If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably got quite the collection of random, unopened games from well-meaning family and friends. Instead of heading to the local GameStop and getting frankly an unreasonably small amount for that pile of old games, go on a little internet deep dive for these titles instead. With a little luck, you might have one of the most valuable vintage video games on your hands. Who needs Esports’ jackpots when you’ve hit vintage video game gold?
10 Most Valuable Vintage Video Games
Video game prices have skyrocketed in the past decade, but those $60 pre-orders pale in comparison to these valuable vintage video games. See which iconic titles made the list and if any of your favorites managed to sneak through the cutoff.
|Most Valuable Video Games||Recent Sales Prices|
|Super Mario Bros. for NES||$2 million|
|Super Mario 64 for N64||$1.56 million|
|The Legend of Zelda for NES||$870,000|
|John Madden Football for SEGA Genesis||$480,000|
|Sonic the Hedgehog for SEGA Genesis||$360,000|
|Super Mario Bros. 2 for NES||$325,000|
|Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! for NES||$312,000|
|Resident Evil for PS1||$264,000|
|Final Fantasy for NES||$204,000|
|Pokémon Red for Gameboy||$156,000|
Super Mario Bros. for NES: $2 Million
The most expensive vintage video game sold so far won’t surprise you. Super Mario Bros. was the game that started a massive franchise that’s still pumping out new titles nearly 40 years later. Nintendo released the game in 1985 for the new Nintendo Entertainment System, and in 2021, a private collector bought a nearly perfect copy for $2 million.
The story defies everything we expect to hear about a massive sale like this one. Instead of an individual seller, an innovative investment company called Rally put the game on the auction block. A number of their investors had agreed to go in and buy the game for a collective $140,000, only to sell it a short time later for an unthinkably high margin.
Super Mario 64 for N64: $1.56 Million
Super Mario 64 comes in at number two in a 2021 $1.56 million online sale. Are you sensing a theme with the most expensive video games? This sealed copy from 1996 was graded a 9.8 on a 10-point scale, making it an incredibly well-kept original. Touted as one of the best Nintendo games in the console’s roster, Super Mario 64 keeps collectors’ attention because it debuted the Mario world in 3D.
The Legend of Zelda for NES: $870,000
The Legend of Zelda is one of those old-school franchises that’s spanned generations. While there’s some debate about which Zelda game is the best, everyone holds a little reverence in their hearts for the original game. The most expensive original Zelda cartridge sold for $870,000 through Heritage Auctions.
This sealed game stands leagues above other copies because of both its pristine condition and its rare production run. So, no wonder someone was willing to fork over double most people’s mortgages to own it.
John Madden Football for SEGA Genesis: $480,000
Your feather-light bone structure and two left feet might’ve kept you from making the varsity football team, but it didn’t stop you from slamming through your rivals in Madden. Today, Madden is a household name. But in 1990, it broke kids’ brains.
According to Heritage Auctions, which brokered the $480,000 sale in 2022, it’s hard to find an original Madden game in good condition because they came in flimsy cardboard cases instead of SEGA’s usual clamshells.
Sonic the Hedgehog for SEGA Genesis: $360,000
Growing up in the 2010s means you probably know Sonic best for the pretty popular movie series that was slammed by meme culture before its release. But seasoned gamers remember Sonic the Hedgehog for being one of SEGA Genesis’s best original games.
Much like Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog was an incredible success in 1991, and it even survived SEGA’s downfall. Expect sealed copies from the original release year to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars; like this nearly perfect early production 1991 copy that sold in 2022 for $360,000.
Super Mario Bros. 2 for NES: $325,000
The Mario franchise is one of the most lucrative franchises, with quality vintage copies of basically every game in the series selling for thousands of dollars. Super Mario Bros. 2 is just another shocking example of the quirky plumber’s appeal. The 1988 sequel for Nintendo’s original smash hit released to much acclaim.
Though most people aren’t breaking out NES’s to get their Mario fix, people love collecting these reminders of gaming in the 80s. Recently, a sealed first production copy of Super Mario Bros. 2 sold for just under $325,000 online.
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! for NES: $312,000
Today, you probably know Mike Tyson for his tribal face tattoo, tiger-owning cameo in The Hangover, and the bite seen round the world. But before his pop culture iconography took a hard left, he was heralded as one of the best heavyweight fighters of his generation. Naturally, game developers saw potential.
Nintendo released Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! in 1987, and while it had its fans back in the day, the title faded into memory like parachute pants and other wacky 80s trends. However, one game collector was willing to fork over $312,000 for a nearly perfect sealed copy in 2021.
Resident Evil for PS1: $264,000
Non-gamers and gamers alike recognize the Resident Evil title, if not for the hair-raising gameplay, then for Milla Jovovich’s spearheaded film series of the same name. Interestingly, it’s the first Capcom game and Playstation1 specific title to make the list.
And while Resident Evil has its super fans, serious gamers would likely expect more acclaimed titles to supersede it. However, one almost perfect sealed copy sold in 2021 for $264,000 because of just how difficult a find it was. It just goes to show that you can’t have many expectations when you’re stepping up to the auction block.
Final Fantasy for NES: $204,000
When you think of legacy games, ones that’ve lasted decades and bring with them that edgy 80s aesthetic, you probably think of Final Fantasy. As a massively popular series of 16 numbered titles and counting, Final Fantasy draws a crowd.
However, one of the most expensive Final Fantasy games ever sold isn’t an original 1987 cartridge, but rather a sealed copy from 1990. Graded nearly 10/10 by professionals, this copy sold in 2021 for $204,000.
Pokémon Red for Gameboy: $156,000
Rounding out our list is a title near and dear to most millennials’ hearts. Pokémon Red was our first introduction to the fabulously inventive world of Pokémon. It brought us the iconic 151 Pokémon of the Kanto region and the best Pokémon villains to date — Team Rocket.
With Pokémon Go! and the ‘mon resurgence barely in the rearview mirrors, it’s not surprising that a collector would pay big for an original copy. In fact, someone bought a sealed first production copy of Pokémon Red from 1998 for $156,000 in 2021.
The Rainbow Roads of the Video Game World
If you’ve ever played Mario Kart, then you know how tantalizing, special, and difficult Rainbow Road is. These valuable video games are much like the technicolor racetrack. They’re iconic and hard to find. You can’t master Rainbow Road in one race, and you won’t be able to find these sealed titles in one trip to the thrift store. But keep trying; one day, you just might defy the odds.