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Press Start

Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

Press Start: The most expensive classic video games

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

For reasons I don't quite understand, some video game enthusiasts are willing to shell out literally thousands of dollars for classic games anyone with even a basic understanding of computers could find and play online for free.

To collectors, I'm sure there's no small sense of pride and nostalgia in owning one of these original video game cartridges. But when you consider how much they cost, it's a wonder anyone besides the richest and most foolish video game lovers would ever spend the money necessary to acquire one. But, hey, if you've got money to burn, who am I to judge?

Here are some of the most expensive classic games, according to Safestorage, a UK self-storage business.

1. 'GAMMA ATTACK'

System: Atari 2600

Release year: 1983

Original price: $15

Current price: $500,000

For a cool half-million dollars, you could have been the proud owner of the only known copy of “Gamma Attack” to exist. In this Atari game, you play as an ever-descending UFO that shoots lasers at tanks on the ground below, kind of like a reverse “Space Invaders.” The person who originally listed it on eBay confessed he had no intention of actually selling it and put it online only to garner fellow collectors' attention (and probably envy).

2. 'SUPER MARIO BROS.' ASIAN COVER

System: Nintendo Entertainment System

Release year: 1985

Original price: $40

Current price: $25,000

“Super Mario Bros.” is the most recognizable game on this list, but what gives this item its value is its Asian cover variant that allows fans to play in English or, uniquely, Cantonese. In November 2012, a cartridge of this edition was sold for 25 grand. I guess Chinese characters really add value to a game about an Italian plumber who needs to rescue a princess from a giant turtle.

3. 'NINTENDO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS' GOLD EDITION

System: Nintendo Entertainment System

Release year: 1990

Original price: $40

Current price: $21,000

“Nintendo World Championships” features minigames based on “Tetris,” “Super Mario Bros.” and “Rad Racer.” That alone makes the game worthwhile, but 26 gold editions of the game were given out exclusively as prizes through “Nintendo Power” magazine, rightfully making them expensive collector's items.

4. “ATLANTIS II”

System: Atari 2600

Release year: 1982

Original price: $15

Current price: $18,000

To promote the release of “Atlantis,” Atari offered prizes to gamers who sent in photos of them garnering high scores in the game. When more fans than expected got the top score, Atari sent “Atlantis II” to top players to break the tie. “Atlantis II” wasn't otherwise marketed and was a more challenging game than the original.

5. “TETRIS”

System: Sega Genesis

Release year: 1984

Original price: $40

Current price: $16,000

Everyone has played or at least heard of the world's most popular puzzle game, “Tetris.” What many might not know is the legal issues surrounding the game.

Nintendo owns exclusive rights to “Tetris” on consoles, which means the game was never officially released on the Sega Genesis. However, “Tetris” creator Alexey Pajitnov confirmed Sega Genesis did indeed produce a handful of unlicensed versions of “Tetris,” giving them high value.

There are plenty of other expensive video games smaller than the latest MP3 you downloaded out in the wild, but I'll leave their value and acquisition to the collectors to figure out. For me, spending $60 on the latest high-end games is more than enough.


Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jmagee@gazettextra.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.


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