With my collection surpassing the 500 game mark (something I’m not proud of actually) I decided to sit down and compile a list of the most valuable games I own.
This isn’t meant to be an blog post bragging about the superiority of my collection in anyway. Instead, it’s just another avenue to revisit some titles I have not looked at in a long time, and as a way to talk about some games I may never give a proper review.
Generally speaking, I don’t look at games as an investment. Nor should you. The collector market can be quite volatile, with just a few external factors making prices fluctuate drastically. On the flip side, I seemed to have lucked out and I paid significantly less for a majority of the titles on this list. Without further ado, here are the 5 most valuable games from my personal collection!
Number 1: Aero Fighters
System: Super Nintendo
Developer: Video System
Publisher: Video System
What I paid: $180
2014 Price: $300 - $350 (loose)
Aero Fighters, known as Sonic Wings in Japan, is a vertical shmup released for the Super Nintendo in 1993. It appears to have had a pretty limited release in America which has helped aid in it’s value increasing over the years.
Being a big fan of Sonic Wings 2 for the Neo Geo CD, I have wanted to own this first title for a while and I finally got my chance a couple years ago. While hardcore shmup fans seem to shy away from this series, it’s simplicity appeals to me a great deal. The controls are crisp and responsive, the power-up system isn’t needlessly complex, and the enemy and bullet patterns are very generic. I love it!
The graphics are very non-SNES like with a grungy color palette and sharp edges; it feels very much like a Genesis title. Even the music avoids the overly orchestrated/reverberated SNES sound. I don’t think I would pay $300 for it today, but I’ve had a lot of fun with this one.
Number 2: Over Top (JPN)
System: Neo Geo CD
What I paid: $70
2014 Price: $200
Over Top is one of the few racing games released on Neo Geo hardware. The Neo Geo CD version seems to be climbing in value as of late, as I doubt I even paid $70 for it five years ago.
The game itself is a far better arcade game than a home console game. There is but 1 long track and a handful of vehicles to choose from. There is a lot of polish to Over Top, with excellent graphics and sounds, and tons of little detailed touches.
As a home game, it falls short. Each of the 7 sections of the “track” has a shortcut to be discovered. After you find all 7 shortcuts, you can breeze through Over Top leaving almost no replay value. Worse yet, there are the infamous Neo Geo CD load times between each section… There is certainly not $200 worth of fun to be had here.
Number 3: Neo Drift Out (JPN)
System: Neo Geo CD
What I paid: $70
2014 Price: $190
Neo Drift Out also seems to be climbing in value, as again I doubt I even paid $70 for this five years ago. Unlike Over Top, Neo Drift Out is a fantastic racing game. It rivals the excellent Super Burnout (Atari Jaguar) as my favorite 2D racing game of all time!
The game takes you through a simulated rally season featuring 7 distinct environments. As the season progresses, the tracks gets longer and the timed checkpoints get more difficult to reach. While the game is fairly short, I still grab this game now and again to get a quick arcade racing fix.
Neo Drift Out does a good job taking advantage of the Neo Geo hardware with excellent scaling effects, a solid soundtrack, and realistic engine noises. The controls are better than any other top-down style racing game I’ve ever played. Seriously. The drifting controls are exceptional.
If the price ever comes back down to Earth, this is certainly one to pick up.
Number 4: Metal Slug (JPN)
System: Neo Geo CD
What I paid: $80
2014 Price: $120-$130
It’s hard to talk about the Neo Geo without talking about Metal Slug. It’s one of the finest run-’n-gun games ever made and the Neo Geo CD version is fantastic. The graphics feature some of the finest 2D sprites of any title released in the 1990’s. The music is excellent, the controls are flawless, and the level design is brilliant.
The Neo Geo CD version adds an art gallery featuring some concept art and other goodies. Also featured in this CD version is a Combat School with some additional challenges to keep you busy.
The Metal Slug games have been released on numerous platforms and compilations over the past decade. If you just want to experience this one, then I recommend a cheaper alternative. If you are the type of collector that doesn’t scoff at the $130 price tag, then you’ll definitely find $130 worth of fun with Metal Slug.
Number 5: M.U.S.H.A.
System: Sega Genesis
What I paid: $140
2014 Price: $100 - $130 (loose)
I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow this from Austin a few years ago and put M.U.S.H.A. through its paces. Hardcore shmup fans seems to really enjoy this one, though my opinions of it are a bit more mixed.
For being a 1990 release, M.U.S.H.A. has a lot going for it. The soundtrack is at times outstanding and far superior to the twangy/harsh sounds of many early Genesis titles. The graphics are also impressive with loads of sprites on the screen at all times moving at an incredibly fast pace, all without much slow down to speak of.
The most defining aspect of M.U.S.H.A are the options. You can have up to two options joining your ship and they can be arranged into 6 different formations. This adds a lot of strategy to the game as you figure out the best configuration to get you through the levels. You can also build up a collection of them, so if one goes down, another is waiting in the wings to replace it.
The graphics range from bland to outstanding. It’s this graphical, musical, and game play inconsistencies that keep the game from being truly outstanding to me. I’m in the minority on this however. M.U.S.H.A. seems to outpace inflation and it’s value increases about $10-$20 each year.
Honorable Mention: Princess Rescue
System: Atari 2600
Developer: Chris Spry
What I paid: $35
2014 Price: $75-90 (loose)
Princess Rescue is an homage to the original Super Mario Brothers for the NES. This 2600 version captures the spirit of the original Super Mario trilogy quite well and is a truly impressive game.
AtariAge.com released this homebrew in July 2013. On August 21, 2013, the popular gaming site IGN put a video up on YouTube covering the game, putting this little homebrew in the mainstream spot light. On September 10, 2013, Princess Rescue was removed from the AtariAge.com store. On September 11, 2013, it was hinted that a Cease and Desist was received preventing the game from being sold any longer.
If it wasn’t for the C&D letter, this game would still be available for $35. Instead, this one is poised to command a decent premium as the years go buy.
So there you have it, my most valuable games as of 2014. Again, I would urge you to shy away from “investing” in classic video games. I was quite surprised at the prices of the Neo Geo CD games in particular, and I’m not sure where the interest in this system has come from. Perhaps new collectors are put off by the ridiculous prices AES cartridges go for and are turning to the CD system for their Neo Geo fix.
I’m also curious to see where Princess Rescue lands in a few years as I rarely follow homebrew releases at all. Hopefully I’m able to revisit this list in 3-5 years and see how the market has changed for these games, and other games in my collection.