In the retro game collection hobby, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is a platform that has garnered much attention due to its incredible library of games. Many of these titles have become highly sought after and valuable, with some even reaching astronomical prices in recent years.
In contrast to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), where some of the rarest games are not that fun to play, the SNES boasts a list of rare games that are not only highly collectible but also offer great gameplay and are beloved by fans.
Discover the most sought-after and elusive SNES games ever released: From limited edition titles to region-exclusive cartridges, delve into the world of rare SNES games and learn about their history, rarity, and value.
Whether you’re a hardcore collector or a nostalgic gamer, this article is a must-read for anyone interested in the rarest SNES games of all time.
1. Nintendo World Championships ‘94
Yeah, 199Quad 69 Boyz backed up by Quad City DJ’s One time.
This might be the music that blared during the Nintendo World Championship back in 1994 across North America, as it is sure as hell it is not Closer by Nine Inch Nails or Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden. Or is it Bon Jovi’s Always? If you were there at the event, comment below to verify. And if you were indeed in the Nintendo World Championships, you should have nabbed the cartridge used in the tourney as it happens to be one of the rarest, and in turn, the most expensive games out there.
The Nintendo World Championships ’94 was a video game competition held during the Nintendo Powerfest ’94 tour, where players competed in three Super Nintendo Entertainment System games to score points within a time limit of six minutes.
The games were Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Kart, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. The competition was held in customized trailers outside of department stores. The top eight players from local competitions advanced to the finals in San Diego, California, where they were grouped into four teams.
Nintendo made only a few cartridges for the PowerFest ’94, which were used in stores across the US for around 130 events. This game appears in almost every most expensive game list, not just on the SNES. It is rare to find a rare game that is also good, or at least decent. Nintendo World Championship ’94’s inclusion of Mario Kart does not make the insane price tag reasonable, but at the very least, it is a G.O.A.T.-tier game.
2. Multi-Purpose Arcade Combat Simulator (M.A.C.S.)
The Multi-Purpose Arcade Combat Simulator (M.A.C.S.) was enigmatic for a long time until a couple of cartridges appeared on eBay a few years ago, revealing that it was a training tool used by the American military. The M.A.C.S. rifle is a replica of a Jäger AP 74 and is far more accurate than the Super Scope, with the weight and feel of an authentic weapon.
This game was designed by the army to train soldiers in basic rifle training. The game was played on a Super Nintendo console using a custom gun modeled after the M16 rifle, which was more accurate than the typical Super Scope or Zapper light gun.
The game had various training missions and gameplay levels. The first mission was to zero in on the shots by hitting three targets on the screen. The player had to aim the gun at the target on the screen and shoot, and the game would show where the shot hit on the target. The game also gave ratings for accuracy, which helped the player improve their marksmanship.
The levels progressed from basic to more challenging, with different targets at different ranges. The game also had different positions for shooting, with the first level starting with a supported position and the later levels being unsupported. The game showed the player where they aimed and where they should have aimed for better accuracy.
After each round, the game showed the player where their shots hit and if they met the standard or not. If the player missed, they had to repeat the same area until they met the standard. The levels became more challenging as the targets moved across the screen in random patterns, and the player had to shoot them wherever they appeared.
The game also had a second controller with different options for changing the levels, wind speed, and direction. The levels became progressively more challenging, with timed targets and more targets to hit.
The program was developed by Sculptured Software and required a controller hooked up to port 2 to access some parts of the program. It rates your shooting skills in various aspects and has several known variants, including the Moving Target Simulator. The setup used by the military included a 13-inch TV for aiming. The cartridges are generic US SNES carts with a sticker indicating the simulator title and version number. Word in the street is that there are approximately significantly less than 1000 M.A.C.S. cartridges produced.
Old-school consoles like the SNES and the NES boasted a plethora of classic and obscure games, including several titles that never made it to the market. An extremely bizarre game for the SNES is Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer Combo Cart, a game so unconventional that it is hard to believe anyone would want to buy it.
The game was created with a specific purpose in mind: to be used with the Lifecycle 9XS, an exercise bike that was also compatible with the SNES. The Lifecycle had a wide range of features, including the ability to watch television and other fitness programs while exercising. It also has this mind-bending feature that is now prevalent in smartphones and tablets: picture-in-picture capabilities.#
The Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer Combo Cart was one of two games designed exclusively for the Lifecycle. Although these games were available as separate cartridges, they are now considered rare and highly sought after, with outrageous prices on eBay when they do surface. Interestingly, many of these exercise bikes were installed in gyms throughout the US, and a seller once offered a complete set, including the games, on eBay for the price of crippling thousands of dollars.
The gameplay of both games in the Combo Cart is straightforward. Speed Racer involves racing to the finish line while dodging obstacles and collecting power-ups. The game also includes a few platforming levels to add some variety. Mountain Bike Rally is a racing game mixed with action, where the goal is to knock your opponent out of the lead. Neither game is particularly exceptional, but they do offer some entertainment value.
What makes the Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer Combo Cart so rare is that it was intended to be used with the Lifecycle 9XS, making it one of the rarest SNES games in existence. It is rumored that this cartridge never made it to any store, as it was challenging to sell with its accompanying Lifecycle peripheral. A few copies have been found in Nintendo of America’s warehouse, and the last two reported sales of the game were for loose cartridges, each for over $1500. If a complete copy were to surface, it would undoubtedly fetch a much higher price.
The Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer Combo Cart is one of the most famous mysteries of the SNES era. It is rumored to have been a pack-in title with the Lifecycle 9XS commercial gym exercise bike and was not available with the home model of the same bike. Another popular theory is that a box of these games was discovered in an old Nintendo warehouse, and they began making their way into the wild from there. Regardless of the truth behind its rarity, the Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally and Speed Racer Combo Cart is considered a Holy Grail of SNES collecting.
4. Star Fox Super Weekend Cartridge
This Star Fox cart was used by Blockbuster for game tournaments, and extra carts were sold off by Blockbuster and Nintendo Power. An article included in the original packaging suggests that the Starfox Weekend cart actually had a smaller production number than the fifth entry in this list (see below).
The game itself only lasts for four minutes, and you only get to play the first and second stages. At the end of the second stage, there is a third stage where you fly through hoops and collect points. There are a bunch of little targets you can hit, and the more targets you hit, the more points you get.
You are playing against the clock, and the best way to do it is to get as many points as possible. The game is still popular, and when they do go on eBay, they can sell for around $200 or more. The third stage is where you fly through hoops, and there is a trick where you can get a few extra seconds by getting out of first-person mode.
5. Donkey Kong Country Competition Cartridge
The Donkey Kong Country competition cartridge is one of the rarest Super Nintendo cartridges. It was primarily played in PowerFest 94 and the Blockbuster Championships, and used as a qualifier for the Blockbuster event. It was sold in an antenna power supply catalog for about $35 and now goes for thousands of dollars on eBay. The cartridge has only eight levels, and the objective is to finish as many levels as possible in five minutes.
Completing a level gives 250 points, collecting all the clown letters gives 100 points, and finding secret rooms gives 50 points at the beginning of the room. The cartridge has no loading screens or level selection; you turn it on and start playing the first level.
The hosts go back and forth trying to beat each other’s score, and collecting all the secrets is essential to getting a high score. The cartridge has 32 megabits, not megabytes, and was advertised as such to make it look bigger than it was. The animal medallions and gold animal statues were removed in the later levels, except for a few that were forgotten.
6. Hagane: The Final Conflict
Hagane: The Final Conflict is a highly coveted game due to its rarity, as it was never commercially released and only available through Blockbuster Rentals. Unlike most of the games on this list that are either bad, extremely niche, or a desecration of a full game for tourney purposes, this game is actually more than decent, featuring robots, ninjas, challenging gameplay, and an engaging storyline.
The game follows the story of Hagane, a ninja tasked with protecting the Holy Grail (not the cartridges on this list, the Holy Grail in the Arthurian legends), which possesses the power to destroy the world. After the Grail is stolen and everyone, including Hagane, is killed by a rival ninja clan, Hagane’s brain is placed in a robot ninja frame to continue his mission. Yes, Arthurian Legend mixed with eastern culture and postmodern technology, that is how Hagane is.
Hagane’s gameplay is action-packed and an authentic action platformer. As you take control of Hagane, they employ a vast array of ninjitsu tricks and weapons, including a katana, kunai, grenades, a screen-clearing bomb, and a grappling hook. Moreover, the game features various techniques that allow Hagane to perform dragon kicks, dragon punches, drop kicks, and somersaults to bounce up walls. The game’s sheer variety of ways to dispatch enemies enhances the fun factor, but you must overcome the learning curve to figure out which weapons are most effective.
The game is incredibly challenging, but it is a fair challenge that progressively gets more fun as you advance. While there are some sections where the game seems cheap, such as levels that scroll horizontally quickly, it is an overall good challenge.
The game employs futuristic sounds that produce a fitting soundtrack. While it is not a remarkable soundtrack, it aligns with the game’s aesthetic. The sound effects are great and satisfying, while the graphics are top-notch, making it one of the best-looking SNES games ever released. The game utilizes detailed backdrops, fantastic sprites, and special effects that showcase various futuristic-looking environments.
Hagane: The Final Conflict is an amazing action-platforming game with a steep learning curve that generally becomes more fun the longer you play. By no means it is Ninja Gaiden Black, especially at its price nowadays that anyone but serious collectors to consider, the game is a worthy addition to their collections, as it is far more fun than many other expensive games.
7. Aero Fighters
Aero Fighters is a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up game that offers an exciting gameplay experience. Players are presented with a choice of four countries to select from, including the USA, Japan, Denmark, and Britain, each with an ace fighter pilot. The objective of the game is to destroy enemy jets, boats, helicopters, gun emplacements, and massive end-of-level bosses. The game features detailed, colorful 2-D graphics and a good level of challenge.
Players need to spend a considerable amount of time figuring out which fighter has the best weapons. The enemies have good aim, and most of the time, more than half of the screen is filled with enemy fire. The levels become more challenging and frustrating with harder enemies and better aim by the enemies. Although the game has its fun parts, it falls under the basic shoot-em-up genre, with nothing special or outstanding.
The music is pretty good, with no cheesy midi tunes. The music changes at every level, and it tends to match the level theme with the type of music it plays. The tunes are catchy, and players may find themselves humming them long after the game is over.
The graphics are impressive for a game made in 1992, with rich colors and detailed backgrounds. Even the enemies and the planes are well-detailed. However, sometimes, the enemy fire blends into the background, making it challenging to avoid getting killed.
Although the game has excellent visuals and audio, the lack of gameplay puts it down. The game has little to almost no replay value and is considered a classic but not one that players would frequently play if other machines were around. There are better shoot-em-up games available, and Aero Fighters does not match up to them. It does cost a fortune nowadays though, not because of its impeccable quality but rather of its rarity.
8. Final Fight Guy
Final Fight Guy is an updated version of the original Final Fight game that was released in 1991 on the SNES. Unlike the original version, Final Fight only features two playable characters, Mike and Cody. Guy, the third playable character in the arcade version of the game, was removed from the SNES port to reduce costs and fit the game onto a 16-megabit cartridge.
In Final Fight Guy, Cody is replaced with Guy, making him a playable character alongside Mike. Guy is a skilled martial artist with lightning-fast kicks and punches, and he brings a new level of agility and speed to the game that was not present in the original version. The game features updated graphics and sound effects, and the gameplay is smoother and more responsive than the original.
Final Fight Guy was first released in Japan in 1992 as a standalone retail game, but it did not receive a full release in North America until 1994. Instead, it was initially only available as a rental exclusive at Blockbuster stores. Later, the game received a limited retail release in North America, but it was only available through certain distributors and was not widely available in stores. Hence, the price tag that seems to increase as we all continue to decay as in our mortal selves.
The game consists of five levels, each set in a different region of Metro City. Players have the choice of using either Mayor Mike Haggard or Cody to save Jessica. Both characters have different fighting styles. Mike is a powerhouse but snail-slow, while Guy is agile but has weak attacks (Cody, who was replaced in this version is the balanced fighter).
The game features side-scrolling action and many enemies that you will encounter along the way to beat up. At the most, there are only three enemies on the screen at a time, which provides a good challenge that can be overcome. Each level is generally broken up into three to four short rooms that lead to a boss who is waiting for you at the end of the stage.
Throughout the game, there are three different weapons you can acquire: knives, swords, and steel pipes. Weapons can be found under boxes or barrels that you need to destroy, or they are sometimes dropped by enemies. All weapons can only be used until they leave your hands, so you better work hard to protect yourself and not get hit while holding a weapon. There are also other goodies hidden throughout the level, such as regular items that give you extra points to help you gain extra lives faster or food, which recovers your health.
Scattered between the five stages are two bonus stages that give players a chance to increase their points, helping them gain extra lives faster. The first bonus stage allows players to demolish a car using their hands, feet, or a nearby pipe. The second bonus stage has hanging panes of glass that you have to destroy. Both bonus stages have a short time limit, so the faster you can complete them, the more points you receive.
The graphics in Final Fight are very good for a game of its time. Characters and enemies are well-designed and contain good detail. Bosses look very good, showing a lot of muscle and good detail in their outfits. Backgrounds reflect the gang setting in town very well but are also bright and colorful. The music is excellent, with a new theme for each level, and the sound effects are great, with a ton of them throughout the game for many different things. Control is very easy to pick up, and each character has different techniques to use based on their background.
9. Rendering Ranger R2
Rendering Ranger is a mix of Contra and R-Type, where you run around and shoot at everything, challenging enormous bosses every now and then, and jump into a spaceship on some levels, doing the same thing but flying instead of running. Both elements are well executed, although the flying parts require precise maneuvering.
While the color palette used in the game is largely the same as Konami’s Contra III, Rendering Ranger still handles the multitude of sprites and large explosions on screen very well. The game’s sound is average, but not bad.
Rendering Ranger is an entertaining and challenging game with cool weapons and good controls, a nice variation in the flying segments, and the ever-present joy of causing massive destruction by shooting everything in sight.
It’s worth playing, especially if you’re a fan of Contra and Gunstar Heroes. However, you wouldn’t pay thousands of dollars for it. It’s a shame that the game’s scarcity and the high price tag will prevent many players from experiencing its middling quality.
10. Pocky & Rocky 2
Pocky & Rocky 2 was difficult to obtain due to a low print run and a late release. Despite this, the game is considered one of the best action games for the system that will provide hours of entertainment.
Pocky has undergone some major changes in mechanics, including no longer having a life bar, but rather an armor system that allows her to sustain a certain number of hits depending on the level of armor. The Hanafuda cards have also been modified to follow only one path, with the first upgrade being rapid fire, followed by size and strength.
Pocky has gained a partner system where players can choose from three partners at the beginning of each stage who follow them and supplement their attacks. Players can also use magic to combine and access their special abilities, allowing them to fly, lift boulders, find hidden items, and open locked chests without keys. The increased firepower with a partner has significantly increased the action in the game, and the level design is better with multiple paths through each stage.
Pocky & Rocky 2 raises the difficulty with the absence of a life bar, making every stray bullet more dangerous, and challenging boss battles that are enormous damage sponges. These encounters can take upwards of ten minutes as they cycle through the same repetitive pattern. Despite this flaw, the game is a great sequel with enough new mechanics to make it a new experience. It remains expensive and has been long surpassed by every game halfway decent SMHUPs.
11. Castlevania Dracula X
Although Super Castlevania IV is more popular on SNES, Dracula X has its own interesting history. Originally released as Castlevania: Rondo of Blood on the PC Engine CD-Rom expansion in Japan, it never made its way to Canada or the USA. What we got on SNES is much different, including changes in the story and one less playable character.
Despite not playing Rondo of Blood, Dracula X was reviewed with fresh eyes, bringing back the old-school Castlevania games with its linear 2D action-platform gameplay. The protagonist, Richter, is controlled through various stages, whipping the undead, jumping over pits, finding hidden stashes, and destroying bosses. With classic sub-weapons like knives, holy water, and axes, the game allows large sums of hearts to be used to do a super-charged sub-weapon attack. The game also includes jumping on stairs instead of starting from the bottom each time.
The levels are usually broken up into multiple parts and end with a boss battle, inspired by previous games. Some have branching paths leading to different bosses and levels. The bosses themselves are fun and challenging, with many returning from previous games, including Death. The graphics are fantastic with 2D sprites and levels utilizing special effects. The music is stellar with classic Castlevania tunes upgraded with catchy bass lines.
The only downside is the price tag just like everything on this list.
12. Mega Man X3
In Mega Man X3, X must defeat eight Maverick leaders who are determined to fulfill their duties at all costs. This non-linear aspect is what has always set the Mega Man and Mega Man X games apart from other platformers. Each leader is vulnerable to a specific weapon of destruction wielded by X’s accomplice.
To even have a chance at defeating a Maverick, X must navigate through treacherous and perilous stages teeming with enemies who seek nothing more than to hinder him. X can upgrade his abilities by finding one of four items scattered throughout the eight Maverick domains. Heart Tanks will extend X’s life bar, while Sub Tanks can store energy to be used when X’s power levels are running low. The Light Capsules, designed by X’s deceased creator Dr. Light, grant X body power-ups such as the Leg Upgrade, allowing him to dash upwards, and the arm upgrade, which can transform the X-Buster into a more potent weapon. Finally, the Chips can upgrade specific aspects of X’s abilities, although only one can be installed at a time.
The game’s difficulty is undeniable, as facing most Maverick leaders without their corresponding weakness is sheer madness. Furthermore, the three secret bosses of the Nightmare Police Bit and Byte, and Vile, are relentlessly unpredictable. Kaiser Sigma is easily one of the most challenging bosses in any game, especially without any healing items.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the game is the inclusion of the ability to play as Zero. Though he is restricted to traversing stages and fighting a single boss, his techniques and Z-Saber will undoubtedly elicit gasps of admiration from even the most obstinate players.
Aesthetic power is one of the most critical factors in a platforming game, as it sets the mood. Would you rather play in a game with diverse, breathtaking visuals, or pixelated garbage? Fortunately, Mega Man X3 is the former. Each enemy has its unique animations, bosses are larger than ever before (Kaiser Sigma, anyone?), flashy effects create more tension than in Mega Man X3’s predecessors, and the boss attacks are expertly animated. No Boomer Kuwanger-class animations to be found here.
Graphics can be overshadowed in importance by music and sound quality. Still, Mega Man X3 boasts good music like most Capcom games. Blizzard Buffalo’s stage is haunting, and players will never know if an enemy will jump out of thin air and attack them. The Zero Theme in this game is the best of the entire series, yes including its modern iterations. The Sigma stages launch an unprecedented assault of scary sound effects to prepare players for combat.
Mega Man X3 is a game that stands out from the rest due to its unique feature of utilizing a specialized chip called Cx4, which allowed for some 3D graphics in games. The game was one of only two titles on the Super Nintendo to incorporate this chip, with the other being Mega Man X2. The inclusion of this technology made Mega Man X3 a true rarity, and it boasted some of the best graphics ever seen on the SNES console.
Due to its unique features, Mega Man X3 has become quite rare and difficult to find. As a result, it has also become one of the more expensive Super Nintendo games on the market. Its rarity and high price tag have made it a highly sought-after title among collectors and retro gaming enthusiasts alike.
13. Wild Guns
Wild Guns is a classic shoot-’em-up game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that was released in the mid-90s. The game is set in the Wild West and follows the story of Annie, a young woman who hires Clint, a local hotshot, to help her avenge the murder of her family by the ruthless Kid family. The game features the expected Western fare of enemies, including dudes, dudes on horseback, and dudes with dynamite. However, it also includes sci-fi elements such as giant mechas, armored gun turrets, and tanks, which add a unique twist to the storyline.
The graphics in Wild Guns are impressive, with well-designed characters and environments that are beautifully animated. The characters, particularly Clint and Annie, are well-detailed and look cool, making them both equally appealing to play as. The game also features destructible backgrounds, which add an element of fun to the gameplay. However, it could benefit from more special effects.
The gameplay in Wild Guns is standard for the genre, requiring players to move a cursor to shoot enemies while simultaneously moving their character around the bottom of the screen to avoid incoming bullets. The game is fast-paced and provides a smooth experience with no slowdown to interfere with the action. Overall, the gameplay is enjoyable, and there is little to complain about.
The sounds in Wild Guns are what you would expect from a game of its era, with gun noises and loud booms. However, the music is exceptional, combining elements of MegaMan X with the Wild West to create fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping tunes. Some of the music even features a cool “wild west” whistling noise. The game also includes a sound test, which is a great feature for players who enjoy the music.
The multiplayer mode in Wild Guns is enjoyable, although the stages are significantly easier with two players. As a result, players may have trouble finding others to play with beyond a few sessions. Nonetheless, the multiplayer mode is a great addition to the game and can provide players with a fun experience.
Due to its rarity and high quality, the value of the game has been climbing steadily, especially for complete copies. Although it was once an affordable gem, its value has essentially doubled in the past decade and has remained strong over the past years, especially during the COVID retro boom.
14. EVO – the Search for Eden
EVO – The Search for Eden is an innovative game that combines the platform and RPG genres in a peculiar fusion, with a unique concept that sets it apart from other games. Developed by Enix, the game’s point is to evolve a creature until it is strong enough to defeat various monsters. The game offers a vast range of creatures to choose from, starting from a fish, evolving into an amphibian, then a reptile, a lower mammal, and finally into a human, giving you total control of the parts to evolve.
The graphics of the game are designed to showcase the effects of evolution. Each time a new part of the body grows, the graphics change to display it. Although the other creatures are not as detailed, the graphics are cute and pleasing. However, the sound effects are disappointingly simplistic and poorly executed, except for the trumpeting of mammoths. The music, on the other hand, is excellent, with the background songs neither too loud nor too quiet and generally well suited to the level. The game is original in combining two different genres and presenting the protagonist as an evolving creature rather than a sword-wielding hero.
The game’s play control is somewhat finicky, with hit detection being difficult, and turning around requires too much space. When the protagonist gets hit, it stuns for a moment, allowing enemies to walk into and do more damage. The bosses in the game can be challenging until their patterns are figured out, after which it becomes a matter of patience to strike at the right moment. The game is relatively easy, except for some bosses, and replay value is not high as there is a ‘best’ form for almost every boss, although it can be interesting to try different tactics.
A factor that contributes to the collectibility of EVO is its relative rarity. While it was not a particularly limited release, it was not a particularly popular or well-known game at the time, and as a result, fewer copies were produced and sold. This has led to a situation where the game is relatively hard to find, particularly in its original boxed form.