SparkNotes Blog

6 Rare and Sought-After Video Games

Our cultural landscape has changed considerably since the day video games first took root in the market, evolving from what many deemed a fad to, in some instances, a respectable form of high art. This perception has since generated a demand among aficionados for gaming relics of the past, with quite a few willing to put down top dollar for that near-forgotten oddity or unique piece of industry history. Whether or not they actually set a benchmark is arguable, but here are some of the six most sought-after video games any collector would be elated to own.

6) LSD: Dream Emulator, 1998 (Japan Only)

Platform: PlayStation

The title’s acronym standing for a number of cryptic phrases including “in Lunacy, the Savage Dream” and “in Laughter, the Spiritual Dream,” LSD: Dream Emulator was the kaleidoscopic brainchild of Asmik Ace Entertainment staffer Hiroko Nishikawa, based on the surrealist visions recorded in his personal dream journal. The game plays out over a series of days as players are thrust from one indescribable (and at times nightmarish) setting to the next. By virtue of being published in small numbers and geographical exclusivity, LSD is a rare find on Internet auctions and specialty stores—mainly because no one wants to part with a game this weird.


5) EarthBound, 1995

Platform: Super Nintendo

Game critics might rave about EarthBound’s—or as it’s known in Japan, Mother 2—unconventional thematic approach to the traditional RPG now, but 20 years ago, the title was one of Nintendo’s worst marketing fiascos. The North American advertising campaign was humorously self-deprecating to EarthBound’s detriment, leaving consumers not feeling too strongly about it, if not confused. This backlash compounded with dated graphics and a lack of franchise familiarity led to poor sales, the game falling into obscurity soon after. But in the past decade an EarthBound renaissance sparked renewed interest, enthusiasts scrambling to add the obscure gem to their collections; sealed copies—including the packaged player’s guide—currently command high prices on the secondary market.


4) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Ewok Adventure, 1983

Platform: Various

Published by Parker Brothers and intended to be released alongside Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle, Ewok Adventure was scrapped in the wake of the 1983 video game crash (despite being very well near completion). Public knowledge of the game’s existence didn’t surface until a man named John Bennett revealed that he had received a prototype in 1997 from a friend of his father, former Parker Brothers game developer and Ewok Adventure programmer Larry Gelberg. The game was quite advanced by standards of the day, featuring eclectic elements and experimentation with shadow to gauge altitude when using the Ewok hang glider.


3) Air Raid, 1982

Platform: Atari 2600

The graphics substandard and the cartridge itself reminiscent of a baby blue dynamite plunger, Air Raid is for all intents and purposes hideous… yet it’s one of the most expensive video games known to man (and that’s definitely not hyperbole!). Developed by Men-A-Vision (?) for the Atari 2600—clearly without the latter’s consent—in a limited run, copies have appeared online fetching prices in upwards of $30,000. For an otherwise crappy game. Unbelievable, in a way…


2) Gamma-Attack, 1983

Platform: Atari 2600

As of this writing, and how it has remained for years, there is only one confirmed copy of Gamma-Attack on Earth, belonging to a Mr. Anthony DeNardo—famous for listing it on eBay in 2008 for a purchase price of $500,000. Even though it’s valued far, far lower today (but still worth a pretty penny, mind you), Gamma-Attack is considered an item of note given that it was the only game developed by the defunct company Gammation. More copies are believed to exist, but their owners have yet to come forward (if any).


1) 1990 Nintendo World Championships (Gold Cartridge), 1990

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

Gamers lucky enough to have entered the finals during the 1990 Nintendo World Championships not only went home with a king’s ransom of prizes, but also copies of the competition’s specially designed game cartridges (containing modified versions of Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris). Rare in themselves, even rarer are the gold editions numbering 26 in total. Handed out as prizes in a contest held by Nintendo Power magazine, one copy was sold on eBay last year for a cool $100,088!

What’s your favorite video game that you’ve never been able to beat?