Any disappointed gamer who has plunked down $70 for a top-of-the-line console video game can tell you that price doesn't necessarily equal quality (that's right, I'm looking at you, Bionic Commando). You might be surprised to learn that this sad fact of life doesn't just apply to the modern gamer. Some throwback games can cost more than an actual arm and a leg on the medical black market and suck twice as hard as three Bionic Commandos.
By Danny Gallagher
10. Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the Atari 2600
The genesis of home video game consoles was a more innocent time when the most popular games didn't consist of throwing random strangers into a wood chipper for points and online bragging rights. In fact, those games were considered so taboo that they were shunned worse than an Amish boy in a "Party Naked" T-shirt.
Wizard Games tried to capitalize off of the insane indie success of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie by releasing this video game revision for the original Atari. The player took control of the evil Leatherface and the goal was to grind down as many innocent teenagers as you could into a blubbering pile of blood. It sounds fun...until you play the thing. The gameplay was abysmal and the limited graphics made Leatherface look like an armless Hare Krishna with a rotting cucumber sticking out of his abdomen.
Due to the game's low sales and limited release, the title became a rare find. Now copies of the original cartridge and booklet can go for as much as $500.
9. Bubble Bath Babes for the NES
Porn has a long and rich tradition of trying to squeeze itself into every facet of pop culture and video games are no exception. Don't believe me? Why do you think they call it a "joystick"?
The original NES had its share of risqué and ribald titles. This scintillating challenge put players in a Tetris ripoff that took place in an aroused woman's soapy shower. You could tell it was soapy because colored bubbles would rise from the suds like gentle flowers being carried away by the earth's windy embrace (and you could barely get a good look at the chick's fun bits).
A complete set of the game's original cartridge and case can go as high as $3,000, proving once again that guys will do just about anything to catch a glimpse of a beautiful woman's bare naked pixels.
8. Pepsi Invaders for the Atari 2600
Nothing in the video game world irks me more than needless in-game advertising. The only thing that irks me more (other than people who overuse the word "irk") are people who pay good money for something that's clearly created solely for advertising.
This very rare game took Space Invaders, one of the greatest video game concepts in history, and reduced it to nothing more than a playable billboard. Coca-Cola commissioned this game during the bloody conflict known as the "Cola Wars" in which players could show the Pepsi Corporation their allegiance to "The real thing" by blowing the holy living hell out of them and their stupid name.
The game was only made for the company's employees but a cartridge slipped out to the public. A buyer who found a copy at a flea market sold the ultra rare piece of advertising history for over $1,800. In a cruel twist of marketing fate, he was actually an "RC man."
7. Star Wars Ewok Adventure for the Atari 2600
The Ewoks were presumably George Lucas' attempt to make the Star Wars universe more appealing to girls, a feat that wouldn't be topped until the Harley Davidson Corporation released a line of motorbikes that featured banana seats and wicker baskets hanging from their trademark handlebars.
Naturally, a video game version that attempted to capitalize on these fuzzy muffins was sure to follow and Parker Brothers tried to cash in with this unreleased title in 1983. The game let players control an Ewok on a hang glider as he attempts to throw rocks on the Empire's evil weaponry. It took the least technological part of Star Wars and turned it into a game, which is like the Make-a-Wish Foundation letting a sick little New York Yankees fan make coffee runs for the team's management.
The game was never released but several underground prototypes surfaced, one of which was sold for over $1,600. An actual Ewok would cost less, depending on, of course, whether the buyer was planning on using him as an indentured servant or meat.
6. Action 52 for the NES and Sega Genesis
All this talk of low value in the expectation of high quality has me aching for something that screams "more is better." So a game that offers 52 titles for the price of one must be a better deal with a Cracker Jack box with a surprise toy wrapped in Haliburton stock certificates, right?
Oh, you couldn't be more wrong. As the title suggests, the cartridge offers players a whopping 52 titles of fun and every one of them suck. Most are just recycled concepts with different graphics and characters, and the very few that took different are more unplayable than a round of "Quadriplegic Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots."
If, however, you were suckered into buying one and couldn't sucker one of your savvier friends into taking it off of your tear-stained hands, a mint condition copy could net you a quick $500. Of course, you'll have to contact the original manufacturer to cover the rest of your emotional distress.
5. Caltron 6 in 1 for the NES
Here's another subpar title that attempts to give the viewer six times the value, but ends up giving them six times the headache from playing it.
This unlicensed title contained six games that were clones of far superior titles but with different characters. They included a cutesy Balloon Fight ripoff re-titled Adam and Eve, a bland sidescroller with an Arabian theme called Magic Carpet 1001, and a full-on Buster Bros. copy called Balloon Monster. So instead of ripping themselves off the way Action 52 did, they decided that other titles outside of their jurisdiction deserved to suffer just as much.
Despite the very low quality of the games it had to offer, an intact copy is available for just under $1,000. A shoulder to cry on for realizing you wasted three months of car payments for a low point in video game history not included.
4. Super 3D Noah's Ark for the SNES
The only thing worse than a game that attempts to rip off other games is one that completely rips off a great game...and only offers you that one game.
Wisdom Tree, a thankfully short-lived video game company that attempted to make Christian-themed video games for children of very uncool parents, actually made a first person shooter out of the story of Noah's Ark. They took the engine surrounding the classic Wolfenstein 3D and gave it a cutesy animal twist complete with a slingshot that shoots fruit instead of a high caliber mini-gun, and hungry animals instead of bloodthirsty Nazis. It's the digital equivalent of making Duke Nukem a Mary Kay rep.
A virgin copy of this ungodly game goes for $129. That may not sound like much, but when you realize that you're getting a crucified version of the holy son of first person shooters, it's a worse deal than the one Jesus got from Pontius Pilate.
3. Stadium Events for the NES
Full motion controllers might sound like a relatively new innovation for video games, but it's not. In fact, game companies have tried and failed to make non-button-based gaming part of their new innovations. The only thing the Power Glove did well was letting you use it for giving your TV the finger when it didn't work.
Running games became popular about midway through the NES' reign and an offshoot of the famed "Power Pad" featured this rare title that included 10 track and field competitions including running and hurdling. All of these became a bore when the "Family Fitness Pad" didn't work and the player realized he could do all of these events outside and get a less bulbous ass while doing them.
However, a copy of the game can net its fluffy owner anywhere from $3,000 to $40,000, all of which can be used to hire a trainer to do their exercises for them while they eat Cheetos and watch Let's Make a Deal in their bathrobe.
2. Spider Maze for the Atari 2600
Some games just plain suck. There is no rhyme or reason for their goal, their purpose, or even their very existence. They just suck and that's that (Pulitzer Prize, here I come!).
Spider Maze is one of these sucky games. It features a rather poorly stereotyped hero named "Spaghettio" (does he have a brother named "Beefaroni"?) who for some reason is battling a giant arachnid that shoots his evil spawn and diamonds at him to prevent him from reaching the top level. The obstacles flash and jump around the screen at light speed, making the gameplay just above "impossible."
And yet, a mint condition copy of this crappy cartridge challenge can net its owner an easy $1,000.
1. Air Raid for the Atari 2600
The rarity of a game may increase its value, but its quality doesn't age like fine wine. It fact, it ages about as well as a bottle of Thunderbird in the back seat of your college roommate's Chevy Nova.
This extremely rare game not only disappoints as a poorly executed Missile Command meets Space Invaders ripoff, but it comes with the most astronomical price tag for anything ever bought or sold since a lonely Trekker sold his firstborn son into slavery for one of William Shatner's used Kleenexes.
A man sold a mint condition copy of this very rare cartridge for more than $31,000. With that kind of money, you could buy every copy of the new Bionic Commando remake, burn them into a giant bonfire, and send the ashes into the sun's orbit in a rocket built by the Russian Space Agency.
Did I mention how much I hate the new Bionic Commando? I should bury mine in a time capsule and use the millions I net in the future from selling it to make sure all remaining copies stay buried.