Can you buy a NES Classic Mini cheaper than eBay prices?

Alex Kidman 15 November 2016

NES (1)

Can you buy a NES Classic Mini without resorting to eBay markup prices? We tried to find out.

Nintendo has the hot game item on its hands this festive season with the NES Classic Mini. Or to put it more accurately, it wishes it had it on its hands, with stock selling out literally faster than it can produce it, and EB Games’ website crashing two days in a row trying to keep up with demand.

That’s led to a lot of cranky customers (ourselves included) annoyed at dud shopping cart software, and more than a few NES Classic Mini consoles showing up on eBay at inflated prices. That kind of price-gouging always happens, though it still seems strange to us that people are asking for (and getting) over $100 for the second player controller alone!

So you’ve missed out on a direct console on sale or pre-order, what can you do to score the same experience?

You could head to eBay, where prices are ranging anywhere from $260 all the way up to $500, but there are other ways to legitimately get your hands on the authentic NES experience. We were curious to see if you could beat the eBay prices by going down either of these routes.

Option One: Nintendo Virtual Console

Nintendo sells a wide variety of NES games for the Wii U through its Virtual Console service. There are far more titles than the fixed 30 you get with the Classic Mini, and you can pick just the games you want to cut your total bill.

But at the $500 eBay asking price for a NES Classic Mini if you already have a Wii U? It's entirely feasible to buy every one of the games on offer for that. Based on the general flat rate price of $6.50 per title, it would cost you $195 to get the full 30 set of games. The way NES Classic Mini pricing is going, that could well be a low-cost alternative.

Some would argue (quite correctly) that no price is too high for the sheer majesty of Bubble Bobble.

Choice two: Actual NES

The NES Classic Mini is replicating the original NES console, and that’s a fine thing to do if you’re a retro games enthusiast. The option of opting for an actual NES itself is perhaps one that’s better suited to the retro die-hards. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, we say there’s nothing quite like the real thing. You won’t get save states, or for that matter HDMI output as native, but equally you’ll get an absolutely authentic experience, right down to that annoying grey flashing screen at times.

But what would it cost you? For that we’ve got to turn to eBay to check prices.

NESCarts_450

There’s an issue here we’ve got to cover upfront. If you’re dead keen on retro gaming, you’re probably aware that there’s a significant price premium put on packaging and other intangibles that make up a games console, whereas loose carts and systems are typically much cheaper. We figure that you’re looking for a bargain, so we’ve concentrated where available on loose systems and games, as distinct from mint-in-box game prices, some of which would put the NES Classic Mini to shame.

All prices listed here are averages based on completed auctions for the lowest cost versions of each title listed; it’s perfectly feasible to pay quite a bit more for boxed mint copies of these games when they’re available. Bearing in mind that they’re getting on for three decades old now, so some are hard to get hold of.

Here’s what you’d pay based on eBay average completed auction prices for everything in the NES Classic Mini:

eBay Nintendo PricesAverage selling price
NES Console, unboxed$150
Balloon Fight$20
BUBBLE BOBBLE$30
Castlevania$50
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest$10
Donkey Kong$30
Donkey Kong Jr.$30
DOUBLE DRAGON II: THE REVENGE$25
Dr. Mario$16
Excitebike$14
FINAL FANTASY$40
Galaga$50
GHOSTS‘N GOBLINS$40
GRADIUS$25
Ice Climber$24
Kid Icarus$45
Kirby’s Adventure$40
Mario Bros.$25
MEGA MAN 2$41
Metroid$50
NINJA GAIDEN$20
PAC-MAN$20
Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream$27
StarTropics$15
SUPER C$25
Super Mario Bros.$25
Super Mario Bros. 2$25
Super Mario Bros. 3$30
Tecmo Bowl$15
The Legend of Zelda$35
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link$60
Total Price:$1,052

$1,052 is an awful lot to pay for those games, but clearly this is what the market will bear for the physical hardware. All told, bearing in mind the HDMI output and save states on the NES Classic Mini, even the eBay prices start to look reasonable.

That being said, Nintendo has stated that it will continue production of the Nintendo Classic Mini NES, so your other option might just have to be a little patience while you wait for stores to restock.

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