Not Quite Rare

A GUIDE TO “VALUABLE” GAMES

Hopefully by now, you’ve given up on the “Impossible” games. Your local game store doesn’t have a World Championship. There isn’t a Stadium Events within a thousand miles on Craig’s List. Maybe you picked up a few fun titles at the flea market and you were stoked to find a Zelda at a garage sale, even though you already had one. But you bought it anyway so your day wasn’t a complete failure. The disappointment is growing and the only thing that has filled the holes is wasting an unnatural amount of money on the “Big-6 Rare” games.

By now you have a sparkling Panic Restaurant and you sniped a Bonk for under $75. Where do you go from here? It’s time for the “Valuable” licensed collection to take its turn.

Forty licensed titles (currently) break the $20 mark, and some climb as high as $50. Now $20 doesn’t seem like much compared to the $200 you may have spent on Dinosaur Peak, but with the quantity of games categorized in this range, the ever-changing market, and shipping charges to ice the cake, you’re in for quite a wallet workout.

A fresh economic study of these will classify all of them between $20 and $50, but we need to narrow it down a bit more than that to keep everything straight. Up-to-the-minute variables can substantially alter the worth of each and every one of these, most notably the total number of existing auctions for the same title at any given time.

So who sets the prices? The buyers, of course! Supply and demand is identical with NES games as any other commodity and if everyone is unwilling to pay a certain amount for something, the sellers will lower the price. Usually, all it takes is one or two people listing something cheaper before it becomes a natural price-drop trend. By the same token, a commercial dealer will factor in the limited number of available copies before listing a game, testing the elasticity of its value.

This particular assortment of games suffers the most severe price swings. Not enough duplicates come around often enough for buyers to squat, but the true nature of these auctions is to fluctuate all over the place. Just remember that eBay isn’t suddenly going to run out. Take your time. Do the research, set your mark for each title, and don’t exceed it – ever. If you refuse to pay more than $25 for a game, it makes those tough, last-minute decisions no-brainers, and in time, you’ll get one. Sellers thrive on over-emotional bidders. Don’t give them the satisfaction or any more money than you need to. If you eliminate your excitement about getting a game you don’t already have, you’ll save money six days a week and twice on Sunday.

So back to these 40 games. If you’re not careful, they can run you over $1500 with shipping. That doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? The first necessary step is a passionate refusal to spend more than $50 for a single one. If you can discipline yourself to adhere to this maximum, you’re already on your way to a much cheaper collection. Second, because it is a wide range, split it up into three tiers: $20.00-$29.99, $30.00-$39.99, and $40.00-$49.99. When you go for a game, try to catch it for the price of the next cheaper group’s range. For example, if a game falls in the third $40.00-$49.99 class, don’t commit to purchase until you find it for, say $35, within the lower $30.00-$39.99 category. In the long run, this will sum up to several hundred dollars in discounts.

Here’s another principle to stick to: The lower the rate, the more flexible the price. As you climb higher, negotiations become considerably more difficult because of the pure rarity of the games, but in the $20.00-$29.99 area, people come out of the woodwork with $0.99 auctions all the time, and not everyone is going to want that title at once. But no matter what category the game falls under, don’t ever stop trying to fetch a bargain. Make it yours for your price, not the sellers.

Before you get to the games considered “Valuable,” first study the games that sellers will try to trick you with. These are forever teetering into the $20+ range, but you can generally find a cheaper alternative with little effort. Because prices are effectively bouncing up and down every day, it’s possible one day these will be in the Valuable category, but for now, don’t be fooled – don’t ever pay $20 for the following games:

Not quite Valuable (for now):

Adventures of Lolo 2

Alfred Chicken

Color a Dinosaur

Galaxy 5000

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Taito)

Mario is Missing

Mega Man

Metal Storm

Motor City Patrol

Pro Sports Hockey

Qix

Sqoon

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Swamp Thing

Sword Master

Tecmo Cup Soccer

Uncharted Waters

Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

There are, of course, more than these in this (sub-)category. Some sellers just like to see what they can get away with and others legitimately have no idea what a game is worth. But do extensive searches for these before you pounce, which is actually sound advice for any title.

Now here’s what you’re looking for: This is the list of Valuable games, generically divided by price rank. Describing these as unpredictable is an understatement. By the time you read this, all of it could be dated. The point is to seize everything you can on the low side of the spectrum.

$20.00-$29.99 (Valuable – Level 1):

1) Adventure Island III

2) Battletoads/Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team

3) Casino Kid 2

4) Cowboy Kid

5) Dragon Warrior II

6) GI Joe: A Real American Hero

7) Godzilla II: War of the Monsters

8′) The Jetsons: Cogswell’s Caper

9) Kid Klown in Night Mayor World

10) Mighty Final Fight

11) Nobunaga’s Ambition II

12) Rainbow Islands

Being the cheapest height, the level one games are the easiest to manipulate. Try to get them for $15 or less. This will put $60.00 back into your pocket for the slightly more valuable games.

$30.00-$39.99 (Valuable – Level 2):

13) Adventures of Lolo 3

14) Bandit Kings of Ancient China

15) Bomberman II

16) Die Hard

17) Dragon Fighter

18) Dragon Warrior III

19) Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball

20) Faria

21) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Ubisoft)

22) L’Empereur

23) Mega Man V

24) Ms. Pac-Man (Namco)

25) Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom

26) Stack Up

27) TMNT: Tournament Fighters

28) Ultima: Warriors of Destiny

29) Wacky Races

30) Wayne’s World

31) Zombie Nation

Obviously, this is all going to cost a great deal of money, being that almost half of the Valuable games fall into this group. Furthermore, you really need to be very alert when shopping for a couple of duplicate titles. Last Crusade has a version by Taito that is worth much less (you want the Ubisoft version) and you really need to steer clear of the Tengen version of Ms. Pac-Man. Avoid stock photos for these two at all costs.

$40.00-$49.99 (Valuable – Level 3):

32) Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers 2

33) Contra Force

34) Dragon Warrior IV

35) Duck Tales 2

36) Fire ‘N Ice

37) Gun-Nac

38) Mario’s Time Machine

39) Power Blade 2

40) RC Pro Am II

The prices for these are extremely rigid, but it is still possible to catch a deal. The big problem with these is a lot of people talk about them. But they are a lot scarcer than others, so they do deserve this altitude. Just keep repeating to yourself, “I will not spend more than $50 for any of these games,” and you’ll do just fine.

Let’s recap everything for some perspective:

If we split the licensed NES collection into the five different rarity guidelines I established earlier, how far have we come?

Impossible: 3 games (World Championship (Gold), World Championship (Gray), Stadium Events)

Rare: 6 games

Valuable: 40 games

Next up are the Patience and Freebie sections. This, as you can see, is well over 700 titles, so we have a long way to go.