Video games may have started as odd curiosities to challenge programmers and entertain the youth, but the industry has progressively blown up and expanded to an alarming degree. Now video games are a massive multi-billion industry that easily rivals that of television or film. The public is arguably just as aware of Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, or Lara Croft as they are with James Bond or Luke Skywalker. The industry is even at a point where professional e-sports has become a valid competitive field that’s watched by millions of people.
Video games continue to conquer new ground, advance their medium, and genuinely try to help technology evolve. They’ve made concepts that were once mere pipe dreams, like online communities, motion controls, and virtual reality, a very real thing. The industry continues to try to move people closer together, but there’s also a rich community that’s interested in the more rare items from the video game world. Any industry is full of obsessive collectors, but video games have evolved so much over the past decades, that it makes collecting the anomalies incredibly unique and satisfying. With a whole world of niche and unknown video game relics hiding in plain sight, Here Are The 21 Rarest Video Games Of All Time (And 9 Super Rare Accessories)!
30 Video Games: Snowboard Kids 2 (PAL Version) ($1050)
The SSX series has held a bit of a monopoly on snowboarding video game franchises, but Nintendo found reasonable success with their 1080 Snowboarding series that debuted on the Nintendo 64. Those titles might be the pinnacle for the Nintendo 64, but that didn’t stop other snowboarding games from release, like the cutesy Snowboard Kids and its sequel.
The Snowboard Kids games weren’t huge in America, but they had their fans. However, the series was much less popular in Europe. The PAL release for Snowboard Kids 2 was extremely limited and the game only came out in Australia. Accordingly, this has turned the game’s European release into what’s arguably one of the rarest N64 titles.
29 Video Games: Eli's Ladder ($1300 - $1700)
Atari 2600 games have become the bread and butter for rare video game collectors and many of the console’s retro titles appear on this list. Eli’s Ladder is a title that doesn’t come up in many modern video game conversations, but the game has the honor of officially being the rarest educational video game.
The “story” in Eli’s Ladder is incredibly simple and the player has to solve basic math problems to help direct alien Eli up a ladder to reach the moon. The game’s concept isn’t groundbreaking, but the educational title came with motivational stickers, a worksheet and progress chart, and a certificate, which means a complete set is even more difficult to acquire.
28 Accessories: Steel Battalion Controller Set ($200)
There are plenty of questionable niche controllers that are developed in order to provide additional customization and functionality in a title. Usually this comes down to some heavy sort of technology that’s crucial to the game, which is exactly the case with the pair of Steel Battalion games for the original Xbox games.
This controller set is bigger than several entire Xboxes put together. It’s a colossal mix of joysticks and levers that actually makes it feel like you’re in the pilot’s seat of a submarine, but is that level of specificity really necessary? This bulky accessory is maybe proof that this series should have been an arcade exclusive.
27 Video Games: Karate (Ultravision Version) ($2500 - $4000)
A video game that’s based on karate isn’t inherently a bad idea, but it perhaps wasn’t the best project to attempt for the rudimentary Atari 2600. Karate was actually designed by a black belt in the sport, Joseph Amelio, but just because he’s skilled at karate doesn’t mean he’d design a good video game. The results are one of the clunkiest, least user friendly titles for the Atari.
Karate is a curious case because the game was actually released by two publishers, Froggo and Ultravision. The Ultravision copies were released first in 1982 and there are far fewer copies of that version of the game out in the wild.
26 Video Games: Gauntlet ($3000 - $5000)
Gauntlet for the Atari 2600 is actually entirely unrelated to Atari’s arcade cabinet dungeon crawler of the same name. This Gauntlet is more akin to Indiana Jones than fantasy and the player must survive through a tribal gauntlet.
There’s nothing particularly complex about Gauntlet, but the reason that it’s such a rarity is that it was a mail-order title. This means that substantially less copies were produced than if the game saw a conventional retail release. On top of this, Gauntlet didn't even have a traditional box package (it'd arrive in a foam case). These quirks make it a lot harder to locate and preserve.
25 Video Games: King Of Fighters 2000 ($3540 - $6000)
The Neo Geo console flew under most people’s radars in America and only the most knowledgeable of gamers adopted the console. This to begin with makes Neo Geo titles more obscure because they were hitting a smaller audience in the first place.
The King of Fighters games have been a popular franchise for SNK, but the company was eventually facing closure due to financial struggles. SNK pushed through their final King of Fighters game for the Neo Geo at the last minute, but apparently there are only 100 confirmed copies of the title out there, which certainly makes it the rarest Neo Geo game.
24 Accessories: Resident Evil 4 Chainsaw Controller ($200)
Resident Evil 4 shares the distinct honor of being one of the most widely ported video games of all time. For a title that clearly has such a loving audience behind it, it’s not surprising to hear that excessive peripherals were introduced for the title in a limited capacity.
The PlayStation 2 version of Resident Evil 4 introduced a ridiculous chainsaw controller that drew inspiration from one of the game’s infamous early enemies. This complicated controller is so over the top and it even comes with its own display case because it really is more art than it is a sensible game controller.
23 Video Games: Elemental Gearbolt: Assassin's Case Edition ($1400 - $1750)
Limited edition versions of games are always going to be a rarity because the whole point of them is that there are fewer versions of these exclusive copies being made. The severity of how “limited” these limited editions are varies between titles, but anything contest related typically is on the more obscure side.
During 1998’s E3 convention, a tournament was held for the PlayStation title, Elemental Gearbolt. Only forty copies of these limited edition sets of the sci-fi shooter title were produced for this competition. “The Assassin’s Case” version of Elemental Gearbolt includes the game, a golden GunCon, and a memory card! And it’s all crazy sleek.
22 Video Games: Stadium Events ($35,100; $10,000 Just For The Box)
Stadium Events for the original Nintendo has garnered an infamous reputation among die hard video game fans. This is a basic track and field title, but only 200 copies were put into circulation before the title was recalled for re-branding purposes (World Class Track Meet was released in its place), yet copies still existed internally at Nintendo. It’s such a rare item that just the game’s box has sold for $10,000 on eBay.
Stadium Events was evidently more popular in Europe since it was distributed throughout Sweden and West Germany during the '80s, which has reduced the price of the PAL version to some context.
21 Accessories: Onimusha 3 Katana: The Soul Controller ($100)
If the PlayStation 2’s Resident Evil 4 controller is absurd, then the Katana: Soul Controller for PS2’s Onimusha 3 is even more illogical. Onimusha was a popular enough series, but nowhere on the same level as Resident Evil. This motion controller was made just for Onimusha 3 and is very ornate. The item had a limited production and is now out of print, which means tracking it down is quite difficult for collectors, with few turning up.
The Soul Controller goes for around $100 now, but the real difficulty is in finding it. Technically other niche items like Dreamcast’s Samba De Amigo maracas are more expensive, but you can at least find those on eBay!
20 Video Games: 1990 Nintendo World Championships: Gold Edition ($10,000 - $25,000)
The early ‘90s were a time when Nintendo was all about holding fancy tournaments to reward gamers and single themselves out among their competition. Not only were these beloved events for the time, but they’ve also led to some highly coveted video games as a result.
1990 Nintendo World Championship featured challenges from Super Mario, Rad Racer, and Tetris. Only ninety standard gray cartridges were given away to the finalists of the tournament, but twenty-six more gold cartridges were made for the winner and runner-ups for Nintendo Power’s iteration of the tournament. It’s one of the rarest Nintendo games, and just the cartridge alone garners big bucks.
19 Video Games: Superman (Sears Telegames Version) ($10,000)
Superman has an interesting history with video games. His Nintendo 64 is one of the most reviled video games of all time, but Superman for the Atari 2600 could garner you a small fortune. Under the right conditions, that is.
Atari 2600’s Superman isn’t exactly a rare title. However, a small subset of copies with yellow writing and Superman on the cartridge were put out by Sears Telegames. Very few of these copies exist and so this variant has turned into one of the rarest titles of all time. Perfect copies in their original packaging can easily sell for over $10,000, but just a copy of the game is still super valuable.
18 Accessories: Nintendo Super Scope ($70)
Nintendo has always been one to play around with curious peripherals and accessories, but their Super Scope light gun controller is definitely on the more complex side of things. The original Nintendo of course had the simple Zapper light fun, but the Super Nintendo introduced the frequently updating Super Scope. This complicated shooter only came bundled with Super Scope 6, a SNES title that featured six light gun games.
The Nintendo Super Scope is just so ornate. No light gun needs to be over two feet long and have a shoulder rest. It’s also a little surprising to see some of the other games that the Super Scope works with, like Yoshi’s Island.
17 Video Games: Nintendo PowerFest '94 ($12,000)
Much like the many tournaments that Nintendo held that revolved around the NES, PowerFest ’94 was a similar competition, but one that used the Super Nintendo as its console of choice. In this tournament competitors had to progress through various time-based SNES game challenges.
Only thirty-three cartridges were made for this tournament and thirty-one of them were sent back to Nintendo to be recycled for parts afterwards, which means that only two copies are out there. One of these was attempted to be sold on eBay for $300,000, but no one went for it, but the other was purchased for $12,000.
16 Video Games: Lakers Vs. Celtics And The NBA Playoffs (PAL Version) ($10,400)
The North American version of this game is plentiful to find and cheap, but it’s the European PAL release for Sega’s Mega Drive that’s the hidden treasure. Bafflingly, the PAL cartridge is identical to the American version, but it’s the European packaging that’s the big deal here.
The PAL version of Lakers Vs. Celtics was actually never officially released. Apparently EA had European licensing problems around the game, in particular to the likenesses of the teams and their players. In fact, the game was nearly released as “EA Basketball” as a result of these issues. In spite of no release, 192 copies got out in the wild, but only thirteen have surfaced since.
15 Accessories: Disney Infinity Peter Pan 3.0 Edition ($900)
When video games started to incorporate collectible toys, whether it’s through Disney Infinity, Skylanders, or Amiibos, it certainly became a double-edged sword for the industry. Some people love these additional collectibles, but others think these pricey add-ons are deplorable and symptomatic of a larger problem.
The reason that the Peter Pan 3.0 figure from Disney Infinity is so rare and expensive is because Avalanche Software shut down in 2016, which meant Disney Infinity 3.0 was canceled and this toy never made it to stores. That being said, some have still found a way to end up on eBay, albeit with high price tags.
14 Video Games: Kizuna Encounter (European Version) ($5400 - $13,500)
Once again, Neo Geo was such an oddball of a console that any rare games for it are likely going to be more rare than titles for other consoles. Kizuna Encounter is a perfectly serviceable one-on-one competitive fighter.
The game may not be wildly popular, but it was plentiful enough to find in arcades and it wasn’t a rarity in Japan. That being said, the title’s European release was incredibly minuscule. There are only five known copies of the PAL release out there, which easily makes it one of the rarest titles out there.
13 Video Games: Air Raid ($33,433.30)
Air Raid is another hidden treasure of an Atari 2600 title that features standard gameplay for the time, but it’s the scarcity of the title—not its quality—that makes it so important. There are seemingly only twelve copies of Air Raid that are out there, which makes it one of the rarest Atari titles on the market. The game even stands out with its appearance and looks like something special with its blue cartridge.
Copies of Air Raid are so rare that the cartridge alone sold for $3375 back in 2011. In 2010, the cartridge with the box sold for $31,600, but in 2012, the whole thing, manual included, went for $33,433.30.
12 Video Games: Blockbuster World Championships II ($11,700 - $19,300)
Even though Nintendo held the bulk of the exclusive video game tournaments, Sega proved that they could also get in on the fun. Not only that, they teamed up with Blockbuster to deliver a video game competition that they hoped would make waves. Blockbuster World Championships II is a dual-game cartridge produced for this contest that features NBA Jam Tournament Edition and Judge Dredd on it as the tournament’s skill-testing challenge.
Copies of this promotional game were only made for the competition and there are apparently only two or three out there that are known about. It’s weird to think that such a fuss could involve the Genesis Judge Dredd game, of all things.
11 Accessories: Blockbuster Nintendo 64 Rental Kit ($4000)
A few gaming generations back, some video rental chains such as Blockbuster actually allowed customers to rent entire consoles as way to preview them and figure out if they wanted to make such a big purchase. There’s nothing special about these rental kits since they’re just normal versions of the consoles in a convenient carrying case. However, due to the unique nature of these items from yesteryear, they’ve strangely turned into serious collector’s items.
Blockbuster’s Nintendo 64 Rental Kit in particular can net $4000 if it still has the instructions and foam casing.
10 Video Games: Nintendo Campus Challenge ($14,000 - $20,100)
The Nintendo Campus Challenge was a promotional Nintendo sponsored competition that ambitiously spanned sixty colleges across North America. Much like the style of Nintendo’s other competitions, the Nintendo Campus Challenge cartridge had contestants work through three mini-games, one of which looked to see which player could collect 25 coins in Super Mario Bros. 3 the fastest (the other Nintendo games featured were PinBot and Dr. Mario).
At this point, only one copy is known to be out there, which sold for $14,000 back in 2004, but the buyer then quickly flipped it for $20,100.
9 Video Games: Tetris (Mega Drive Version) ($3000 - $16,000)
The Tetris games have a surprising amount of lawsuits involved with them. It’s kind of crazy that a simple puzzle game can lead to such disputes in court. It’s for reasons like this that the Mega Drive version of the game is one of the Holy Grails of gaming. Sega even actively pretends that this game doesn't exist!
As a result of copyright issues surrounding Tetris (Nintendo presently owned the rights), production of the Mega Drive title was halted. Allegedly only ten copies of the game were produced, all of which went out to the development team. An auction copy went for $16,000 and a Alexey Pajitnov-autographed copy of the game nearly sold for $1,000,000!
8 Accessories: Konami LaserScope ($135 At Release)
The earliest generation of gaming was full of unusual peripherals that hoped to push the medium into the future in some way. A lot of these accessories are admirable, but for the most part they’re odd misfires and anomalies, like Nintendo’s R.O.B.
One of the stranger (and more expensive) add-ons for the NES was Konami’s LaserScope, which looks like something DC’s Cyborg might wear. The accessory was designed for the game, Laser Invasion, but it also works with other titles. It was essentially a very expensive alternative to the NES Zapper that featured wildly inaccurate voice activation, too.
7 Video Games: Atlantis II ($5000 - $18,000)
A surefire way to guarantee that a video game remains rare is to only give it out as a prize for an exclusive contest. Atlantis was a popular shooter title for the Atari 2600, so the company decided to play into the game’s fan base and reward the most dedicated of gamers with a souped up version of the game.
A “Defend Atlantis” competition was held and Atlantis II was only issued as a prize to the winners. The four finalists were even flown to Bermuda to compete for the ultimate prize of $10,000!
6 Video Games: Red Sea Crossing ($10,400 - $13,800)
Religious games are always a rarity and garner a high price tag because it’s usually so hard to fathom how they could exist in the first place. Red Sea Crossing is an Atari 2600 title that’s basically Frogger, except you’re helping Moses cross the Red Sea. The game was discovered at a garage sale and while its authenticity was questionable, research proved that Steve Sack of Inspirational Video Concepts developed the niche title.
Only 100 copies were produced and only two have surfaced online, both of which went for over $10,000 each. People thought this was a hoax, so it didn’t help that it was only advertised in a religious publication, not video game magazines.
5 Accessories: Legless Princess Peach Amiibo ($25,000)
Holy cow! Aren’t factory defects a strange, glorious thing? It’s absolutely crazy that a machine can make an error and deliver an inferior product, but because of this anomaly the item actually becomes more valuable. It’s a bonkers principles, but it makes sense that the fewer there are of something should dictate a higher price.
Nintendo has found lots of success through their character-based Amiibos, many of which have been out of stock at various points. However, the rarest of the toys is a defective Princess Peach that is without legs. Suddenly a collectible that’s under twenty dollars is now as valuable as a car.
4 Video Games: Entertainment Mountain Bike Rally And Speed Racer Combo Cart ($2000)
I still have a hard time believing that Super Nintendo’s “Life Fitness” experiment is actually something that happened. Then again, the ‘90s were a crazy time for “innovation.” Entertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer are impressively two games crammed into one, but they’re absolutely insane because they’re only compatible with a SNES-linked exercise bike.
Super Nintendo’s “Life Fitness” series intended to regularly use this exercise bike, but this combo-pack is the only title that works with the bike. These games are accordingly rare because they’re essentially useless without the exercise bike to play them.
3 Video Games: Birthday Mania ($25,000 - $38,700)
There’s something incredibly wholesome about the principle behind the Atari 2600’s Birthday Mania. It’s exactly the kind of gimmick that’d be a huge drawback in the 1980s, but would completely fall flat now. There’s no real reason to play this game other than the bragger’s rights that are associated with it.
Birthday Mania was a made-to-order Atari game, which means that you'd contact the company and give them the gamer's name and birthday info. Then they'd mail you a copy, which would have the birthday person's name on the cartridge and title screen. Due to the unusual nature of the game’s production, there aren’t any working copies of Birthday Mania that are out there.
2 Accessories: Swordquest Talismans ($25,000)
The contest that Atari put together for their Swordquest games operates at an unreal level that still might not have been replicated since then. Back in 1982, Atari held a contest that revolved around their four Swordquest titles. The games came with comic panels, which were used to form clues for this contest, where contestants then mailed a finished sentence off to Atari.
Why this contest was such a big deal is that the prizes were actual treasure made from gold and jewels. A crown, chalice, medallion, and philosopher’s stone were awarded to the four finalists. The overall champion would have received a fancy sword, but only two of these contests ever took place.
1 Video Games: Gamma Attack ($20,000 - $50,000)
Gamma Attack is an Atari 2600 title that features a bit of a spin on Space Invaders, where players control a UFO that tries to attack the tank that’s below. Gamma Attack is such a significant title because the company Gammation only made one copy. The sole title is owned by Anthony DeNardo, who stumbled upon the game without even initially understanding the extremely rare nature of the game. DeNardo unsuccessfully attempted to sell Gamma Attack through eBay for $50,000, but it’s likely even more valuable than that. It’s the only one out there!
These are all of the rarest and most obscure video game relics that we came across, but is there anything substantial that we’ve overlooked? Now’s your chance to share your video game knowledge and sound off in the comments below!