When you buy a video game, your goal is to stick it in your console and play it because that’s what normal people do. But if you happened to have bought one of these games and never got around to opening it, you might be sitting on a small fortune. From time to time a game is released and for whatever reason it’s recalled or otherwise taken out of circulation. Few people ever bought the game, much less kept it unopened and in perfect condition. For this reason, when copies of rare, unopened games do become available for sale, collectors are willing to spend four or five figures on them. Here’s a look at seven such video games.
1. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
You probably know the story already. Atari secured the rights to make a video game tie-in to the hit movie, and gave the developers a mere 5 weeks to put the game together so that it could be on shelves by the 1982 Christmas season. The game was such a poorly conceived piece of garbage that around 3.5 million of the 5 million cartridges produced went unsold. It was such a catastrophe that it nearly brought the entire video game industry crashing down. Around 740,000 cartridges ended up being dumped in a landfill in New Mexico, and in 2014 the site was excavated and the city sold a bunch of them on eBay.
How much it will set you back: $1,500 (but oddly enough, only for a mangled cartridge found in that landfill. You can actually buy a used, non-landfill copy for as little as $5 since they aren’t hard to come by.)
2. Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally & Speed Racer Combo
The Exertainment System was a collaboration between Nintendo and Life Fitness, a company that manufactures exercise equipment. It was an exercise bike with a screen and SNES built in. Only two games were created for the Exertainment System: Mountain Bike Rally – which could be purchased as a stand alone – and Speed Racer – a game that you could only get as a combo cartridge that included Mountain Bike Rally. Nobody was interested in buying this expensive exercise stuff, and since the cartridge wasn’t compatible with a regular SNES console, folks just threw the game away, making them difficult to find these days.
How much it will set you back: $3,700 if factory sealed
3. Atlantis II
Atlantis for the Atari 2600 might not be as well-remembered as popular games like Donkey Kong or Space Invaders, but it was still pretty sweet. The concept is that spaceships are attacking the City of Atlantis and the city’s 7 bases serve as the last line of defense. The developer decided to hold a tournament, but since broadband definitely didn’t exist 40 years ago, they did things a bit old school by having players send pictures of their TV screen showing their high scores. Those who did best received a copy of Atlantis II, which was essentially the same game, only the attacking spaceships were faster and it was more difficult to accumulate points. Since Atlantis II wasn’t mass produced, it’s really hard to find.
How much it will set you back: $7,000
4. Nintendo Powerfest
In 1994, Nintendo held a traveling competition where the top SNES players competed in timed versions of three games: Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Kart, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League. In total, 33 cartridges featuring these three games were created, and when the competition was over Nintendo took all of them back. But somehow one of the cartridges showed up at a garage sale in New York in 2006, and a lucky chap by the name of Rob Waters snatched it up and sold it to a collector for a princely sum.
How much it will set you back: $11,000
5. Super Copa
Back in 1993, Team USA goalie Tony Meola and his ponytail landed a video game endorsement: Tony Meola’s Sidekicks Soccer, which was sold in North America. As SNES soccer games go, it was pretty…meh. Anyway, the South American version of the game is called Super Copa. So far so good? Here’s where things get kind of confusing: it appears that another version of Super Copa was released, but in North America. However, while Tony Meola’s Sidekicks Soccer and the version of Super Copa that most people know was distributed by Playtronic, the second version was distributed by American Softworks and contains a different box and artwork.
How much it will set you back: $7,000
6. 1990 Nintendo World Championships (Gold Edition)
In 1990, Nintendo held competitions in 30 US cities with the goal of finding the most talented video game-playing dork of them all. Players were given 6 minutes to score as many points as possible in Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. There were three age categories, with the winners in each city receiving a grey cartridge featuring demos of those three games. If you do the math, this means 90 grey cartridges were distributed. There was also a gold version of the cartridge, awarded to those who had won a promotional contest featured in Nintendo Power magazine. Only 26 of the gold versions exist, making it extremely rare and a true collector’s item.
How much it will set you back: $27,000
7. Air Raid
Air Raid for the Atari 2600 baffled people for a long time. Not only was the cartridge highly unusual (it came with a t-shaped handle), of the 12 copies that were known to exist, not one of them included a box or game manual. That all changed in 2010 when one Tanner Sandlin read an article on CNN.com about Air Raid, thought to himself, “Hmm. That game looks familiar…” and unearthed his own copy in his garage, complete with box and manual! He ended up selling it on GameGavel.com.
How much it will set you back: $33,000