The Geekbox's NES Collector List
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THE GEEKBOX'S NES COLLECTOR LIST v1.1 (September 7, 2013)
by Ryan Scott (http://www.geekbox.net/)
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This list is intended as a modern database, reference tool, and actionable checklist for collectors of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games. The Internet has no shortage of game rarity lists, but very few are super-relevant to today's secondhand market. The list (organized into "Licensed" and "Unlicensed" sections) is a complete and accurate catalog of every cartridge that was released for the NES in the United States during the console's lifespan (1985-1994, plus a couple more unlicensed games in the two years that followed).

It includes a very small selection of what I consider to be major release variants, though it DOESN'T include super-granular variants like three- and five-screw cartridges, or minor label differences (i.e. Bases Loaded with blue vs. orange Jaleco logo, or Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt with centered vs. bottom Nintendo logo). It DOES include games with multiple entirely different labels (i.e. Gun.Smoke). Given this criteria, I consider the official number of licensed and unlicensed NES cartridges to stand at 687 and 97, respectively. If you really want to chase multiple-screw cart variants and such, please refer to the links below.

This is a living document, as cartridge values will absolutely change over time. I will endeavor to update it quarterly. You can save your own copy as a Google or Excel document from the File menu. Happy collecting!
NOTE ON CARTRIDGE VALUES: Nintendo Entertainment System games are tricky to collect, as consumers will pay high prices for good-yet-common games (example: The Legend of Zelda -- one of the most common NES games in existence -- regularly fetches ~$15 on eBay). Conversely, some "rare" games sell for dirt-cheap, because they aren't highly sought-after. I advise aspiring collectors to think less in terms of "rarity" and more in terms of "value."

That said, the NES does have a handful of legitimately rare games (especially when you start considering unlicensed stuff -- that's where it gets weird, and if you're going to start collecting, I advise saving those games for dead last, since they mostly aren't very good). The "NES Value Key" tab breaks down my guidelines for how I classify games, and I mainly use PriceCharting.com's historical data to determine current cartridge values. My value estimations are the results of price analysis and selective gut checks; I largely base cartridge values on the past rolling year of data.
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REFERENCES
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THE GEEKBOX
(My website. Go listen to my gaming podcasts! Hooray for shameless self-promotion!)
http://www.geekbox.net/
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DIGITAL PRESS
(An active and knowledgeable retro-gaming community.)
http://www.digitpress.com/
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NATIONAL GAME DEPOT
(A convenient reference guide for all cartridge and packaging variations, no matter how minor.)
http://www.nationalgamedepot.zoomshare.com/1.html
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NES COLLECTOR
(An informative but long-abandoned collector resource, and the key inspiration for my value categories and my overall collecting mindset.)
http://nescollector.zamaman.com/
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NINTENDO AGE
(Overwhelmingly valuable collector-focused site with a detailed game database, and an active and uniquely obsessive community.)
http://www.nintendoage.com/
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PRICECHARTING'S NES GAME & PRICE LIST
(Historical used and new cartridge price information, data-mined from eBay, Half.com, and Amazon. This is the primary source of my data.)
http://videogames.pricecharting.com/console/nes?sort-by=name
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RETROZONE
(Makers of awesome USB adapters for classic controllers, modern homebrew NES games, and reproduction cartridges.)
http://www.retrousb.com/
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