5 of the Rarest and Most Expensive Super Nintendo Games

This is a continuation of a series with two prior entries for the rarest N64 and Playstation One games.

Super Nintendo Full Box

Given the recent release of SNES Classic, today I decided to go back to a series I started when this blog was in its infancy.  The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated SNES and also known as the Super Famicon) was Nintendo’s early 90s release to follow-up the infamous NES.

Super Famicon

The system sold as many as 50 million units worldwide at an introductory price of $199 USD (1991 dollars), competing with Sega for dominance.  It was also during the SNES era that the ESRB was formed to “deal” with violent video games, with Nintendo having self-censored prior to the ratings board.

Super Nintendo Target Ad

The SNES is fondly remembered for its great leap forward in graphics, sound, and gameplay.  Moving away from the near arcade ports of its predecessor, SNES introduced the world to Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Street Fighter II.

While those games sold millions of units, today we will take a look at some of the rarest and most expensive SNES games.  I’ve included links to price charts since the number of sales for these items is sparse, so prices correct (up and down) with each unit sale.

Special Mentions:

I wanted to break out the special category of limited edition or competition cartridges as these entries are incredibly rare, but were never in true retail production.

Nintendo Powerfest 1994

Nintendo Powerfest 1994 ($10,988): This competition cartridge had Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and Ken Griffey Jr Baseball.  It was a specially designed cartridge that only had the first level of SMW, the first track of Kart, and set-up for most home runs in Ken Griffey.  Supposedly, only two known copies exist — and the saga of the last known purchaser can be followed here.

Nintendo Campus Fest 1992

Nintendo Campus Challenge 1992 ($4,000): Another one-of-kind special cartridge, this game consisted of Super Mario World, F-Zero, and Pilotwings.  Like other competition carts, each game was actually a mini-game, where upon completion it was pooled into a total of points to be compared against others.  One went up on eBay most recently 6 years ago.

Star Fox and Donkey Kong Competition Cartridges

Donkey Kong Country Competition / Star Fox Super Weekend Competition ($1,100-$1,800): Both of these games were similar to one another, as well as the previous two entries.  These special cartridges were made by Nintendo to serve as competition carts, with only a few levels and a special scoring system.  Availability for both was low (2,000 – 2,500 units each) and each was only available in special Nintendo Power bundles or through Blockbuster.

The List:

#5 Earthbound (Used: $157 New: $4,000)

Earthbound Screenshot

Earthbound has found a strong following  since its release in 94/95.  Known as Mother 2 in Japan, this strange Japanese take on American culture was not initially met with much praise.  After Ness was featured in HAL’s Super Smash Brothers, the game was rediscovered and is now considered a classic.  Despite the game’s wide print, as well as its availability on the new SNES Classic, the original SNES cartridge still holds value.

#4 Harvest Moon (Used: $177 New: $1,400)

Harvest Moon Box Art

The first entry in the series, the original Harvest Moon released alongside the debut of the N64.  The combination of a farming game involving planting tulips and herding livestock did not catch much initial interest for those clamoring for a new system.  Despite it being overlooked (and therefore less copies), Harvest Moon has gone on to become a rare SNES title, but also a successful series spawning many variants of the simple day to day farming life gameplay.

#3 EVO the Search for Eden (Used: $185 New: $2,049)

EVO Search for Eden Gameplay

Released in 1993, EVO did not initially win critics hearts.  EVO is side-scrolling action game with RPG elements, namely the player choosing how to “evolve” their custom creature as they advance through different eras of Earth’s history.  While the gameplay itself was deemed very mediocre, the game did receive high marks for originality.  Given its uniqueness, as well as its complete lack of reprint and accessibility elsewhere, copies of EVO are quite pricey (especially new).

#2 Hagane: The Final Conflict (Used: $625 New: $3,650)

Hagane: The Final Conflict Gameplay

Hagane involves ninjas and samurai in a futuristic setting attempting to defend The Holy Grail.  While the premise is strange, the game was very similar to Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi.  Considered at the time to be a “classic” side-scrolling action game, the game released to solid reviews and has retained fans despite a lack of a reprint or digital release. It was rumored to be a Blockbuster exclusive, but that still remains to be verified.  It’s more recent rise in value means its new to the list.

#1 Aero Fighters (Used: $710 New: $7,000)

Aero Fighters Gameplay

Aero Fighters has also recently shot up the rarity list, and is likely the rarest SNES game at the time of this writing.  Originally an arcade game, Aero Fighters was a strong port onto the SNES.  The gameplay was pretty straightforward shoot em up as was common in arcades at the time.  Despite the praise of the port, the game itself released with a limited print run as it had many existing arcade cabinets.  Its Neo Geo sequel is also quite valuable, unlike its more recent sequels.

 

Feel free to check out the excellent price and transactions tracker over at Price Charting.  Do you own any of these rare titles?  Have you played them? Comment below!

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10 thoughts on “5 of the Rarest and Most Expensive Super Nintendo Games

  1. hagane is neat. I only played it on an emulator but that game is hard! Cool to see it listed as one of the most valued games out there along with Harvest Moon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did not own a SNES, but I recognise some of these games. I can understand how Earthbound is so valuable, I remember hearing that it had a limited release and had become more popular following Super Smash Bros. I have heard of the Harvest Moon series and was not surprised that the original game is so valuable. EVO seems like an unique game, but not widely released due to unpopularity with critics, that could be valuable. Hagane and Aero Fighter seem to be similar to other games, although their success with critics may increase their value, it seems strange they would be so expensive.
    What are the competition games? How do they differ to the actual games?

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are limited edition games that actually contained preset levels that would tally a score that could be compared across playthroughs, hence the competitive aspect. They are expansive for the limited quantities produced since they were a one off creation

      Like

  3. The other honorable mention I think you should have well, mentioned are the Not For Resale games. Some of those are starting to get up there in price. One game I hope to find before it skyrockets is Thunder Spirits. It’s a port of the expensive Thunder Force III on the Genesis. And as someone who has Thunder Force II, getting Thunder Force III with some minor disadvantages at considerably less on the Super Nintendo is a pretty nice workaround.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that was a weird journey getting legal access to it, but now it’s there. Do kind of have to wonder what took so long to get it up. I heard that the copyright issues that were much theorized about weren’t the problem, but if that wasn’t it, I’m not sure what would have kept it from digital re-release for so long, given the demand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I thought that might have been the case myself, so I assumed that in the event that it was released on the Virtual Console, the songs would be rearranged. I was amazed when I found out that they weren’t. My guess is that despite the fandom’s zeal, Nintendo was a bit skeptical about whether or not it would be worth bringing to the Virtual Console considering how poorly it sold at first, but it wouldn’t explain why it apparently took just as long for it to appear in Japan. It also wouldn’t explain why they were much quicker to bring over games that outclassed Earthbound in terms of obscurity or poor sales. In all honesty, I’m drawing a blank on this one.

        Liked by 1 person

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