Rare PS1 Games are becoming a highly sought after piece of art within the retro gaming community. It was one of the best selling consoles of all time, and many gamers and investors are seeking out the most valuable to add to their collection.
The Playstation was a huge hit with gamers when they launched in the 90s – and Sony’s pitch perfect marketing, that brought gaming kicking and screaming into the mainstream, making it ‘cool’ rather than seen as something geeky or just ‘for kids’, was an absolute masterstroke that shook up the industry, the aftershocks of which can still be felt today.
Which means that – with more than 100 million units sold since it launched in Japan in 1994 (and worldwide in 1995), along with a software selection consisting of thousands of titles – the PlayStation itself isn’t exactly hard to get hold of.
The same can be said for the vast majority of games in the console’s library, which is great news for collectors, with game prices on the whole remaining fairly reasonable, even for games regarded today as masterpieces.
So without further preamble, let’s take a look at the games currently commanding high prices due to their scarcity; come with me on a journey through the less trodden paths on Sony’s rare PS1 games.
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How much do you reckon you’d have to pay to get a copy of this game? $100? $200?
Try close to $1,300!
That’s a lot of money to play a game where you step into the mind of the developer and experience the weird and wonderful things he recorded in his decade-long dream journal…
… looking at the image below, I think they might have had more in common with the title than we first thought!
It won’t surprise you when I say that this is one of the most experimental titles of all time. It’s also not really a game, more of an interactive modern art piece.
Players explore fantastic worlds, interacting with characters and scenery, though there’s no real objective.
Scrap that – there’s no objective full stop. Still, that doesn’t stop it from providing a weird and wonderful ride.
This is they type of game that you would spend hours talking to mates about. It’s certainly an impressive piece and puts the gamer in some pretty strange situations, not least with their bank account after purchasing it!
This is a bit of a ‘2-4-1’ segment for any readers that currently have money burning a hole in their pocket.
Elemental Gearbolt has recently become one of the hottest titles for the PS1. It’s always been popular, but demand has grown so much that collectors are having to pay hundreds, and in some cases thousands of dollars to get their hands on it.
Let’s start with the game itself first. The Japanese import isn’t rare; you’re looking for the copy with ‘Working Designs’ in the bottom right hand corner, the English language edition with a holographic cover and the girl facing forward as opposed to the right.
These discs have known to be upwards of $300 on second hand sites.
Working designs also made a special case called the Assassin Case featuring a light gun, the game, and a memory card. Some sets had a gold memory card, so you should be pretty excited if you’re sitting on one of those right now.
As there were only 40 of these given away to tournament winners and staff at Working Designs, they don’t often crop up on the internet. The last known case sold for upwards of $3,000, which isn’t half bad for something you might have won back in 1998!
Ever wondered if a spin off of Lemmings where a lemming takes the starring role could hit the big time? The answer is no, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a fun title to bag if you’ve got the cash.
Lomax must head out on an adventure to save his fellow lemmings from the clutches of an evil scientist. Assumedly, he’s the smartest lemming of the bunch, otherwise it’s going to be a bit of a nightmare!
It’s not hard t see why this game didn’t sell that well initially. It looks like a Sega Mega Drive title ported to the PS1. When we consider how some of the other PS1 games of the same era look, this one really falls short of the mark.
Still, and a phrase I’ll say time and time again through this article, it’s not a bad game. It’s fun, side-scrolling action and a throwback to ‘how games used to be’.
Copies don’t often appear, but they cost around $200 when they do!
Klonoa: Door To Phantomile is up next in this list of rare PS1 games. It’s one many of you will remember, but now it’s suddenly become insanely expensive with some copies selling for over $500!
Not only that, but a sealed, mint-condition copy recently went for $1,800! That’s mega money for a game that had a slow burn back in the day!
Why did it have a slow burn? Well, most PS1 games were delving into 3D, whereas Door to Phantomile is 3D on a 2D plane. Thats what some of you would call 2.5D, and most people thought it a bit dated…
Eventually, people cottoned on to how good this game was, though it was certainly too late to propel it into the mainstream stratosphere.
That’s why it’s sitting in this list, after all!
So, what is this game all about? Well, Phantomile is the world where the dreams we have at night live. Some dude in a flying machine crashes and wants to turn it into a nightmare realm, and Klonoa has to stop him.
Fight bosses, bash minions, and use enemies as bouncepads to reach new locations. It’s fun and it’s vibrant, but unfortunately it’s also expensive!
Syphon Filter 3 wasn’t as popular as the first two games in the series, which might add to its rarity. Still, one of the main reasons that this particular game is so rare is because of the American flag in the background.
The game was supposed to drop on September 21st, 2001. That’s 10 days after the September 11 attacks, and the original artwork featuring a flag draped over government buildings on fire was anything but appropriate.
The artwork was changed and the game launch went ahead as planned, but some copies with the old artwork had already shipped to games stores across the US.
Of course, they were all supposed to go back, but obviously a few slipped into pockets or got ‘lost’ underneath the counter.
Sealed copies of the ‘pre 9/11 flag art’ have been known to go for upwards of $2,000, although copies don’t often appear on the internet.
If you’ve got cash to burn and want to get some gaming history, then keep your eyes peeled.
The PlayStation was known for its 3D capabilities, which meant that many 2D games and genres were quite often unfairly overlooked on the console.
It didn’t help that the gaming press in the 90s, seduced by the fancy new world of polygons and FMV, often dismissed 2D games as dated or boring (one classic preview immortalised over on Reddit compares the 3D Castlevania 64 with 2D Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that is absolutely mind-boggling given how each game is now remembered – all because the latter game dared to be 2D).
It’s true also that Sony’s main 32-bit competitor, Sega’s ill-fated but fondly remembered Saturn, was an absolute beast in terms of its 2D, sprite handling capabilities – far more capable in that respect than the PlayStation, which was undoubtedly built for polygon pushing.
Yet sprite-based games – which did still thrive in the arcade scene at the time – found an audience on Sony’s console nonetheless. One such game was X-Men: Children of the Atom, Capcom’s first foray into Marvel-licensed one-on-one fighters.
The arcade machine was a real crowd-pleaser, with screen filling attacks and bursts of vibrant colour alongside superbly crafted superhero sprites.
The X-Men were a big deal in the 90s, thanks to Marvel milking the franchise dry (and nearly causing the implosion of their entire business while they were at it) – with tons of new comics and an animated series that brought Marvel’s merry mutants closer to the mainstream a few years before the film series really kicked the property into the public’s consciousness (and, arguably, truly kicked off the superhero craze that has absolutely dominated the cinematic landscape in the last two decades).
So it’s perhaps strange to see X-Men: Children of the Atom on this list, given the popularity of both the original arcade game that it brings home and the media behemoth the original property was at the time.
Yet, given the lower attention and often dismissive attitudes from the press – and even some gamers – when confronted with sprite-based games at the time, maybe it isn’t such a surprise after all.
So despite the enduring popularity of Capcom’s fighting games and the lure of the mutants themselves, X-Men: Children of the Atom is a game that currently sits at an average selling price of $64; not bad for a game in a visual style declared all but dead in the 90s, right?
Oh, hi Castlevania! I guess you heard me talking about rare PS1 games? I know the rules about vampires and invitations, so come on in. Let’s talk.
We’ve already touched upon the dismissiveness shown towards 2D games in the 90s (even in relation to Castlevania specifically – here’s another terrible take for you, just for ‘fun’), but there’s another facet of gaming that was looked down upon at the time: retro.
It didn’t have a name back then; now it’s a huge and thriving aspect of gaming, but in the 90s if you were playing games from previous generations on new hardware – or even on the original hardware – you were often seen as, well, weird.
Just as with then-contemporary 2D games, the comparison to new games that used 3D was always incredibly unfavourable, even when discussing the classics. Things are different now of course, but back then it was a rough time for the classics, which often had a rough time adapting to the brave new world with an extra dimension.
Still, that didn’t stop publishers from looking backward and bringing some of their games kicking and screaming onto Sony’s console. Retro collections did seem to thrive for a time on the PlayStation, with Namco’s Museum series of compilations faring particularly well, but others – such as the Williams, Midway and Atari Greatest Hits series also proving popular.
Castlevania Chronicles is different though. Not a port or an anthology, it’s a remake of a remake (take that, Inception!) – based on the 1993 X68000 version of the 1986 NES original. Still with me?
Chronicles adds a pre-rendered intro sequence and ending, improved effects and some unsurprisingly wonderful character design by Ayami Kojima, long-known for her beautiful illustrations for the Castlevania series (her first work on the series being the iconic designs for Symphony of the Night).
Yet despite this pedigree and the appeal of seeing a stone cold classic updated to then-contemporary hardware, Castlevania Chronicles didn’t achieve the level of success that may well have been expected. It was an undeniable step back from the more modern design sensibilities of Symphony of the Night, but given its nature as a remake that shouldn’t be unexpected.
Perhaps the fact that it released in 2001 – when the world had already moved on another PlayStation console (with the PlayStation 2 released in 2000), leaving Castlevania Chronicles in a weird limbo, as an already remade remake on a console that had already been surpassed in the eyes of gamers.
In any case, this has made Castlevania Chronicles highly sought after these days, with prices currently in the region of $85.
Another Konami game hits the rarity list, with the first sequel to classic RPG Suikoden now being one of the PlayStation’s most sought-after titles.
RPGs using mostly 2D graphics seemed to escape the ire of audiences and critics in the 90s, perhaps making up for the perceived shortcomings in utilising sprites by the genre’s very size, scope and ambition.
The Suikoden series was popular for many years too, seeing entries not just on the PlayStation (plus Saturn and PC) but also on the PS2, GBA, DS and PSP. It’s long-lapsed, but unfortunately the current incarnation of Konami is a shell of its former self, seemingly only interested in using the vastly popular stable of franchises to sell pachinko machines in its native Japan.
Another relatively late entry to the PS1’s library, Suikoden II arrived in August 1999 in the US (and not until mid-2000 in the EU), which could be one reason why it didn’t see a reprint after its initial, fairly limited release.
The one-off print run has led to its current rarity and average value of around $120, which is perhaps surprising given how well remembered and long-lasting the franchise became. You may have seen this game in our best PS1 games list too!
Namco’s platforming mascot – first appearing in his own 2.5D title on the PlayStation in 1997 – was reasonably popular back in the day, even if he didn’t exactly set the world on fire.
His charming, jaunty games made him an inoffensive, family friendly presence in a market that was rapidly maturing alongside its audience making this one of the best rare PS1 games.
This odd sports spin-off didn’t even make it to US shores, however, appearing only in Japan and the EU in 2002, with the PlayStation already way past its peak and the PS2 in full swing.
Its limited, region-specific release on a platform that was fast declining and deviation from the character’s platforming roots accounts for its sought after nature now – with prices as high as $189 for sealed versions on eBay at the time of writing.
Budget publisher Phoenix Games were responsible for bringing droves of cheap (but not always cheerful) games to the PlayStation – they were the video game equivalent of movie mockbusters; games with names and boxes similar enough to bigger budget titles that they could easily confuse the unwary – or older, less savvy relatives looking for a cheap gift for their loved ones.
Not a misleadingly titled or illustrated game, Phoenix’s Superbike Masters falls more into the category of painfully generic and clearly low budget.
However, its lowly status hasn’t stopped its price from rising recently, which is absolutely astonishing given its budget priced roots.
Released in 2003 – at a time when there was still money to be made by these much smaller companies who focused only on low cost, low price impulse purchase-style games – it only saw limited release in Europe, which explains why it’s now seeing asking prices rise as high as $400 for a sealed copy. Madness!
It pains me to say this – truly, I’m wincing as I type – but I had somehow never heard of Brigandine: The Legend of Forsena before gathering information to put this article together.
That shouldn’t be surprising, really, seeing as we’re halfway through a list of rare games – but I’m still disappointed. In myself, mostly.
In any case, here we have a tactical RPG from genre heavyweights Atlus.
The ever reliable publisher have made a name for themselves over several decades as a company with a reputation for brilliant titles that are deeply loved by their hardcore fanbase (their most popular franchises in more recent years being the entwined Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series).
Brigandine seems to have been a title that didn’t achieve the same level of sale or recognition as their others – though it did get a remake a few years after its original release and even a sequel, released for the Switch in 2020.
The original title, however, now fetches an average of $101.75. Not bad for a title I wasn’t previously aware of (note to self: must try harder!)
With Sony’s background in music – both in terms of their hardware success (hello WalkMan!) and music labels – it was inevitable that their first foray into video games would bring music to the fore.
Among their earliest releases, futuristic racer WipEout enjoyed huge crossover success and brought the ‘cool kids’ to PlayStation with its leftfield (literally: Leftfield appear on it!) licensed electronic soundtrack.
Quirky music-based titles PaRappa the Rapper and the more experimental Vib Ribbon were great showcases for what the PlayStation could do with music – and games such as Konami’s arcade sensation Dancing Stage saw immense, peripheral-based success on the console.
Bust a Groove was a somewhat unique title, with its retro-futuristic, 70s stylings and a focus on dancing/fighting with a rhythm element.
The sequel was more of the same, which didn’t seem to go down very well with critics at the time – perhaps accounting for a smaller number of sales than expected and its limited availability now.
The asking price for a mint copy seems to be around the $350 mark at the moment. That’s not bad seeing as its on of the top rare PS1 games on the list!
As I mentioned in the Brigandine entry above, the Persona series by Atlus has been one of their most popular franchises for many years.
Arguably, it’s even more popular than ever these days, with latest entry Persona 5 Strikers having been released to great reception on Switch and PC in February 2021.
So it stands to reason that the earlier titles in the series will be sought after – and, as the first entry in the Persona series, it makes sense that Revelations: Persona would be the most wanted of them all.
Though seen as a niche title at the time of release in 1997, Revelations: Persona can now command jaw-dropping prices of around $700 on eBay for a sealed copy.
The second in a long-running series of RPGs from Namco (using the ‘Tales of…’ naming convention for a variety of titles), Tales of Destiny II met with mixed reception from critics upon arrival in the West in 2001.
It was another late entry in the PlayStation’s library (with GameSpot stating that the visuals ‘would not be out of place on the Super Nintendo about eight years ago’ – ouch!).
Given the series’ endurance – with the latest entry, Tales of Arise, due out in 2021 – it’s inevitable that fan and collector attention would turn to older entries, just as it has with Persona, and it seems that Tales of Destiny II has seen a new lease of life on the secondary market.
As a rare title in the series, its value has skyrocketed – with current asking prices of more than $800 (and up to $1600 for a graded copy!) on eBay.
So here we are at the very top of the rare PS1 games list, the most highly sought after jewel in the PlayStation’s crown (at least by the method of categorisation that I’m using for this list of course!).
It’s a bit of an oddity: a spin-off of Capcom’s perennially popular Mega Man series, featuring a protagonist who first appeared in Mega Man Legends a few years beforehand. Featuring several styles of gameplay and an army of cute, Lego Minifigure-esque Servbots, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne’s unique nature and weak sales (meaning low print runs) account for its high value and sought after status now.
It’s an appealingly colourful game that is long overdue for a reboot – given its high value on the secondary market (with even unboxed or incomplete copies fetching hundreds of dollars), surely Capcom will be onto a winner if they ever revisited their Mega Man spin-off?
There’s a look at rare PS1 games fit for any collector or investor. These might not be some of the most expensive PS1 games, but we can assure you these are of the rarest out there, especially sealed or mint condition!
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.