Last week the gaming world looked on in amazement as an NES cartridge sold on eBay for close to one hundred thousand dollars. While this price is extraordinarily high by any metric, the game in question is known in the collector community as an exceedingly rare and valuable game. While it may seem odd for circuitry encased in plastic to fetch such high prices, to the right collector there are games that are worth their weight in gold. In particular, there are two Nintendo games that are known to be the rarest of the rare. Presented here is a history of the two most valuable games ever released for a home console.
Nintendo World Championships
Back in 1990 Nintendo, for all intents and purposes, was videogames. The gaming giant at one point controlled more than 90% of the market, and at the turn of the decade they created a gaming contest known as the Nintendo World Championships. The contest was held in various cities around the United States and had players competing to achieve the highest score across 3 games within a time limit of 6 minutes and 21 seconds. The games featured were Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris, and the winners got the keep a copy of the special cartridge produced specifically for the championship.
The game itself featured a plain black and white label and came equipped with 4 DIP switches soldered directly to the circuit board of the cartridge. These switches allowed the judges to set the time limits that were to be used for the competition. In addition, Nintendo produced copies of the games in a special gold shell, and these were only given away to winners of a contest featured in Nintendo Power.
In total, only 90 copies of grey cartridge and 26 copies of the gold cartridge were given out, meaning that the value of this game comes from it’s rarity. The gold cartridge has been known to fetch prices as high as $18,000 and is considered to be one of the rarest and most valuable NES games ever made. Nintendo World Championships‘ value is second only to that of…
Stadium Events is considered to be the holy grail of videogame collecting and is the single most expensive game in the Nintendo Entertainment System’s library. Prices have gone as high as $41,300 and the box alone can often fetch five figure sums. The price of the game comes from it’s rarity; There are less than a dozen copies of the game confirmed to exist. So how, and why, did this otherwise unremarkable game become so rare and expensive? Read on.
Originally released in North America in 1987, Stadium Events was produced by Bandai as the second game in their “Family Fun Fitness” franchise, a series of exercise-related games designed to take advantage of their Family Fun Fitness Mat accessory. The mat itself was a simple, double-sided plastic mat embedded with pressure sensors and designed to be stood on so players could act out running, jumping, and other athletic activities as prompted by the game. Does the design of the mat look familiar? It was later released by Nintendo as the well known Power Pad.
After releasing both Stadium Events and it’s accompanying mat in a test market, Bandai sold the rights for the game the mat to Nintendo. With the rights to the new technology in hand, Nintendo planned to release their own version of Stadium Events under their own name and promptly pulled the game from store shelves. The recall was easy as the game was only shipped to a single retailer (Woolworth’s) in the North-Eastern part of the United States. Supposedly, only 2000 cartridges were produced and of them only 200 were actually shipped to stores before Nintendo issued the recall. All unsold copies of the game were shipped back to Nintendo to be destroyed, with the only surviving copies being those that managed to be sold in the few days the game was on store shelves. Today there are only 11 copies of the game that still exists, and there are even fewer copies of the original box and manual.
But hey, what ever happened to version re-released by Nintendo? It was retitled World Class Track Meet and bundled with NES consoles in 1988. It can be yours for as little as 99 cents.