Overpriced or Justified: Expensive NES Games

In the 25 years or so I’ve been collecting video games, rarity and value only started to factor in about ten years ago. I started collecting as a kid, buying or trading for old games from other kids in the neighborhood. I would keep the games I liked and trade away the others to places like FuncoLand. Around 2010 vintage gaming became a more popular hobby, and in some cases a business. At that time it wasn’t uncommon to walk into a flea market and see a $30 copy of Gyromite or even 10 Yard Fight locked away behind glass as if they were Smeagol’s precious.

In many situations it was obvious these were people who had read one of the many extremely misleading click bait article about NES games selling for tens of thousands of dollars, so these people rifled through old boxed, found NES games and wanted to cash out their old, forgotten tokens. What piqued my interested though were the games with titles I had never heard of before that were actually fetching high prices. Admittedly I don’t know every game in the NES library, but I once held an arrogant notion that if I hadn’t heard of a game before it must not be worth playing. Now that I’m older, and maybe a little bit wiser, I feel I should take some time to challenge younger me and see whether some of the more valuable NES games that I own are overpriced or worth what they’re selling for.

Now I fully acknowledge many factors go into a game’s value, but I will be basing my opinion mostly on playing the game. These won’t be in-depth reviews of the games either, I will just play through the game until I get bored or have to stop myself.

One of the earliest examples of a game with what I considered to be a high price tag is Casino Kid 2. The first time I ran across this game I thought to myself “Well this person has clearly lost their mind.”. After checking ebay prices and seeing sold listing matching what the seller was asking I started to wonder what made this game so pricey. Lucky for me I found a copy that was sorely under priced and I snatched it up. Casino Kid 2’s value has gone up considerably since that time and I still haven’t done anything with the game beyond putting it into my collection. So let’s see what it’s like.

Casino Kid 2 was released in 1993, which means this game probably hit shelves with very little, if any, marketing behind it. The story is about a champion gambler from the US who now must fly all around the world to challenge other top gamblers in other countries. If you run out of money, it’s game over. Now I know next to nothing about gambling but even I know you don’t gamble with a machine because the machine controls the rules and what is dealt, so clearly I went into this game with a purely opened mind.

I hated it!

I just don’t find gambling fun. The truth about gambling is that it’s not about about winning, it’s about getting you addicted to losing your money. Maybe if I understood gambling I might enjoy this game, but as it stands now I just didn’t. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and it just felt like a tug of war that only ended when I reset the game to try one of the other gamblers. I guess I could say I took a gamble in buying this cartridge and even though I paid a small fraction of what they are valued at, I still feel like I lost. My only regret is I didn’t get to eat at the $2 casino buffet.

Another game that I noticed creeping up in price, but was quite well documented around the time I started factoring in rarity and value, is Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers 2. Being a Capcom game you know this one is going to be great quality, but I question whether it’s all that different from the first one. Does this game get its price tag from a case of late release, or is this game really that far superior to its first release, and much of the NES library?

To fully understand what I was getting myself into I first played the original Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers and it is actually quite fun, as I knew a Capcom game would be. Doing this gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect from Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers 2. As far as gameplay goes they both feel very similar, but the graphics in the second are vastly improved. Controls are very responsive, I would say maybe the second one has a slight bit of an edge and tune up when it comes to maneuverability. At first I felt like I was just aimlessly going through screens collecting R/R squares with very little resistance until I got to a boss, but the more I played the game the more I started to enjoy it. Is Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 worth the asking price? If you want a similar experience with slightly lower graphics you’ll do perfectly fine with the first. That’s not to say the second isn’t a good game, I just don’t see it being a worth what it’s selling for online good game.

I’m a bit disappointed by Casino Kid 2 because Sofel also released Wall Street Kid, which I enjoyed. I’m just simply not a gambler and I know better than to gamble with something that knows the rules and is programmed to make you lose. Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 wasn’t a disappointment though, and I’m glad I picked it up all those years ago. Again, I don’t see either of these games being worth their asking price based solely on their game play, but I do understand scarcity has caused people to value them highly. Don’t get me wrong, I too fall into the pit of being glad I own these games, even if I’ll never touch Casino Kid 2 ever again. If I didn’t own either of these games and my only options were to pay market value or go without, I feel I would be perfectly fine playing the first Rescue Rangers and never knowing Casino Kid 2 even existed.

Posted June 15th, 2020