The Unexpected Price Of Game Boy Games Today

Once upon a time, long before streaming services like Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video (by the way, are Amazon Prime perks worth the cost?) , consumers yearning to watch movies in the comfort of their homes had to choose between VHS tapes and Betamax ("Beta") format. Though Beta was considered superior by many experts — the tapes were smaller with better image quality — it had the dual drawbacks of shorter recording times and a lack of players being manufactured to support the format.

What does any of this ramble have to do with rare Game Boy cartridges? Well, the Game Boy was like the VHS tape in that it became the dominant gaming format even though it was technically not as sophisticated or small as some competitors like Sega's Game Gear. To be sure, a good chunk of that popularity was driven by a low purchase price and long battery life.

The original Game Boys were released in 1989 with an 8-bit microprocessor and a (kinda grainy) monochromatic screen. Nonetheless, the handheld console was a game-changer that forever altered the nature of long car trips for kids, who could now occupy themselves with titles like "Tetris" and "Super Mario Land" for hours. While Game Boy cartridges like those staples were uber-popular and consequently not worth that much today, other lesser-known Game Boy titles will positively floor you with their current value — like enough money to buy a decent used car.

Sports games are a perennial favorite

Sumo wrestling is a massive part of Japanese culture, where Nintendo's Game Boy was conceived. Naturally, a sumo-wrestling Game Boy game already existed for the Japanese domestic market, but in 1993, Nintendo released "Sumo Fighter" for North American gaming consumption. In the game, protagonist Bontaro Heiseiyama fights his way toward the city of Kyoto to rescue his love interest, Kayo. Today, this rare sumo-themed action game can fetch more than $3,400 in brand-new condition. Used examples with the original box still command a respectable price of nearly $1,500, while the loose cartridges will net their owners returns in the $200 range.

Sumo wrestling aside, you can't discuss video games without including a favorite genre for gamers too young to drive a real car: auto racing. In late-1992, Nintendo released "F1 Pole Position," which was a big deal at the time. That's because video-game licensing and branding deals with professional sports leagues were still in their infancy. But "F1 Pole Position" was able to pull a coup and featured real Formula 1 drivers, including famous names, such as Michael Andretti. Brand-new copies of the racing game are known to rev up sales today totaling more than $5,700. Probably more realistically, opened specimens with original box fetch around $2,500 while loose cartridges are valued at less than $200.

And while not strictly a sports game, 1992's "Toxic Crusaders" definitely featured some athleticism as the game's heroes, the crusaders, battle a four-armed alien baddie named, ahem, Dr. Killemoff. The origins of this game stem from a cartoon series, also called "Toxic Crusaders," which itself was based on a 1984 film called "Toxic Avenger." A sealed copy of this game will bring home around $4,000, while used examples with and without the box can fetch sellers ~$1,800 and $360, respectively.

Potato-themed Game Boy games are oddly valuable

Getting to the two most-valuable Game Boy games today, a unique distinction is shared between them: both have a potato theme. Wait what? The first was sort of a starchy take on "The Legend of Zelda" called "Spud's Adventure," which was released in 1991. In "Spud's Adventure," the titular character wanders about in search of a tomato princess to rescue from a succession of villainous vegetable antagonists.

As of this writing, there's a mint condition "Spud's Adventure" for sale on eBay for a staggering $24,999.99 (or best offer). While that lofty ask seems like a few fries short of a happy meal (check out valuable Happy Meal toys here), it's nonetheless a very valuable game. The site Price Charting assesses a value of $5,405 for a brand-new, unopened specimen, while a used version of "Spud's Adventure" with original box can score $2,350. Meanwhile, loose cartridges are valued at nearly $600.

Finally, there's "Amazing Tater," considered by many to be the rarest and most-valuable Nintendo Game Boy game of all time. It's a simplistic, but notoriously difficult puzzle game that focuses on a small round object that we're assuming is the potato. Released in 1991, English-language versions of this cartridge are about as rare as it gets. New-in-box games can garner five figures; over $11,000 to be exact. In open condition with the original box, expect to receive in the neighborhood of $2,350, while the cartridge only nets about $525.