taken back from sale so it could be rebranded as World Class Track Meet, for some vastly miguided reason. It’s said that only 2000 copies of Stadium Events were released to stores, with a meagre 200 units sold to customers. Though later, a copy of the game was sold to an online retailer called JJ Games, for a whopping $41,300!
The Legend of Zelda Test Cartridge
Rarity – Never released commercially
Price – $150,000
It’s unknown how many of these orange/yellow The Legend of Zelda cartridges exist, because they were never made with the intention of commercial sale. These test cartridges were used in Nintendo Service Centres back around the title’s North American release in 1987. But, back in 2012, one lucky eBayer managed to offload one of these rarities for a mind-boggling $150,000!
Rarity – Unreleased
Price – $2,700
The 90s was a time packed with tons of anthropomorphized cartoon heroes for kids to literally lose their minds over. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Biker Mice from Mars, Street Sharks, you name an animal and I’m fairly sure you’ll find a TV series to go along with it. Unlike Active Enterprises’ Cheetahmen (which you can no doubt tell by the name). The original was released to quite tepid reviews back in the early 90s, but for some reason Active Enterprises went ahead and issued an order for a sequel anyway… which actually never released. Instead, the company put 1,500 gold stickers on copies of the first title and sold them as the sequel. Eventually, in 1997, the sequel was released and now you can find the odd unit going for thousands of dollars or pounds. How’s that for a NES rarity?
Rarity – Pulled from sale and rebranded
Price – $5,200
Finally, the Myriad 6-in-1 cartridge and its sister cartridge the Caltron 6-in-1 are without a doubt some of the NES’ rarest acquisitions around. As its name suggests, the Myriad has six different games on one cart: Cosmos Cop, Magic Carpet 1001, Balloon Monster, Adam and Eve, Porter and Bookyman. Though that in no way means these inclusions are a good thing. The Myriad’s collection of games is said to be some of the worst unlicensed Nintendo console action known, which must have led to Caltron’s bankruptcy and eventual purchase by Myriad, who would go on to repurpose the title. The rareness of this particular cartridge is there might not be more than a thousand Myriad versions available. Apparently, the carts have numbered stickers on them, indicating where a cart came off the conveyor belt. And, so far, only number 888 has been found to be the highest number in existence….
Man, there were so many gems I couldn’t fit into this post this time round, but don’t despair as I’ll keep this post updated over time! Saying that, if the NES isn’t for you, make sure to stick with us at Nintendo Retro Love for a look at the SNES’ most valuable carts.
Former content manager and editor for Movie Pilot Inc & Now Loading