10 of the Crappiest and Most Expensive Video Games Ever Made

By Brian Hanson in Daily Lists, Gaming, Video Games
Friday, April 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

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Video game collecting is a big deal these days. As the youth of the '80s and '90s approaches their 30s, many of us who grew up on the playground arguing between Sega and Nintendo are now grown-ass adults with jobs and expendable income. And so it goes that, much like the Gen-Xers who collected comic books and toys, we millenials are wasting our precious, hard-earned money by collecting ancient silicon chips ensconced in plastic cartridges. But video game collecting is an especially expensive hobby, and its popularity has skyrocketed the price of many games that were produced in very limited numbers.

However, a lot of those very expensive games are also complete shit! Here are 10 of the crappiest, most expensive video games of all time!



10) Cheetahmen II

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This putrid ripoff of Battletoads and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got its start as one of 52 games released on an Action 52 cartridge. Any of you old enough to have subscribed to GamePro or Electronic Gaming Monthly in the early '90s probably know what I'm talking about; a cartridge of 52 garbage games, completely unlicensed by Nintendo, that they sold through direct-order only for one-hundred dollars. The idea being, "WHY would you spend FIFTY DOLLARS for just ONE game?!? Wouldn't you rather spend ONE-HUNDRED DOLLARS and get FIFTY-TWO games?!! That's like getting FIFTY-ONE MORE GAMES for just double the price!!!"

Sure, the math checks out; because as we all know, the quantifiable "value" of a video game is strictly monetary, and has little or anything to do with objective "quality." Hence this entire list.

The Action 52 games were all terrible, buggy crap - one of them being the titular Cheetahmen, an unplayable side-scrolling action game starring MSPaint furry DeviantArt avatars with body dysmorphia. Because these Action 52 cartridges weren't licensed by Nintendo and never sold in stores, these days they are quite rare in and of themselves. This one sold for about 250 bucks about a month ago.

But the real money is on the unreleased Cheetahmen II: somewhat developed and never released, some 1,600 Cheetahmen II cartridges were found in an abandoned warehouse and sold away, piece by crappy piece. Copies of the game sold for a ludicrous amount of money - up to a cool grand or so - and so fascinated retro game collectors that in 2012 a Kickstarter campaign was started in order to produce a patched, "working" copy of the game. For whatever reason, most likely schadenfreude, the Kickstarter was a success.

Now, even the reprinted versions of the game still sell for about 400 bucks. Totally radical.

9) The Panesian Trilogy: Bubble Bath Babes, Peek-a-Boo Poker, and Hot Slots

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While we're on the subject of unlicensed Nintendo games, let's get into the seedy world of 8-bit porn!

These games are a weird lot. Originally developed in Taiwan at the behest of a Japanese software collective known as Hacker International, they were essentially the work of bored otaku who were messing around with developing unlicensed games for the Japanese Famicom, the tools of which were made available by the enterprising work of Hacker International. (All of this, of course, without Nintendo's consent; Nintendo took Hacker International to court, and they were forced to settle.) Then another company in Taiwan bought the rights to these 8-bit porno games, made them compatible with the American NES, and sold them via mail-order to those desperate enough to jerk it with the aid of blurry sprites that are supposed to look like boobs.

These games are exceptionally rare, especially in their original boxes; a loose copy of each game sets you back around 700 dollars, with a boxed copy costing you a cool grand. But be warned! There are a lot of "reproduction" carts floating around, which aren't the real deal; if you feel the compulsion to spend a ton of money on antiquated spank material, make sure to track down the legit copies, which came on garishly oversized black cartridges.

8) Super 3D Noah's Ark

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As the legend goes, or so it was printed in the book Masters of Doom, John Carmack was incensed with Nintendo. He was furious that the port of Wolfenstein 3D to the Super Nintendo was a heavily censored mess; violent German shepherds were turned into mutated rats, every swastika became an ominous plus-sign, and, of course, there was zero Hitler. In revenge, Carmack gave the engine to his prized first-person shooter to Wisdom Tree, the software house that incensed Nintendo's stringent policy of producing officially-licensed games by producing their own cartridges that worked around the Super Nintendo's "Lockout chip."

The truth of it is, Wisdom Tree actually just bought the software engine from id Software themselves, and Super 3D Noah's Ark is not an ironically religious game to come forth from corporate spite. Nope! It's just a crappy clone of Wolfenstein 3D where you play Noah and shoot animals with slingshots. To put them to "sleep." Oh, and ostriches can open doors, and appear to shoot little pellets at you.

Much like the other unlicensed games, this one used to sell for several hundred dollars - until, out of the damn blue, Wisdom Tree announced last January that you could, via email, order a reprinted copy! Hooray!

Perhaps it was a strange tie-in to Darren Aronofsky's Noah.

7) Vajra and Vajra 2 for LaserActive

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When it comes to obscure '90s videogame consoles, what sets the men apart from the boys is the Holy Grail of absurdly expensive and utterly useless multimedia systems; the Pioneer LaserActive.

The LaserActive was, essentially, just your garden-variety Laserdisc player, albeit one that cost 700 dollars. The difference being that you could then upgrade your LaserActive to purchase add-ons - called "PACs," perhaps in a sly reference to the cost of the system being similar to the amount of money being donated to political campaigns - that would allow you to play Sega Genesis and/or Turbografx-16 games. There were even a few games that worked in conjunction with the LaserActive *and* these console add-ons; the most sought-after one of these is Vajra and its sequel.

Now then: what the hell is Vajra? It's nothing more than a cardboard-thin on-rails shooter that uses the Laserdisc to superimpose incredibly crude, laughably-dated CGI backgrounds below a layer of crummy sprites rendered by the LaserActive's Turbografx-16 add-on. It is barely a game, only slightly more interactive than other Laserdisc games like Dragon's Lair. It is also, as befitting this list, bafflingly expensive.

Either of the games themselves cost well over 100 dollars. The sequel, Vajra 2, never officially made it out of Japan, so good luck finding a copy. The sequel also supported a 3D mode, utilizing then-cutting-edge shutter-based 3D glasses.

Let's break this down by cost: Vajra and Vajra 2 both cost upwards of 100 to 200 dollars. Buying a working LaserActive system in 2014 costs a little over a grand. The Turbografx-16 "PAC" to make this game work is usually sold separately, at a cool cost of about 400 dollars or more. And, what the hell, let's go nuts and also throw the 3D glasses in there - I've never seen one pair for sale publicly, but I'm going to assume they sell for several hundred dollars or more.

Roughly estimating things, you'll be spending around $2,500, plus or minus your eternal soul for spending so much money on a pretty crummy on-rails shooter.

6) Radical Rex for Sega CD

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Remember the '90s? Remember Nicktoons and school and bicycles and crappy 2D platformers featuring characters with 'tude desperate to ride the coattails of Sonic the Hedgehog, except these characters have all the personality of a wet fart? That is Radical Rex.

Radical Rex wasn't exclusive to the Sega CD; in fact, if you're desperate to relive mind-numbing video gaming mediocrity, there are much cheaper versions available for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. But the Sega CD version is exceptionally rare. It uses the extra storage capacity of the CD-ROM format to provide players with CD-quality audio, which includes this wonderful rap song.

According to this highly informative rap, Rex is "so rad, so rad" and he "kicks derriere." This game will cost you over 100 dollars if it's in the original box.

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