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The 6 Most Expensive Rare Vintage Video Games

Atari 2600

It turns out that gamers love nostalgia and will pay a lot of money to own a particular vintage game, even if they never plan to play it. Collectors from around the world diligently hunt for those rare and special prizes that they can proudly set on a bookshelf or pedestal for all their friends to drool over.

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about the most expensive video game special editions, we decided to look at the most expensive rare vintage games. These may not be the highest rated games or the most fun to play, but due to their rarity and place in history, each is now worth over $10,000.

It goes without saying that each of these games was released well before the new millennium. In fact, all of the games on the list are from either the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or the Atari 2600.

Below are the top six most expensive rare video games in the world.

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Red Sea Crossing (Atari 2600) - $10,400

Red Sea Crossing Atari 2600

Red Sea Crossing was an Atari 2600 game that gave players an opportunity to experience Moses' Biblical crossing of the Red Sea. Developer Steve Stack Inc. only released 100 copies in 1983, and there are only two known in existence.

The last known sale of this game was in 2012. A gamer found a copy at a garage sale in 2007 and held onto it for five years until he was ready to sell it. The game fetched $10,400 in a GameGavel sale and was referred to by the seller as "the Holy Grail of Atari Games."

The lesson to be learned here is definitely to never short-change garage sales. What probably cost this gentleman a few bucks turned into a healthy investment. That's not to say every garage or yard sale will have a priceless game waiting to be picked up and resold for thousands of dollars, but you never know.

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1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge (NES) - $20,100

1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge

The 1991 Nintendo Campus Challenge included three games in one: Super Mario 3, PinBot and Dr. Mario. The game was originally developed for Nintendo's campus gaming challenges, and for while many thought that all copies of the game were destroyed. That is, until one popped up in a former Nintendo employee's garage (there's something important about garages in vintage gaming).

The game was sold in 2006 for $14,000, then resold shortly after for $20,100. As far as we know, this is the only one in existence, so we doubt we'll see the current owner part with it anytime soon. Hopefully whoever owns it is putting it to good use with regular campus challenges.

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1990 Nintendo World Championship: Gold Edition (NES) - $21,000

1990 Nintendo World Championship Gold Edition

This unique game was never sold to the public, but instead was a prize given to the winners and runners up of Nintendo’s Power Contest in 1990. There were only 26 created, which makes this game a true collector’s item. Even sold second hand, this game can easily sell for $15,000 or more.

What makes this game special, beyond the fancy gold cartridge, is the game collection stored within it. Since it was an award for a contest, its three games, Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and Tetris, all have a unique tournament timer that ticks away as a player progresses through the game.

This is definitely a game that should be (and is) displayed. Unlike the other games on this list, 1990 Nintendo World Championship: Gold Edition was likely meant to be kept as a trophy, rather than played like a normal game. However, we doubt that stopped some of the winners from trying to beat their tournament time on their fancy new game.

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Air Raid (Atari 2600) - $33,400

Air Raid Atari 2600

Air Raid was unique from the start, with its funky blue handle and design of alien ships attacking a city. The game itself was simple enough, but due to the fact that it was the only title released by MenAvision, it’s become a highly sought-after piece among video game collectors and enthusiasts.

According to reports, there are an estimated 12 games still in existence. Of those, two were recently sold for $14,000 and $33,400. We’ll note that the huge price disparity is likely due to the fact that the one that sold for $33,400 was a complete game, meaning it included the box, game cartridge and manual. We’re sure if there are any more floating around, they’ll definitely be easy to spot and are sure to garner a decent amount of attention among buyers.

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Birthday Mania (Atari 2600) - $35,000

Birthday Mania Atari 2600

Birthday Mania is one of the rarest games in the world, with only one confirmed to exist. The game is a collection of mini activities that someone would experience at a birthday party, such as balloon popping, blowing out candles and opening presents. Other than the game’s rarity, what makes it unique the game's box art, whichallowed gamers to write someone’s name on it when offered as a birthday gift. However, we doubt anyone will be writing on this one anytime soon.

It really isn’t too much of a surprise, though, to think a game like this could become so rare. Some games, like Super Mario Bros 3, become a part of our culture at the time they release that many owners held onto them - leaving many still in existence. However, when a game like Birthday Mania arrives and doesn’t catch on in the same way, gamers move on by trading it in, giving it to a friend or throwing it away. So, even though it may not have been one of the most exciting or highly rated games, it’s now one of the rarest, and will forever hold a place in history.

Gamma Attack (Atari 2600) - $500,000

Gamma Attack Atari 2600

Now for the rarest video game in history: Gamma Attack. What makes this game far more rare - and expensive - than all the others is that there was only one cartridge ever produced. The game was created by Gammation, which was a company known for making Atari peripherals, not games. So when this game surfaced, it garnered a lot of attention.

Was that attention worth $500,000? The current owner and game collector, Anthony DeNardo, sure thought so a few years ago when he put it up for auction on Ebay with a Buy It Now price of $499,999.99. Unfortunately for DeNardo, no one was willing to fork over the cash. However, the move did gain massive attention and led many gamers and enthusiasts to proclaim Gamma Attack as the rarest game ever.

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It’s amazing to think that just a few decades ago, many of these games were available in bulk in game stores. If only we knew then what we know now, we're sure a few of us would have saved some of our old games in hopes of striking it rich. Of course, then there would be more copies and the games wouldn't be worth the kind of cash they are today. Either way, we definitely know what to look for when we do our garage sale rounds this weekend.

What do you think about this list? Were you surprised by the games and their prices? Sound off in the comments.

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