Collecting Cartridge Variants
As you start collecting, there is an endless amount of knowledge you can attain about games values and rarity. Like any specialty collecting, value can vary tremendously based on rarity and customer demand, making retro game collecting an interesting endeavor. For the hobbyist, values are important to know so you aren't forced to pay high prices for your favorite games. Here are some important things to know as you search for your childhood treasures. Now that retro games have transitioned into collectibles, these versions are often more rare to find and usually come with a higher price tag as well.
Not For Resale (NFR)
These variants were developed as demo games for retail stores to sample for customers. You remember walking around the mall and seeing a Nintendo or Sega kiosk set up at the game store, with the newest hot game available to play? As popularity for gaming grew, stores started getting special cartridges intended only for demo. These cartridges were labeled "not for resale" so customers weren't scammed into purchasing stolen demo games. As these games have become collectibles over time, they generally are rarer and cost more to buy. However don't be fooled by Sonic, his NFR is dirt cheap due to mass production.
It's not uncommon to find game cartridges of various colors across NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and N64 platforms. As disc play thrived with Sony PlayStation, we started seeing all kinds of new colors available from Nintendo for 64 to add some new excitement to the line of games from Nintendo. Standard issue grey made way to black, red, blue and yellow cartridges, making the shelfie photo pop even more! Many of these colors are common but some are rare and are much harder to find. One of the most notable cart variants is Zelda Ocarina of Time. This game was released in grey and gold, making the collectors quest even more dynamic. Collect one...or both?
One of the most rare collector's item to find is special release versions of games designed for competition. Donkey Kong Country Competition Cart and Star Fox Super Weekend Cart specialty carts were created in 1993 & 1994 for special events aimed at selling unique versions of the game and generating consumer interest. The most notable event is Blockbuster's World Video Game Championship II. After the event, the games were sold only through subscription service magazine order.
In both games, players had 5 minutes to collect as many points as possible before the game stopped or level ended. In a time before message boards, social media and Strava existed, results were recorded by hand and records were disseminated by word of mouth as ancient lore to gamers. Only 2500 copies of DK were made and 2000 of Star Fox. If you have one stored up in your parents' attic, you just found a treasure.
Good luck out there searching for hidden treasures and compiling your collection.