The Geekbox’s NES Collector List

Download the latest version (v1.1 — updated September 7, 2013)

This list is intended as a modern database, reference tool, and actionable checklist for collectors of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games. The Internet has no shortage of game rarity lists, but very few are super-relevant to today’s secondhand market. The list (organized into “Licensed” and “Unlicensed” sections) is a complete and accurate catalog of every cartridge that was released for the NES in the United States during the console’s lifespan (1985-1994, plus a couple more unlicensed games in the two years that followed).

It includes a very small selection of what I consider to be major release variants, though it DOESN’T include super-granular variants like three- and five-screw cartridges, or minor label differences (i.e. Bases Loaded with blue vs. orange Jaleco logo, or Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt with centered vs. bottom Nintendo logo). It DOES include games with multiple entirely different labels (i.e. Gun.Smoke). Given this criteria, I consider the official number of licensed and unlicensed NES cartridges to stand at 687 and 97, respectively. If you really want to chase multiple-screw cart variants and such, please refer to the reference links within my list.

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NOTE ON CARTRIDGE VALUES: Nintendo Entertainment System games are tricky to collect, as consumers will pay high prices for good-yet-common games (example: The Legend of Zelda — one of the most common NES games in existence — regularly fetches ~$15 on eBay). Conversely, some “rare” games sell for dirt-cheap, because they aren’t highly sought-after. I advise aspiring collectors to think less in terms of “rarity” and more in terms of “value.”

That said, the NES does have a handful of legitimately rare games (especially when you start considering unlicensed stuff — that’s where it gets weird, and if you’re going to start collecting, I advise saving those games for dead last, since they aren’t very good). The “NES Value Key” tab breaks down my guidelines for how I classify games, and I mainly use PriceCharting.com’s historical data to determine current cartridge values. My value estimations are the results of price analysis and selective gut checks; I largely base cartridge values on the past rolling year of data.

Please note that the list is meant to serve as an accessible, compact, and relatively abstracted reference point for NES collectors. If you need obsessively detailed information, you can find it in lots of places — my intention is to provide sound price-hunting guidelines based on quantifiable data, without requiring you to do a ton of independent research.

This is a living document, as cartridge values will absolutely change over time. I will endeavor to update it quarterly. You can save your own copy as a Google or Excel document from the File menu. Happy collecting!

-Ryan