Nintendo have always produced some incredible games for their consoles, but which ones do you think went on to become the most rare SNES games of all time?
The SNES was the king of side-scrolling action, with games such as Donkey Kong Country and Earthworm Jim taking over a large portion of my childhood. Everything about it was exciting and still is. The controller defined the ’90s and still gets retro gamers excited to this day.
But today, we’re only interested in that fabled breed of gamers who will stop at nothing to create the ultimate compendium – the collectors.
Table of Contents
This could be one of the rarest game boxes that you’ll ever set your eyes on – we’re kicking this list off with a bang!
Both Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer sell for a pretty penny on their own, but it’s the combo pack that really gets collector’s juices flowing.
It’s unsure as to whether this combo pack ever saw physical distribution in shops. It was designed to be used with the LifeFitness Bike Unit. Think of it as an early gimmick that probably jogged the idea for the Wii Fit in later years.
Most of the copies of this game that are available on the internet were found in Nintendo of America’s warehouse, making this an extremely rare find indeed!
But what’s so special about these games? What are they all about? Well, Mountain Bike Rally is a realistic-style mountain biking game, and speed racer is a Manga-inspired racer with cars that seem to take inspiration from F-Zero X.
If you can pick up a LifeFitness Bike and want a rare gem in your collection, then this would be a great place to start!
Remember when Blockbuster was a thing? If you’ve been watching the series on Netflix then you’ll probably know all about the famous video rental store, and maybe you can remember going to one back in the day.
The Donkey Kong Country Competition cartridge was a Blockbuster special. Back when both the SNES and the store were in their prime, 2500 of these competition carts were made for people to compete while playing in store.
The game carts look identical in almost every way apart from the little ‘competition cartridge’ tear in the top-right corner.
Some of these ‘not for resale’ carts ended up being sold, while others were put in a ‘safe place’ by workers.
If you can get hold of one of the copies that came with a clamshell case too, then you’re looking at a price of upwards of $4,500!
Let’s keep on the competition theme with another Blockbuster special.
Much in the same vain as the Donkey Kong Country competition Blockbuster held, players could congregate inshore to test their mettle with the Star Fox crew.
This cart holds a pretty hefty price even without a box too, of which it was widely believed there aren’t any in circulation.
Nintendo Power and Blockbuster seem to have sold these carts on after the competition, with a rumoured 2,000 being in circulation across the globe.
$3,050 seems like a mad amount of money to spend on a SNES game, but if you currently have one of these games, then it’s a tidy amount of cash to put in the bank if you feel like parting with your copy!
Fans of Turrican, R-Type, and other run and gun titles with more explosions than a lit match in a firework factory will be all over Rendering Ranger R2.
When this game first drop in Japan, there were only 10,000 copies available. Now, everyone is after the original, and the price has soared sky-high.
One of the interesting things about this game is the visuals – everything is hand drawn. That just seems so bizarre in today’s gaming world, doesn’t it?
And if anything, I think that’s why this game ended up not doing as well as the devs hoped. Things were moving fast in the gaming industry, and this game was, if anything, a little behind the times.
A new version of Rendering Ranger R2 dropped recently, but it will never bring as much money as the original Japanese cart!
Many modern gamers will recognise this shiny robot and the baseball-bat-wielding Ness from the Super Smash Bros series, but Earthbound is where it all began.
You can pick up cart only copies of Earthbound for pretty cheap, but the ‘Big Box’ is where it’s at if you’re looking to bag a rare prize. It came with a full players guide inside and, in some cases, some crazy ‘scratch and sniff’ cards to help you to understand Ness’ world.
Earthbound is still a bit of a confusing title to many people, but I’ll try to give you an overview of what this game is without blowing your mind.
This Ness Adventure isn’t your typical everyday RPG. It takes place in suburbia, and instead of using swords or magical staffs, you and your party of four use everyday household objects to knock back bad guys and save the day.
Earthbound is described by many as being one of the best RPGs on the planet. It’s colourful and fun to play, and the different gameplay style will leave many wielding a mop on their next trip to the park.
Sometimes, information can be given out that isn’t entirely correct, and people instantly flock to make a purchase. Either way, It cemented this title as one of the best rare SNES games on the circuit.
Let me explain.
Hagane – The Final Conflict was a bit of a hidden gem before 2012. Angry Video Game Nerd posted to the world that this game was a Blockbuster-exclusive title (remember Blockbuster!), instantly rousing the interest of collectors.
Some Blockbuster managers stepped in to say that they had seen it on sale in other stores, but gamers minds were already reeling with the need to grab a copy of Hagane and keep it safe in their cupboards forever.
But what, or who, is Hagane anyway? If I had known about this Ninja Cyborg character back in the day (or have been old enough to know what one of those was), then I would have been all over this game!
Hagane – The Final Conflict combines traditional Ninja and Samurai techniques in a futuristic setting. You, as Hagane, must get revenge on another faction of Ninjas using lots of crazy attacks and moves.
Who cares about getting an expensive copy – this game sounds awesome no matter what the box looks like!
Final Fight Guy is almost as impressive a name as Keith Courage, but this game will definitely bring you more cash than Keith’s outing.
Again, it’s the curse of the limited run that has meant this adapted version of Final Fight 1 never got the credit it deserved back in the day.
And why was it a limited run? Well, it’s because you could only get it from Blockbusters. And like Blockbusters, this game is now a relic.
The difference is that Final Fight Guy is actually worth something!
I would have loved to have worked at Blockbusters back in the day and ‘put aside’ all of these special carts with the hope that they’d one day make money. I could be probably writing this article from the South of France instead of the U.K!
Chrono Trigger wins the prize for the coolest name and box art of all the titles in our rare SNES games list, and you can actually pick up a copy without having to spend all of your life savings.
This is one of the first examples I’ve written about on these lists where the game is pricey not because there are only a few left, but because it’s considered such a great game and worthy of the price.
Chrono Trigger is, by popular vote, one of the best and lost loved RPG series ever made, more than holding its own with the Final Fantasy series. Square really excelled themselves with this game, and the all-star developer cast used all of their combined knowledge to make Chrono Trigger withstand the harsh test of time.
When I tell you that the team behind Chrono Trigger included the creator of the FF series, the creator of the Dragon Quest series, and a famous Manga artist known for his work on DragonBall Z, then you start to realise how epic this quest is going to be right from the off.
With its multiple endings, exciting side-quests, memorable characters, and tasty RPG action, Chrono Trigger more than deserves the multiple accolades of ‘Best Game Of All Time’ that it has received since release.
If you buy any title from this list, then this should definitely be the one you plump for!
Our next entry in our list of rare SNES games is one that many of you may have played before on the virtual console or on a handheld device. Who would have thought that farming would have gone on to become a gaming sensation!
This game fell a little by the wayside as it came out at the same time as the N64. Many people left the SNES to check out some of the best N64 games, but now collectors are once again going mad for some farming frolics.
For many collectors, having the cartridge that started off such a successful series is just what their ultimate collection needs. Coincidentally, we’ve seen some pricey copied of Harvest Moon 64 too while trawling the internet.
For those of you that don’t know, Harvest Moon is a farming-simulator where you must look after a farm that the main character inherits from his grandad. You have to water plants, feed cattle, avoid sickness, and generally keep things in good nick.
The game has a time system, so plants will grow over a series of days. If you don’t fancy buying the original copy, then you can always grab a copy on the Wii U to get your agricultural action fix.
A lot of our favourite early SNES games are the one that started out in arcades, and Aero Fighters is no exception.
Aero Fighters is one of those games that has always had an underlying interest, with copies trading back and forth across auction sites and sellers slowly bumping the price up every time. Now, you can expect to pay anything from $710 for the cartridge alone, making it a worthy entry in our rare SNES games list.
What is it about shoot ’em ups always featuring in our ‘rare games’ lists? Maybe it’s because they’re timeless, or perhaps they were ahead of their time? Deep, right?
Aero Fighters follows the same style of gameplay as other titles in its style. Pilots can use standard weapons or powerful blasts, collecting upgrades and special items along the way.
The game has tonnes of characters, which wasn’t something that you tended to see back in the early ’90s. You play as one of four nations, one of which is strangely Sweden, assumedly for the Viking touch.
A side-scrolling platformer published by Konami but developed by Lucas Arts. What more do you need to know!
Some of you might have played the game ‘Zombies Ate My Neighbours’ and might be interested to know that these two games were built on the same engine. You wouldn’t think it as they’re both so different, but that’s the truth!
The game has a strong Pacific Rim feel to it, or maybe that should be the other way round. Either way, controlling tanked-up robot fighters is a win in my book any day.
Players take control of lieutenant Stone and must overthrow an evil warlord and save the earth. There are six different types of suit that you can use in the game and lots of powerups to collect along the way.
Cartridge only copies can be bought for under $200, and the price of a boxed version varies depending on whether it has an intact instruction manual.
Everyone love Mega Man. That’s probably the reason why all of the copies of this game have been snapped up and are now fetching a high price.
MM7 has all the feels of Sonic with a Samus Aran twist. The worlds are vibrant, the bad guys are BIG, and all-in-all, it’s one hell of a game!
This entry in the MM series is the first to use 16-bit, which is probably why it looks so nice! The eight robot bosses were all designed by fans who won a competition too – I wanna meat the person who designed the one below!
While MM7 didn’t really add anything new to the franchise, it’s still a great game and one that we’re lucky enough to have played in the past.
We’ve seen a number of Mega Man titles grow in price over the years, and now you’ll need to pay way over $100 to get a decent cartridge alone. The game itself follows on from MM6 and sees our blue-crusader fending of Dr Wily (he sounds like a bit of a … well, you get the idea).
Cowboys fighting robotic overlords – let’s hope that this is better than ‘Wild Wild West’ featuring Will Smith!
Wild Guns was a SNES exclusive, which goes some way to accounting for its rare status. Wild West games are pretty rare too, let alone ones where you attack MASSIVE robot monsters with guns and lassos.
You might think that space-age, steam-punk, and Wild West themes are too different to work together, but you’d be wrong. This game hits the mark perfectly, with incredible music, gameplay, and characters. I reckon Woody and Buzz would be proud!
We love an underdog story, which is why Wild Guns is so interesting. This game had a development time of just five months. The budget was tiny, and it was created by a team of just three full-time members and two support staff workers. That’s good going!
If you’re into shooting-gallery games with a difference and have around $900 to spare, then you could grab a sealed copy of Wild Guns and sit it up on your shelf with pride. It might not be Links Awakening, but it’s still a fun title to play.
Yes, you did see that correctly. This next game features a Bronchiasaurus called Bronkie that appears to have bronchitis.
This game was originally designed to teach children about asthma and how to deal with it. You’ve got to admit that it’s much cooler than reading a text book or listening to a teacher drone on! A dinosaur with an inhaler – what’s not to love!
The game itself isn’t ever going topple Mario as the king of the 2D side-scrolling world, but it is a fun little title that doesn’t take much thinking about while playing.
While the game has that classic ‘Lion King’ feel about it (I still hate those giraffes), it’s clear that it isn’t going to take you hours to complete.
It’s cheaply made but serves a good purpose. Perhaps, if you’re homeschooling and want to impart your love of games to your children, then this could be a good one to teach them about breathing diseases.
Sunset Riders combines a feel of Streets of Rage action with Wild West gameplay. Imagine if that film with Will Smith was actually good, and it would have a similar feel to it.
When we think of Wild West games we primarily go to Red Dead Redemption, and while this game isn’t as technically impressive, it’s still a beast to play if you can get hold of a cheap copy.
Take part in side-scrolling gameplay as you play as a bounty hunter searching for criminals evading the law.
Boxed copies can fetch around $610, an investment that we’re predicting will only go up as the years go on!
How Do You Classify Rare SNES Games?
If you’ve had a chance to check out our article on rare Gameboy games already, then you might already know the vague science behind this question.
If, however, you’re curious as to how a normal SNES game can turn into a rare powerhouse that will leave your wallet crying for mercy, then we’ve got you covered.
There are usually three reasons why games become so rare –
Limited Production Run
If a developer isn’t exactly sure as to whether their creation is going to be a success, then they can do a limited run to see how the market reacts. It happens more than you think, and it’s a surefire way of creating a future collectable game.
If games came as a combo pack like Number 1 in our rare SNES games list or if they were part of a promotion run from a store that has since closed down, then that also will bump the price up.
Lack Of Sales
A game can sell poorly at launch and be discontinued, only for people to realise how great it was about 20 years later. They go mad for it, spend all their hard-earned cash on it, and the value skyrockets.
Imported From Other Regions
Thanks to the might of the internet, a game that we couldn’t get out hands on as kids can now be ordered from anywhere in the world.
You can order gaming systems from any region and play exclusive games that would otherwise be out of reach. This opens up a whole new list of games for us to try, though some of them come with a pretty hefty price tag.
How Does This List Of Rare SNES Games Work?
We’ve scouted the internet to find 10 of the best and most intriguing rare SNES games still doing the rounds.
You’ll see that we’ve listed two prices. The first one is what you might expect to cough up if you want to get a well-used copy or just the cartridge itself without the box.
The second, and in most cases significantly larger price, is what you might pay to get a brand-new, unopened copy or one in near-mint condition.
We’ve included a link for you to browse through and bag a rare gem for each of the games. Take a look and see what you can find!
More Content From The Retro Dodo Team!
- We’ve made a list of the best SNES accessories of all time!
- Check out the best SNES games ever made!
- Super Retro Champ plays your old SNES and Sega carts.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.