Being a man of his word, Adrian has added to his list of rarest Mega Drive games, rarest NES games and rarest SNES games to bring you the lowdown on the rarest Master System games outside of the Tectoy universe.
So what are the rarest Master System games out there?
The console isn’t blessed with custom carts from championships, or Blockbuster Video exclusives or any particular special release, so we had to dig a little deeper. Late releases and a lot of re-releases make up most of this list. So get digging around in your loft if you owned a Master System in the 90s, it might be time to cash in. Let’s start with an arcade favourite…
10. Out Run (Blue Label)
In the early 90s (towards the end of the Master System’s life) a handful of popular games were relaunched with new covers and manuals. These blue label games are usually a lot rarer than their earlier releases and are now very collectable. Out Run was one of the lucky games to be revised with a new blue SEGA logo stamped on the cover – this is literally the only change! Out Run on the Master System is not at all hard to find, but tracking down the blue label version is a lot more difficult. The 1990 re-release is now worth a pretty penny or two!
Chances of finding a copy: I have Run Out of ideas to help you find a copy…
Cart Price: £20.00/$25.00 New/Boxed Price: £75.00/$100.00
9. Sonic Spinball
Everyone who owns a Master System (or any SEGA console for that matter) will own a plethora of Sonic the Hedgehog games. Therefore, you may be surprised to hear that a small handful of games starring everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog are actually worth a small fortune. Sonic Spinball on the Mega Drive is a good game that utilises the 16-bit power well and plays at a nice fast pace. Sonic Spinball on the Master System is overall a much worse experience with clunky gameplay and forgettable graphics.
However, the pinball-inspired game is much rarer on the Master System than its more powerful counterpart. The game was only released on the Master System in 1995, two years AFTER it was lunched onto the Mega Drive/Genesis.
Chances of finding a copy: You will really get your head in a spin trying to track this down!
Cart Price: £40.00/$50.00 New/Boxed Price: £85.00/$110.00
8. Golden Axe Warrior
Number 8 in our list of rarest Master System games is Golden Axe Warrior which is easily one of the best games on the console. This exclusive title made by SEGA mixes the world of Golden Axe with Zelda-inspired gameplay. Playing as a young warrior avenging your parents’ death, you must battle foes and finally face the notorious Death Adder.
Golden Axe Warrior is actually an unlockable game in the PS3 and Xbox 360 title Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. The pure quality and high rarity of the game has helped make it one of the most sought after games for any Master System collector.
Chances of finding a copy: You really will have an axe to grind when you are out looking for a copy!
Cart Price: £30.00/$38.00 New/Boxed Price: £100.00/$130.00
7. Home Alone
Good old Home Alone, the classic Christmas film that brings back so many fond memories! However, if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to play Home Alone on the Master System you may have just witnessed one of the worst games ever made.
This stinker of a game is actually one of the rarest on the system. This PAL-only game is very hard to find due to its very low print run and the fact that it gained such poor reviews when first launched.
Chances of finding a copy: More chance of finding Elvis alive! (Please forgive the rather obscure Home Alone conspiracy theory reference).
Cart Price: £30.00/$38.00 New/Boxed Price: £100.00/$130.00
6. Power Strike 2
Power Strike 2 (better known as Aleste in Japan) is a classic scrolling shoot-em up based in the 1930s and was made by Compile. The addictive shooter includes an ahead-of-it-time charged attack option. Just like Golden Axe Warrior, this title should be up there on anyone’s list of must have games!
The game was released quite late during the Master System’s life, again adding to its value. Power Strike 2 was exclusive to the Master System and is now very hard to find.
Chances of finding a copy: Aleste you can say you tried…
Cart Price: £50.00/$65.00 New/Boxed Price: £120.00/$155.00
5. Buggy Run
Another title released too late in the day (1993 to be exact) is well worthy of 5th place in our rarest Master System games list. This extremely fun and playable top-down racing game hardly saw any sales which is an absolute crime!
Buggy Run is a good old fashioned 8-bit racer and is highly recommended if you can grab a copy.
Chances of finding a copy: You really will feel bugged when you run out to grab a copy!
Cart Price: £60.00/$77.00 New/Boxed Price: £150.00/$195.00
4. Masters of Combat
Masters of Combat is a very good beat-em up that is arguably the best of its type on the Master System. This well-made brawler maximises the console’s power and provides a memorable and fun fighting experience.
The game takes place during a fighting tournament in Megalo City after a UFO crashes. Yup, you heard me right! Masters of Combat gives you four playable characters to choose from, including a masked fighter called Wingberger!
Due (again) to a low print run and being released very late on has helped make this game extremely valuable.
Chances of finding a copy: You will have to become a master of combatting charity shops and online auctions to find a copy!
Cart Price: £70.00/$95.00 New/Boxed Price: £175.00/$227.00
3. Les Schtroumpfs Autour Du Monde (aka The Smurfs Travel the World)
This mysterious game has baffled many game collectors as it only really ‘appeared’ in the early 2000’s. Les Schtroumpfs Autour Du Monde better known as Smurfs 2 was first ‘discovered’ by Mikko Heinonen, a Finnish tourist visiting Czech Republic. He went on to buy two copies of the game. After carrying out some online research he discovered no information was available about the game. One or two copies have since been sold on eBay for very high prices.
This game is regarded by many as the true holy grail of Master System collecting. People are still finding out more information about this extremely rare and cryptic game even today. If you ever see a copy make sure you treat yourself.
Chances of finding a copy: You will have to travel the world (we recommend starting in Europe) to find a copy!
Cart Price: £60.00/$77.00 New/Boxed Price: £300.00/$390.00
2. James Buster Douglas Knockout Boxing – US Version
The US version of James Buster Douglas Knockout Boxing is said to be the second rarest Master System game ever released. This boxing title was made by Taito and is a rehash of the earlier Rocky game but sporting better graphics and a choice of fighters.
The game features the short-lived heavyweight boxing champion of the world in 1990, James “Buster” Douglas. This very rare game is up there as being one of the most sought after games ever released for the Master System.
Chances of finding a copy: You would have more chance going the distance with Anthony Joshua than finding a copy!
Cart Price: £70.00/$100.00 New/Boxed Price: £385.00/$500.00
1. Sonic the Hedgehog – US Version
This is not a mistake! Sonic the Hedgehog is the rarest game on the Master System! But wait, before you all go running over to your game collection and see if you are sitting on a small fortune please continue reading!
Your copy of the classic platformer is most probably not worth all that much. To own the true holy grail of Master System collecting your copy must have a special barcode. Yep, a simple sticker on the back of your case is the only difference between the very common PAL version and the not so common US version.
The US version must have a barcode (usually starting with the numbers 1008) that shows you own an American copy of the game. The story goes that SEGA was reluctant to create new games for the Master System after they launched the Genesis to their US customers. To meet the declining demand for their old system they simply imported excess stock from Europe and would plaster on a simple US barcode over the original European barcode. A simple sticker can change the value of this game from a few pounds to almost a grand!
Finding a US copy of this game is extremely hard, but boy, if you ever see a copy of Sonic with an additional barcode on the case do yourself a favour and grab a copy!
Chances of finding a copy: I wouldn’t hedge(hog) your bets to find a copy
Cart Price: N/A New/Boxed Price: £755.00/$981.00