Soaring Dreamcast prices....

Any Dreamcast collector worth their salt is all too aware that the price of collecting for the system, and retro gaming in general, has taken off in the last few years like a crystal meth induced Sonic.

It's an interesting topic, these games are now more widely available than ever, for "free" in most cases, and yet the prices have risen substantially over the past couple of years. It wasn't that far back that I was selling mint condition copies of Street Fighter II X on this very site for $60, now you'd expect to pay 4 or 5 times that amount just to get a reasonable copy. It's a trend that can be seen on a global scale, but especially for the Japanese titles which backed by a strong yen, and a high demand in it's native country have lead to this big rise in the value of the orange and white variants.

   Amassing a solid Dreamcast collection these days costs big money!

To be sure, just a few years back it was possible to pop into an Ahikabara retro store and pick up almost any Dreamcast title for under $60. However, since around 2013 these games gradually dried up, and one-by-one the stores have closed their doors to the point there are only one or two of the stores in my Akihabara shop guide (circa 2013), which still actually stock Dreamcast titles, and those that do charge premium prices along the lines of those you'd expect to see in a 'Buy it Now' listing on Ebay. I chuckle at my scoffing of Bordersdown LE selling for $150 in that aforementioned post, you'd be lucky to get change out of double that these days.

The price of this game is enough to make your eyes water, at least it's a corker!

It's not only the premium titles that have seen this increase. I vividly remember being able to pick up the more common titles such as Capcom vs SNK, Sonic Adventure, Shenmue and Space Channel 5 for a bargain, 105 yen ($0.90) and while these titles still won't break the bank you'd be lucky to get change out of $10 for a decent copy these days.

Who exactly is still buying these titles? Are these collectors from back in the day who simply missed out on the Japanese versions, or newer generations coming across the systems and amassing their own collections? It's interesting that these games have risen dramatically in price on Japanese auction sites too. It seems to signal a phase similar to that of the Sega Saturn in the noughties which leads me to a good point made by a reader on our Facebook page. The relative ease of acquiring a complete set of Dreamcast games (compared to say the Sega Saturn), may be enticing for new gamers, or those from back in the day looking to fill in the blanks, and could be one of the factors for the rise in popularity of  collecting for the system. Whatever, the reasons it's an interesting debate which will continue for sure.

Cleoptara Fortune, possibly the highest price game on the system

Looking through some of the more valuable Japanese titles out there, it's interesting to note that the games that demand the highest coin are simply the types of games that are no longer really produced (shmups), haven't evolved (Puzzle games), or have actually fallen in quality (2D fighters). Also, that the very final releases such as Karous and Under Defeat still don't demand the high price you'd image (fluctuating around the $80 mark). I am also surprised that Puyo, Puyo Fever doesn't go for more seeing as it was Sega's final game for a Sega console, oh and I still have a copy sealed which I ordered direct from Sega back in the day.

Anyway, here is a quick list of the most sought after and expensive Japanese Dreamcast titles on the market, and the values are my own estimate, considering a mix of Ebay, Japanese retail and Yahoo auction prices so take them as you will.

  1. Cleopatra Fortune! ($320)
  2. Super Street Fighter II X ($300)
  3. Borderdown LE ($280)
  4. Borderdown Standard ($220)
  5. Zero Gunner 2 ($190)
  6. Super Puzzle Fighter II X ($170)
  7. Street Fighter Zero 3: For Match Service ($160)
  8. Trizeal ($130)
  9. Grauen No Torikago Kapitel 5: Shokuza ($120)
  10. Rainbow Cotton ($110)

A quick scour of Ebay, and it appears this trend is apparent for other regions too, although the highest  value is nowhere near that of the Japanese games. The US list top-10 is almost entirely up of Capcom titles too.

Something I was curious though, is that US exclusives such as Bomberman Online and Alien Front Online aren't particularly valuable, which is also true of the English exclusives titles such as King of Fighters 99', Seaman or Typing of the Dead. This could be due to the relatively large quantities in which these games sold or the buying habits of Japanese and European gamers being more focused on Japanese titles?

  1. Giga Wing 2 ($160)
  2. Cannon Spike ($150)
  3. Project Justice ($100)
  4. Mars Matrix ($100)
  5. Powerstone 2 ($70)
  6. Marvel vs Capcom 2 ($60)
  7. Bangai-O ($60)
  8. Marvel vs Capcom ($60)
  9. Tech Romancer ($50)
  10. Street Fighter III 3rd Strike ($50)

On to Europe and the top valued PAL titles are surprisingly varied and probably more of a representation of their exclusivity, and relatively late release in the Dreamcast's lifespan. Lucky Europeans received a few totally exclusive titles such as Motto (planned for release in the US under the hilarious moniker, "Ball Breakers"), HeadHunter, Toy Racer and Evil Twin as well as the English only versions of Fighting Vipers 2, and Shenmue II.

The aforementioned, F.R.E.E em-up, is a particularly interesting case. Snapped up by Microsoft for an exclusive NA release, the European version subsequently sold in greater numbers at launch than it otherwise would of done. It's value seems to fluctuate depending on whether Shenmue III in the news that week, but it's a safe bet to say that it will continue to climb in value over the coming years.

  1. Moho ($250)
  2. Cannon Spike ($200)
  3. Evolution 2 ($190)
  4. Evil Twin ($110)
  5. Rez ($100)
  6. Project Justice ($90)
  7. Shenmue II ($80)
  8. Taxi 2 ($70)
  9. Heavy Metal Geomatrix ($50)
  10. Fighting Vipers 2 ($50)

It's interesting that the Dreamcast's final releases in this region were not actually published by Sega, but a third-party company by the name of Big Ben who  snatched  the publishing rights as Sega began to focus on it's new multi-platform direction (incidentally Big Ben are still going strong and continue to release licensed peripherals and games for a variety of current-gen platforms), and I wonder if that deal hadn't have happened would Sega have actually took the plunge in publishing more obscure titles such as Cannon Spike, and Rez? 

     Dreamcast's Final Releases in Europe (Distributed by Big Ben)

16th Nov - Headhunter
23rd Nov - Virtua Tennis 2
23rd Nov - Floigan Brothers 
30th Nov - Shenmue 2 
30th Nov - Cannon Spike 
30th Nov - Heavy Metal Geomatrix 

11h Jan - REZ 
8 Feb - NBA 2K2 
08 .Feb - Phantasy Star Online V2.0 DC
08. Feb - Heavy Metal Geomatrix
08. February - Evil Twin
15. February - Conflict Zone
22. February - Cannon Spike
01. March - Phantasy Star Online Ver.2
08. March - NBA 2K2
25. October - 90 Minutes

    Obviously, paying over the odds for games is not ideal, but as Dreamcast fans we shouldn't simply look on this as a negative trend. The massive growth in retro gaming has enabled us to create relationships with an even greater number of people than ever before. Communities of people joining online PSO ranges, chatting on forums about their latest acquisitions, or even reading this very article may not have happened otherwise. So I say, embrace the trend, play those games, and if there is something you'd like to add to your collection then act quickly - there is only one way these prices are heading.