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Buying Nintendo 8-Bit (NES) and 16-bit (SNES) games these days

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Many of you who sold your Nintendo stuff ten -- fifteen years ago, like me, may have had second thoughts later regretting about selling. When Playstation 1 and 3D hit the markets, it may have been seen as a decent option to sell for a growing teenager. Who would like to play Mega Man anymore at age of 13 when PS1 and 3d games are out? Guess again. They're still cool games.

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There are plenty of auction houses to buy the Nes and Snes games, and at 2012 most of them are still quite common to find. However the most highly rated and sought after games are now getting bit more rare, seeing that they were released +20 years ago. These games include Mega Man, Castlevania, Metroid, Donkey Kong Country, and Zelda franchises at least. In addition there are games which once were not so popular or highly rated but were pressed in lesser quantities. For example Little Samson, Dragon Warrior II-IV, Snow Brothers, Adventures of Lolo III. Games like Battletoads, Turtles, Contra and Double Dragon aren't yet so rare, but people have started to ask more of them.

I'm predicting that in addition to the most sought after games, the games that are semi-rare now will be hard to find after another five to ten years from now. Most of the game owners now are either first generation owners, who have kept the games for 20 years thus most likely never thought of giving up on them anyways, or they are 2nd owners of the games who bought them off from original owners in last ten years, thus being mostly collectors who don't want to give the games up either, at least on low price. What I mean is most cartridges have ended up from first owners to the collectors, or resellers already, of which both want to make big profits if selling.

It may well be the last 5-10 years of time to buy good Nes and Snes games before prices get insanse. And one thing actually that is already showing signs of getting rare is the games with Manuals and decent quality Box along cartridge. These items get easily lost or destroyed by those who don't collect. So CIB (cartridge, instructions, box) packages are already disappearing a bit, which raises their value high in close future and increases gap between "Loose" and CIB! Some of the international auction houses you can buy the games securely at include big names like Ebay or

Value is Going Up:

Average used game prices of Nes and Snes are closing in their original worth as new when you bought them, especially if you have at least the "box" with cover art laying around somewhere along the cartridge, preferably with manuals also. When I was selling, I was glad to get around five to ten euros per game with most going with manuals and box included. Oh man oh man. It was late nineties I think.

The market values between middle Europe and America seem quite similar, US markets perhaps being bit cheaper for a fast first look. In Finland auction prices seem to be pretty high from 20 to 30 euros (~$25-40) for a NES or SNES game with cartridge only for standard non-crappy game. However if it's a great game and has box and manuals with it, then it's usually somewhere in between 50-80 euros. While some boxed classic games like Zelda and Metroid may be even much more. In middle Europe and America prices are bit less though, especially on American NTSC versions. You may even get something for $10 when lucky, if it's not so highly rated game.

Both Nes and Snes consoles seem to sell around 50-200 euros in Finland (~$75-$250) with no games to less than ten games coming along (with the most non-boxed). These are just fast observations for browsing the games time to time. Ebay and Amazon are bit cheaper than what Scandinavian auction houses seem to be out where I live (selling cartridges starting from $5 up, especially US versions), but if you own a game with box and manuals it may be worth quite nice sum! Don't even dream catching Zelda or Mega Man with $5. The value of your game or the one you're bidding relies heavily on it's quality, rarity and bit on the region code -- not forgetting if it has box and manuals, which may rise the value even 3-4x.

In fact, at the best case you may get hands on games over $100 value and there's quite plenty of those if they are "boxed". Of course these are pretty "loose statements", but the markets also seem to fluctuate quite much depending of your luck, condition and region. I'd also recommend trying to acquire boxed versions of game if you think about the value at all, plus those cover arts are very cool indeed.

Zelda etc. on

Also it seems generally that PAL versions sell higher price (whatever the reason) than US or Famicom, which is bad for the people who desire bidding on PAL. What you want to do is little comparison and hunt for a good deal instead of rip-off. You can check a few price guides, of which first one is bit dated NES price and rarity guide from 2003 (edit: newer rarity guide from 2007 can be found here!), but has also rarity value added. Remember the prices have gone up from this period. The second guide compares Ebay prices of NTSC (US only!) versions on both NES and SNES cartridges. It has Loose, CIB and NIB value included. Happy hunting and feel free to give input and experiences about what you have paid for used Nintendo games!

General tips:
When buying a game it often has description of whether it consists box and manual along the cardridge:
  • Loose (or "L") means it has only cartridge
  • CIB has everything (C = cartridge, I = instructions, B = box)
  • CB has no manual but has the rest
  • "Boxed" means it has box, but you better ask whether it has manuals from the seller
  • NIB means "New In Box" and obviously has everything included. Prices are usually more than triple from CIB.
  • Remember confirming the area code and game language

NES and SNES Regions:

When buying a game you have a few options. Either be sure that the region code of your Nes or Snes game matches the one that your console can run, or bring your console to someone who can actually mod it and unlock the area codes. While Nes is relatively easy to mod (check a guide here, thanks "bray8916" -- try only at your own responsibility!!), Snes might not be since the cartridges are different form. However restrictions between Snes regions are not so big, because there are less area codes that are incompatible with each other. I believe that there are only three things with Snes: European cartridge, American cartridge and Japanese cartridge, leaving compatibility issues only between these three areas. See tables and pictures below to know basics about identifying different cartridge types and area codes. Remember that languages may vary depending of the version, and it's not english in all cases, so be sure to confirm from your seller that you get the game with the right language!

NES Area codes:

Code Region TV-type Countries
NES-xxx-EEC Europe(PAL-B) PAL Early European releases
NES-xxx-SCN Europe(PAL-B) PAL Scandinavia
NES-xxx-GPS Europe(PAL-B) PAL ?
NES-xxx-SWE Europe(PAL-B) PAL Sweden (also language)
NES-xxx-NOE Europe(PAL-B) PAL Germany, and other euro countries (NOE = Nintendo of Europe)
NES-xxx-FRA Europe(PAL-B) Secam France/Belgia/Holland
NES-xxx-FRG Europe(PAL-B) PAL Early Germany/Austria
NES-xxx-SPA Europe(PAL-B) PAL Spain
NES-xxx-UKV Europe(PAL-A) PAL English releases after Mattel
NES-xxx-GBR Europe(PAL-A) PAL English Mattel releases
NES-xxx-AUS Australia (PAL-?) PAL Australia
NES-xxx-USA North-America NTSC USA
NES-xxx-CAN North-America NTSC Canada
NES-xxx-HKV Asia (?) PAL Honk Kong
HVC-xxx Asia (Famicom) ? Japanese releases

Notes: PAL-A games don't work in PAL-B region consoles and vice versa! NTSC doesn't go with PAL-A or -B consoles either, unless you have modified Nes. Japanese version is known as Family Computer or FamiCom (FC), which has area code of HVC in the beginning. It's unknown to me whether Famicom games work in other region consoles, however the language would be japanese even if they did. If the game has no region code, it's most likely pirate version.

Typical Nes console. Both European and American consoles look like this, but are not compatible with each other. Check the sticker at the bottom to find out where it has been produced more accurately. Nes has common problem with the springs that hold cartridge down loosing up. If you're unlucky buying very used Nes, you can still most often fix this by fitting a piece of something solid between above cartridge and upper edge of the slot you put cartridge into, every time you put the game in. This will press cartridge down lower than where it would stay with overly loose springs, and it should take contact normally again. I use this method myself, its no biggie. Try to get a console with few good games and good condition, I'd pay around $100-150 for a decently good package.

American Nes cartridge, looks exactly the same as European. The area code is different though, US and PAL are not compatible each other and vice versa. Even PAL-A and PAL-B are not compatible. Try to get averagely or less respected games without box ("Loose") for $5-20, and boxed ones (CIB) i'd say less than $50. If you're set for games like Zelda, Mega Man, Castlevania and Metroid -- prepare to pay at least double or triple. Some of these games may go high prices over $200-300 dollars when in mint condition.

Japanese version of NES (FamiCom) looks like this. Not compatible with European and US.

Japanese NES (FamiCom) cartridge of Zelda

SNES area codes:

Code Region TV-type Countries
SNSP-xx-SCN Europe PAL Scandinavia
SNSP-xx-EUR Europe PAL whole Europe
SNSP-xx-GPS Europe PAL ?
SNSP-xx-UKV Europe PAL England
SNSP-xx-NOE Europe PAL Germany and England (NOE = Nintendo of Europe)
SNSP-xx-ESP Europe PAL Spain
SNSP-xx-FAH Europe Secam France and Holland
SNSP-xx-AUS Australia PAL Australia
SNS-xx-USA North-America NTSC USA
SNS-xx-CAN North-America NTSC Canada
SHVC-xx Asia NTSC Japan (if last part is missing, it's most likely JPN version)
SHVC-xxxx-JPN Asia NTSC Japan
M/ - - M/ at the beginning of the code tells that cartridge is produced in Mexico
DIS (Display) - - DIS = only for display usage

Notes: European Snes cartridge is immediately recognizable for it's SNSP letters in the region code. Japanese region codes have SHVC (Super Home Video Computer) and American have (SNS). Most if not all European releases should be compatible with any European console versions. They are not compatible with American though, nor Japanese and vice versa. EU consoles can only work with matching region cartridges, US with their own releases and JAP with their own.

Typical PAL-area Snes (European region). Not compatible with American NTSC version, not sure of Japanese but I doubt it. Considering the prices they are quite close to the above mentioned Nes prices. Maybe slightly above. $100-200 would be allright to pay for decently good console package with some good games.

Typical PAL version Snes cartridge (Europe) Prices perhaps averagely bit more than on Nes games. I'm pretty sure above CIB version wouldn't go under $75 anywhere?

American Snes (NTSC). Not compatible with PAL of Famicom.

American Snes cartridge. Notice that it's shape is different than PAL's.

Japanese version of Super Nintendo, called Super Family Computer, again totally different from the other.

Japanese Snes cartridge of Chrono Trigger which is one of the most valuable Nintendo games out there. Looks the same than PAL, someone let me know if any of these are compatible between JAP and EU? Language will be japanese.


  1. Wow! Its looking like you have amazing suggestions. Super Nintendo is superb console and it might has some outstanding games. Thanks for shared this amazing information about it.

  2. The 1st collage is awesome.
    Did you do it?
    If you still have the editable file would be better to save it as a PNG24 image file.

    Nice article.
    There's a way to hack the Snes to run Snes Famicon games. Check Youtube.


    PD. OMG, you wont believe the chaptcha: "SNESodp"


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thanks. I cannot take credit of the collage, but it's cool. I used to own many of those games, but the collage seems to have quite some rarities along more common games that I didn't own. Had 50+ Nes games once, but I cannot remember the exact amount anymore.. :)

    True that PNG format is sharper quality than JPG.

    I did not know you could mod Pal Snes (for JPN releases), but it's good to know. What I've understood is that there is also sort of "converter piece" / "emulator" (can't get the better word for my mind right now lol) for Pal-to-Us conversion for Snes also, but I have no clue how this item works. What does SNESodp stand for?

  5. "but I have no clue how this item works."

    was ment to stand as:

    "but I have no clue how WELL this item works."

  6. Hey man, great post !
    I am trying to sell my old Super Nintendo games myself. My mother bought them from Italy 20 years ago. Here the game titles :

    1. Mega man
    2. The Magical Quest
    3. Battletoads & Double Dragon
    4. Congo's Capers
    5. NBA
    6. Goof Troop
    7. Donkey Kong : Country
    8. Nigel Mansell
    9. Super Mario All Star

    I want to get the maximum value, but i dont know if ebay is the best place... Can you give me a tip ? (skype : faceofdead)

  7. Some nice games over there antani. It's hard to say, I don't know all online auctions too well outside where I live.

    I would probably try something else than Ebay at first, because if I think about it, Ebay has very much competition and people can easily find out the best prices over there - therefore I'd believe you'd get the best price over somewhere else.

    Like perhaps, auction house located in your country or even local "buy/sell" pages of some company or web host (I don't know where you live at, but I suppose you know better your local buy-sell pages than me).

    You could perhaps see and use Ebay as finding out what the SNES and those games are worth of, and then try adding slightly higher price and sell somewhere else.

    Try compare prices that those items sell (Amazon, Ebay etc.) - and sell within your country (at least try at first), starting with bit higher price and dropping it a bit if none wants to pay that much. It's trial and error.

    Also remember that the games with original box and manuals are quite a bit more worthy than those with cartridge only.

  8. Oh yea if You have the time and patience, you may also want to sell each game and console seperately - at least if you end up at selling Ebay or Amazon, where there are so many buyers that there's actually chance that you get each item sold.

    See if the prices in console packages are worse than selling seperately. I would bet that selling games seperately gives you more money, but I can't promise it. Problem might be that the worst games are hard to sell if they are not included within one same big lot you sell at once, but then again you might get better price.

    Do you have PAL or NTSC (US) console?

    See for example Battletoads & Double Dragon cartridge only at Ebay:

    It's around $20. If you had it with manuals and box, I'd try to sell it perhaps at $50 or even more, and drop to $40 if necessary. At the moment it seems that none actually has boxed version, so that would be advantage for you, and some collector could well pay you bit "overprice" for having only boxed game on sale currently.

  9. Actually to think about it, i'd ask boxed DD&Btoads maybe $70-80 even if it was good shape and was only boxed out there currently. $30 from cartridge (NTSC). And drop slightly if none buys.

    I know that in Finnish auction house you could even get $90-100 from PAL version of that game, but prices here are high compared to Ebay and Amazon, which makes comparison bit of a pain in the ass.

    Sorry for a bit lackluster tips. :) Hard to know exactly best NES and SNES prices.

    1. That Finnish PAL for 90-100 was obviously boxed w manuals also.

  10. Well as i mentioned the console(Typical PAL-area Snes (European region)) and the games that go with it are 20 years old... I had a great time playing them in my childhood, especially the 2 player ones (spent countless hours with my grandma) - Battletoads and Goof Troop.
    Of coarse i don't have any boxes or manuals.
    All games have a rare GiGI sigh too and i think only 1 controller works.

  11. I'm trying to hunt down few games of NES and SNES with manuals and boxes. But they seem bit more rare and pricey when I find something. Most games are either cartridge only, or insanely priced if boxed around here.

    I also had the best time playing games in 2 player mode with either my friends or my brother. Double Dragon II, Turtles II Arcade Game, Probotector (aka Contra), Off Road, (Battletoads I didn't own, but my friend did, also great game).. those are perhaps my most played 2 player games, of course they are NES. But I also have SNES.

    From SNES I had less games, but for two player mode, Killer Instinct comes to mind!

    I wish you the best luck getting the games sold at proper price!

  12. Hi,

    Very good post Dungeoncrawler. You seem really cool.

    Umm, I had a question. I want to start collecting factory sealed unopened snes/n64 video games. I was wondering how player's choice works for SNES and N64? I understand it's not the original release (which is probably worth the most) but if you get a really good conditioned SNES/n64 game unopened is it still worth a lot (going to appreciate in value over time)? Or should I avoid player's choice at all costs?

    Thanks in advance.

  13. Hi.

    I don't really dare to say anything more to the price of "Player's Choice" either, because I don't want anyone to pay overprice because of my bad advice.

    Only thing I could say is, if you're trying to make most worthy collection out of it, then perhaps try to seek the original release. I really don't know how big the value gap is between player's choice and original though.

    The best thing is to compare those 2 option's prices at Ebay and Amazon for some time to find out, but problem is that even all sellers may not know the difference so well.

    But I feel your pain, since sealed NES and SNES games, perhaps even N64 are quite highly priced, you certainly don't want to pay overprice for something that has much less value than you thought.

    Sorry that I cannot help you out any better with this. Perhaps someone who knows even better reads this article and can comment on this :-)

  14. Oh yea, have to add the fact that Player's Choice releases are re-releases (such as best seller re-releases) and such, thus have lower original price which might affect it's collector's value. As does the fact that it's re-release. There's no much info that I found on internet about price difference other than browsing auction houses such as Amazon.

    And it seems to be general opinion in some forums that difference between Original vs. Player's Choice is "little bit", if the game is used. However when I read a bit I came in conclusion that difference would be greater when mint or sealed. But coming on good info about this is quite hard.

    There's Nintendoage forums which may come helpful, I didn't browse other than two threads from there, so I don't know there may be more. Check'em out! However there were no direct percentages or prices that would explain exact value difference..

  15. Anyone wondering Nes game prices should check my other posting:

    It shows top 50 ntsc Nes games in terms of value.

  16. hi guyz i opened a games xperience in holland where you can play all the old consoles!!!!
    or my facebook at
    Let me know if you like my idea!!

  17. There is a factual error in your text. Chrono Trigger was never released on SNES in Europe.

  18. Actually it's just badly written english in that sentence but thank you. What I was ment to say was that the Japanese cartridge in the pic looks the same than usual PAL release. Not that it was released as PAL.

    Shame that some of the greatest Snes games were never released as PAL releases.