Retro Games Collecting 101

Welcome to the world of Retro Games collecting!

Retro game collecting is a wonderful hobby that lets people relive their childhood playing the classic games that they grew up with. Retro game collecting also lets younger people experience all the fun and excitement of classic games. Today’s modern games are filled with vast 3D lands, voice acting, and full movie like capabilties. The classic games of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s obviously can’t compete with this new technology but they have their own charm and personality that makes them enjoyable. These games were built on exciting gameplay, difficult challenge, and all around fun.

The many types of retro game collectors

There are many different “type” of retro game collectors. The common types of collectors are the following:


  • Loose Game Collectors

    – Collectors who collect the game only.
    Loose games are the most common way to find a retro game for sale. They are much less expensive than finding a game in the original packaging.

    Loose Atari 2600 Haunted House
    Loose Atari 2600 Haunted House
    Loose NES Legend of Zelda
    Loose NES Legend of Zelda
    Loose Sega Genesis Road Rash 3
    Loose Sega Genesis Road Rash 3

  • CIB Games Collectors

    – CIB stands for “Complete in Box”. These are collectors of the game, box, and instruction manuals.

    Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Intellivision Complete in Box
    Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Intellivision Complete in Box

  • Sealed Games Collectors

    – Collectors of unopened games in their original shrink wrap. This is the most expensive type of retro game collecting.

    Sealed Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Treasue of Tarmin Intellivsion
    Sealed Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Treasue of Tarmin Intellivsion

  • Variant Game Collectors

    – Collectors of games that were released with notable differences. Some common game variants are differences of labels, artwork, or boxes.

    Duck Hunt Original Release & Rev-a Variant CIB front
    Duck Hunt Original Release & Rev-a Variant CIB front
    Duck Hunt Original Release & Rev-a Variant CIB back
    Duck Hunt Original Release & Rev-a Variant CIB back

  • Paper Collectors

    – Collectors of “paper products” including instruction manuals, posters, and advertisements that came packaged with games.

    Sega CD Instruction Manual Collection
    Sega CD Instruction Manual Collection

  • Homebrew Game Collectors

    – Collectors of homebrew games which are games that are created to run on the original hardware. These games are typically programmed by game fans but some are programmed by the original game creators. Some homebrew games are completely new games which others are “hacks” of original games. An example a popular homebrew game “hack” is Zelda Outlands for the NES. It plays like the original Legend of Zelda but it’s been reprogrammed so much that it’s a completely new game experience. One more type of homebrew game is games that were never released because they were never finished or because they weren’t available in certain countries.

    Cheetahmen 2 the lost levels front
    Cheetahmen 2 the lost levels front
    Cheetahmen 2 the lost levels back
    Cheetahmen 2 the lost levels back

Game Boxes

Nintendo NES, Super Nintendo, Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, Intellivision, Sega 32X and most later released Sega Genesis games were all sold in cardboard boxes. Most gamers back in the day, did not save these boxes. Little did they know these boxes would one day become collector’s items.  Due to the fact that most of the boxes were discarded these boxes today are very sought after.

Instruction manuals and inserts

Nearly all retro games were released with paper manuals explaining the game and other topics such as the controls, gameplay mechanics, items to be found, etc.

Since the instruction manuals are made of paper they are highly susceptible to damage or were commonly lost or thrown away.  Some games were packaged with bonus items such as “world maps”, players guides and advertising which is collectable today. These are all items that paper collectors are interested in.

Complete in Box (CIB) Games

“Complete in box” is the term used to describe a “complete game”. A “complete game” is the game itself, the instruction manual and the box that it came in. It’s often abbreviated as “CIB”. CIB games always commend a premium price over lose games or games that just include the box (also known as “boxed games”). In most cases the highest value comes from the box, then the game and then the manual. This is a general rule and their are some exceptions but this is usually the case.

Collecting box, instruction manuals, and inserts separately

Collecting the original boxes, instruction manuals and inserts can be a fun way to get yourself a complete game. For the game systems that came with cardboard boxes it can be difficult to find an original box due to them being thrown away or in very poor shape due to their age. Same goes for the instruction manuals and inserts (maps, guides, advertising, etc).

Where to find Games, Boxes, Instruction Manuals, and Inserts

Shopping at retail stores

You can find retro games at local video game stores but expect to pay a premium for them. Good places to look for retro games are Goodwill stores, Resale shops, pawn shops and antique shops. These places are generally cheaper than video game stores but it really depends on how much the seller knows about the particular games. Some will price their inventory off of internet prices so it pays to search around for the best deals.

Shopping Online

You can find these items on sites such as Ebay.com and GameGavel.com. You can also look on sites such as Craigslist.org for local items for sale from individuals. This is the usually the best place to find them. Internet prices are usually much more than individuals will charge off of Craigslist. Some Craigslist seller will sell for internet prices though so you need to do your homework and search for the best deals.

One site that has a lot of games, boxes, instruction manuals, and inserts is UncleTusk.com. UncleTusk also sells complete in box Homebrew games and they take custom orders if you want to make your own custom NES items. It’s definitely worth a look. I have a few of their boxes in my collection and I must say that the quality of UncleTusk’s boxes are top notch. They are printed on high quality stock and which is very durable. The boxes have a nice shine to them and they have the same embossed pleats in them like the original game boxes.

Here are some examples of UncleTusk’s boxes that I have:

CIB Stack Up and UncleTusk’s Stack Up Side by side:

CIB Stack Up - UncleTusk Stack Up Front
CIB Stack Up – UncleTusk Stack Up Front
CIB Stack Up - UncleTusk Stack Up Back
CIB Stack Up – UncleTusk Stack Up Back
UncleTusk Stack Up Front
UncleTusk Stack Up Front
CIB Stack Up - Uncle Tusk Side
CIB Stack Up – Uncle Tusk Side

UncleTusk’s SNES Power Fest ’94

PowerFest 94 Front Flat
PowerFest 94 Front Flat
PowerFest 94 Back Flat
PowerFest 94 Back Flat
PowerFest 94 Front
PowerFest 94 Front
PowerFest 94 Front Side
PowerFest 94 Front Side
PowerFest 94 Back
PowerFest 94 Back

PowerFest 94 Back Side
PowerFest 94 Back Side


UncleTusk’s Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World

Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Front Flat
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Front Flat
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Back Flat
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Back Flat
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Front
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Front
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Front Side
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Front Side
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Back
Super Mario All Stars & Super Mario World Back

UncleTusk’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Front Flat
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Front Flat
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Back Flat
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Back Flat
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Top
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Top
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Front Side
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Front Side
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Back
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Back
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Bottom
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragons of Flame Bottom

UncleTusk’s Cheetahmen 2 the Lost Levels box

UncleTusk's Cheetahmen 2 the lost levels
UncleTusk’s Cheetahmen 2 the lost levels

Where to look for retro gaming item’s values

I use sites like Ebay.com (look at the “completed” auctions and click on “sold auctions”) and videogames.pricecharting.com to figure out what retro games are currently selling for. These sites help a lot in determining how much your items are worth. Remember items are really only worth what people are willing to pay for them but using these sources will give you a good idea of what you have or what you are looking for.