10 of the world’s rarest video games
Video games have gone from niche pastime to multi-billion dollar industry in less than 40 years.
In the 80s and early 90s, few people saw games consoles or cartridges as ever becoming valuable and many were thrown out or lost. If you got rid of any of the 10 below, you'll kick yourself.
Because these are 10 of the world’s rarest, most valuable video games.
10. Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally & Speed Racer combo – Number unknown
Perhaps conscious that it was inducing a generation of kids to sit glued to their sofas all day, in 1995 Nintendo released the Exertainment Life Cycle in collaboration with gym company Life Fitness.
The product was an exercise bike equipped with a TV and the company’s signature console, the SNES.
Alongside it came two games, Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer.
While that first game is also available on its own, the latter only came on a special combo cartridge released alongside the Life Cycle.
Mint copies of this rare double set regularly sell for up to $4,000.
9. Kizuna Encounter (European edition) – 12 copies
A 1996 arcade beat-em-up in the same mould as the much more successful Street Fighter, Kizuna Encounter was big in Japan but had only a limited release in the west.
It was issued on SNK’s cult NeoGeo AES console, which was so prohibitively expensive it was marketed as a rental only in Japan.
Later on a very limited number of consoles were made available on the market.
There are only around 12 surviving copies of the ultra-rare European edition of Kizuna Encounter. They’ve been rumoured to change hands for well over $10,000.
8. Air Raid – 12 copies
Men-A-Vision, the company that released Air Raid in 1982, went under almost immediately after it finished development.
The game was a typical shoot-em-up in the style of Space Invaders.
Distribution was limited and most of the copies on the market today are demos.
In 2012, the only known complete edition of the game (with its original instruction manual and box) sold for a massive $33,433.
That’s the biggest (confirmed) video game sale of all time.
7. Nintendo World Championships (Gold) – 13 known copies
Released as a competition prize by Nintendo Power magazine in 1990, the gold cartridge edition of Nintendo World Championships is one of the rarest video games on the market.
It consists of three minigames (Super Mario Bros, Tetris and Rad Racer) which play for just over six minutes each.
Of the 26 released, only 13 are known to exist.
6. Tetris (Sega version) – 3 to 8 known copies
Tetris is the most popular video game of all time. It was released in 1984, since when it is estimated to have sold around 170m copies.
This Mega Drive version was briefly released in Japan in the 1980s before it was hurriedly withdrawn under the threat of legal action.
In 2011, a copy signed by creator Aleksei Pazhitnov was offered on eBay with an asking price of $1m, although it appears not to have sold.
5. Stadium Events – 2 copies in original condition
Stadium Events was released in North America in 1987, although the game was withdrawn soon after release. Only 2,000 copies of the US version were produced, of which around 200 made it to stores.
It’s thought 30 or so are left, with only two known in factory sealed condition.
In 2013 a copy appeared on eBay where it achieved $41,300. However, the winning bidder never paid.
It was relisted shortly afterwards and sold for a confirmed $22,800.
4. Birthday Mania – 1 known copy
Birthday Mania was an odd little game for the Atari that featured various birthday-themed mini games.
You could open presents, blow out candles and pop balloons.
It’s rare as it could only be custom ordered as a gift (and there weren't many takers).
The front of the cartridge has a space to write the name of the recipient, while the title screen could also be customised with their name.
With just one confirmed copy, it’s among the rarest Atari games on the market.
3. Nintendo Campus Challenge 91 – 1 known copy
Campus Challenge 91 toured colleges across the US, with finalists winning various prizes.
In a similar vein to the other Nintendo challenges, it consists of three minigames (Super Mario 3, Dr Mario and Pin-Bot) with a score awarded at the end.
At the end of the competition all the cartridges were destroyed by Nintendo, with the exception of one – which was discovered in New York in 2006.
It has been sold numerous times since, most recently achieving $20,100 in a 2009 eBay sale.
2. Final Fantasy II (English version) – 1 known copy
The English version of Final Fantasy II was never released. This test cartridge is the only one known to exist.
Nintendo planned to release it in 1998, following the Japanese version in 1988, but ultimately decided to work on an English language version of Final Fantasy IV instead.
Its owner offered it on eBay in 2012 with an asking price of $50,000, describing it as “the only legitimate copy of the game that exists”.
However, there were no takers. It’s unknown whether the game has been sold since.
1. Atari Gamma Attack – 1 copy
Gamma Attack is unique.
It was the sole project of developer Gammation and was never released. It first came to wider attention when it popped up on eBay in 2008 with a "Buy it Now" price of $500,000. It didn't sell.
Conservative estimates value it at up to $50,000, a sum that would make it the most valuable video game ever sold.
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