The Ten Most Valuable NES Sports GamesMarch 2, 2012 at 12:36 am | Posted in Features | 13 Comments
Tags: 8-bit, Aussie Rules Footy, Baseball Stars II, Bases Loaded 4, Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball, Jimmy Connors Tennis, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, NES, Nintendo, Pro Sport Hockey, Punch-out!!, rare video games, Retro Gaming, Sports games, sports video games, Stadium Events, Tecmo Cup Soccer Game, Tecmo Super Bowl, Video Game Collecting, video games, WWF King of the Ring
Video game collectors often overlook the sports game genre and it is easy to understand why. First, as talked about in the Retro Sports Gamer World gospel, the number of retro sports collectors and gamers is a small percentage of hobbyists. The ratio of memorable and replayable retro sports titles is considerably smaller than that of classic role-playing games or platformers. While the laws of supply and demand can deflate the prices of even the most popular retro sports game titles, the sports gaming marketplace is not void of games that are rare and valuable. The Nintendo Entertainment System is stocked with a large number of 8-bit sports games thanks to the success of the system and growth of the industry overall. As you’re sorting through stacks of games at the next convention or flea market, here are the ten most valuable NES games to keep an eye out for.
In compiling this list, there are a couple of guidelines that will be referred to henceforth as the Retro Sports Gamer World House Rules. First, the game had to be released, so titles like Hit the Ice and Mike Ditka Big Play Football are not included, even if they were made as reproduction carts of the original source material later on (which is very cool). Second, the game has to be a licensed NES title. Games like Rad Racket, Venice Beach Volleyball, Universal World Soccer or anything else released by American Video Entertainment are excluded (not valuable nor missing much there). Finally, the dollar amount referenced is the average price from Video Game Price Charting. These numbers represent an approximation of worth for just the stand-alone NES cart. When factoring in a complete-in-box copy, the value across all the titles increases exponentially.
Aussie Rules Footy – $32?
Released by Beam Entertainment in 1991, Aussie Rules Footy was an Australia-only licensed release. The game falls into my special honorable mention group because of the very limited geographic release and the fact that the game is rarely put up for sale (There was not much of a sales history to dig into). An 8-bit rugby game, Aussie Rules Footy is surprisingly deep as it includes a good number of real teams (Well, real as of 1991 at least) and game modes.
Punch-Out!! Special Edition – $415
This wouldn’t be a good retro collecting list if there wasn’t a super rare limited edition game to throw into the mix. This gold cartridge edition of Punch-Out!! for the Famicom predated the release of the more recognizable Mike Tyson version and only 10,000 copies of the game were produced. They were used exclusively as prizes for a Nintendo golf competition in Japan.
10. Baseball Stars II – $9
This game always reminds me of the movie sequel that skips theaters and heads right to DVD. I was flipping through games at a retro gaming store one day and stumbled upon this follow-up for the first time. I didn’t even know it existed as Baseball Stars 2 for the Neo Geo is the more well-known sequel. While SNK released the original Baseball Stars on the NES in 1989, Romstar was the distributor for this 1992 release. The game still has a number of the beloved elements from the first Baseball Stars and is the rarer of the two.
9. WWF King of the Ring – $9
Released by LJN in 1993 at the very end of the NES lifespan, WWF King of the Ring is the most valuable wrestling game on the NES. Pretty cool post-Wrestlemania IX roster here with the not-yet-departed Hulk Hogan as well as Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, and Shawn Michaels. You can even create your own wrestler (one slot) and customize their skill set.
8. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! – $11
An absolute iconic title on the NES, the fact that in 1987 you could fight Mike Tyson in a video game still blows my mind. There is no argument this game has the best sports star license on the NES and it also has one of my favorite rumors: If you plug the zapper into the second controller port you can shoot Mike Tyson in cold video game blood. Yes, we tried this repeatedly growing up. With its continued popularity with gamers and historical place in pop culture, the standalone cart routinely goes for double digits. Thanks to the game later being re-released as just Punch-out!! (two exclamation points is standard), the original picks up a little more value and rarity.
7. Tecmo Super Bowl – $12
Arguably the most popular sports game on the NES, this title is still played today across online leagues and in-person tournaments (routinely 150+ players show up for these type of events). Every NFL team was present including real players and the ability to make substitutions. In addition to being a great game overall, Tecmo Super Bowl also taught us for the first time what happened when individual players didn’t want their likeness used in a video game. We’ll always have QB Eagles (and QB Browns and QB Bills). While not rare, the game has held a decent value due to its popularity.
6. Bases Loaded 4 -$13
Nipping the R.B.I. Baseball games as the longest running sports series on the NES, the fourth installment of Bases Loaded was released in 1993 despite the Japanese version being out two years prior. The first three games in the Bases Loaded series are considerably more common than this one. The trend continues around games being more valuable the later they were released in the NES catalog and this is not inclusive of just sports games. Some of the most valuable NES games overall were late entries to the system when most gamers had moved to 16-bit.
5. Jimmy Connors Tennis – $15
A sneaky late release to the system in 1993 (continuing the trend) by Ubisoft, Jimmy Connors Tennis is arguably the best tennis game on the NES and certainly adds to the diversity of sports covered on this list. The controls and feel are very good so despite a SNES version released a year before, this game was not mailed in at all by the developers. From a collecting standpoint, I have recently tracked complete sales (with manual and box) that went for over $40 for this game.
4. Tecmo Cup Soccer Game – $18
One of the most unusual sports games I have ever played, Tecmo Cup Soccer Game (Yes, Game is the in the title for whatever reason) is a mix of real-time strategy and role-playing games. Instead of frantically pressing buttons to pass and shoot, you make decisions based on your placement on the field and watch the game play out like you are the head coach. There is an amazing amount of depth and strategy here for those that enjoy soccer. This title is also the biggest riser in value on the list. Just a couple of years ago the cart sold routinely between $5-$10 but recently I’ve seen completed auctions of just the game go for $20+. I would say $18 is a little low now for this game.
3. Pro Sport Hockey – $26
The only NHLPA licensed game on the NES, Pro Sport Hockey boasts real hockey players and the now familiar vertical viewing angle. The game is a step back from other hockey games on the system but was competing with a Super Nintendo version that would be released just a few months later. Jaleco released Pro Sport Hockey at the end of 1993 and while the cart will demand a decent price relative to other NES games, I have seen complete-in-box versions have heavy bidding action in online auctions and go for over $140.
2. Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball – $28
From the publisher (Broderbund) who brought you Where in the World is Carmen San Diego comes the only softball game on the NES and the only game where it can take ten minutes before both you and your buddy are ready to take the field with your customized teams. The instruction manual for Dusty Diamond is the most valuable sports manual on the NES. Without it, you run the risk of putting slugs with no throwing arms at key position on the field, greatly hurting your chances at advancing through the different backyard ballfields built into the game. Up until a couple of years ago, this game had online leagues ran as well. Complete copies of the game do not go for the same as Pro Sport Hockey, but the cart and manual will run you $35 or more.
1. Stadium Events – $2,125
The legend of this game has been told numerous times and the game remains one of the most valuable video games regardless of genre. Upon its original release, Nintendo decided to grant the game a first party production, recalling the scant initial cartridges that had been sent out and renaming the game (You may even have a World Class Track Meet and Power Pad still lying around). 2000 copies are believed to have been the total distribution tally, but that does not consider how many of those were sold prior to Nintendo’s recall. Some have suggested that no more than 200 actually made it into NES owners’ homes. Used carts go into the thousands of dollars but it is the complete copies that are also graded that get the big money.