I never thought I’d see the day that an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. would sell for $600,000 in an auction. Games are beginning to rise in prices on the second-hand market, but what’s fascinating to me are the more obscure titles behind less common rare games on the market. Until Mario, the rarest titles out there were often games with unique stories and development history that lead to their rarity and high-price status.
So let’s talk about some of the rarest, most expensive games that ever hit the marketplace. None of these titles will reach the heights of Super Mario Bros.’ price, but you may be surprised by how expensive some of these titles may be. I will also be covering one game per system, to keep things interesting.
Spud’s Adventure - Game Boy
Highest Price: $3,500 Sealed, from 2015
The Game Boy is a system that spanned a whole decade of releases, and in that time many games have become iconic. Spud’s Adventure is not one of them. In fact, I would be surprised if the general audience played this game. Yet Spud’s Adventure does have one claim to fame: It is the most expensive Game Boy game on the market right now.
The reason for this is simple: not many copies were released in North America due to its publisher, Atlus. Atlus is notorious for limited releases of titles, especially when importing games for a Western audience, leaving them to retain high value even a generation after release. It’s a shame too, as Atlus makes some pretty unique games. Spud’s Adventure is no exception; it’s a quasi-RPG where you play a potato named Spud who must rescue the princess Mato from… well, the Devil. Yeah, it’s a weird plot, but even stranger is that Spud’s Adventure is actually part of a series of games, known as the Puzzle Boy series on the Game Boy. Still, when loose copies of your game can sell for close to $400 over popular titles like Pokemon, that tells you something.
ClayFighter: Sculptor’s Cut - Nintendo 64
Highest Price: Est. $6,480 Sealed
ClayFighter was… a series that kind of came and went, didn’t it? It was a comedy fighting game with pretty decent claymation but terrible controls. I wouldn’t recommend it, but as a curiosity, it is worth a playthrough. The last major release we ever saw was ClayFighter 63 1/3rd for the Nintendo 64, a mediocre fighting game by all metrics. But what is interesting is that it had two releases for the Nintendo 64, though you can only purchase one in stores.
Officially known as ClayFighter: Sculptor’s Cut, this version of the game was an update long before we had downloadable patches or DLC. It added new fighters, new opening animations, and a pretty silly theme song, among other things. Released in 1998 as an exclusive rental title, Sculptor’s Cut was a rarity right out of the gate, with only a few complete copies released in a contest in 1998.
As the Nintendo 64 was phased out of Blockbuster, hundreds of copies of Sculptor’s Cut were sold off and released into the wild. The real rarity is finding a copy of it with a box or manual, both of which are often destroyed by Blockbuster, or stolen by customers. Even without the box, expect to pay a hefty price for Sculptor’s Cut.
Super Copa - Super Nintendo
Highest Price: Est. $3,000-$6,000 Sealed
Sports games rarely fetch high prices, but Super Copa is a pretty notable exception. The story of Super Copa and its rarity is tied to the fact that it is a rare version of a pretty common game, titled Tony Meola’s Sidekicks Soccer. Released in 1993, Sidekicks Soccer was notable for using Mode 7 visuals to achieve a pseudo-3-D effect, something developer Sculptured Software used for other sports titles, such as NCAA Basketball and NHL Stanley Cup Hockey.
So why is it rare? Well, Super Copa was only released in Latin America, in Spanish and Portuguese. This is actually unusual because, in the early 1990s, the Latin-American games market was incredibly small, to the point where most games released were often just Spanish-language ports over a separate game. It is only in the past decade where the Latin-American gaming market has exploded, becoming the fastest-growing marketplace for purchasing and even developing video games since the mid 2010s.. This means that not only did Super Copa have a limited release in 1993, but finding a complete version of it makes it pretty rare for collectors.
Kizuna Encounter - Neo Geo
Highest Price: $12,500 Sealed from 2013
Kizuna Encounter is another game where its rarity is based on which region you live in. In this case, the PAL version is the one that is the rarest find for the already expensive Neo Geo system, which sold previously for $12,500. It is believed that only five complete copies of Kizuna Encounter exist, based on actual sales in the secondhand market. If there are other copies out there, they definitely are not for sale, as none of the PAL versions have been seen since 2013.
It’s strange, as Kizuna Encounter is a rare title purely based on the possible scarcity of its existence. It is a standard tag-team fighting game, with a fairly popular arcade version and a pretty common Japanese and NTSC version available. It’s still expensive for sure, but pretty much all Neo Geo games are over $100 by virtue of being on one of the most expensive consoles ever released.
Tetris - Sega Genesis
Highest Price: $16,000 Complete and Signed, 2008
You may be wondering why a game as iconic as Tetris is on this list. It is, after all, a game that could reach dizzying heights of rarity and value, despite the fact that it was released and re-released hundreds of times over the past 37 years. Well, what people tend to forget is that the original release of Tetris was wholly controlled by Nintendo at the time, which would win exclusive rights to publish console versions of Tetris back in the mid-1980s. For the arcade, however, Tetris would turn to Sega for an arcade adaptation. When Sega then entered the console market, a tangled web of rights regarding a popular title like Tetris would commence, seeing lawsuits and claim of publishing rights challenged between multiple developers.
International licensing for Tetris is frankly a mess of a story that deserves its own article. Suffice to say, Sega began production on a Sega Mega Drive version of Tetris, which would see a small production run released before Sega, out of fear of a lawsuit from developer Tengen (who had the non-licensed NES Tetris version) would stop production abruptly. This makes a complete version of Tetris on the Mega Drive incredibly rare, with one of the most well-known versions out there one of the only signed copies of Tetris by developer Aleksei Pazhitnov. This signed version, by the way, was purchased in the late 2000s for $16,000.
Stadium Events - Nintendo Entertainment System
Highest Value: $42,000 Sealed, from 2017
I guess it wouldn’t be a list of rare games if we didn’t include Stadium Events. The NES is a system that is well known for having a ton of rare titles, from unlicensed games like Little Sampson to the incredibly rare Nintendo World Championship prize cartridges. For fully released titles, however, Stadium Events is by far the most well-known, and expensive, game on the system.
Released in 1987 in the U.S, Stadium Events already had a limited release planned, with famous (and proven false) rumors regarding it being only released in a single Woolworth’s store in New York City. In truth, it is estimated that maybe 2,000 copies of the North American version were produced before Nintendo would take the game off the store shelves and repackage it as World Class Track Meet, specifically to release with the Nintendo Power Pad.
Yeah, that’s right, the reason Stadium Events is rare is Nintendo pulled it off store shelves to package it with their peripheral. Stadium Events was already made with a peripheral in mind, the ill-fated Family Fun Fitness Control Mat, so the transition to Nintendo’s Power Pad is a no-brainer. Out of those 2,000 copies, collectors have estimated that maybe 200+ were sold before the game was removed from store shelves, and only 11 complete copies are known to exist, with a sealed copy selling for nearly $42,000 in 2017.
Gamma Attack - Atari 2600
Highest Value: Never Sold, possible value between $20,000 - $50,000
The Atari 2600 has some of the rarest games in the secondhand marketplace today. You may have heard of some of them, from Atlantis 2 to Air Raid, to even more obscure choices like Red Sea Crossing, a game where you play Moses parting the Red Sea. One game, however, tops them all, and that is an incredibly obscure title named Gamma Attack. Gamma Attack is so rare, only one confirmed copy of the game actually exists.
How did this happen? Well, Gamma Attack was the only game published by Gammation, a small tech company that had a mail-order business that sold controller modifications for the Atari 2600. One of these products was the Fire Power FP-1, a VCS Joystick add-on. This controller mod happened to include promotions for a game called Gamma Attack, which you can purchase at the time for $24.99, or cheaper if you buy the adapter. The game was made by the owner of Gammation, Robert Esken Jr., who simply wanted to make a game to sell with his adapters.
The rest is basically history. Who knows how many copies of Gamma Attack were actually sold. The one copy we do know about is in the hands of collector Anthony DeNardo, also known as Phantom. DeNardo admits he has no idea what the game is really worth, but estimates have been floated for as high as $50,000 for such an obscure game. In truth, who knows how much it really is worth, but the story behind it is fascinating enough to warrant a mention on this list.
So there you have it, some of the rarest, and in some cases, most obscure titles out there today to collect. It is doubtful many of these games will reach the lofty heights of Super Mario Bros.’ $600,000 sale, but who knows what the future will hold for all of these games.