A Whole New Rarity Guide


While you might consider it a Bible when you start collecting, an A+ to Q- rarity list usually isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and won’t much help you on your quest. After all, what is the difference between five million and four million copies, other than giving merchants an excuse to charge more? I suppose there is some truth to the difference in price between “A-” and “C+,” but that isn’t going to tell you what you should pay based on recent trading developments.

I’m not saying they’re useless – they make decent checklists, but just because 10 million copies of a game were made, it’s not necessarily going to cost you a quarter. Conversely, a run of 10,000 may not as a rule have a $75 asking price.

wizardTake Super Mario Bros. 3. A guide may brand it with a “D-“ because of the amount produced, but you’re not going to find one easily for under $10 because of the enormous popularity. After all, Hollywood made an awe-inspiring movie for it. Nintendo games aren’t baseball cards – you’re not just competing with other collectors. There’s a whole universe of people that genuinely want to play childhood classic favorites without going Pokémon. The Nintendo Power promoted giants of the era are going to sell better than some third-party unknowns simply because the demand is so high. Games like Contra, Mega Man, Punch-Out!!, and Zelda are always on the move.

But for those of you that need to cling to a scale with easy access abbreviations, try this:






Feel free to make it R+ or V- whenever needs must. Now let’s pick this apart:


dashAbout 50% of your collection should cost you next to nothing. These are generally cheap because they suck and there are literally billions of them. The smart sellers will give these away for the chance to draw attention to their other items. Don’t ever go out of your way to catch one of these and be sure to treat them like they’re the worthless pieces of garbage they are. Check the big-time suppliers – if the Buy It Now price is $1.00, it’s a freebie. A dollar is the minimum amount for which an eBay fixed price item can be listed. One way to collect these is to actually get them for free in a lot, meaning if you intend on paying $12 for Final Fantasy, a lot containing both Final Fantasy and Top Gun shouldn’t cost you more than $12.

A big problem is finding these in good condition. How well did you treat crappy junk as a child? These games weren’t any better than the Christmas sweater from your Aunt Becky at the bottom of your closet and you’re not special. My Zelda stayed in mint condition through college because I appreciated it. Dash Galaxy was the game I used to hold another game down when it blinked.

Pro sellers are a good path to take when you need to fill these holes because they’re so cheap you won’t really feel it and they’re going to be undamaged (or your money back). Buy in bulk and take advantage of discounted shipping whenever possible. Even be so bold as to send him a message: “If I buy fifty of your dollar games, can I have a better shipping discount?” He’ll probably be stoked to unload some of his crappy stock and have a potential future customer who isn’t afraid to spend real money. And you usually can’t beat their return policies.


zeldascreenshotDon’t let the dollar signs and zeros fool you – there isn’t much difference between these and the freebies. A search for Ninja Gaiden might end up with about 100 results, which is probably more than you’d find for Play Action Football, but it’s a better game so it’ll be rightfully more expensive. These are called “Patience” carts because for every ten you find for $12, you’ll find one for $0.99. Taking your time can save you tons of money. Set your mark below the average market fee and take your time. If the sellers are listing Tetris for $5 + $3.95 shipping, shoot for $5 including shipping. If a game is selling for $15, try to get one for $8. There are hundreds of popular games traded daily and rest assured, eBay’s not going to run out before you get yours. Eventually you’ll get one for a reasonable maximum offer.

The Freebie and Patience categories will represent the bulk of your entire collection.


babyboomerNow we’re getting into the authentic uncommon games, and it’s where a lot of the unlicensed titles fall because of limited production. These guys had smaller runs either because of funding or because they were released after the Super Nintendo was taking over the planet one monumental graphic leap at a time. Ranging from $20 all the way up to $50, you’re at the market’s mercy. Pro sellers will adamantly protect their investments, not giving much latitude to their prices and amateurs are going to use the pros as a guide. And the rare occasion that something like Contra Force or TMNT: Tournament Fighters shows up for $0.99, people get so excited they drive it over the current market value anyway. Such is the nature of the auction bazaar.

Now, it’s possible to find these in the wild and you should snatch them up if you have the opportunity, but your best bet is to follow the eBay trends and pounce on a deal when you see one. For example, a new amateur seller looking to turn pro may decide he’s going to get noticed by selling every game over $20 for $5 less than everyone else. Take advantage of these guys when you can – they won’t be around for long. And be sure to contact the veteran sellers with offers. Just because you can’t see the “best offer” button doesn’t mean you can’t try.


Now we’re talking money! I limit this list to six games because, while the V-rating games may rise or fall in relation to each other, these bad-boys have historically remained at the top of the list. Expect to pay no less than $650 for all of them and focus more on the group as a whole. Having one in good condition is key, not just because they look prettier on your shelf, but the significance of severely limited products like this will always increase with more people tucking them away for future generations. It’s important that yours is one of better noticeable quality that still exists.

Always be watching for:flintstonescib

Snow Brothers

Panic Restaurant

Bonk’s Adventure

Little Samson

Bubble Bobble Part 2

And most importantly, The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak


For those of you that are just reading this thinking how cute and quaint the other-half lives, you can probably spend $20,000 on a Nintendo cartridge as easily as you could hire someone to go collect them all for you; however, for the rest of you, let me be clear: YOU AIN’T GETTIN’ A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP! Or a Stadium Events…or Cheetahmen. Go ahead and write them off now or work on alternatives. We love the idea of this collection because it’s almost achievable, it’s something with which most of our age group can connect, and we get to see all the variety we couldn’t afford growing up. And no new games are coming out, so while the fun never stops, this has an ending.


But inches away from the finish line are a bottomless pit of quicksand and a brick wall stretching to the moon. We all agree that answering “all of them” to the question “how many games do you have” is a nice fairy-tale, but best you make yourself content answering “I have enough to keep me busy,” or just get used to lying to the people that don’t know any better. Take my word: There’s a lot of pride that comes with owning almost every NES game. Plan on sending your daughter to college some day and buy (or make) the reproduction cartridges instead.

Plan on skipping:

1990 Nintendo World Championships (Gold)worldchampionshipgold

1990 Nintendo World Championships (Gray)

Stadium Events

Peek-a-Boo Poker

Bubble Bath Babes

Hot Slots

Myriad 6-in-1

Cheetahmen II

Think really hard before you waste money on:action52

Action 52

Maxivision 15-in-1

Caltron 6-in-1