I wrote a bit ago about some arcade games that are still stuck in the arcade and never have seen a release on consoles. Then there was an article about games that never saw a re-release at all, and are stuck on their original consoles. No ports, no remakes; just the original release. Kind of two sides of the same coin.
Today, we’re looking at an entirely different coin. One that may be the only coin some of us will ever get. As older games get older, they tend to get more expensive in the resale market. Game that were once affordable on the Super Nintendo or Playstation steadily skyrocket in price decades later, leaving them virtually unplayable for the vast majority of gamers. Thankfully, a well timed re-release or port not only brought the price of admission simply to play the game down dramatically, in many cases it made the game far more accessible in general.
Here are a few personal picks of some stupidly expensive video games that (thankfully) saw a much more affordable re-release.
The House of the Dead
Original Release: Sega Saturn – ~$600
Re-Release: PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch – ~$40
Starting out strong with one of my biggest “Thank Yous” to the gaming gods. Sega’s on-rails arcade shooter The House of the Dead is iconic, but the original game was restricted to being released only on the Saturn and I think a PC version. Like many North American released Saturn games, the game saw a very limited print run, and it has only gotten more expensive as the years and decades went on. In 2022 The House of the Dead Remake released, and finally brought the original arcade game (albeit in a fully redone artistic style) to home consoles at an affordable price. For sheer difference in price alone, it’s worth it just to get this remake to play the game and pocket the $550 you’d save buying the Saturn version and straight up buy a new console to play said remake on. Insane.
RayStorm & RayCrisis
Original Release: Sony Playstation – ~$100-$150
Re-Release: PS4, Switch – $40
I’ll occasionally browse for new video games on sites like Target or Amazon. Sometimes that virtual window shopping makes me aware of upcoming releases I didn’t even know were happening. As is the case with RayStorm x RayCrisis HD Collection, which will see release in summer of 2023. The game brings together two of the original Playstations most highly regarded vertical shoot’em ups, RayStorm and RayCrisis. The games complete on the PS1 go for around $100 and $150 respectively, and they’re pretty damn hard to find anywhere in the wild. Shoot’em ups tend to be expensive in general due to the niche genre and fanbase, but wow that’s a lot of money for a couple of games you’ll likely be done playing in a few short hours. I’m for sure interested in this re-release, and would assume there’s even going to be a digital version to download as well, meaning even less of a financial investment.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
Original Release: Sony Playstation – ~$350
Re-Release: Playstation, Switch – $35
The Klonoa series of platformers was around for a few years, and then faded to obscurity with so many other games in the early to mid 2000s. Klonoa made a splash on the Playstation with its bright visuals and unique 2.5D presentation, and even saw a direct sequel on the Playstation 2 a few years later. However, as time went on, these games, with the PS1 original in particular, got way too expensive for an average gamer to justify a purchase. Despite being considered one of the better games on the system, there wasn’t even a port in North America at all, though a Wii remake did come out in 2009. 2022’s Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series brings together both of these games at a reachable price point, meaning generations of gamers can finally enjoy the series for the first time. Sadly, a North American physical release didn’t happen, but digital version and import copies will be your friend!
Live A Live
Original Release: Super Famicom – ~$100
Re-Release: Switch – $40
I hesitated to include this game on the list, as it technically didn’t see a North America release at all, but I’m including it because it did allow for tons of fans to finally play the game and not have to pirate it or buy the Japanese version (also it’s my list and I can do what I please). Live A Live is one of Square’s nearly forgotten SNES-era RPGs. Strong fan followings and English ROM hacks allowed the game to live it’s life decades after it’s non-release, but fans would finally get their proper playthrough in 2022. The Switch’s Live A Live not only brought the game its first official English translation, but it also completely redid the visuals and added new gameplay and quality of life improvements. This is one I’ve yet to play in any form, and I’m excited I at least have a reasonable, legal way to do so.
Original Release: Super Nintendo – ~$250
Re-Release: Playstation, DS, iOS, Windows – $15
The RPG classic Chrono Trigger could technically be on this list twice: Once for the SNES version and once for the Nintendo DS version. The first port came to the PS1, with the game being included on one of the discs with Final Fantasy Chronicles. That game costs about $40 today, and also includes a disc with the other excellent SNES RPG Final Fantasy IV. The Nintendo DS version of Chrono Trigger released in 2008, 7 years after that PS1 port, and nowadays costs about $100. Thankfully about 10 years after that game’s release a Steam PC port came, and is still around for just $15. Not bad for a game that’s nearly 30 years old, and certainly better than dropping $250 for an SNES cart that might be a knockoff.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Original Release: Sega Dreamcast – $200
Re-Release: PS2, Xbox, PS3 – $30*
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of, if not, the most popular fighting games out there. The game originally saw a release on the Sega Dreamcast, and that version now sells for over $200. A PS2-era re-release came out and sells for about half that nowadays, going for ~$100. There was also a digital version on PSN and Xbox Live, but as far as I know that version has been delisted and no longer available. We can also technically talk about the Arcade 1up version, but that’s a bit premium and I think costs even more than the Dreamcast original (and I hear it’s not even optimized that well). I’m honestly surprised that Capcom hasn’t re-released this one officially on current generation consoles. I wonder if licensing issues are holding them back. Whatever the reason, this one was once more affordable, but no longer is, but still kind of is? It’s complicated.
Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow Versions
Original Release: Game Boy – ~$250
Re-Release: 3DS Virtual Console – $10
If you act REALLY fast you might be able to jump on the only re-release of Nintendo’s iconic first Pokemon games. The original Pokemon Red, Blue & Yellow saw their only re-release in 20+ years of existence on the Nintendo 3DS back in 2016, and with the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS and Wii U ending (I think it might already be over, actually), there won’t be another way to buy these games. A complete, legitimate version of the original Game Boy games goes for well over $200, and I think that’s just absurd. I know the games are incredibly popular but damn! These might be arguably the worst version of these games out there, but nostalgia is real. It’s also worth nothing the game’s GBA remakes Fire Red and Leaf Green are ironically MORE expensive than the originals, selling for upward of ~$300. Insane…
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
Original Release: PC Engine – ~$175
Re-Release: PSP – $40
The Castlevania series has so many excellent entries, including the biggie Symphony of the Night on the PS1. A precursor to that, and one often associated with Alucard’s adventure was 1993’s Rondo of Blood, which saw a Japanese only release on the PC Engine. North America eventually got Castlevania: Dracula X about two years later, which was a remake of Rondo featuring new visuals and removed anime cutscenes. The SNES version of Dracula X is also pricey, costing around $350 for a loose copy of all things. Thankfully Konami helped us all out by releasing Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles on the PSP in 2007, which brought together enhanced remakes of Rondo and Symphony in one package. This excellent collection is still readily available, assuming you have a PSP, and easily the most convenient way to play Rondo and kind of Symphony, though that’s a lot more common to find online.
Mighty Final Fight
Original Release: NES – ~$450
Re-Release: Game Boy Advance – $40
A stretch that a lot of folks probably didn’t even know about is Capcom Classics Mini-Mix on the Game Boy Advance. This little cartridge that could brings together a trio of NES games from Capcom: Bionic Commando, Strider, and our highlight game Mighty Final Fight. The game itself is a spinoff comical version of the arcade beat’em up Final Fight, but with Chibi versions of the characters and a more humorous style. The original NES game released way later in the NES’s lifespan, coming out in 1993, literal years after the Super NES was on the market. The massive price difference is also assuming you’d want to loose copy of the NES original, as a complete in box copy could cost you above $1,000 easy. Yeah, stick with the GBA version. Save some money and enjoy a relatively obscure offshoot to a once-popular franchise.
Basically every Neo Geo Pocket Game
Original Release: Neo Geo/Neo Geo Pocket – $20-$400
Re-Release: Switch – $40
We’re ending this list on the most niche and obscure game (or games) I could imagine. The Neo Geo Pocket Color system released in 1999 and was a competitor to the Game Boy Color and later Game Boy Advance. Manufacturer SNK put a lot of effort into the machine, and it has a lot going for it, including a solid analog control stick and a decent sized color screen. However, it’s the game’s that really stand out, at least to me. A very strong collaboration with Capcom lead to several franchises of their’s being exclusively on the handheld, including Mega Man and Street Fighter. SNK’s own slate of games also made an appearance, with major highlights being exclusives like Gals Fighters and the SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters series. Each of these games complete could cost you several hundred dollars, with Gals Fighters alone being over $350 on average. With the Switch’s Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, you can get the vast majority of worthwhile games the entire console has to offer for just $80. An investment that would otherwise cost you upward of $2,000, console and all games, can now cost you less than $100. A deal for sure!