The Atari 2600 was the first ultra successful home video game console. It is the console that started gaming for many people. During its life-cycle the Atari 2600 had thousands of games released. Some of them were good and some were horrible. Most are ridiculously cheap but a few 2600 games have become rare collectibles. The list below is the most rare and expensive Atari 2600 games.
Most Valuable Atari 2600 GamesUsed Price: $13,900 | CIB Price: $33,400 | See Current Prices
Air Raid is the only known game released by Men-A-Vision and has a very distinctive cartridge design with a blue 'T' shaped handle. In the game you must protect a city from invading alien ships. You try to destroy them before they destroy the city.
Air Raid is believed to be the rarest of the commercially released games for the Atari 2600. The cartridge by itself usually sells for $3,000. Only two copies are known to exist with the original box. One of them sold for $31,600 in April 2010 and the other for $14,000 in 2012. There is only one known complete version with the manual too.Used Price: $13,800 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
Red Sea Crossing wasn't even known in the Atari community until 2007 when it was found at a garage sale. It is a Christian game and was only sold via phone order. The only known ad for the game was in Christianity Today.
Red Sea Crossing is the most expensive Atari 2600 game when it is cartridge only, by about $10,000. Air Raid sells for more when it comes with a box.Used Price: $6,500 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
Personal Games created Birthday Mania as a custom birthday gift for Atari owners. The buyer would custom order the game with the recipient's name on the title screen and a space on the label to write their name.
The concept never gained traction. Because the items had to be special ordered and were not mass-produced, the game is very rare. Only two copies are known to exist. This game has never been sold publicly so the price is an estimate but the highest known offer to buy was $6,500.Used Price: $6,000 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
Gamma Attack was the only game released by Gammation. It's rarity rivals that of Air Raid with only two known copies in existence. You control a Gamma ship and must destroy enemies as they enter your planet.
The game has never sold at a public auction so the exact price is hard to know. The price listed is based upon offers that one of the owner's claims he has received. It is a very reasonable estimate considering the game's rarity.Used Price: $2,000 | See Current Prices
Karate for Atari 2600 was released by two companies, Froggo and Ultravision. The Froggo version is quite common and sells for hardly anything. The Ultravision version is very rare and sells for top dollar.
Ultravision has two versions of Karate, a T-shape cartridge (pictured to the left) and a standard shaped cartridge. Both have the same artwork on the front and sell for roughly the same amount.Used Price: $800 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
Pepsi Invaders was a custom designed game for Coca-Cola. They took the Space Invaders game concept and changed the aliens to letters spelling "Pepsi". The game was given to executives at a sales convention in 1983.
Only 125 were originally produced. Based upon the number of sales for this game it is assumed that the vast majority were destroyed by the recipients.Used Price: $700 | CIB Price: $1,500 | See Current Prices
Mangia was developed by Spectravision and like most Spectravision games it was only available via mail order. The mail order distribution method made all their games much harder to find than ones available at retail stores. Mangia is the rarest of their games.
In Mangia you control a boy who eats pasta until his stomach explodes. To avoid dying you throw pasta to a dog or cat, but must avoid your mom seeing you waste food.Used Price: $650 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
Eli's Ladder is an educational game for the Atari 2600. You count and do addition and subtraction games and drills. The game was released by SimAge.
The game was originally packaged with a wall chart and motivational stickers to help motivate kids to learn and play. These are even more difficult to find than the game.Used Price: $600 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
The game Shark Attack was originally released with the name Lochjaw. Apollo decided to change the name after they were sued for infringing on the copyrights for Jaws the movie. Because the game was only released for a limited time with this name and cover art it is very hard to find today.
The game play is almost the exact same as Shark Attack. You try to collect diamonds in each level before a sharks eats you and before he eats too many of the diamonds too.Used Price: $600 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
Gauntlet is another mail-order only game for the Atari 2600. This one was released by Answer Software. It has nothing in common with the dungeon crawling game with the same name. In this game you must prove your manhood to an ancient Indian tribe by running through their gauntlet of obstacles.
The game was originally sold in a foam case with no box so this game is never found with a "box" like most games.Used Price: $510 | CIB Price: $5,000 | See Current Prices
Atlantis II is a special edition of the original Atlantis that was only given to a few gamers as part of a contest. The developers held a national contest to crown the best Atlantis player. Numerous people reached the maximum score in the game so in order to crown a champion they mailed entries with the maximum score a new version of Atlantis that is much faster.
The exterior of both Atlantis games looks the exact same. The easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at the font on the high score. In order to know which version a newly submitted high score came from the developer changed the font.Used Price: $500 | CIB Price: $6,000 | See Current Prices
The Music Machine is a Christian video game based upon a series of products with the same name including, CD's, coloring books, and movies. You play as two children who must collect the Fruits of the Spirit - love, kindness, self-control, patience, etc - as they fall down the screen.
The game was only sold through Christian bookstores. Its limited distribution makes the game very rare today.Used Price: $500 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
River Patrol is based upon the arcade game with the same name. You must navigate a boat down a river while avoiding obstacles.
The exact reason for the game's rarity is unknown, but is more than likely due to the game releasing after the great video game crash in 1984. After this point, Atari plummeted in popularity and games for the console sold very poorly.Used Price: $260 | CIB Price: $NA | See Current Prices
BMX Airmaster was originally published by TNT Games and is quite common. You race on various tracks and half-pipes with a BMX bike. Near the end of the 2600's life, Atari bought the rights to the game and re-released a limited number of copies.< /p>
The Atari re-release is the expensive version. You can tell which version you have by looking at the cover art. If the cover art on the game matches the cover art on the box at left, you have the rare version.Used Price: $200 | CIB Price: $600 | See Current Prices
Out of Control is a spaceship flying game released by Avalon Hill. You control a spaceship that must fly through buoys, pops balloons, and then land in a space station.
This is another game that was the victim of the video game crash in 1983. Publishers severely limited their production after the crash to make sure they didn't waste money on cartridges that wouldn't sell.Used Price: $200-1,000 | See Current Prices
Instead of selling cartridges with a permanent game inside, Xante decided to make re-writable cartridges. They setup kiosk where you could return your games to have them rewritten as another title. They even printed a plain white label for you with the name of the new game.
The Xante games are Alien, Beany Bopper, Crypts of Chaos, Demon Attack, No Escape, and Solar Storm. All six games are extremely rare.
Rare Non-Games for Atari 2600The cartridges below are not games in the sense that you play them. They are most of utilities for the Atari. All the non-games work in the Atari 2600 and they are all very rare.
Used Price: $1,200 | See Current Prices
Video Life was an Atari program with Conway's Game of Life built in. You created an initial state of "life" - a series of dots - and then watched as they took on a life of their own.
The game only worked if you already owned the rare MagiCard programming tool (see below). This severely limited production and sales of the game.Used Price: $500 | See Current Prices
Similar to Xante games, the ECPC cartridges are re-programmable cartridges but they all started off blank. You would buy the cartridge and bring it to any ROMOX software center and choose a game from their selections.Used Price: $300 | See Current Prices
Another blank cartridge that allowed you to change the game on the cartridge. This time you need a hardware called a "Duplicator" in order to transfer a game.
The game with the Duplicator is extremely rare, but without it the cartridge could just be a collector's piece if a game was never transferred onto it.Used Price: $230 | See Current Prices
The Color Bar Generator does exactly what it's name implies. It would create 15 different color bar patterns to diagnose TV color or alignment problems.
The item was sold so consumers to diagnose problems themselves without needing a technician. One of the patterns was designed to test the color producing circuits on the Atari system.Used Price: $200 | See Current Prices
MagiCard is a programming tool released by CommaVid. The cartridge came with a 100+ page instruction booklet and sample programs explaining how to use the software.
The software was only available via mail-order and only worked with the keyboard accessory for the 2600.
Other Rare & Expensive Atari 2600 Games
- Malagai - Used Price: $250
- X-Man - Used Price: $200
- Stronghold - Used Price: $180
- Condor Attack - Used Price: $150
- Cakewalk - Used Price: $150
- Quadrun - Used Price: $125
- Tooth Protectors - Used Price: $120
- Q*Bert's Qubes - Used Price: $120
- Spider Maze - Used Price: $120
- Z-Tack - Used Price: $100
Rare But Relatively Inexpensive Atari 2600 Games
- Spike's Peak - Used Price: $30
- Sir Lancelot - Used Price: $30
- Video Reflex - Used Price: $42
- Video Jogger - Used Price: $49
- Wall Defender - Used Price: $50
- Springer - Used Price: $50
- Rescue Terra I - Used Price: $60
- Astrix - Used Price: $60
The list is ranked by the highest average new price and then highest average used price in the event of a tie.