Editor's note: This article was originally published last year under the title Super Bank Breakers. We've since updated the list with more formats and amended some of the details.

One could argue it took comic books a lot longer than it's taken video games to go from throwaway kids product to desirable collector's item. Only twenty-five years ago we were still jamming fiddly cartridges into front-loading Nintendo Systems and impatiently tearing packaging and manuals asunder - embellishments that now constitute the vast majority of a game's worth.

If you end up stumbling on this piece half a decade post publication, the world on a possible precipice of nuclear holocaust thanks to a calamitous Republican tailspin, the information in this article will probably be grossly out of date. And I don't mean because impending war and dwindling resources has likely influenced people's perceptions of what constitutes a valuable commodity - clean water and tinned spam suddenly more desirable than say, a Sega Saturn CD - but because the video game collector market is a volatile wellspring of peaks and troughs, where what's worthless today is gold tomorrow, and vice versa.

Indeed, in the early 90s I picked up a copy of Whirlo for Super Nintendo, finished it and promptly trading it in for something else, such were the budgetary constraints of a 12-year-old. In October 2014 a beaten up copy with no manual ended for £240 in an eBay auction, while complete copies - like mine once was - have reached £500 even in sat-on condition.

Of course anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to eBay knows that it's a hive of scum and villainy, ably positioned sellers sucking everything out of Japan's Akihabara and Yahoo Auctions and demanding huge profit margins in resale to western pundits. This mass software expatriation has sent Japan's domestic prices skyrocketing, reducing it from the shopping mecca it once was to a cluster of boutiques best kept at arms length. In recent years interest in buying back PAL and US versions of classic games has increased exponentially, despite often being plagued with dreadful packaging, censorship, and in the case of Europe, poor 50hz ports. That finding these often-lesser western equivalents in semi-decent condition is a mission unto itself, values have gone through the roof.

All told if you're interested in beginning a collection of rare and desirable games, you've come at a really bad time.

Nintendo Entertainment System (1983)

Nintendo

Yeah, that Nintendo World Championships competition cartridge, we all know the story. Out of reach unless you're rich and stupid, the last one sold this January for a cool $99, 902 - the lucky collector netting himself a bad game with no label. But what commercially released titles for Nintendo's 8-bit masterstroke are being exchanged for big money today?

  • Recca
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £350 - £400

It's common that some of the most valuable games are actually really bad. Recca on the other hand is actually really good. An early work from Shinobu Yagawa - a programmer of questionable sanity revered by hardcore shooting game enthusiasts for the sadistic charms of Battle Garegga, Pink Sweets and Ibara - Recca impresses with its speed, bullet hell levels of incoming fire, big bosses and impressive audio. One of the Famicom's most technically accomplished works, it was never released outside of Japan.

  • Gimmick
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £320

Bidding sent this one to £392 in July, although in Japan it's still possible to find it for around £100 less. Despite never getting its promised US release, it's not as rare as some make out, but nonetheless a superb and challenging platform adventure from Sunsoft.

  • Bubble Bath Babes
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £600 - £700

As this list is meant for retail releases this one only barely qualifies. From Taiwanese developer C&E and released through Panesien, Bubble Bath Babes was one of many unlicensed NES games available via mail order and store rental. The Japanese version, Soap Panic, is still valuable at around £100 - the Australian PAL version less so - but it's the US release that fetches the large sums, a loose cartridge pulling in a whopping £471 at auction this September. People say it's valuable because it's rare, but we think it's just because it has boobs n' stuff.

  • Stadium Events
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £13,000

Don't adjust your sanity meter. Stadium Events, a specific US version of a Bandai game that used a fitness mat, was already limited in release before it was pulled from shelves and destroyed after Nintendo purchased the mat technology. There are only about twenty complete copies known to be in circulation, one of which sold for $41,000 in 2010. The eBay auction winner didn't pay up (probably decided the negative feedback was more economical) but in January 2011 the game was successfully transacted for $22,800, and then again earlier this year when a sealed copy sold for $35,100 (£23,350 approx). Wii Fit is better.

Sega Master System (1985)

Master

Sega's first prominent console flop. Faring better in Europe but bombing in Japan, in the US it barely even registered, resulting in very low software production runs.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £200

This US copy of Sonic's only distinguishing feature from near worthless European copies is a barcode sticker on the back of the box. So that's like, £195 for a barcode, man. Groovy.

  • James Buster Douglas Knockout Boxing
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £250

This limited release of short-lived Heavyweight Champion James 'Buster' Douglas has risen from just over £100 four years ago to around the £250 mark - or to be precise, £239.52 plus shipping in an auction that ended on October 19th. We're sure it's a great game worth owning. You can also purchase Eurogamer's sarcasm detector for a similar price.

  • Les Schtroumpfs Autour du Monde (The Smurfs Travel the World)
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £250 - £350

The rarest of the bunch, this late 1995 release from Infogrames was an almost completely unknown sequel to the console's previous Smurfs title until several copies were unearthed in the Czech Republic at the turn of the millennium. It's now the Master System's Holy Grail of difficult to acquire titles, with eBay auctions between August and October earning figures of £200 and £378.

PC Engine (1987)

PC

NEC's little wonder machine, an 8-bit powerhouse that often outstripped its 16-bit competitors in performance, was a treasure trove of shooting games. With a long lifespan that encompassed credit card sized games to CD software, it's one of the most important pieces of gaming history never released in Europe.

  • Dracula X: Rondo of Blood
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £80 - £100

The value was up, it was down, and now it's going up again. Dracula X remains one of the best examples of classic Castlevania, its beautiful presentation, razor sharp handling, and multiple paths making it one of the PC Engine's shining stars. If only one could dispel bags of cash by vandalising candelabra, it might be more easily affordable.

  • Kaze Kiri: The Ninja Action
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £100

Remarkably overrated, Kaze Kiri boasts a great front cover, but it's downhill from there. Doesn't stop people wanting to own it of course.

  • Coryoon: Child of Dragon
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £130 - £150

A rare Hu Card release from Naxat Soft, responsible for the Famicom's aforementioned Recca, Coryoon's fun factor isn't equal to its asking price. A cute cartoony shooting game featuring dragons and piles of fruit, it's very easy, fairly boring, and is marginally flawed by speech-bubble sound effects confusing the screen.

  • Sylphia
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £170 - £200

Tonkin House's shooting game fusion of anime styling with Greek mythology is so easy on defaults you can clear it on a credit with one eye closed and an arm tied behind your back. Certainly fun for a twice over, its difficulty to acquire and above average presentation continues to make it highly sought after, with two auctions ending in October for £175 and £236 respectively.

  • Renny Blaster
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £200

Not the greatest game, but certainly one of the PC Engine's rarest and therefore most expensive. The theme is good - dudes fighting Dracula and his minions using the way of the fist - but the execution is rather lacking. For a superior ghoul-battling buzz, try out Data East's arcade beat-em-up Night Slashers.

  • Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire
  • Region: NTSC JP
  • Approx £300

Ending for £300 in a July auction, Sapphire has stayed high in the PC Engine's value charts for well over a decade. A solid shooting game that boasts striking graphics, it was a low run release that came late in the PC Engine's life. Notoriously, Sapphire was bootlegged to a remarkable standard in 2005, telltale signs of counterfeiting only identifiable under extreme scrutiny. Impressive enough to dent original Sapphire values - much to the chagrin of collectors everywhere - the bootlegs even took on a value of their own: one recent auction ending after 22 bids at £155. Through inquiries, however, we know the winning bidder never coughed up.

  • Magical Chase
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £1000 - £ 1300

The US release of Magical Chase for TurboGrafx (the poorly marketed US version of the PC Engine) is incredibly difficult to find, and a mint condition copy was subsequently sold on eBay for a cool £1399 on August 14th, right here in the UK. The Japanese version of this cute shooting game is markedly less expensive at around £150.

Mega Drive (1988)

Mega

Sega's powerhouse and the closest you could get to a home arcade experience outside of SNK's Neo Geo. The Mega Drive didn't get the love it deserved in Japan, but in Europe it was the 16-bit market leader long before the Super Nintendo managed to equal its impressive sales record. It remains Sega's most successful console.

  • Pulseman
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £100 - £150

An early title from GameFreak prior to establishing Pokemon, Pulseman is a novel action platform game featuring a hero who turns into a ball of energy to zip along circuits and bounce between conductors. Another one with a price tag that's risen dramatically in the last five years, it's one of the Mega Drive's more unique adventures. Can be acquired in Japan for around £100.

  • Contra: The Hard Corps
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £200

Shoot something, shoot everything. Contra: The Hard Corps follows Vampire Killer in making full use of the Mega Drive's swift processor. The Japanese original being much easier than the US release, its cartoony character roster belies a spectacle of relentless carnage, regularly seeing it pitted in superiority arguments with the Super Famicom's Contra III. They're equally glorious in their own way, although Hard Corps is far more costly, recently grossing £161 in an eBay auction.

  • Battle Mania Daiginjou
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £200

Recently sold at auction for £140, this superior sequel to shooting game Battle Mania usually costs double that of its predecessor. Why? The original was released as Trouble Shooter in the west, whereas Daiginjou was considered too bogged down in Japanese eccentricity to be worth localising.

  • Vampire Killer
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £200 - £250

The only Castlevania title on the Mega Drive, Konami's Vampire Killer - slightly censored for its western release - embodies everything that made Sega's machine such a classic. Fast paced arcade action, it's a relentless gothic mash of non-stop bosses, enormous enemies, and stages bursting with variety. Certainly worth the spend for the dedicated collector.

  • Mega Man: The Wily Wars
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £250 - £300

Expensive even in its Japanese incarnation, the PAL version is especially difficult to find, reaching £312 in September with only five bids. The only Mega Man title to be released on the Mega Drive, it contains remakes of the first three Mega Man titles for the NES and an original boss rush.

  • Panorama Cotton
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £300

This technically remarkable 3D shooting game resembles 90s Super Scaler arcade games like Space Harrier and After Burner. Why such a price variance? Panorama Cotton came with a registration card that could be sent off and entered into a prize draw. 300 random winners were sent a ceramic mug featuring an illustration of the game's eponymous witch. The mug is so rare it can easily double the sale price.

  • Eliminate Down
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £300

Ending at auction for £360 in the middle of October, this one usually sits between £250-£300 in Japan. A fairly fantastic shooting game from little known developer Aprinet, it has always been rare enough to encourage collector interest and firmly high prices.

  • Comix Zone
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £300

Comix Zone was a game developed by one of Sega's US subsidiaries and received an incredibly low print run in Japan. Graphically excellent, its gimmicky comic book concept has you dive between panels beating things up. Slick animation equals a little sloppiness in the controls, making it slightly frustrating, but if you want to acquire a cheap copy the PAL version can be had for around £20.

GameBoy/GameBoy Colour (1989)

Gameboy

A dot-matrix marvel, Nintendo's handheld owned the world record in console sales for almost a decade before the PlayStation finally surpassed it.

  • Shantae
  • US NTSC
  • Approx £400

WayForward's initially overlooked and rather special GameBoy Color platformer is fast approaching £400 at auction. Published by Capcom and never released outside of North America, it's leapt in value over the last five years. Renewed interest in the IP resulted in two sequels - one for DSi Ware and another for 3DS - with a third pending. The original is also available on 3DS Virtual Console for a nominal figure.

  • Magical Chase
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £130

This cute downsized translation of the PC Engine original is one of the rarer GameBoy Colour titles. Thankfully it's not quite as costly as the TurboGrafx one. Yet.

  • Castlevania Legends
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £150

After the GameBoy's basic but enjoyable Castlevania: The Adventure and the majesty of its sequel, Belmont's Revenge, Castlevania Legends is a let down. Chastised partly due to its lineage, it still demonstrates little to none of the variety, pace or invention imbued in its handheld predecessor, and was removed from the official series timeline by Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi. But it was the only Castlevania game prior to Order of Ecclesia - and the only one in a classic mould - to feature a female protagonist, which seems to count for a lot. The Japanese version is worth in the region of £50, US copies around £100 more, with auctions between August to October selling for £144, £159 and a £189 respectively.

  • ZAS
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £300

Parallax scrolling transparencies, large sprites, detailed graphics and highly creative stages mark ZAS as both a technical feat and the GameBoy's best shooting game. From T&E Soft, the minds behind the pure evil that is Undeadline, it's a rather exquisite piece of GameBoy history. Loose carts sell for around £100, but finding a complete copy is almost impossible. Really.

  • Trip World
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £500 - £1000 (speculative)

Difficult to pin down because so few complete copies are ever available for sale, Trip World is an infamously rare Sunsoft game that originally bypassed the US for release only in Japan and Europe. Now also available on 3DS Virtual Console, a loose PAL cart sold for £220 in September - almost as much as a boxed Japanese version. A complete PAL copy on the other hand? Let's just say we're talking about some really expensive paper.

  • Spud's Adventure
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £1000 - £1500

A seriously scarce Atlus game about a world saving potato. I've long known this one is valuable, but could barely believe my eyes when I found a Buy it Now listing had sold for £1500 in August. Suspecting some kind of price boosting ruse, I trawled the feedback and found a positive buyer response: "Had a family member open for me via Skype. All good! Pleasure seeing your store!" Make of that what you will.

  • Amazing Tater
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £1000 - £1500 (speculative)

More GameBoy games about anthropomorphic potatoes, but the only relation it has to Spud's Adventure is being face-punchingly expensive. There hasn't been a complete US copy of this around for a while, so our valuation is speculative - but since it's been known to fetch similar sums to Spud's, and a loose eBay copy sold for £136 in September, it's likely just as dear. My cost-effective alternative would be going to Tesco and getting a bag of frozen chips for £2 and drawing little faces on them and using toothpicks for flags and weaponry. It will be a wonderful potato war, at least until they thaw out.

Neo Geo (1990)

Neo

SNK's beautiful home arcade console has had a notorious after-market existence, maintaining ludicrously priced software partly thanks to the dedication of the Neo-Geo.com forum community. With over a dozen games costing in the region of a thousand dollars upward, the console has been subject to regular counterfeiting. Metal Slug cartridges were manufactured by savvy French con-artists and sold to Tokyo stores, while the mystery of the forged Aero Fighters 3 carts - selling for $30,000 a pop and handled by a once-reputable Neo Geo forum member - remains ongoing. As for the legitimate stuff, here's three of the big guns.

  • Metal Slug
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £1500

This space would be occupied by the US release of King of Fighters 2000 (around £3000) if it wasn't exclusively released by mail order. Metal Slug on the other hand made it to US retail in bizarrely low quantities. A highly coveted addition to collector shelves, this Nazca developed marvel remains the series best in terms of balancing, tone and variety. It's also been re-released on almost every platform for the last fifteen years, so thankfully there are much cheaper ways to enjoy its special brand of comic violence.

  • Ultimate 11
  • Region: EU PAL
  • £3000 - £5000 (speculative)

Ultimate 11, known as Super Sidekicks 4 in Japan, is pretty good footballing fun. Whether you want to drop somewhere in the region of £5000 for an obscure European variant is another story entirely, but when it comes to collecting few can top the wallets of the Neo Geo hardcore. Like Kizuna Encounter, this is a game that hasn't been seen for sale in a good long while, so values are speculative and there's no reason it couldn't increase in worth the next time it surfaces for sale.

  • Kizuna Encounter
  • Region: EU PAL
  • £4000 - £7000 (speculative)

The European release of Kizuna Encounter, SNK's tag-team fighting game, is so scarce supposedly only five have ever been witnessed for sale and the transaction totals are difficult to corroborate. Of course more than five were made, but since no-one has been able to verify the print run figure it doesn't come cheap. Alternatively you can buy the MVS version (the original arcade cartridge) for £25.

Super Nintendo (1990)

SNES

My first real love. Those curves. By 2005 the Super Nintendo catalogue still hadn't gained much traction in the value department, before suddenly exploding when people realised cardboard packaging wasn't all that durable. Now both Japanese and especially western variants are commanding eye-watering prices. Here are some of the more interesting.

  • Ninja Warriors Again
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £200

If ever you wanted an example of eBay seller practices driving up prices, look no further than Natsume's quite fantastic Ninja Warriors Again. A console only sequel to the Taito arcade game of 1987 - and better all round - this side on scrolling beat-em-up is a tactical glory. The Japanese version is unmolested compared to the Western localisations, but its asking price has leapt dramatically in the last few years.

  • DoReMi Fantasy
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £200

This obscure Husdon Soft sequel to Milon's Secret Castle has a notable ambient soundtrack: a mixture of percussion and woodwind instruments punctuated by eerie silences that reflect the game's stolen music back-story. Uncharacteristic and experimental, it isn't a particularly remarkable platformer, but certainly pleasant enough to hop through.

  • Undercover Cops
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £200

An arcade title from the team who eventually left Irem to create Metal Slug and brought solely to the Super Famicom, all you can say about the port quality is wow. Relatively unknown Varie squeezed so much into the cartridge it's unreal, even with the minor graphical cutbacks. Well received in Japan, it's one of the system's best scrolling beat-em-ups. But boy, is it tough.

  • Gourmet Sentai Bara Yarou
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £250

Released by Virgin Interactive this rare scrolling beat-em-up is uniformly insane. Don't try to make sense of it, just walk around beating things up and collect vegetables to be stewed during stage intermissions, replenishing your health to varying degrees. Not the greatest in the genre, but marvellously Japanese.

  • Earthbound
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £350

A complete copy ending for £361 in a September auction, Earthbound is one of the most critically acclaimed Japanese role-playing games of all time - one that unfortunately never made it to Europe until its eventual Wii U Virtual Console debut in 2013. Its satirical Americana moulding, kooky atmosphere and parody of the genre's various tropes has made it a defining classic of the 16-bit era.

  • Whirlo
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £350 - £450

The one that got away. An action platform spin-off of Namco's own Legend of Valkyrie, Whirlo is beautifully put together and superbly challenging, this rare Spanish only release commanding high sums owing to its full English localisation. The beautifully packaged Japanese version, Xandra no Daibouken, costs mere peanuts in comparison.

  • Hagane: The Final Conflict
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £400 - £500

One of those western variants whose value has gone quite mad, Hagane is a stunning contender to the Shinobi throne. US copies regularly sell for £300 even without manuals, but if you have to have it you're strongly advised to buy the Japanese version for under £100. There's no language barrier and the packaging on the PAL and US versions has done hideous cropping things to Keita Amemiya's incredible cover art.

  • Wild Guns
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £500

Surpassing the already expensive Japanese release, which usually hovers around the £200 mark, a PAL copy of Wild Guns sold in July for just under £500 at auction and the US version has been known to fetch even more. It also happens to be great: an arcade crosshair shooter from Natsume that fuses the Wild West with steam driven technology. Makes one wonder about that Will Smith movie's influences.

  • Iron Commando: Koutetsu no Senshi
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £500

Hailing from a small London studio, Iron Commando only ever received a limited Japanese release. What begins as impressive plagiarism of Capcom's arcade classics quickly falls apart thanks to what one assumes to be an absence of play testing. If it hadn't been demonstrated on YouTube with fascinating stringency, you might think clearing it on a credit to be impossible.

  • Rendering Ranger: R2
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £900

A European developed game from Manfred Trenz of Turrican fame, Rendering Ranger is Turrican meets Contra with pre-rendered graphics and irksome screen inertia. After some troubled development it only ever got a Japan release through Virgin Interactive. Worth the price tag? No, not really, but that didn't stop an ebayer snapping it up for £1260 in July.

Sega Mega CD (1991)

megacd

The long awaited add-on for the Mega Drive - or Genesis, should you be so disposed - the Mega CD was once an exciting prospect. Unfortunately stacking old and new consoles together like a big toy was the best of the gimmick, the reality proving overwhelmingly underwhelming, underpowered, under-represented and underfed, despite a few noteworthy flickers.

  • Keio Flying Squadron
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £400

Although the shooting game genre is undoubtedly the most valuable in the gaming aftermarket, Keio's sharp price increase over the last five years is still eyebrow raising. Cute, difficult, and clearly hard to come by, a copy finished at auction in December for an earth shattering £486 quid. Someone's family didn't get anything for Christmas.

  • Snatcher
  • Region: EU PAL/ US NTSC
  • Approx £150-£200

One of the best reasons to own a Mega CD was undoubtedly Konami's first English language localisation of Hideo Kojima's Snatcher. Both incredible text adventure and intoxicating homage to Blade Runner, its Neo Kobe of 2048 makes for memorable futuristic noir. Discounting an anomalous PAL copy seemingly sold for £269.99 in a recent Buy It Now, both PAL and US copies of Snatcher regularly sell for roughly equivalent money, a mint US version reaching £204.76 in an early December auction.

  • Popful Mail
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £100

Falcom's Popful Mail - a side scrolling action RPG - appeared on several consoles, including PC-8801, PC Engine and Super Famicom, all in very different guises. The only English localisation was for Sega CD, undergoing four months of translation work by publisher Working Designs. Sadly a bizarre decision to alter the mechanics renders it unnecessarily difficult to play.

  • Space Adventure Cobra
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £100

Full-motion video curse aside, Sega's ill-received CD console was blessed with several unlikely translations of Japanese games. Space Adventure Cobra, inexplicably derided by many netizens, is actually all kinds of great. It's not without rough patches, but the raw 80s sci-fi scale and epic Han Solo swagger of its protagonist makes this a rarity worth playing.

Game Gear (1991)

gamegear

It will eat your batteries! Technically speaking Sega's Game Gear was a handheld marvel in its heyday, especially when placed alongside the GameBoy's dot-matrix display and Atari's mammoth Lynx, but its portability was crippled by its insatiable lust for alkaline, sucking through six batteries in just over an hour.

  • Zool
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £250-£300

Although I regularly offend Amiga nostalgists by reminding them Zool was actually a bit rubbish, the little ant-like ninja did burrow his way onto several platforms amid the Sonic hype for fast avatars. The incredibly limited Japanese Game Gear release fetched £277 in an auction ending November 9, while the US and EU counterparts continue to sell for a price proportionate to the game's quality (about £5).

  • Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £250

Released in 1994 and only in Europe, this one was unknown for such a long time the ROM didn't even surface on the internet until 2008. No comment about its quality, but the most recent auction ended last October with 28 bids and a figure of £293.60. Burroughs would be proud.

  • G Sonic
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £80-£100

Genuinely incredibly rare, G Sonic - known as Sonic Blast in the west - was the second to last game released for the Game Gear and last first party Sega title on the handheld. A return to traditional side scrolling after the isometric Sonic 3D blast, it has both bold new features and a few chronic faux pas.

  • Panzer Dragoon Mini
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £60-£80

Overinflated on eBay but more reasonable in Japan, Panzer Dragoon Mini is a late 1996 release that retains the series principle of shooting down enemies with a lock-on crosshair - only here it's much closer to Afterburner, omitting the ability to turn 360 degrees bar a superficial perspective switch for boss battles. A tad simplistic, but the music's still nice.

  • GG Aleste
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £60

Regularly pitched for dirty profit by eBay sellers, this fine little shooting game from Compile shoehorns the Aleste series into Sega's handheld with remarkable flair. Great graphics and a knockout soundtrack, it's by far the best of its kind on the system and superior to its direct (and markedly cheaper) sequel. Yahoo Japan Auctions via proxy is the best way to grab this one for a reasonable figure.

FM Towns Marty (1991)

marty

One that never left Japan, these days both Marty hardware and software is brutally costly. A one-off attempt by electronic giant Fujitsu to break into the market, the Marty was a 32-bit consolised version of their beefier PC platform, the FM Towns. Poorly marketed and incredibly overpriced, it didn't last long despite packing impressive CD based hardware. With one of the most difficult to acquire software catalogues of any console, scarce would be an understatement.

  • Mahou Daisakusen
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £230 (speculative)

A fanfare debut shooting game from developer Raizing that blends Tolkien with steampunk, Mahou Daisakusen's huge bosses and intense creativity are a feast for the reflexes. Sadly the FM Towns version is merely a rough port of the X68000 release, and not considered to be very good. Quality is never an obstacle for hardened collectors, however.

  • Tatsujin-Ou
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £200 (speculative)

One of Toaplan's finest, this sequel to Tatsujin (Truxton in the west) was an exclusive arcade port to the FM Towns courtesy of Ving. Despite a superficial missing layer of background parallax it's a wonderfully faithful reproduction bar one destructive issue: Ving cropped the aspect ratio to fit a 4:3 television. With no option to play in its intended vertical alignment the upper band of the play area is left obscured, leaving you in much closer proximity to bullets and enemies than you should be.

  • Splatterhouse
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £160 - £200

Splatterhouse may be one of the FM Town's most valuable games, but you can ignore eBay's £350 listings; they simply don't sell. It's certainly the finest console port of Namco's fantastic horror homage, and while not as arcade perfect as erroneous Internet sources and collector enthusiasm would have you believe, it's close enough. Someone splattered out a gory £162 for it in an October auction, but it often sells for more.

3DO (1993)

3DO

Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins' blueprint for the future floundered, both predictably and deservedly for its terrible launch, $700 price point, and a similar software path to Sega's Mega CD, Atari's Jaguar, and Philips' CDi. Posthumously speaking, we now know FMV games weren't the future, although at the time Tia Carrere in The Daedalus Encounter tried to convince us otherwise. 4 discs!

  • DinoPark Tycoon
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £400

The rarest 3DO title is a business management simulator where you get to maintain a dinosaur park for spectators. Like Jurassic Park then, but perhaps without all the chaos and bloodshed - although at that price you may well be tearing something limb from limb once you start playing it.

  • Lucienne's Quest
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £350

Finding a complete copy of this superb tactical RPG - considered by many to be one of the 3DO's best titles - is no mean feat. With market speculators trying to push water damaged copies for over £200 on the tyrannical platform that is eBay, if you're content with a loose disc two recent auctions finished in the £50 region, further demonstrating the fascinating appeal of printed paper and cardboard.

  • Doctor Hauzer
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £300

The first Survival Horror game to use full 3D environments and a precursor to Resident Evil, Doctor Hauzer was a Japan-only release in which you had to decipher a pitfall-laden house constantly trying to kill you. It may be treacle slow by today's standards, but its originality and noteworthy audio make it one of the 3DO's more intriguing exclusives.

  • Plumber's Don't Wear Ties
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £50-£70

Made on a shoestring budget, I harbour a suspicion this picture book pretending to be soft-core pornography was a cunning lampoon, a mockery, an insightful ruse by the developers to send up a purported FMV revolution destined for failure. The only thing more indescribably awful than this are people willing to pay £60 for it.

Atari Jaguar/Jaguar CD (1993)

jaguar

There was a point of incredible excitement as we left the 16-bit generation behind to embark on an odyssey of new media and new industry players. Atari, rising from the grave, sprang into action with the 64-bit Jaguar: one of the most disappointing, tragically marketed, and positively useless consoles outside of Philips' CDi. Incidentally some of its most valuable titles are for its short-lived CD add-on, but we can only ever see it as a dedicated Tempest 2000 machine.

  • World Tour Racing (Jaguar CD)
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £200

An F1 racing game with a Zimmer frame rate that really shows off the added power of the Jaguar CD; a sealed copy sold for £289 in a November Buy It Now listing, probably to someone planning to stick it in a clear vinyl box and try to resell it for five-thousand quid in a year's time. As if it needed spelling out, you don't need this ever.

  • Another World
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £160

Bar Jeff Minter's Tempest 2000 and Aliens Vs. Predator, the Jaguar did almost everything wrong and it wasn't even 64-bit. It was, however, recipient to a few decent ports that had already done the 16-bit circuit, with Another World being the best version of Éric Chahi's breakthrough cinematic platformer. Rewritten specifically for the Jaguar and tweaked with on-the-fly data compression and superior graphics rendering, 68 people pushed it to £163 in a recent October auction.

  • Brain Dead 13 (Jaguar CD)
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £100-£130

Inexplicably for a console that sold less than 250,000 units, the Jaguar still received a CD add-on with fourteen official games, including Brain Dead 13. An FMV adventure like Dragon's Lair, it's something most people can comfortably live without, but the guy who couldn't bought a complete copy for £160 last November.

  • Towers 2: Plight of the Stargazer
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £100

A clunky first-person dungeon action RPG with some admittedly absorbing features, this one treads a fine line for our only-released-at-retail criteria since Telegames sold it via mail order after the Jaguar's sudden death. But we did include Bubble Bath Babes on the Famicom under similar circumstances, and this being the only Jaguar RPG it's probably worth a mention. Probably.

  • Space Ace (Jaguar CD)
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx: £90

Bedfellow to Brain Dead 13, Space Ace was Don Bluth's less successful arcade follow-up to Dragon's Lair. Cue more full motion video triggered by d-pad prompting, and another of the Jaguar CD's small list of games not really worth the money.

Saturn (1994)

Saturn

The Saturn's fledgling Virtua Fighter thunder was permanently snuffed out by the PlayStation's superior marketing blitz and 3D graphics razzle. A crying shame for it was a console full of joy, most of which never made its way out of Japan. As such it's been a long-standing collector favourite.

  • Battle Garegga
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £100

Okay, there are more valuable games we could have included than Battle Garegga, but it's worth mentioning simply because it's one of the greatest shooting games ever made. Sublime in every facet of its conception, the Saturn port of this arcade legend is nigh-on perfect. Hardcore, deep as the ocean, and boasting incredible graphics and audio, you also need to kill yourself several times during the process of playing to have any hope of finishing it on a credit. Yes, suicide as a mechanic, such is the glorious madness of director/programmer Shinobu Yagawa.

  • Final Fight Revenge
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £100 - £200

This joke of a fighting game was one of the last games to be released on the Saturn. Developed in the US but only released in Japan - thankfully in small quantities - it's quite terrible and you shouldn't bother with it. Costing anywhere between £100 for a regular copy to £200 for the one packaged with the 4MB RAM Cartridge, you're honestly better off playing with yourself.

  • Panzer Dragoon Saga
  • Region: EU PAL/US NTSC
  • Approx £130 - £200

Many copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga have been sold in recent months at varying price points. US and EU values often hover neck and neck, but either one will suffice. Atmospheric, absorbing, original; it remains a captivating expansion of the Panzer Dragoon universe.

  • Hyper Duel
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £150 - £220

Tecnosoft's arcade port is superior on the Saturn, and a rare shooting game that has remained expensive for a long time. That said you should probably ignore eBay entirely for this one, since they've gone a bit silly of late, and seek out a copy via Yahoo Japan Auctions or a reputable forum instead.

  • Shinrei Jusatsushi Taromaru
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £250

This is what you call a non-mover. Known in English as Psychic Assassin Taromaru and hovering around the £200 mark for over a decade, it's long been the most prized possession in most Saturn collections. Its rarity owed to publisher Time Warner Interactive closing their doors shortly after its release, part of its notoriety comes from the rumour that Hiroshi Iuchi of Treasure fame was the developer, whereas in reality he only designed the backgrounds. That said it certainly looks and feels like Treasure's work, featuring enough remarkable invention, airtight strategy, and dwarfing boss battles to cement it as one of the 32-bit era's best.

PlayStation (1994)

PS

Sony's debut console was so unbelievably successful its library soon became a heaving mass of shovelware lightly peppered with superior gaming experiences, taking several years for hobbyists to begin weaning out desirable gems that never made it to western territories.

  • Gaia Seed
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £80

Similarly to Harmful Park, this is another shooting game from a small developer, Techno Soleil. Unlike Harmful Park, Gaia Seed has few qualities worth recommending outside of its entertaining Engrish attract sequence. Not the worst game in its genre and some people have pretended to really like it, but, well, it's fairly dull. Alternatively it received an unlikely PSN release in 2010, meaning if you have access to the right regional account you can try it out for cheap.

  • Suikoden 2
  • Region: US NTSC
  • £90

Two October listings saw the US localisation of Suikoden 2, Konami's low print run release, end at £88 a piece - one an auction the other a Buy it Now. This suggests its value has simmered down in recent years, but that doesn't stop it being any less terrific.

  • The Adventures of Little Ralph
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • £80 - £100

Now we're cooking. This platform action adventure is rather special, incorporating an impressive scoring game bound together with smart graphics and well-paced stage variety. Toward the end it even breaks out into a one-on-one fighting game for a little climatic drama. A late release in the PlayStation life-cycle, being fairly obscure has kept its price buoyant.

  • Harmful Park
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £100

A shooting game from one time developer Sky Think Systems, Harmful Park is an exceptional Japan-only cute-em-up. Set in a theme park, its stage design is a feast for the eyes, full of variety, humour and impressive graphical effects. An unlikely contender to Konami's Parodius, what it lacks in challenge it makes up for in personality.

Nintendo 64 (1996)

n64

The Nintendo 64 sold 40 million units - 23 million more than the Sega Saturn - and competed alongside the PlayStation for seven years: yet to hear people discuss it one would assume it was a commercial travesty. Thanks to the common availability (see: ease of counterfeiting) of factory sealed games, the N64 is home to severely contaminated aftermarket pricing, with absolute rubbish selling for upward of a thousand quid as long as there's a layer of translucent plastic present around the box. Our list only includes the open, playable, relevant stuff of course.

  • Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx: £200 - £250

While tragically Clayfighter: Sculptor's Cut is the most valuable N64 title, it's not included here because it was a Blockbuster rental exclusive. The rarest sold at retail would be Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!, released late in the N64's life to a less than stellar reception. The US version is scarce, complete copies auctioned in December for £209 and £256 respectively. The Japanese release hovers around a more reasonable £30, though it's not even worth that when there are vastly superior entries in the series.

  • Conker's Bad Fur Day
  • Region: US NTSC/EU PAL
  • Approx £150-£200

A final N64 effort from Rare, Conker's - a 3D platform adventure featuring a cheeky chipmunk and impudent lowbrow humour - is graphically and structurally superb with a cleverly concocted narrative. The US version has a slim edge in value over the PAL release, but both are highly prized by collectors.

  • Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £60

A real-time strategy RPG and the third in the Ogre Battle series, being a niche title makes it no less superb. Critically acclaimed and rightfully so, it's one the best of the Ogre Battle bunch thanks to its improved mechanics and streamlined interface. It's also very affordable, with auctions ending as low as £54.51 in early December.

  • Majora's Mask
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £100

Arguably the greatest game ever made - and that's your cue to start brawling in the comments section - Majora's Mask's US 'collector's edition' (that means a gold cartridge) is seemingly the most valuable version, with PAL copies from Europe and Australia not too far behind. Undiluted genius in video game form, there's really no sum of money too big.

  • Worms Armageddon
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £140

Worms, a real-time strategy war game where you had to obliterate your enemy's forces using a vast array of heavy weaponry, was both good humoured and good fun. This N64 sequel didn't make much of a splash on its initial release, despite featuring a Holy Hand Grenade in tribute to Monty Python.

  • Bangaioh
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £70

Probably the best ever use of miniature sprites, Bangaioh's custom arenas and time limits quickly become a blaze of missiles and mass destruction. Great inventive fun from the creative minds at Treasure, this Nintendo 64 release never made it out of Japan until it received a Dreamcast port.

  • Mario Party 3
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £140

One reason why sealed game collecting can't be taken seriously are all the listings that supposedly sell for upward of £2000 while others sell for only £137 - as did a copy of Mario Party 3 last December, complete with bog standard shrink wrap you could have had your mum put on using the machine at Asda (assuming she works in Asda). Plastic legitimacy aside, the contents don't make any difference to purchasing clientele since they're never planning to open the fabled sheath. Heck, you could put anything in there, it's a counterfeiters dream.

  • The World is Not Enough
  • Region: US NTSC
  • Approx £60

This surprisingly good quasi-sequel to Goldeneye puts 007 back into FPS mode and has many of the film's actors voicing their digital alter egos. It doesn't quite match the scope or polish of Rare's seminal system seller, but it's good fun nonetheless. Being released late in the N64's life in low quantities makes this slightly pricey, but still more affordable than most.

Neo Geo Pocket/Neo Geo Pocket Color (1998)

ngp

SNK's sadly short-lived but no less superb handheld console has plenty of great software. Unlike the flimsy card packaging found in most Japan and US releases, EU titles came in smart clamshell snapcases that mimick the boxes of the Neo Geo home console.

  • Gals Fighters
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £60

After successfully squeezing King of Fighters, Fatal Fury and Samurai Spirits into their spritely new handheld, SNK threw all the Neo Geo femme fatales into their own fighting game. The novelty of a fan-service battlefest wasn't enough to encourage SNK to produce it in any great quantities, however, its shelf life cut short by the console's 2001 recall. The more valuable region is difficult to ascertain but Neo-Geo.com's price guide puts the UK PAL copy at the top of the pile.

  • Faselei
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £100

Outside of Japan Faselei was only released in the United Kingdom, and for a while was the only English translation you could lay your hands on. In an interesting twist, stock from a previously recalled US version resurfaced in 2004 in Neo Geo Pocket collection packs, denting the game's value.

  • Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams
  • Region: EU PAL/JP NTSC
  • Approx £100 - £150

Rare in any region, and equally costly according to recent sales, this miniature adaptation of Success's first Cotton title is great fun and one of the system's most difficult to acquire titles. Halloween themed shooting in a dinky cartridge. How quaint.

Dreamcast (1998)

dreamcast

Mentioning the Dreamcast is always sobering. A Shakespearean tragedy of a console, there's an inherent air of melancholy in the abuse it suffered by way of public shunning. It was Sega's last ditch: a beautiful white box, horse powerful, with a graphics engine cleaner and sharper than its PlayStation 2 competitor. Sadly you all let it die a premature death, consigning it and Sega's console division to history while you turned the other cheek and twiddled with your little Dual Shocks.

  • Evolution 2: Far Off Promise
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £130

Reaching £137 in a December auction, the only reason this PAL release of Sting's middling dungeon crawler is so pricey is because Game were the only stockist to carry it, and did so right at the end of the Dreamcast's life. If you're desperate to play it, three US copies sold for just £13 a piece in November.

  • Border Down
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £80-£100

From a rogue band of ex-Taito staff, Border Down is G.Rev's first and arguably best game; and that's saying something with titles like Senko no Ronde and Under Defeat in the canon. Designer Hiroyuki Maruyama put a little of Darius and Metal Black in Border Down's makeup, with laser cannon reversals and an original three tier difficulty system that 'borders down' with each life lost, making the game harder. It's a beautiful thing, and the regular edition is fast catching up to the limited edition in price.

  • Under Defeat
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £30-£80

The limited edition runs a little higher on the value scale for G.rev's second Dreamcast endeavour, an original take on the gunship shooting game with unorthodox controls and mesmerising explosions. Recently re-released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with both bespoke New Order and original arcade modes, the latter suffers muddy audio balancing, increased slowdown, enemies firing too early and from off-screen, and even mechanical issues that affect your attack timing. As such the Dreamcast version, based directly on the original Naomi hardware, remains the only 1:1 arcade port available.

  • Shenmue 1 & 2
  • Region: EU PAL
  • Approx £80

Okay I've cheated! I know lumping two games under one entry is against the rules, but since Shenmue is one of my most beloved gaming memories, and its absent finale also one of my most tragic, I'm including it for the sake of mankind. Shenmue II, never released in the US, is the one that goes for bigger money, auctioning anywhere between £40 to £70 and featuring original Japanese audio with English subtitles - highly preferable to the dub-only Xbox release. If you haven't played these you're a sinner, although not as sinful as Sega for producing countless Yakuza games instead of finishing what they started.

  • SGGG (Sega GaGa)
  • Region: JP NTSC
  • Approx £50

A good example of how aftermarket values can be influenced by online coverage, SGGG spiked after receiving exposure on hardcoregaming101, and has since subsided equally dramatically. Previously unknown in the west thanks to a low print run, secret development, an impenetrable language barrier, and a $200 budget marketing campaign that involved the game's designer standing on the street in a wrestling mask (it happened) SGGG is an RPG cum mini-game parody tinged with sadness, the story of the dying Dreamcast and an attempt to foil the competitor monopolising the console market. Strangely wonderful, a fan translation project has been ongoing since 2006.

GameBoy Advance (2001)

The first iteration of Nintendo's true GameBoy successor was shockingly flawed, requiring a heavenly beam of light just to make out the screen's activity. Only with the backlit GameBoy Advance SP revision came the final hurrah for dedicated 2D gaming. Sadly the GBA market has become as much an opportunistic playground for market inflation as the N64. With eBayers now sealing everything in shrink wrap and VGA graded boxes, you regularly find several magic zeros added on the end of once realistic prices. We'll be ignoring all of those, of course.

  • Ninja Five-O
  • Region: US NTSC/EU PAL
  • Approx £150-£200

A taut Ninja action game curiously never released in Japan despite its Hudson Soft roots. Critically well received but, like a real Ninja, largely unnoticed back in 2003, it's now the GameBoy Advance's most valuable title. Auction values vary dramatically, with complete copies selling for £136 and £263 in November, while the EU PAL version, Ninja Cop, went for a fresh £160 the very same month.

  • Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Region: US NTSC/EU PAL
  • Approx £60

Capcom's nicely executed but slightly underwhelming revisit to Hyrule is still worth playing if you're addicted to Link - and still superior to anything Zelda that appeared on the Nintendo DS. For a title that's by no means rare, however, Minish Cap's £60 sale point is unusual.

  • Pokémon Emerald
  • Region US NTSC
  • Approx £70-£150 (speculative)

With sales of nearly 6.5 million, Pokémon Emerald isn't exactly scarce. Two copies appear (emphasis on that word) to have sold for equal Buy It Now prices of £227.42 over November and December in - you guessed it - Asda shrink wrap (see Mario Party 3). Apprehension over market fiddling abounds as another new and supposedly sealed copy from a different seller sold on the exact same day, December 11th, for just £117. Whatever the game's actual value, people are paying way more for it than they should be.

  • Fire Emblem
  • Region: US NTSC/EU PAL
  • Approx £60

An excellent entry in the Fire Emblem series, a complete US copy sold for £63.69 in a December auction after 14 bids, although fortunate snipers often bag it cheaper. A must for fans of the series or tactical RPG's generally, Eurogamer's own Tom Bramwell awarded the game a bodacious 9 way back in 2004.

  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
  • Region: US NTSC/EU PAL
  • Approx £40-£60

Aria of Sorrow is the third and final Castlevania title in the GB Advance library, a culmination of things learned in the previous entries and an amends for Harmony of Dissonance's shockingly poor audio. A failure in Japan but deemed successful in the UK, it's unusual that it's not the Japanese copy commanding the higher price - but that's video games for you.

I'd buy that for a dollar

A fool and his money are easily parted, a wise man once said, but the human race is yet to be satisfied by something more meaningful than consumption. Some want Ralph Lauren, others the Adventures of Little Ralph - either way we're a species that thrive on acquisition.

Classic game collecting is a bid to recapture youth gone by, assembling libraries that plug into memories of two decades prior. Video games have a special ability to remind us of where we were when we first connected two experiences: the console powered fantasy and the reality around it. As we get older we spend less time looking forward and more time looking back. For some, evidently, you can't put a price on nostalgia.

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About the author

Tom Massey

Tom Massey

Contributor

Tom is a nomadic traveller, born in the arcades of yesteryear, who eats 16-bit gaming for breakfast and then writes all about it. He'd give his kingdom for a PC Engine and some Oreos.

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