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The Myth and Rarity Behind Blockbuster Exclusive Video Games

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The newer generation of gamers may not remember Blockbuster Video. However, for those of us of a certain age the rental behemoth is almost impossible to forget. There was a time about 20 years ago when Blockbuster was as ubiquitous as McDonalds.

It crushed the competition and became as synonymous with video rentals as Coca Cola was with soft drinks. Its footprint was all over the United States, and spread throughout the world.

Such were Blockbuster’s fever dreams of manifest destiny and global domination that they weren’t content to merely exist and expand—they had to also control. ThatBlockbuster Video, Exclusive Retro Video Gamesmeant offering exclusive titles in their inventory that competitors couldn’t get their hands on. This extended to their video game rentals as well. Their “Blockbuster Exclusive” titles were available only at their stores, and only to rent—not to buy.

Now, had these Blockbuster Exclusive games disappeared like the snows of yesteryear, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But they didn’t. In the retro game market these titles are highly valuable and much sought after. In this piece we examine why exactly that is.

Exclusive titles, rare gems

So why are these games rare in the first place? After all, there were countless Blockbuster stores all with sizeable gaming sections, right? Today’s auction sites and retro game sellers should be teeming with overstock of Blockbuster Exclusive titles, right?

Not so much.

There are many reasons these titles fall under the “rare” and “collectible” categories. Firstly, Blockbuster partnered almost exclusively with Nintendo (and a bit with Sega) to offer exclusive titles. And even within the wide world of Nintendo, these titles were only ever offered on the NES, SNES and N64 systems. Why? Because online rentals had all but killed Blockbuster off by the time the next-gen consoles came around in the 2000s.

A diamond in the rough

But even with the limited run of Blockbuster Exclusive titles, that doesn’t wholly explain why they’re so valuable. After all, how can a seemingly ordinary copy of the N64 “Clayfighter: Sculptor’s Cut,” go for over 1500 bucks on the open market? The answer: a complete Blockbuster Exclusive title is incredibly hard to come by.

Clayfighter Sculptors CutThink about it. As stated earlier, Blockbuster offered these titles exclusively for rent at first. They only sold used copies after they’d been rented hundreds of times, and by then most boxes were all but ruined and many instruction booklets had been lost. So to find a complete Blockbuster Exclusive title is like finding a needle in a haystack.

But even condition and completeness doesn’t explain it all. Take the game referenced above: “Clayfighter: Sculptor’s Cut.” These rarest of Blockbuster Exclusive titles have a common thread in that many were slight updates of existing games. Often they improved little on their predecessors, but many did include new characters/add-ons. This is the case with “Sculptor’s Cut.” Although that iteration wasn’t so different from the original “Clayfighter,” its updated character list ensured the game’s rarity (it’s estimated that there are fewer than 20,000 copies in existence).

The fog of authenticity

Even taking all of the above into account, there’s a further air of mystery surrounding Blockbuster Exclusive titles that adds to their desirability on the retro market. Namely, it’s really difficult to tell if a game is indeed a Blockbuster Exclusive title. No more Blockbuster Video stores means no more records of their exclusive titles, so discerning a BE game is mostly guesswork these days.

So, whether a title is or isn’t an authentic Blockbuster Exclusive lies in the general consensus of the gaming community. If retro gamers, sellers and enthusiasts all agree a title was indeed offered as an exclusive, well, that’s about the most proof you’re ever going to get.

The titles

Now that we’ve established the criteria for what makes a Blockbuster Exclusive title, let’s look at some other rare and wildly valuable games out there.

The Flinstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak (NES)—

Flintstones Rare NES Blockbuster ExclusiveFlintstones Rare Nintedo NES Blockbuster Exclusive

The Flintstones has achieved almost mythic status due to the ongoing debate whether it was indeed offered exclusively by Blockbuster Video. It’s more difficult to discern than other titles simply because of how old it is. “The Flinstones” came out in 1994 on the regular NES, which is a long time ago. So finding a bonafide official who can confirm its status is kinda like finding someone who’s seen the Ark of the Covenant. Regardless, the consensus is that it is indeed a Blockbuster Exclusive title, and it has been valued accordingly. A loose cartridge will fetch you about 600 bucks on the open market; a complete version will get you a staggering $2300.  This is the only rare blockbuster exclusive I own, the photos are from my game.  I did leave the blockbuster stickers on the back of the cartridge.

Donkey Kong Country Competition (SNES)—

donkey kong country competition edition, blockbuster

This version of Donkey Kong is doubly exclusive because it was originally designed for a Blockbuster Video gaming competition held back in 1994. The subsequent SNES release came exclusively via—surprise, surprise—Blockbuster Video. That’s why a complete version of the game will secure you just over $2,000.

Final Fight Guy (SNES)—

Final Fight Guy

This was another exclusive update of a popular arcade game. In this instance it’s a modification of the 1990 crowd-pleaser “Final Fight.” This version remedied some of the problems plaguing the initial console release of “Final Fight.” Namely it brought back certain levels, cooperative play and, of course, a popular character by the name of Guy.

Some other generally accepted Rare Blockbuster Exclusive titles include:

Their were many rare and exlcusive games

A few rare titles on the Super Nintendo Included: The Ren & Stimpy Show: Fire Dogs, Mr. Nutz, EeK The Cat & Hagane.  A few of these titles are easy to come by such as Ren & Stimpy, Mr. Nutz, but complete in the box copies will sell for a couple hundred easily.  (Yes I realize I did exclude a few odd titles here)

Hagane

Hagane: The Final Conflict (SNES)

The Nintendo 64 Blockbuster library has some interesting titles, such as Super Bowling, Stunt Racer and Clayfighter which are worth some coin. Then we have a couple more common games such as Transformers and Indiana Jones which are easy to find in the used market.

Stunt Racer N64 rare BlockBuster Exclusive Game

Stunt Racer (N64)

Sega had some Exclusive titles as well which include GameFactory, a Madden Championship Game and a Championship cartridge that has some fun titles on it.

Blockbuster World Championship II

Blockbuster World Championship II (Sega Genesis) - This is a pretty cool game label.

Amazing Tater for the (GameBoy) - Which is one of the rarest gameboy games.

amazing tater

Virtual Bowling (Virtual Boy) This is the rarist Virtual Boy game, but it is an import.

Virtual Bowling

If you where to check out the used market for the games listed above. Many are the most sought after titles for each respective library.  Unfortunatly nowadays many of the titles shown and mentioned above are notorious for counterfeits.  Please check out some of my other articles about how to spot and identify counterfeit games.  As always thanks for reading and don't forget to share this article on your favority social media spots!

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Monday, 10 December 2018