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20 Old NES Games That Are Worth A Fortune Today

Back in the mid-1980s, nobody could have imagined that the Nintendo Entertainment System would be able to bring the video game industry out of the funk that came with the market crash, but that's exactly what it did. Another thing nobody could have predicted was that any of those amazing little gray cartridges could be worth more than the money people paid for them, but time makes fools of us all.

These days, some rare NES games are so coveted that they often sell for hundreds, if not thousands (and even hundreds of thousands) of dollars online. Random eBay auctions routinely go up with versions of games that were either never opened or are so rare, it doesn't matter if they were opened or not, and collectors outbid one another in a mad dash to finish their collection. While most of us probably had a few of these games lying around at one point, the most valuable NES games really start to skyrocket in price when you include the box and the instructions, and even more if the game's never been opened.

Not all NES games are worth a ton of cash, but these stand out as the rarest and most sought after, and are now considered some of most expensive NES games ever produced.

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  • 'Little Samson' Sold For $2,375
    Photo: soflaprager / eBay

    Little Samson was released in 1992, which came around the end of the NES' lifecycle. As a result, not many of these games were made or even sold, which is a shame. It's a beautifully made game, and despite being on an 8-bit system as the 16-bit era began, it took full advantage of the system's capabilities to deliver a truly well-designed game.

    Most players never got a chance to play Little Samson, and it's considerably rare. A loose copy can fetch as much as $1,400, which is a high price for a single, loose cart. Of course, having a complete one is going to be valued much higher, and one sold in 2020 for $2,375. That's the average price a copy with the box, booklet, and sleeve will go for, but because it's so rare, the value of an unsealed copy isn't known due to the simple fact that there doesn't seem to be any left in the world for people to sell.

    • Released: 1992
    • Developer: Takeru
    • Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game
    8 votes
  • Panic Restaurant is a platform game that follows Cookie as he makes his way through his restaurant. There are evil food monsters, kitchen utensils used as weapons, and six levels of crazy fun. The game was released in 1992, which was close to the end of the NES' lifecycle, so despite being a fun and critically-acclaimed game, not a lot of people got the chance to try it.

    That makes for a rare cart, and if you happen to still have a copy that's loose, it's worth around $600. Sealed copies can reach prices of around $4,000, but the average sale price on eBay tends to be closer to $1,300, but it all depends on the condition. A copy sold in 2020 that had everything included but was open, and it reached a closing bid of $1,299.99.

    • Released: Jan 01 1992
    • Developer: EIM
    • Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game
    7 votes
  • 'Super Mario Bros.' Sold For $13,200
    Photo: maolivei / eBay

    If you owned an NES back in the day, you had a copy of Super Mario Bros., as it was the game that came with the system — back when games still came prepackaged with consoles. As a result, everybody had a copy, and it's anything but rare. A loose cart will sell for around $12 to $15, and even one with the box, sleeve, and booklet will only fetch around $120. 

    Of course, that's for what 99.99% of people have in terms of the first Super Mario Bros. game. For the gamer who never bothered to open theirs, and managed to keep it safe and protected for 35+ years, that cart can be worth as much as $13,200, like one that sold in mid-June 2020 on eBay. That cart came new, sealed in the box looking exactly as it did when it was pulled off a shelf more than three decades ago.

    While this list isn't about the graded copies, it would be criminal not to mention that the most money ever paid for an NES cart was $114,000 in July 2020 for a sealed and graded copy of Super Mario Bros. The game was graded to 9.4, and was sold via Heritage Auctions.

    • Released: 1985
    • Developer: Systems Research & Development Co., Ltd., Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
    • Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game, Adventure
    11 votes
  • These days, gamers fondly remember Contra as one of the hardest games ever made, but that's not usually an issue, thanks to it also being the first game to debut the Konami Code. Entering that would net a player 30 lives, making the game beatable, and far more fun to play. If you held onto your copy, you might be able to score around $25 if it's loose, and around $90 if you still have the box, sleeve, and booklet.

    If you got the game back in 1987, and for whatever reason, never opened it... you're looking at something far more valuable. On June 29th, 2020, a brand new, still in the pristine box and shrink wrap copy of Contra sold on eBay for an astounding $20,001.01. The box still had its hanging tag, and it was truly in pristine condition.

    • Released: 1987
    • Developer: Konami
    • Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Run and gun
    24 votes
  • 'Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!' Sold For $10,000
    Photo: 99fordsho / eBay

    Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! is one of those games most NES owners had in their collection, so it stands to reason it wouldn't be worth a whopping $10K at an auction. Of course, this was no simple item listing, as the description and photos showed a mint-condition unopened box, and that's something the collectors definitely swoon for.

    Sure, you can find an old cart out of the box for a few bucks, but this one was pristine! It sold in June 2020, for $10,000, and the item was described as being ungraded, but somewhere between an 8.5 to a 9.0, which is about as high as anything can typically be graded. Admittedly, this was a high price for this item, as even a graded copy doesn't typically sell for this much money.

    • Released: 1987
    • Developer: Nintendo Integrated Research & Development
    • Genres (Video game): Sports game, Fighting game
    10 votes
  • 6
    9 VOTES

    'The Flintstones: Surprise At Dinosaur Peak' Sold For $3,700

    The Flintstones Surprise at Dinosaur Peak was developed by Taito in 1994, and as far as anyone online seems to know, it was released exclusively s a Blockbuster Video rental and wasn't sold in stores, though this is disputed. At any rate, it was released late in the NES' lifespan, and few copies were produced, so it's difficult to find these days, and a loose cart will sell for around $800 on eBay.

    These don't show up as new-in-box listings, but they have appeared as complete items with the box, booklet, and sleeve. One such auction closed in mid-2020 for an impressive $3,699.99. The box in that listing had some minor damage, but everything else looked like it was just printed and released this year, making it a rare find for one lucky collector.

    • Released: August 1994
    • Developer: Taito Corporation
    • Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game
    9 votes