Most old video games aren’t worth much money; you can buy yourself a pretty decent collection of games from the 80s with a few bucks and a trip to the flea market. But there are a select few games that are so rare, collectors are willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the chance to put them in a display case and never play them. So keep an eye out the next time you clean up your basement, because you might just strike gold.
10. Pepsi Invaders
Pepsi Invaders sounds like the name of one of Pepsi’s many failed product lines, but it’s actually a game for the Atari 2600. Commissioned by Coca-Cola for their 1983 sales convention, the game is little more than Space Invaders with the aliens replaced by the letters that spell out Pepsi. Never intended for commercial release, only the 125 attendees of the convention received a copy. The number of cartridges that survive to this day is unknown, but the most recent one to surface was snapped up on eBay for 2125 dollars in early 2010.
9. Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash
Escape from Mt. Drash is a game for the VIC-20, a very primitive computer from the early 80s. An obscure game for an obscure machine, only 13 copies of the 3000 that were manufactured are confirmed to be in existence today. When it first came out the game was a commercial disaster, and there are rumors that one retailer even dumped its unsold copies off a cliff. But today the game is worth around 2500 dollars to serious collectors, no doubt making the guy who ordered the cliff toss feel like an idiot.
8. Mr. Boston
Mr. Boston, a promotional game given out by the now defunct liquor company of the same name, is a game for the Vectrex, another machine that will be unfamiliar to anyone who isn’t a huge nerd. Mr. Boston is just a slightly edited version of another Vectrex game called Clean Sweep, which in turn is a knockoff of Pac-Man, which makes Mr. Boston the least creative video game ever made. With only four copies known to exist, the highly unoriginal Mr. Boston is worth about 3000 dollars.
7. Air Raid
One of the rarest Atari 2600 games, Air Raid was the only product of Men-A-Vision, who presumably shut down when they realised how bad their name was. Released in the 2600’s heyday as a lazy attempt to cash in on its success, few copies were made before Air Raid faded into obscurity. With only 13 cartridges known to exist, it’s worth about 3000 dollars. But what’s really impressive is that one copy, combined with the only known original box, recently sold for a staggering $31,600. That’s not a typo; somebody paid more than the cost of a new car for a cardboard sleeve. That will teach anyone who threw away game boxes when they were a kid.
6. Atlantis II
Another Atari 2600 game, Atlantis II wasn’t even commercially available. The original Atlantis was popular, and its creators held a contest to win a trip to Bermuda: whoever sent them a photo of the highest score won. But so many people got a perfect score that they had to break the tie with a more difficult sequel, sent only to those who had mastered the first game. Compounding its rarity is the fact that the game cart looks exactly the same as the worthless original, making Atlantis II even harder to find. So if you ever see what looks like a copy of Atlantis at a garage sale, go ahead and fork out a couple of bucks; it could actually be worth 6000 dollars.
5. Ultimate II
Ultimate 11 is a soccer game for the Neo Geo, an obscure console from the early 90s. The Neo Geo attracted a small but very dedicated group of fans, and there are quite a few serious collectors out there. This, combined with the fact that a lot of Neo Geo games were made in limited numbers, makes several of them highly coveted. Ultimate 11 is the second most valuable Neo Geo game; each of its 10 copies is worth about 10,000 dollars.
4. Kizuna Encounter
That leaves Kizuna Encounter as the most valuable Neo Geo game, at a cost of up to 13,000 dollars. It’s believed that only 15 copies of the English version were made, although the Japanese version is both identical and common, making it accessible to casual collectors. English copies are for the richest and most obsessive; in late 2009 somebody paid a mind-blowing 55,000 dollars for both Kizuna Encounter and Ultimate 11. The buyer said he’d never consider selling them for any price, so you’ll have to put aside your dreams and just start saving for a house instead.
3. Stadium Events
Our final three games are all for the original Nintendo, and they each have a unique story behind them. Stadium Events was made by a company called Bandai, and it made use of their “Family Fun Fitness Mat,” a soft plastic controller that players would run and jump on to make their track athlete move. Nintendo bought the rights to the game and the mat, rebranded them, and, confusing themselves for a totalitarian government, ordered the originals to be pulled from shelves and destroyed.
But 200 copies were sold before Nintendo’s death squads could track them down, although only 20, at most, are believed to exist today. One copy recently sold for 13,105 dollars, the box alone can fetch 10,000 dollars, and a sealed copy, sold in February of 2010, went for 41,300 dollars. To put that into perspective, that’s the cost of about 600 Xbox 360 games. Or, you know, a couple of cars. Meanwhile, the rebranded game, World Class Track Meet, is worth 10 bucks at most.
2. Nintendo Campus Challenge
In the early 90s, Nintendo held a series of competitions across the United States. One of these was the Campus Challenge, where Nintendo representatives visited 58 colleges in 1991. Players would try to get the highest score on a special cartridge; the challenge was a mix of three different games, lasting just six minutes in total. The winner at every college got a free trip to Disney World, where they played in a championship.
Again showing their love of needless destruction, Nintendo ordered all cartridges eliminated once the event was complete. But one employee hung onto his copy, eventually selling it at a garage sale in 2006 for 1000 dollars. In July of 2009 it sold on eBay for $14,000, and three months later it was put on auction again, this time bringing in $20,100. It’s probably off the market for good now, although maybe another cartridge is floating around in some Nintendo employee’s basement. We bet the people who destroyed their copies feel pretty silly. Or indescribably angry, one of the two.
1. Nintendo World Championships
The holy grail of video games, Nintendo World Championships is very similar to its college counterpart. This was a competition that toured 30 US cities in 1990; there were three age categories, and the winners in every city were taken to Universal Studios Hollywood. The champions of each age group got 10,000 dollars, a new car, a 40 inch TV and a gold painted Mario trophy; not a bad haul for mastering six and a half minutes of three different games.
116 cartridges were made for the competition: 96 grey and 20 gold. The grey ones are worth a “mere” 6000 dollars at most, but it’s the gold copies that attract the truly serious collectors. They’ve gone for as much as $21,000, and are generally considered to be the most sought after and treasured video games on the planet. So if Nintendo ever does another one of these Championships, take part and grab everything you can!