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Classic Nintendo Games That Aren't Worth As Much As You Thought

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When you think of retro games, it's easy to conceive of them as purely expensive cartridges that will cost you around $100 each. However, this is far from true. Even some of Nintendo's classic oldies are still quite affordable if you look in the right places.


Starting with the classic Nintendo Entertainment System, there are a whole host of classic titles that can be purchased reasonably, and Price Charting offers general estimates of how much you can expect to purchased used retro games for, both "loose" and boxed copies. For instance, Super Mario Bros. for the NES can be bought for a relatively low price on Amazon.

This is somewhat surprising, as a copy of Super Mario Bros. sold for $114,000 in July 2020, which set a new record. However, in addition to being in great condition, it also had a "cardboard hangtab" that was only manufactured for a brief period of time. Not every game has historically significant packaging, which explains why some fantastic games aren't as pricey as you might think.


The Legend of Zelda series in cartridge prices

The Legend of Zelda series, which is rife with entries, is almost on the level of the Super Mario series where classic title affordability is concerned. Per Price Charting, The Legend of Zelda has maintained a value of less than $50 for a loose copy — less than the price of a majority of modern releases. 


This may surprise Nintendo fans, especially given the fact that the NES' LoZ kicked off a long-running and beloved franchise. It is often considered one of the most important games of all-time, standing as one of the first significant titles of the adventure genre. However, it appears that this significance doesn't translate to pricing for a used copy of the game. 

Meanwhile, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, often called the best game of all-time (with an incredibly high score of 99 on Metacritic), has maintained a loose value range between $20 to $30 from 2011 to 2021. The Nintendo 64 classic is still well worth playing, even if the console ushering in 3D gaming isn't quite gamers' favorite Nintendo console.


Classic Kong titles on the (relative) cheap

Donkey Kong Country, while arguably not as remarkable or revolutionary as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zeldais still a beloved piece of Nintendo history and a nostalgic touchstone for many gamers. Yet, with a loose average value typically ranging from about $10 to $25, it is still far less than the average brand-new game, even with its retro status.


An interesting thing to note is that the game's sequels —  Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's QuestDonkey Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — hold a similar value when it comes to purchasing loose copies, even though the latest, Tropical Freeze, came out nearly 20 years after the original. 

At the end of the day, Donkey Kong Country was ultimately the title that kicked this whole series off, which is why, if you're an old school gamer, getting an original copy of the game may be a very worthy investment.

Kirby's most affordable outings

Many entries in the Kirby series are fairly affordable. While Kirby Super Star on SNES isn't quite as value-priced as the rest of the series, many other installments, like the NES' Kirby's Adventure, are quite affordable. According to Price Charting, the game's loose price ranges from about $20 to $30, while its "complete" price can go up to around $60 to $70.


Kirby may not be Nintendo's most valuable series, according to Nintendo Soup, which ranked Nintendo series by copies sold. There have been roughly 38 million copies sold across the series — far lower than the MarioPokemon, and Zelda series, which have sold hundreds of millions of copies each. Even so, it is still one of the company's original series and was created by Masahiro Sakurai, who later created the wildly popular Super Smash Bros. franchise.

Of course, a strong following doesn't guarantee a rising value over time, or even a maintained price point. A game's loose value isn't necessarily indicative of the legacy it holds.