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TheStreet Open House

10 Classic Video Games Still Raking In Cash

Stocks in this article: EASNEMSFTTTWOZNGAFB

3. Stadium Events
Format: Nintendo Entertainment System
Highest price ever paid: $14,890

Again, it's the little differences that make a big difference when game prices get up this high.

Bandai's Stadium Events was released in North America in 1987 and designed to go with Bandai's Family Fun Fitness mat peripheral for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo loved Bandai's idea so much that it bought the North American rights for the mat and renamed it the Power Pad.

The rebranding meant that all its Stadium Events games in North America with allusions to the Family Fun Fitness mat needed to get sent back and rereleased as Nintendo's World Class Track Meet. That didn't go as smoothly as Nintendo would have liked, and 200 copies of Stadium Events with the original branding made it to market. As many as 20 full, still-wrapped copies exist today, but buyer beware: European copies of the game are far less rare and look almost identical to the hard-to-find North American version.

2. Nintendo World Championships
Format: Nintendo Entertainment System
Highest price ever paid: $11,500 for the gray cartridge, $18,000 for the gold cartridge

How big a deal was Nintendo in 1990? Not only was it hosting its first video game competition ever, but it basically used a feature-length film called The Wizard as an infomercial for it a year earlier.

The artistic merit of Fred Savage, Christian Slater and future Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis shilling for a video game console is still debatable, but the value of the games left over from that first competition certainly isn't.

Nintendo loaded up 90 or so cartridges with playable snippets of Super Mario Brothers, Rad Racer and Tetris and gave players six minutes to rack up the highest score. After the competition ended, Nintendo fan magazine Nintendo Power gave away 26 gold-colored versions of the same cartridges as part of a promotion.

Nintendo gave away 90 gray versions of the cartridge, but collectors believe there may be more. The gold cartridges, however, dwindled from 26 to just the 13 known today. Were they thrown out by mean parents who just had to have that extra quarter-inch of space in their empty-nest attic? Were they abandoned in basements by uncaring kids who forgot all about them once puberty hit? Are they just being hoarded by that kid from grade school who never gave back any of the games you traded for, leaving you with oxidized versions of Duck Hunt and Bubble Bobble?

We don't know, but consider them 13 golden tickets every member of Gen X should search for when back at the folks' place this holiday season.

1. Nintendo Campus Challenge '91
Format: Nintendo Entertainment System
Highest price ever paid: $20,100

Before Sundays spent playing Madden in a suite's common room or reading days wasted picking off dorm mates in Goldeneye, there was Nintendo's Campus Challenge.

Back in 1991, Nintendo went to to college campuses across America with 30 special cartridges that gave players six minutes to rack up a high score on Super Mario 3, Pin-Bot and Dr. Mario. If students could fight through fatigue, hunger or ADD long enough to produce their school's best score, they moved on to a national competition.

Apparently, though, some notoriously sticky-fingered students came away with parting gifts. Nintendo supposedly destroyed all the competition's cartridges, but one was found at a garage sale in New York. It has been sold to several different collectors, with the highest recorded price being $20,100. If that cartridge survived, that means someone else's old roommate may have swiped one during a moment of clarity. Time to drop some queries to your old classmates on Facebook (FB). Don't accept "Dave's not here, man" as an answer.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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