NES Collecting

Ultimate NES Collecting Guide: Expert Tips for Building Your Retro Game Collection

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Let’s get that straight right off the bat about NES Collecting. It’s not that cheap anymore. Since 2010 there has been a Retro gaming boom in collecting and the pandemic didn’t help anything.

Given the right knowledge about collecting for the NES, you can probably save a few bucks here and there!

I’ve collected for the NES before as well as many other systems, and recently I’ve gotten back into it.

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NES Collecting Guide

My first suggestion is you need a console to play the games on. Some people like to collect for “investment” but that’s not always a good idea since prices fluctuate all the time.

Although games haven’t really dropped in price in a long time it’s still not ideal to collect to invest. There isn’t a huge market for retro collectors; it’s very small and niche compared to newer technology.

What options do you have?

You have a wide variety of options, it’s really all about what you want to experience. If you want the authentic experience in 2022 you really need to stick with the original front-loading “toaster” model which is the most familiar in the United States of America.

NES Collecting

Problems with the Original Nintendo Entertainment System

The NES today still has all the problems it had in the 80s, and the 90s. However, you can almost fix 90% of your problems by replacing one thing. All you are going to need is a Phillips head screwdriver and a new 72-pin connector.

NES Collecting

This may not fix all of the problems you might have (though it has fixed every one of the issues I’ve come across) but it will fix the majority. The blinking light and loose carts are the biggest problems and this fixes them.

After Market 72-Pin Connectors

Replacing things is a pain and it doesn’t always work, or as is the case with many of the 72-pin connectors, they don’t work exactly as the original did.

The majority of the replacements give somewhat of a death grip on the NES carts. I will say it is manageable, just a tad annoying that it takes a bit of a force to get your cart out.

So stick with the cheap 72-connectors unless you want to spend $30+ for a better fix which is also a great solution, the arcade works BLW (Blinking Light Win.)

Sadly, NES Collecting and repairing almost go hand in hand unless you want to pay someone to fix it.

Other Original NES Models

Want the rarest of the rare for your collection? Well, you are in luck! Turns out many people have discovered that Nintendo’s original NES changed top molds during later production.

I sadly have a rough top NES. This means that the sides are all smooth but the top is rough. Although they appear similar, the smooth top does shine up nicer and is rarer. These models have low serial numbers and the customer service sticker lists a phone number for “Inside Washington State”. Those are the only real differences between that model so look out for smooth tops!

There is another model known as the Top Loader. Released in 1993 as a cost-reduced version of the original NES.

You could also go with the Japanese Version of the NES called the Famicom.

The Top Loader

NES Collecting

These guys seem to be pretty rare. I’ve seen a real one once in my entire life if that says anything. Because it was released one year after the SNES they did not sell in large numbers so today they are somewhat uncommon.

No need to change a connector, all the carts should work flawlessly as long as the carts themselves are clean. The problem with the top loader for me is I don’t have any nostalgia for it whatsoever. Also without a MOD, you don’t get  A/V output but RF only (unless you have a Japanese top loader which has AV out). This is no easy mod either, not for beginners anyway.

The “Dog Bone” NES Controller is a great controller too. Stay on the lookout for these on your NES Collecting adventures.

NES Games on HDTV

People get confused and think that it’s not possible. It’s very playable on modern tvs.

HDTVs usually have converters in them allowing this to work now so no special equipment is needed.

The quality isn’t great but what do you expect when you are blowing up a very small image from 240p to 1080P or 4K.

As long as your TV has RCA or Componant hook-ups you should still be able to use your modern TV and your NES to play video games.

Problems with Modern TVs and Retro Games

You don’t get to play your cool Nintendo Zapper gun games such as duck hunt. Luckily I have in my garage a nice CRT TV where many of my retro consoles are already working.

There is also an issue with some input lag. So the best way to really play retro games and have everything working is to stick to CRT TVs.

Also, please don’t buy one from eBay that is listed as a “retro Gaming CRT“. Some of them truly are great for retro consoles, but most of them just want your money. You can easily find a CRT TV in Goodwill or Craigslist or something.

Most people give them away. I would pick up one soon as who knows how much longer they will last.

NES Collecting

Best quality on Modern TVs using a NES

There are options for you if you just want to play on an HDTV, but they are pretty expensive, and no matter what you do the zapper gun will not work.

You can buy a device called an upscaler which will allow you to input A/V and convert it to HDMI.

Cheap upscalers are pretty awful, and the input lag will probably drive you insane whenever you are trying to make difficult jumps on Mario or finish Mike Tyson.

The best cheap one is called KanexPro. I really wouldn’t trust it.

The best of the best upscalers is called the Framemeister, but it is not on the cheap end of things.

What if you don’t want to deal with upscaling or HDMI mods

You are in luck, because there are companies that have decided to create systems that have HDMI outputs and upscale all the games for you. They make it as easy as possible for you to play your games on Modern TVs without much hassle at all.

Retron 5

The latest from Hyperkin, the Retron 5 which lets you play 5 different systems on your HDMI TV, but it’s really just a glorified emulation machine.

nes hd gaming console

Retron 5 Console – Amazon Link | (

Personally, it’s one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen but it’s got a cool concept and it’s fairly cheaper than the rest of the solutions to play a bunch of systems and only requires one hook-up to the TV. So if you want the all-in-one system you might want to pick this up.


NES Collecting

This is personally my favorite option if you want to hook up to an HDMI TV. This looks legit like a newer version of the NES. It has the flap to stick your NES game in. It’s not super expensive if you are planning on wanting the best quality on a newer tv and you just want to play NES games.

It sits around $170 if you preorder. It’s real hardware, and there is no emulation which is awesome to me.

Pick up the RetroUSb AVS Here – (

The Analogue NT

NES Collecting

It has the top loader look, it uses real Famicom FPGA boards, this has all the bells and whistles. It also is extremely expensive. It’s so expensive in fact they made it more expensive if you have the money to lay down on a gold version for $4,999.

If you wanted to get into Famicom (Japanese NES) this plays it also. I don’t really recommend this, I’d rather spend my money on games. I like the look of the AVS way better too.

If you want a wireless NES Controller you have a few options.

You can buy an 8 Bitdo Wireless controller but you will also have to buy the wireless NES adapter.

I believe they are made for the NES Classic or Mini but it should still work with the adapter.

Collecting NES Games

NES Collecting

This is where your true NES collecting adventure begins.  But first you will need weapons and by weapons, I mean Nintendo Security Bits.

Picking up these will allow you to take cartridges apart, not only allowing you to clean them easily but also to check and make sure something fishy isn’t going on. There are lots of repros out in the world and tons of horrible fakes. Some NES games also used coin cell batteries to save games. Being able to open the carts allows you to inspect for leaking batteries and to change dead ones. So grab your trusty Nintendo Bit and set off for an adventure.

NES Games on Ebay

This is always a safe place to find the game you really want. Most prices are fair but it will be at the eBay price.  Speaking of eBay prices you can always check out to see what the prices are going for which I highly recommend.

You might get lucky and find a nice deal on eBay. If you do you can almost guarantee it won’t be around long. Expect to pay close to the top dollar on eBay for a really rare game.

Gamestop and Other Chain Stores

Chain stores are possibly the worst place to catch a deal. I’ve heard of horror stories of what Gamestop does. Accepting repro carts and sending people games without testing them.

Most of the other chain retro stores aren’t going to do that to you as they are trained to look for and test games but the prices will be top dollar. Gamestop has yet to have a deal yet on a retro game and if it is, it is probably fake. If you want used modern games sure go ahead. If you are looking for a specific game chances are these stores have it but at the premium cost.

You could get lucky and ask for some off for the amount you buy, as some stores are willing to get rid of inventory that has set there for years.

Best Deals for NES Collecting

You are going to find the best deal from looking around at flea markets, yard/garage sales, and friends and co-workers. Also Non-chain mom-and-pop gaming stores. I picked up Mario/Duck hunt cart for $3 the other day and it really doesn’t get much cheaper.

Super Mario NES Collecting

Some of these people will go clean out a closet they haven’t set foot into for years and just want to get rid of junk.

Another good source is Facebook Sell Groups; you might get lucky and catch a few deals there, and always keep Craigslist up as people like to drop some nice prices on there as well.

A good tip is to always carry some cash around as you never know who might have a Yard Sale sign up while you are traveling around. If you don’t like going to flea markets and yard sales etc.. then this really isn’t the hobby you want to pursue at least if you are wanting to save $.

Looking for a few kids’ games to get your youngsters started on the NES?

Whatnot for Live Retro/Vintage Game Auctions

I’ve recently discovered a website called

This might be the best way to find and add to your NES and retro collection I’ve came across in a long time.

Basically, this is live auctions by registered sellers that have to go through an extensive 2 week process to even sell online. Most of them have stores or online shops.

I’ve come across Boxed games, loose carts, manuals, and more!

Whatnot reminds of Facebook Live auctions which you’ve probably seen your family and friends do on facebook. Except it is stuff we all care and want, which is Retro Video Games and NES Carts!

I’m not saying this so I get an extra $10 to spend there, and trust me I’ve spent more than that anyways. But, you will get $10 too if you sign up using my link. It’s even worth it if you don’t want to use my link I’ve came across amazing deals.

NES Collecting Storage

nes collecting shelfs

After you have a fairly decent collection from your NES collecting adventures you are going to want to show them off, right? RIGHT?

Time to invest in some decent shelves! Walmart actually has pretty decent shelves for fairly cheap. A lot of people like the IKEA brand billies, which are probably better shelves. But, I’m putting NES games on it and you are going to need a LOT of space. There are a total of 714 known licensed game titles for the NES, of which 679 were released in North America. Also, Goodwill and Peddler’s Mall usually have some decently used shelves for you to pick up.

The Rising Popularity of NES Collecting

mario nes

In recent years, NES collecting has experienced a surge in popularity, with more enthusiasts joining the community and seeking out retro games for their collections. The nostalgia factor, coupled with the desire to relive the golden era of gaming, has propelled the demand for NES games and related memorabilia.

One contributing factor to this growing interest is the rise of online communities and platforms dedicated to retro gaming. Social media groups, forums, and online marketplaces have provided a space for collectors to connect, share tips and experiences, and discover rare finds. These communities foster a sense of camaraderie among collectors and offer valuable insights into the world of NES collecting.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have played a role in boosting NES collecting. With more people spending time at home, there has been a renewed focus on hobbies and personal interests. NES collecting offers a form of escapism and a way to revisit cherished memories from the past.

Top 5 Tips for Successful NES Collecting

  1. Research and educate yourself: Before diving into NES collecting, take the time to research and learn about the various games, their rarity, and their market value. Familiarize yourself with reputable online resources, price guides, and collector communities to make informed purchasing decisions.
  2. Condition matters: When hunting for NES games, pay close attention to the condition of the cartridges and boxes. Mint-condition games with original packaging command higher prices and hold greater value for collectors. Look for games with minimal wear, no tears or creases, and intact labels.
  3. Expand your search beyond traditional outlets: While eBay and dedicated retro gaming stores can be good sources, consider exploring alternative avenues for finding NES games. Check out local thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, and online classifieds to uncover hidden gems at lower prices.
  4. Networking and trading: Engage with other collectors and establish connections within the retro gaming community. Networking can lead to exciting opportunities for trading duplicates, acquiring hard-to-find titles, and accessing insider knowledge about upcoming sales or auctions.
  5. Preserve and display your collection: Once you’ve built a collection of NES games, it’s important to store and display them properly. Invest in sturdy, dust-free shelving units or display cases to showcase your prized possessions. Proper storage will help maintain the value and condition of your collection over time.

Remember, NES collecting is not just about amassing games; it’s a journey filled with nostalgia, passion, and a sense of preservation. So, embrace the adventure, connect with fellow collectors, and enjoy the thrill of adding rare and beloved NES games to your collection.


NES Collecting

It’s according to how you want to do your NES collecting. You can go for a full collection, games you actually like, complete in-box collections, and even new never opened.

For now, what I’m doing I’m searching for only loose games that I really like and would play. I eventually want to try to collect as close as I can to a full loose collection.

top nes games

Now that you have all the knowledge, and knowledge is power, you are ready to conquer the world of NES Collecting.

This guide can also help with collecting for other Retro/Old school gaming systems. Apply some of the simliar concepts above. Maybe, I’ll write up specific guides for more in the future.

I really hope that this helped someone out there on the internet. Please leave a comment below and follow me on Twitter!

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