Games on cartridge are aging and the popular ones are getting harder to find and are climbing in price. Little Samson for the Nintendo Entertainment System is hovering around a thousand dollars because it was one of the last games for the console and the publisher, Taito never released it on another console.
However there are several ways to play Little Samson without having to pay that much. Emulators, flash carts, and reproductions all allow someone to enjoy a game they might not play otherwise. The issue is that this is not technically legal. The good news is that companies are starting to recognize the demand for these legitimate copies and are starting to fill it. But there seems to be a different school of thought of how to fill it.
One route is the premium collector route:
What if I told you there was a way to get a brand new copy of Street Fighter 2, Mega Man 2, and Mega Man X? How much would you pay for a new copy that’s not technically original? $50? $75? How about $100? I am 8bit recently sold 5500 copies of Street Fighter 2 for the 30th anniversary. Each copy was $100 and also had a slim chance to get a glow in the dark cartridge. All others are red. The box was embossed and sturdy. A very premium collector’s item considering that a complete original copy of Street Fighter 2 goes for about $35. Surprisingly the copies sold out. You can see RGT 85’s unboxing here. It looks good but for me it was pretty pricey.
Now Iam8bit is now releasing limited collector editions of Mega Man 2 and Mega Man X. Same premium packaging as Street Fighter 2 along with a slight chance to get a glow in the dark cartridge. The difference this time around is that there will be 8500 copies instead of 5500. The long term collectability might be appealing, however their value doesn’t seem to be keeping. Copies of the red street fighter have consistently sold for at or around their original price while the glow in the dark one goes for significantly higher. If you’re a flipper, you might not want to bank on these being highly sought after.
The other route is the mass print compilation cart. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Retro Bit and the Data East compilations available for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Each cartridge offers a handful of games but the biggest draw is the Joe and Mac Ultimate Caveman Collection. It includes Joe & Mac, Joe & Mac 2 and Congo’s Caper. All Data East games involving cavemen and it’s only 34 dollars. If you were to buy loose original copies of these games, you would be spending $125.
Hopefully more officially sanctioned game reprints will come down the pipeline to make retro gaming more accessible. But won’t reprints ruin the price of the original? According to some quick research it doesn’t look like the price of the games being reprinted are going down. In fact, Joe and Mac 2 has jumped 20 dollars in the past 2 months while the other games being reprinted have remained roughly the same. Even counterfeit copies of games haven’t affected the price of their originals either so it makes sense that other copies that aren’t original printing (official or not) would affect pricing. Time will tell if this takes off or not. The companies printing these games haven’t attempted to tackle rare games since 1. Most rare games were rare because they weren’t good and 2. Some of those rare games are from dead publishers and so without official permission from the copyright holder, any reprints made will not be legal. So what's your take on it? Will you be buying a Mega Man cart? Would you buy a rarer game knowing that it was an authorized reprint?