10 Rarest SNES Games that Bring Back ‘90s Nostalgia

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With the introduction of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) at the end of 1990 came a plethora of iconic games like Super Mario, Donkey Kong and the Legend of Zelda. The original gaming console plugged into the television, not yet developed enough to be a handheld device— a market Nintendo would also champion. Within the list of iconic game cartridges offered on the SNES system are a select few games remembered not for their storytelling or graphics (although many of them have shining examples of both), but for their rare statuses. Read below to discover some of the rarest and most coveted games on the SNES that would make any hardcore collector or enthusiast covetous.

  1. Megaman X 3
  2. Number in Existence: Unknown
    Year: 1995
    Cost Today:
    Up to $3,794.10

    Megaman X 3
    photo source: Capcom – Fair Use

    While the exact production numbers for Megaman X 3 are unknown, it had a limited run since the game’s console was going out of style at the time of its release. As a result, the game is quite expensive and difficult to find today. Megaman X 3 is part of the greater Mega Man series, which centers on a robot protagonist. The player goes through a series of challenges that lead up to boss battles with the goal of defeating a computer virus designed to threaten humans and robots alike.

    Did you know

    In Japan, the game’s country of origin, Megaman is known as Rock Man.

  3. Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally/Speed Racer
  4. Number in Existence: Unknown
    Year: 1994
    Cost Today:
    Up to $5,280.00

    Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally/Speed Racer
    photo source: Nintendo – Fair Use

    While the exact number of copies are unknown, the pack-in Mountain Bike Rally/Speed Racer games are rare because they were designed for an unpopular system. Nintendo worked with Life Fitness, an exercise brand, to create the Extertainment LifeCycle Stationary Bike. The machine hooked up to a SNES and had users power through levels using the bike’s pedals. The bike itself was very expensive at $800 in 1994 and did not sell well.

    Did you know

    Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed the Extertainment LifeCycle Bike.

  5. Iron Commando
  6. Number in Existence: Unknown
    Year: 1995
    Cost Today:
    Up to $67.15

    Iron Commando
    photo source: Piko Interactive – Fair Use

    While the number of Iron Commando cartridges in circulation is unknown, the game’s sole release in Japan makes it quite rare and valuable. The “beat’em up” style game (think Streetfighter or Final Fight) offers players a range of weapons, such as guns and knives, with which to defeat their enemies. One modern reviewer found it generally entertaining, but frustrating in its damage distribution. More recently, Piko Interactive, which purchased the rights to the game, rereleased Iron Commando as a PC game, making it accessible to modern audiences from across the globe.

    Did you know

    The PC rerelease of the game was done through an Indiegogo campaign.

  7. Magical Pop’N
  8. Number in Existence:Unknown, possibly around 10,000
    Year: 1995
    Cost Today: Up to $1,299.99
    Magical Pop’N
    photo source: Polestar – Fair Use

    Magical Pop’N’s production records are not confirmed, but its hefty price tag and cult following show that it is a rare and valuable game. The story follows a young princess with magical powers who goes on an adventure to find the person who attacked her father. Each level features a mid-boss and an end game boss that the princess must attack either with a weapon or with her magic.

    Did you know

    While the game does not have an option to password save progress, players can use a debug mode to select which stage to play.

  9. Rendering Ranger
  10. Number in Existence: 10,000
    Year: 1995
    Cost Today: Up to $3,927.20
    Rendering Ranger
    photo source: Classic-games.net

    Because Rendering Ranger (R2) never left Japan, Nintendo only made 10,000 copies. As a result, the game is both rare and not well known outside its country of origin. Besides these unique features, it functions like many other attack/shooting games. The player is given four weapon options with associated levels that each weapon is key to completing. The game doesn’t have any options to save progress so losing all your lives means restarting the game and all previous levels.

    Did you know

    The graphics are considered some of the best of the era.

  11. Donkey Kong Competition Cartridg
  12. Number in Existence: 2,500
    Year: 1994
    Cost Today: Up to $2,081.73
    Donkey Kong Competition Cartridge
    photo source: Nintendo – Fair Use

    The Donkey Kong Competition Cartridge was a specialized version of the game designed to give players five minutes to gain as many points as possible. It was used in the Powerfest 1994 Championships and  Blockbuster World Video Game Championships II in 1995 as part of the qualifier. After its competition run, the game was sold through a catalog. The game includes eight levels, but freezes when time runs out. Besides the short time constraint, the game design is similar to its standard counterpart. Gamers play as Donkey Kong to collect various objects that are worth differing point amounts.

    Did you know

    Using a cheat code, you can disable the time constraint and access more levels on the game.

  13. Super Star Fox Weekend / Starwing Competition
  14. Number in Existence: About 2,000
    Year: 1993
    Cost Today: Up to $2,149.95
    Super Star Fox Weekend / Starwing Competition
    photo source: Nintendo – Fair Use

    As with several rare SNES games, Super Star Fox Weekend/Starwing Competition was part of a limited competition run. Nintendo created the game and contest as a way to promote Star Fox’s release. Star Fox is a shooter game and one of Nintendo’s most costly releases. The competition built up hype for the game by giving players four minutes to complete three abridged levels of the actual game. Players could choose what scheme they wanted, allowing them to play slightly different versions of the game. The American competition granted those with specific score thresholds various goodies. The grand prize, selected at random from a pool of top scorers, was either an international trip or $15,000.

    Did you know

    Modern examples of YouTubers playing the competition version of Star Fox end up with much higher scores than those who played during the original competition. This is due to an error on an older version of the game that made the timer slower than it should be.

  15. Multipurpose Arcade Combat Simulator
  16. Number in Existence: 600
    Year: 1994
    Cost Today: Up to $3,373.90
    Multipurpose Arcade Combat Simulator
    photo source: 98PaceCar via snescentral.com

    The Multipurpose Arcade Combat Simulator (MACS) was a specialty game designed to train US military operatives. It was not available or really known to the civilian population until the twenty-first century. Like other SNES games, MACS used a television display. Unlike other games, it also came with a realistic rifle that included a scope for accurate aim and a light sensor in the barrel. The game analyzed a soldier’s shooting abilities with various levels and activities, such as target practice.

    Did you know

    The MACS rifle is a replica of the Jäger AP 74 and is the only controller for the cartridge.

  17. Nintendo Campus Challenge 1992
  18. Number in Existence: 3
    Year: 1992
    Cost Today: Up to $4,000
    Nintendo Campus Challenge 1992
    photo source: Nintendo – Fair Use

    In 1992, Nintendo hosted a series of challenges on various college campuses with participants competing to win the Nintendo World Series Champion title. For ease of play, Nintendo combined all of the challenges onto a single cartridge. Participants had a set amount of time to earn 50 coins in Super Mario World, complete two laps on F-Zero’s first track, and earn one of the highest scores on Pilot Wings. The 1992 Campus Challenge run was already limited, since it existed for a specific purpose, and it’s believed that only three original cartridges remain.

    Did you know

    The $10,000 grand prize was determined by a random drawing of all campus winners.

  19. Nintendo Powerfest 1994
  20. Number in Existence: 2
    Year: 1994
    Cost Today:$12,000 $25,000
    Nintendo Powerfest 1994
    photo source: JJ Hendricks

    The Nintendo Powerfest 1994 Cartridge is the rarest SNES game. With only 32 cartridges originally produced, the Nintendo Powerfest game from 1994 was destined to become a collector’s item. As with other Nintendo competitions, the cartridges hold three mini games, including parts of Super Mario Lost Levels, the first track of Super Mario Kart, and a home run derby from Ken Griffey Jr. Winning Run. After the competition, Nintendo asked participants to send the cartridges back for parts. As a result, only two remain in existence and have both been purchased by collectors.

    Did you know

    Of the two remaining cartridges, one was developed after Nintendo switched their scoring system so they are unique from one another as well.


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