Here it is guys, the long-awaited sequel to the NES article: TOP TEN SNES US licensed cart values!
Same story as before, any corrections or comments are welcome, values are correct as of early 2019 prices.
10. Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus
Developer: WaveQuest Publisher: Raya Systems
Release: Sep, 1995
Can video games improve your health? Do video games save lives? What on Earth is a Bronchiasaurus? The “Health Hero” series of edutainment games for Super Nintendo are here with answers to all these questions and more! Back in the mid-90’s, health equipment supplier Raya Sytems aimed to jump on the booming video game bandwagon by publishing a series of health-oriented Super Nintendo games, marketed primarily to healthcare professionals. Ostensibly these games were intended to educate and provide therapy for children suffering from various ailments, and Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus was one of four such games Raya Systems released.
Along with the rest of his kind the titular Bronchiasaurus Bronkie suffers from asthma, which has been caused by meteorites striking the Earth. The game is a basic 2D platformer with simple graphics, looking and playing more like an NES game than a game for the 16-bit Super Nintendo. The health message of the game is delivered in a few different ways. For example, between each stage there are “Daily meds” screens offering simple explanations of asthma symptoms and treatments, sometimes with animations demonstrating things like how to properly use an inhaler. Also, during stages the action is frequently interrupted by quiz questions, challenging players to recall the information they have been taught. There are even gameplay elements that carry through the message, such as the necessity for Bronkie to continually monitor his asthma levels and avoid aggravators like cigarette smoke, animal fur and tar fumes.
Although Bronkie and the other Raya Systems games were released to regular store shelves, as mentioned above, the main marketing push was to doctors’ practices and other healthcare providers. The idea was that the games would provide entertainment in waiting rooms, be used during therapy, and even get rented out to patients. However, edutainment titles are traditionally avoided by avid gamers, and it must have been a hard-sell for Raya to convince healthcare professionals on the merits of video game therapy. Thus, it seems the “Health Hero” games received limited and uneven distribution upon release, resulting in an unusually high proportion of unsold, sealed copies from overstock ending up on the secondary market today.
While Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus is certainly an uncommon game to find loose “in the wild”, the overstock situation has resulted in an unusually small spread in values between sealed, complete and loose copies of the game. Due to this, buying even a sealed copy of Bronkie remains within reach of the average collector.
Value loose: $181.13 Value complete: $239.48
Developer: Ape/HAL Publisher: Nintendo
Release: Jun, 1995
The mighty Earthbound is the undeniable “people’s champion” of the Super Nintendo, always first to spring to mind when someone mentions “rare” SNES games. In light of this, many will be surprised to see the game sitting so relatively low on our Top Ten list. Make no mistake, however, in terms of value this one is punching well above its weight due to the awesome power of popularity and fan-adoration!
The story of Earthbound was not always so rosy. The game had a lengthy, difficult development taking more than five years from conception to release, with the threat of cancellation always hanging over the developers’ heads. It wasn’t until the late Satoru Iwata and his team at HAL labs came on board that the sprawling game reached an acceptable state to be readied for release. Earthbound, or Mother 2 as it was known in Japan, is in fact a sequel to a game that had never made it to US shores. Due to this lack of brand awareness, Nintendo spent a reported $2 million advertising the game in the USA, running print ads, promotional events and giveaways in order to hype up the game. Unfortunately this push was a failure, and over the next couple of years the game would be relegated to bargain bins in toy shops and game stores across the nation.
At the time of its release, Earthbound was dismissed by critics. The gameplay was seen as uninteresting. The relatively simple graphics failed to impress at a time when flashy pre-rendered graphics and 3D polygonal effects were cutting-edge. The humor of the game and its domestic suburban setting were also not appreciated, weighed down by a marketing campaign that was at-best described as childish and at-worst offensive. However, in the biggest turnaround in gaming history, as time passed the game’s unique charm, characters and gameplay quirks, as well as its observational, satirical humor started to shine through. The game went from zero to hero in the eyes of SNES gamers, and today Earthbound frequently tops lists of the best SNES games.
The most likely origin of resurgent interest in Earthbound, is in another of Nintendo’s famed franchises, Super Smash Brothers. In 1999 Earthbound’s main character Ness appeared as a secret fighter in the original Smash Bros, for N64. Although few recognised him at the time, his appearance led to much wider fame for Earthbound, which of course fed demand for the original game. With more appearances in further Smash Bros. games, greater access to Earthbound via emulation, and eventually the boom in interest in retro games with the rise of YouTube and other online retro gaming outlets, Earthbound’s trajectory to the upper echelons of SNES values was set.
So, exactly how rare is Earthbound? Despite not selling anywhere near as well as Nintendo may have hoped, it has been reported that it did sell somewhere in the region of 140,000 copies, making it far from the rarest Super Nintendo game. However, as always supply is only one side of the value equation, and it is demand that has been the driving force of Earthbound’s value. With modern re-releases on Virtual Console and the Super Nintendo Mini, some demand for Earthbound has been met, and the game’s loose value has stabilised over the past couple of years. However, as a collector’s piece, the big-box Earthbound package, complete with strategy guide, will always be a huge prize, especially for fans who want a good condition copy for their shelf. This desire is clearly illustrated by the dramatic spread between prices for loose and boxed copies.
Value loose: $184.03 Value complete: $895.25
8. Super Turrican 2
Developer: Factor 5 Publisher: Ocean Software
Release: Nov, 1995
Another solid entry in our Top Ten list, Super Turrican 2 is a fun, great looking run-and-gun platformer from developers Factor 5. The gameplay and overall style are reminiscent of the side-scrolling stages from the Contra games, with a decent range of weapons, classic boss battles, bright visuals and varied level themes. Although Super Turrican 2 is the second Super Nintendo Turrican game, the series actually stretches back a lot further, with the original Turrican and Turrican 2 being big hits in the early 90’s on home computers such as the C64 and Amiga. This style of run-and-gun platformer was one of the most popular game genres at the time, and the two all-new Super Nintendo Turrican games fit nicely in the library of run-and-gun games on the system.
It must be said, however, that even back in its heyday the Turrican franchise was far from the biggest gaming brand in the USA. Developed in Germany the Turrican games were a genuine phenomenon in Europe, where they appeared on a wide range of home computers and even the NES with a PAL exclusive version of Super Turrican, but in the USA this success was not replicated. The game’s publisher, Ocean, was a relatively small fish in the US market, despite being one of the biggest publishers in the UK and Europe during the 80’s and 90’s. Coupled with the game’s late release at the end of 1995, these factors led to underwhelming sales for Super Turrican 2 on SNES.
As with most of the games on this Top Ten list, time has been rather kind to Super Turrican 2. Although not one of the most well known or renowned games on the system, it has slowly been growing in popularity due to interest from fans of the run-and-gun genre, as well as working its way onto lists of SNES “hidden gems”. Super Turrican 2 has been on a steady climb in value since 2011, a climb that continues to this day. As more collectors and gamers become aware of this cherry title in an underappreciated franchise, its star is only likely to burn brighter in the coming years.
Value loose: $187.81 Value complete: $492.76
7. Mega Man X3
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
Release: Jan, 1996
The Blue Bomber himself Mega Man makes our list in his final SNES appearance, Mega Man X3! If you’ve played any of the other Mega Man games, or certainly either of the two prior entries in the X series then you will know what to expect from this action platformer. As Mega Man you fight your way through a series of challenging platforming stages and take on a variety of evil robot bosses, enhancing your own abilities by absorbing the powers of those you defeat. Like its predecessor X2, Mega Man X3 takes advantage of the Cx4 math co-processor inside the cartridge to enhance the Super Nintendo’s graphical capabilities. This allows for advanced visual effects such as transparency, rotation and scaling, and even some basic polygonal graphics to be included in the game. Mega Man X3 was pretty well received at the time of its release, however it was criticized for being a little too similar to the 3 previous SNES Mega Man platformers, without doing much to shake up the Mega Man formula.
The January 1996 release date of Mega Man X3 ensured that it got caught in the death-spiral of the 16-bit era. By this point Capcom had little faith in the buoyancy of the Super Nintendo market, and so they greatly scaled back production orders for Mega Man X3 compared to prior games in the series. In order to make up for the shortfall in sales due to constrained supply, as well as to pay for the more expensive Cx4 equipped cartridges, Capcom released Mega Man X3 to US store shelves at the eye-watering recommended retail price of $73.95! Demand was still strong for Mega Man games, even by the end of the Super Nintendo’s life, and so the game sold reasonably despite the aforementioned limitations. But, it should go without saying that this is by far the most uncommon of the three Mega Man X games on the system. Eventually, Mega Man X3 would get a second chance at success, released in both Japan and Europe for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and this version also eventually graced US gamers as part as the Mega Man X Collection for PS2 and GameCube in 2006.
Mega Man X3 has never been the cheapest game to buy, and as an entry in one of the most popular game franchises around there will always be interest in owning this title. Starting from its high launch price the game didn’t dip far on the secondary market, with loose copies trading hands for around 50 dollars as far back as 2007-08. The game has undeniable pedigree as a Mega Man game, and of course fans of Mega Man X and X2 are going to be on the hunt for X3. It hit the 100 dollar range in 2012, went up to 200 a few years later and has hovered in that region ever since.
Value loose: $222.68 Value complete: $555.27
6. Metal Warriors
Developer: LucasArts Publisher: Konami
Release: Apr, 1995
Metal Warriors was developed by LucasArts, by the same team who previously worked on the popular SNES title Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The gameplay and style of the game is frequently compared to another mech-shooter, Cybernator, which was also published by Konami, and it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a sequel to that game. However, despite appearances this Japanese-style robot game is USA made, and in fact was only ever released in North America. In Metal Warriors players take control of one of six mech warrior suits as they fight their way through non-linear levels, battling the evil Dark Axis forces. The game is pretty unique as players are able to leave their mech suits behind and run around on foot, and this technique is actually necessary to complete certain objectives in the game, such as hitting switches and changing mech suits. You can certainly feel the LucasArts polish in the gameplay and style of this game, with great feeling of control and brilliant sprite art.
Metal Warriors may indeed be among the most uncommon games on this Top Ten list. In an interview for the book “The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers”, lead producer Mike Ebert recalls that Nintendo had originally intended to publish the title on behalf of LucasArts, but in light of the rapidly declining 16-bit market they eventually decided not to publish the game. Indeed, 1995 saw only 6 Nintendo-published titles on Super Nintendo compared to 16 titles in 1994, as the company refocussed their efforts and resources on the upcoming Ultra 64 system. When the deal with Nintendo fell through, the game was quickly completed and thereafter a deal was struck with Konami to publish the title instead. According to Mike Ebert, this agreement led to a small production run of only around 50,000 copies, which is a very small number for a Super Nintendo title. This is the most likely reason that Metal Warriors is such an uncommon game in the secondary market today.
Although relatively unknown at the time of release, as with many of the games on this list Metal Warriors has gained a great deal of renown for its high quality in more recent years. IGN placed Metal Warriors at 33 on its top 100 SNES game list, and the game is frequently referred to as a “hidden gem” by Super Nintendo gamers. The game shot up in value around mid-2013 as word began to spread, and it remains a highly sought-after title to this day. There is relatively significant fluctuation on this one based on condition, as it is another of the late-release SNES titles manufactured to lower quality standards in Mexico. However, due to the scarcity of the game and growing awareness of the title amongst gamers, a good condition copy of Metal Warriors has perhaps the greatest growth potential of any game on this Top Ten list.
Value loose: $202.04 Value complete: $487.39
5. Wild Guns
Developer: Natsume Publisher: Natsume
Release: Jul, 1995
Wild Guns is a masterclass in the third-person shooting-gallery genre, with dynamic movement and shooting mechanics and addictively fun, frantic gameplay. The game meshes the disparate themes of steampunk, sci-fi, western and anime together perfectly, and is brimming with character and style. As they progress through the game, protagonists Annie and Clint need to blast away hoards of robotic mini tanks, dynamite throwing punks, gigantic chaingun-weilding battle droids, cowboys on hoverbikes, and even an alien cyborg crab. All of these battles take place in front of beautiful, destructible backgrounds, very reminiscent of the oil painting backdrops from old western movies. The game plays amazingly well, looks great, and has charm in spades: the complete package for any SNES fan!
Development was short and focussed on this one, with a small development team at Natsume working on the game for around five months. Although the game released in Japan in short order once development was complete in mid-1994, for some reason the game was delayed almost a year for its US release. This delay into July 1995 put a huge downer on its chances of commercial success, even though it was received well by critics at the time. Nonetheless, Wild Guns has gone on to become a cult classic for the Super Nintendo, appeared on Nintendo’s Virtual Console service, and it even received a full remake in the form of Wild Guns: Reloaded for modern consoles.
Due to its cult status, Wild Guns is another example of a SNES game subject to significant hype from gamers, collectors and YouTubers alike. Of course, the “hidden gem” label is often a sore point for veteran collectors, annoyed by spikes in demand leading to high prices for formerly cheap titles. Frankly, however, Wild Guns is one game that it’s hard not to get excited about! As gamers the heart of our hobby is the love of the gameplay and stylistic experiences offered by games like Wild Guns. Sharing passion for great games is the lifeblood that keeps retro-gaming alive, and it would be unjust to smother that experience and hoard it selfishly when so many more people can take part and enjoy it just like we do.
Wild Guns is not at all easy to find, and it’s even harder to find in decent condition. As a late-release title, copies of this game were manufactured in Mexico, leading to poorer quality labels and boxes which are easier to damage. Due to this, good condition carts and especially good condition boxed copies of the game sell for a decent premium. Thus, the value of a loose cart of Wild Guns tends to fluctuate within the range of 150 and 200 dollars, depending on condition, and may sometimes sell for a lot more for a particularly fine specimen.
Value loose: $203.71 Value complete: $708.50
4. Pocky & Rocky 2
Developer: Natsume Publisher: Natsume
Release: Nov, 1994
Pocky & Rocky 2 is a cute, cartoon run-and-gun shooter with a great sense of humor, well worthy of an entry on our Top Ten list. The game stars the titular Pocky, a young shrine maiden, and Rocky, the mischievous tanuki, as they once again fight their way through the mysterious ghost world. This game is notable for the wide range of partner characters that can be selected or otherwise unlocked to help make it through the nine stages, each having their own special attacks and abilities. Like the first game, Pocky & Rocky 2 makes great use of elements of Japanese folklore and traditional culture, with a wide range of mystical creatures and spirits facing off against our heroes. Of course, most of the specific references to Japanese folklore will be lost on the average gamer, but the game’s humorous style and great visuals bring all these strange characters to life in a way that everyone can enjoy.
At the time of its release, Pocky & Rocky 2 received great scores from games magazines such as EGM and GamePro, and, along with the original Pocky & Rocky, it has been a firm favourite of dedicated SNES gamers ever since. Although Pocky & Rocky 2 is often cited by collectors as a rare title, there is little evidence to suggest that it is especially rare. As an entry in a B-tier franchise appearing relatively late in the SNES’s lifespan, of course it didn’t sell as well as games like Nintendo’s own heavy hitters, but neither was it an absolute flop. Thus, available evidence points to Pocky & Rocky 2 being an uncommon, but not particularly rare game.
When it comes to value, Pocky & Rocky 2 is a prime candidate for “sequelitis”. That is, Pocky & Rocky 2 is a late-release sequel in a semi-popular franchise and therefore desirable both to gamers who enjoyed the original and collectors who want to own the compete series. Before 2012 Pocky & Rocky 2 was an average value title, not yet particularly noteworthy or well known. However, with the influx of interest into the retro gaming hobby around that time its value started to grow, and in more recent years increased recognition of the fun gameplay and charming character of this uncommon game has driven much stronger demand. By mid-2016 Super Nintendo collecting had hit a significant peak, and ever since then Pocky and Rocky 2’s value has hovered around $300 for a loose cart.
Value loose: $301.34 Value complete: $718.02
3. Aero Fighters
Developer: Video System Publisher: Mc O’River
Release: Nov, 1994
Originally released in Japan as Sonic Wings in 1992, Aero Fighters is a decent home console port of the arcade original. The game is a relatively standard vertical shoot ‘em up with a few extra touches to make it stand out, including a great 2-player co-op mode. It is known for being rather short, with a single playthrough taking no more than 20 mins for seasoned veterans, but it makes up for that with high difficulty and semi-randomised enemy patterns and level order, which add variety. Due to hardware limitations the SNES version obviously cannot take advantage of some of the more advanced graphical effects and details seen in the arcade original, and neither does it apply the arcade version’s 3:4 aspect ratio. This gives the SNES version a somewhat “flat” appearance without the same sense of depth when flying over buildings etc., as well as a slightly reduced view of upcoming threats. Nonetheless, Aero Fighters remains a highly regarded game by Super Nintendo gamers, and is considered a worthy addition to the shoot ‘em up catalogue for fans of the genre.
In terms of collectability, Aero Fighters is understood to be one of the rarest games on the SNES. Its publisher, going by the strange name of Mc O’River, was nothing more than a small American off-shoot of Video System, and they had little experience publishing games for home consoles at the time. Back in Japan Video System was a huge publisher in the arcade industry, and they set up Mc O’River with the primary purpose of marketing their successful line of arcade games in the US. For the home market, Mc O’River only managed to release two SNES games in total, including Aero Fighters, and ultimately they failed to grab 16-bit gamers’ attention. This may explain why the game gained little sales traction at the time of its release, which has led to its subsequent scarcity in the collectors’ market today.
This is one of those games that has been known to be scarce for a while. Copies of Aero Fighters were changing hands for near the hundred dollar mark as far back as 2009/10, and its value has risen steadily alongside the rest of the Super Nintendo market in the years since. As mentioned above, the gameplay is decent enough to drive some demand from gamers who would like to experience it, although it is likely that the main thrust of demand comes from collectors looking to add this uncommon piece to their collection. Aero Fighters peaked in value for a loose cart at almost $750 back in mid-2017, and has cooled off a little since then. However, as the years roll by it certainly isn’t getting any easier to find, so there is a good chance it will one day rise beyond that former peak and overtake Hagane to claim the number 2 spot of SNES values.
Value loose: $574.46 Value complete: $1,991.15
2. Hagane: The Final Conflict
Developer: Red Entertainment Publisher: Hudson Soft
Release: Jun, 1995
Hagane: The Final Conflict was released in June 1995, during the heat of a summer dominated by hype for the recently released PlayStation. These were the dying days of the 16 bit era, a time when gamers were being dazzled by advanced 3D graphics and the fully-realised potential of CD games. In light of this, most retailers would reserve shelf-space only for the most sure-fire hit Super Nintendo titles, big names in long-running franchises, while new and unproven games like Hagane would struggle to attract orders. Thus, for many years after release Hagane remained obscure among even Super Nintendo gamers and collectors, and in the early days of SNES collecting it was a cheap title if you happened upon it. However, as soon as the retro-boom of 2012-13 hit the SNES collecting world, this story was turned on its head. If ever there was a game caught up in the hype-cycle of “hidden gem syndrome” Hagane would be it.
By all accounts Hagane is a great game and indeed well worthy of wider attention. You play as a cyborg ninja warrior, equipped with a huge, varied arsenal of devastating weapons and capable of an impressive range of moves and abilities. Fast-paced run-and-gun action platforming gameplay is bolstered by dodges, flips, wall-jumps, slides and somersaults, all of which have to be mastered if you have any chance of surviving this tough game. However, it is not just the gameplay that impresses. The theming of the game is outstanding, as it seamlessly combines heavy machinery, gears, pistons, robots and mechanical creatures with unmistakable elements of Japanese folklore and culture. Techno-futuristic cityscapes are adorned with Japanese architecture, kanji script, kabuki masks, etc., all rendered in luscious graphical detail. The levels are populated with well animated mechanical enemies and bosses inspired by legendary heroes, creatures and spirits. This techno-futuristic Japanese aesthetic fits perfectly with the hectic gameplay, making Hagane the complete package of style and substance.
It is little wonder then that Hagane would become a “hidden gem” sensation in the “YouTube era” of retro-gaming. Rampant emulation of the Super Nintendo on PC in the late 90’s and early 00’s allowed hardcore SNES gamers free access to the full library of titles, and word slowly spread of this awesome, little-known game. This small groundswell of popularity was then exponentially magnified by attention from YouTube channels in the early 2010’s, most notably due to episodes featuring Hagane from Classic Game Room and Cinemassacre’s Mike Matei. At this point it became common knowledge among gamers and collectors that this is a title to look out for. However, this is not to say that a true one-for-one causal relationship between YouTube publicity and a given game’s value can be definitively proven. But whenever there is a spike in demand for a game as uncommon as Hagane, a rise in value is sure to follow.
These days, Hagane appears on eBay in high enough numbers to demonstrate that it is far from the most uncommon game for the Super Nintendo, but buoyant demand nonetheless keeps the game’s value high. Ultimately, it should be seen as a great thing that more people know about this previously underappreciated title, and true SNES fans should feel proud to have Hagane as one of the standard bearers for the system.
Value loose: $592.19 Value complete: $1,412.63
1. Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally/Program Manager/Speed Racer
Developer: Radical Entertainment Publisher: Life Fitness
Release: Oct, 1994
Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally/Program Manager/Speed Racer (MBR/PM/SR) tops our list of most valuable SNES games by a huge margin, and for good reason. A long-standing “Holy Grail” of SNES collecting, this game was designed for use alongside a huge and expensive fitness peripheral known as the Exertainment Life Cycle exercise bike. That’s right! In order to make the most of this game you are going to have to don your nylons and sweat it out as you pound the pedals and burn off real-life calories! The Exertainment Life Cycle was available in two main configurations: the LC3500X sold to the public for home use, and the heavy-duty 9XS model with built-in TV and SNES intended for use in gyms and fitness centers. There was also the LC3500, a model similar to the LC3500X but sold separately from the necessary Exertainment system peripherals. Understandably, the limited nature of MBR/PM/SR’s release and the expensive, niche-interest peripherals required to enjoy it made this undoubtedly the poorest selling officially licensed SNES game ever made.
MBR/PM/SR is not in fact an entirely original product, nor is it even the first game to be produced for use with the Life Cycle. The first game to be produced was Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally, a modified version of an existing SNES title; Cannondale Cup, and it was included with every complete Exertainment Life Cycle system sold. Although that game is hard to find, the second release, MBR/PM/SR, is far and away more difficult to come by because it was seemingly never sold at retail at all. MBR/PM/SR is a combination cart that contains the first game, but also adds the program manager feature (which is used to plan and track workout sessions) and the game Speed Racer, which is another modified version of an existing SNES title; Speed Racer in My Most Dangerous Adventures. This combo cartridge could only be purchased directly from the publisher, Life Fitness, for a purported cost of $200. Due to this, it would likely only have been accessible to gyms already installed with Life Cycles, and perhaps a handful of rich individuals who had invested in the Life Cycle system for their homes.
The game itself has been designed to interact with the Life Cycle in a variety of ways. For example, the Life Cycle sends rotation per minute information from your pedaling to the game, and your character speeds up and slows down correspondingly. Another feature is increasing/decreasing pedal tension for your Life Cycle depending on the steepness of the in-game track, which simulates hill climbing. According to Life Fitness CEO Augio Nieto, the intended purpose of the Exertainment system is to encourage people to get fit by alleviating the boredom many people feel while exercising. This noble goal may have made the Exertainment Life Cycle appealing to the small market of exercise enthusiasts in the mid-90’s with $800 to spend on a fancy new exercise bike, but for the average Super Nintendo fan it would have been the antithesis of what they’d call a good time!
So, for all these reasons, MBR/PM/SR is an incredibly scarce, and therefore immensely valuable SNES game. Paradoxically, however, while this may indeed be the rarest SNES game, it probably isn’t the rarest sealed SNES game. So the story goes, a Nintendo warehouse sale of some sort occurred in the late 90’s or early 00’s which put around 30 sealed copies of MBR/PM/SR into the hands of collectors, and these have been passed around inside the community ever since. Of course, because so few people have the means nor even the desire to actually play the game, a disproportionate number of copies in collector hands are, and will likely remain, sealed.
Value loose: $1,200.60 Value complete: $2,426.50