We’ve all heard those stories of people sorting through their junk and finding some innocuous-looking knick-knack, book or perhaps vinyl record that turns out to be worth a fortune. That last example, in particular, demonstrates how the concept of valuable rarities changes with the times. But could we now be at a stage when we can apply the principle to SEGA games?
The SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive was released more than 30 years ago. Sure, we all need to take a moment to get over the shock and realize just how old that makes us. But it also means there have been an insane number of games released over the years. With retro gaming becoming more popular than ever, demand outstrips supply on certain titles, and that drives up prices.
Do you have an untapped source of cash lying forgotten in your attic? If any of the following titles are up there in a box, it might just be worth dusting them off.
It’s one of the best-known games ever, and having been developed by a young Russian programmer during the Soviet era, it has an intriguing political history. Tetris has been released time and again on every platform available, and is as addictive today as it ever was. But here’s the important question: Do you have Tetris for SEGA Mega Drive in your collection?
The game was never formally released, but an initial production run took place before a rights dispute with Nintendo signaled an end to the project. Inevitably, those games ended up somewhere, and when one occasionally appears on the market, it creates a stir like nothing else. Around ten copies are known to be in existence, and they were selling for about $13,000 more than a decade ago. These days, you could expect a packaged copy to fetch twice that amount at auction.
Ecco the Dolphin – special box set
Before you start planning your Caribbean cruise, we are not talking about the regular Ecco game that was one of the biggest SEGA sellers. This one is a limited edition box set that was made and marketed in partnership with a major London aquarium. They had their very own dolphin by the name of Ecco, and profits went towards Ecco’s upkeep.
The thing about box sets is that they seldom stay complete. If you’ve treasured yours for all these years, it would certainly be worth a four-figure sum to a collector.
Here’s a rare curio that forms an interesting part of SEGA folklore. It is no big secret that the company has released a variety of gambling-themed games over the years. But Pachinko was the very first and signals the point at which SEGA’s involvement in gambling really began.
A pachinko game can best be described as the Japanese equivalent of a slot machine. SEGA sought to use this game’s long-standing popularity to really crack its home market. We all know how that panned out, and the fact that Pachinko had an inherent bug that broke the game certainly didn’t help.
In fact, Pachinko has the dubious honor of being the first game ever to be recalled by SEGA. The initial production run was short and for the Japanese market only. With the bug fixed, it was re-released to a wider audience as Pachinko II. As such, there are very few of the original game in circulation, and survivors typically change hands for up to JPY 200,000, which his around $1,800.
Blockbuster World Video Games II
Some of the more unusual ideas that SEGA came up with in the 1990s were genuinely ahead of their time. Unfortunately, while that gives them bragging rights today, it did nothing for their bottom line back then.
This one was a promo cartridge issued in a very limited run to Blockbuster video stores (remember them?). It was specifically created by the developers at Acclaim for a Blockbuster contest that would award prizes to the highest scorers in special versions of Judge Dredd or NBA Jam. It was social gaming before anyone had heard of the phrase, and it never really caught on.
Only around 60 cartridges were ever made and these were all sent out to Blockbuster stores with none sold on the retail market. The stores were instructed to destroy them when the promotion came to an end, so survivors are very few and far between. One will appear on an auction site from time to time, and the most recent was bid up above $10,000 – although whether the sale completed is another matter.
Our final entrant is another SEGA innovation that was ahead of its time. In the days before the Wii, there was a special edition of the Mega Drive called the Heartbeat Personal Trainer. This used motion sensors and was designed to make gaming healthier by incorporating physical activities into the experience.
It came bundled with a few different games, but it is the one concerning the adventures of an antipodean character called Joey that interests us. Theoretically, it should only be possible to get Outback Joey as part of the Heartbeat Personal Trainer bundle, which itself had a production run of just 1000. Inevitably, however, cartridges have become separated over the years, and they appear on the market from time to time. Even an unboxed cartridge is likely to be worth at least $700, while a complete original bundle could easily attract bids 10 times higher.