The most valuable NES cartridges of all time
If Biff were actually smart, he wouldn’t have brought back a sports almanac from the future but just mugged his younger self of all his NES games before he had the chance to trade them in for 25 cents a pop.
We’ve all been there — broke kids whose parents won’t buy us a brand new game outside of our birthdays or Christmas, forcing us to make the tough choices: to trade in our collection for one brand new cartridge, or suffer through another six months of nothing but Mario is Missing and The Uncanny X-Men.
At the time, the choice was easy. Looking back, we were all total dumbasses.
Aside from the monetary value we couldn’t even comprehend our collections eventually being worth, it’s the memories we miss most … okay, maybe it’s about the same. I mean, just look at how much some of these NES cartridges are worth now and tell me with a straight face you wouldn’t drop kick your 6-year-old self just for thinking about trading in any one of these.
Nintendo World Championship — Est. value $19,000
Being in a video game competition was every kid’s dream back in the day, but eSports weren’t actually a viable option back then. Believe it or not, Nintendo pioneered this idea in 1990 with the Nintendo World Championships.
Running from March through December in 1990, they hosted a tournament that used custom-made NES carts that had Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer, AND Tetris all included. Only 116 of them were ever made, and the 90 finalists from around the country were allowed to keep one as a prize.
Value of these carts fluctuates a ton, but has gone so far as to reach $62,000 in 2021.
Family Fun Fitness Stadium Events — Est. value $18,800 to $55,000
If you’ve never heard of this game, don’t be surprised. This was one of two games made to be played on the flop that was the NES fitness pad — a thing that was basically a fancy Twister mat. What you might have heard of is the game’s re-release title, World Class Track Meet.
So, if you put two and two together, this original run before the rebranding was very limited. The thing is, and what might make it so valuable, no one knows exactly how rare it is. According to a 2015 documentary called Nintendo Quest, it’s probably the rarest NES game of all time (that was intended to be sold, anyway).
The range in value all depends on if you’ve just got the cart itself, or the much more valuable complete in box (CIB).
Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 — Est. value $17,000
We can only say now that you shouldn’t go looking for this one in your attic for a payday because, as it turns out, someone already did that. This was another specially made Nintendo cart brought to college campuses in 1991 for another Nintendo World Championship-type event.
Here’s the rub: only one copy of this thing is known to exist. One. And it was found by a dude named Rob Walters at a garage sale in New York.
He would sell it for $14,000 in 2009, only for it to be sold three months later for just over $20,000. As far as anyone knows, that’s the last time it’s passed hands.
Bubble Bath Babes — Est. value $3,250
Here’s a game you might’ve accidentally walked in on your dad playing late at night.
This “puzzle” game is one of only three adult NES games ever released. None of them were licensed by Nintendo, obviously, and could only be bought by mail-order (remember that concept?).
The game is basically Tetris, only when you beat a level, well, you get to see some hot pixelated erotica which is quite tame by today’s standards. Regardless, a loose cart of this one is still worth enough to get you a decent used car.
Little Samson — Est. value $2,400 to $21,000
This is the first game on the list that you have a slim chance of possibly digging up somewhere. This wasn’t a limited release, competition prize, or something you could only get by sending in cereal box tops. Little Samson was just a normal game that nobody bought.
There’s no clear reason why this game bombed so hard. It got good reviews, was made by the dude who worked on Strider and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, and came out near the end of 1992.
This game’s massive price gap comes from the loose cart being worth a measly $2,400 but a brand new, mint condition edition fetching over $20k at one point.