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Here's Why A Recall Led To One Of The Rarest NES Games Ever Made

As digital storefronts and features like the Nintendo Switch's NES app make physical copies of games even less necessary, the nostalgia value and rarity of old games only increases. Hard to find games from Nintendo's past only become scarcer as the remaining copies fall victim to the inevitable deterioration of time, get thrown away by people who are unaware of their value, or stashed away in private collections.

A combination of those factors has made some Nintendo games worth thousands of dollars for the cartridge alone. A boxed copy with a manual drives prices even higher. However, one game, Stadium Events, is so rare, with only a handful of copies in circulation, that it has become legendary and created its own microeconomy.

The crazy thing is, you may have played it — only under a different name. Stadium Events was rebranded as World Class Track Meet and became moderately popular alongside its distinctive Nintendo Power Pad. He is the story of how a recall made one of Nintendo's worst games one of its most valuable.

Stadium Events was distributed for a short time in only a few places

When the original Nintendo Entertainment System exploded in popularity worldwide, both Nintendo and game designers were eager to see how the technology could reach gamers. This lead to a wide array of exciting accessories, such as the NES Zapper and the Power Glove, some of which were successful, others of which were not.

Bandai developed one such experiment for an Olympic themed game titled Stadium Events. The controller was essentially a giant pad that players would jump on the get their avatars to run or, well, jump. Bandai finished the game and the pad in 1987 and then packaged the game for sale worldwide. While reviews of the game today are less than flattering, the concept impressed Nintendo, who bought the rights to the game and the pad. The Family Fun Pad became the Nintendo Power Pad, and Stadium Events became World Class Track Meet.

It's unclear how many copies of Stadium Events were sold or even produced before the rebranding occurred. Some say as few as 2,000, although Howard Phillips, Nintendo of America's spokesman during the '80s, estimated that 10,000 were produced, as "Ten thousand copies for the North American release was close to minimum run."

A recall destroyed most copies of the game

When Nintendo decided to rebrand Stadium Events to World Class Track Meet, it issued a recall for the copies already sent to stores, which in North America was supposedly as few as 200. The game had only been distributed to a handful of Woolworth department stores in the Northeast, so recovering them was not much of a problem for Nintendo. What happened to those copies is a mystery. Howard Phillips said, "If there were 10,000, I don't know where they ended up. I don't have a recollection of us burying them in a landfill." The game slipped into obscurity for years, even as Nintendo Power Pads and copies of World Class Track Meet found homes across America.

However, two decades later, the game started to make headlines. In 2010, the first copy of Stadium Events with the box and manual was found and sold for $13,105. In 2017, a sealed copy of the game sold for $41,977.

While those prices are incredible, like any collectible item, the price is set by demand — meaning that if the hundreds (maybe thousands) of missing copies of Stadium Events ever show up, these other expensive copies could all become instantly worthless.