8 Most Expensive and Rare NES Games That Can Earn You a Fortune

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The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), launched in 1985, was a groundbreaking gaming console that revolutionized and shaped the gaming industry as we know it today. The NES library featured hundreds of classic games that became integral to many of our childhood memories.

While most NES games are relatively affordable, few titles command astronomical prices in the collector’s market. The games released in limited quantities tend to fetch the highest price due to their rarity. The price of a game also depends on its condition; a well-preserved copy in pristine condition sells at a much higher price than a damaged copy.

In this article, we look closely at 8 of the most expensive and rare NES games and explore what makes them so valuable to collectors. From cult classics to forgotten gems, the games on this list represent the pinnacle of NES collecting and offer a fascinating glimpse into the world of retro gaming.  

8. Bonk’s Adventure

Average Price: $700 – $2,700
US Release: December 1993
Genre: Platform
Player Count: 1

Bonk’s AdventureImage source: retrogamecases.com

The Bonk’s Adventure was first released for TurboGrafx-16 and later ported to the NES. It features a caveman character named Bonk, who uses his oversized head as a weapon to defeat enemies and overcome obstacles.

The game is set in a fictional prehistoric world where Bonk is on a mission to rescue Princess Za from the captivity of evil lizard king Drool. The colorful and detailed graphics showcase the unique setting and makes it a charming and entertaining platformer. 

Players control Bonk as he progresses through levels, battling enemies and collecting items such as fruit to gain points and health. The game also includes boss battles at the end of each level, which add an extra layer of challenge.

The game was well-received upon release and has since become a cult classic. One copy of the game was sold for $20,400 at Heritage Auction on August 18, 2022.

Did you know?

In Japan, Bon’s Adventure is known as PC Genjin and in Europe, PC Kid.

7. Donkey Kong Jr. Math

Average Price: $1000 – $3,500
US Release: June 1986
Genre: Educational
Player Count: 1 or 2

Donkey Kong Jr. MathImage source: en.wikipedia.org

The Donkey Kong Jr. Math is an edutainment game that combines elements of math with classic Donkey Kong gameplay.

In this game, players control Donkey Kong Jr. as he solves math problems set up by his father Donkey Kong. It can be played in single-player or dual-player mode. 

In the Calculate mode, Donkey Kong holds up a number, and players must collect a combination of digits and arithmetic symbols to reach that number. To do so, players must climb vines to reach these figures. The mode is designed to help players practice their math skills in a fun and engaging way.

The +−×÷ Exercise mode requires players to solve fixed math puzzles by climbing chains to reach the correct numbers and arithmetic symbols. This mode challenges players to think critically and develop problem-solving skills.

The game was a commercial failure in the US and received negative reviews. Due to the poor reception and sale, it has become a rare and highly priced collector’s item.

Did you know?

Donkey Kong. Jr Math is the only education game released by NES in the US.   

6. Little Samson

Average Price: $2,330 – $4,800
US Release: October 1992
Genre: Action and adventure
Player Count: 1

Little SamsonImage source: en.wikipedia.org

The Little Samson is an action-packed platformer game released in 1992. the game follows the journey of four heroes – a dragon, a mouse, a golem, and a boy named Samson – as they embark on a quest to save their kingdom from the evil monster, Ta-Keed.

Each of the four heroes has unique abilities that players can switch between to overcome obstacles and defeat enemies. Samson can climb walls and has a powerful attack with his sword. The dragon can fly and shoot fireballs. The mouse can climb on ceilings and walls and has a rapid-fire attack. The Golem is the most durable of the four and can smash through walls. 

Players must navigate through different levels, each with its own challenges and enemies. The game’s graphics are bright and colorful, and the music and sound effects are catchy and memorable.

Despite its popularity and critical acclaim, Little Samson was not a commercial success, likely due to its late release in the NES’s lifespan. However, the game has gained a cult following and is now considered a hidden gem in the NES library.

Did you know?

Little Samson is often considered one of the most difficult NES games ever launched.

5. Cheetahmen II

Average Price: $2,500 – $5,000
US Release: Not officially released
Genre: Action and adventure
Player Count: 1

Cheetahmen IIImage source: static.wikia.nocookie.net

The Cheetahmen II is one of the rarest NES titles. The game was initially intended to be released as the sequel to Cheetahmen. However, only 6 of 10 proposed levels were developed, and the game was never officially released.

The game became an urban legend among retro gaming enthusiasts until 1996, when a warehouse in Florida was discovered to contain 1,500 copies. The copies were then put on sale on the secondary market. The copies were all reused Action 52 cartridges; some had a small gold sticker reading “Cheetahmen II.”

Cheetahmen II features three playable characters – Aries, Apollo, and Hercules, each with unique abilities. Each level of the game ends in a battle where the characters must defeat bosses. 

The game takes place across eight levels, with each level ending in a boss battle. The levels are diverse, each with a different theme and unique obstacles to overcome. After defeating a boss at the end of the second level, players switch to the next Cheetahman for the following two levels.

However, as the game contains a bug, getting to the final two levels is impossible. To fix the game-breaking bugs and glitches, a patch was made available by a member of romhacking.net in July 2011.

Did you know?

In 2012, a “fixed” version of the game was developed and released on an NES cartridge. It was called the Cheetahmen II: The Lost Levels.

4. Stadium Events

Average Price: $20,00 – $42,000
US Release: 1987
Genre: Sports
Player Count: Up to 6

Stadium EventsImage source: en.wikipedia.org

The Stadium Event was one of the first games to use the control mat (later named a power pad), a special controller allowing players to interact with the game by stepping on a mat connected to the console.

The game was a sports-themed game featuring Olympic-style Track and Field competition with four different events: dash, hurdle, long jump, and triple jump. Players would use the Power Pad to simulate moves through the events. The game was designed to be played with up to six players alternatively, making it a fun and competitive game to play with friends.

Despite its innovative gameplay and multiplayer capabilities, Stadium Events was not a commercial success and thus was quickly pulled from store shelves. The game’s distributor, Nintendo, re-released the game shortly after under the title “World Class Track Meet,” with updated graphics and a different publisher. As a result, Stadium Events became one of the rarest NES games, with only a few copies of the original game remaining.

Did you know?

According to the 2015 documentary Nintendo Quest, directed by Rob McCallum, the Stadium Event is the single-rarest NES game ever released. However, while making this claim, the documentary didn’t consider Cheetahmen II, as it was not an official release.

3. Nintendo Campus Challenge (1991)

Average Price: $20,100
US Release: Not commercially released
Genre: Other
Player Count: Up to 6

Nintendo Campus Challenge (1991)Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Nintendo organized a video game competition across the US. Two Campus Challenges were held in two consecutive years, 1991 and 1992. The tournament was held at 58 college campuses and other events across the US.

The tournament featured three games: Super Mario Bros. 3, Pin*Bot, and Dr. Mario. Participants had six minutes to accumulate as many points as possible across the three games. The top scorer from each of the 30 stops on the tournament circuit won a trip to Orlando, Florida, to compete in the finals.

Nintendo created only 25 copies of a special game to celebrate the event. They were made with special black cartridges. It is believed that game number 20 was awarded to the champion of 1991, Steven Lucas.

Did you know?

Only one copy of the original game is known to exist. Rob Walter, a video game collector, bought it in a garage sale in New York. He sold it for $14,000 in 2009. Three months later, it was resold for $20,100 on eBay.

2. Nintendo World Championships 1990 (Grey)

Average Price: $6,000 – $84,000
US Release: Not commercially released
Genre: Action and adventure
Player Count: 1

Nintendo World Championships 1990 (Grey)Image source: mariowiki.com

The 1990 Nintendo World Championships game cartridge was a special edition cartridge created for a video game competition held by Nintendo in 1990. The cartridge was designed to be used with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and contained three games: Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris.

The competition toured 29 cities across the United States, with players competing to achieve the highest scores in the three games within 6 minutes and 21 seconds.

Cartridges were produced in two colors, grey and gold. Ninety finalists received grey cartridges after the tournament ended. However, it is not clear how many copies of this cartridge were made.  

With its limited supply and historical significance, the NWC cartridge has become a highly sought-after collector’s item and sells for thousands of dollars. One copy of this super-rare cartridge was sold for $180,000,00 at Heritage Auction. 

Did you know?

The highest known number for the Nintendo World Championships game cartridge is #353.

1. Nintendo World Championships 1990 (Gold)

Average Price: $18,000- $100,000
US Release: Not commercially released
Genre: Action and adventure
Player Count: 1

Nintendo World Championships 1990 (Gold)Image source: static1.srcdn.com

Nintendo World Championships 1990 Gold cartridge is the most expensive NES title, with one copy listed on eBay for an astonishing 1 million dollar price tag.

Only 26 copies of NWC 1990 gold cartridges exist and are considered the holy grail of NES games. The winners of the national finals received the gold-colored version of the NWC cartridge.

The NWC cartridge has become a cultural icon within the video game community. It has been referenced in several other Nintendo games, including Animal Crossing, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

Did you know?

In 2015, a new version of the NWC cartridge was released as part of a promotion for the Nintendo 3DS game Ultimate NES Remix. This version featured the same games and challenges as the original but was designed to be played on the 3DS rather than the NES.


Head of Content at Rarest.org


1938 Lincoln Wheat Penny Value Guide

1934 Wheat Penny Value Guide


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