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A collection of 173 top-grade video game cartridges could sell for six figures

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Nearly two years ago, a shaky YouTube video went viral among video game collectors.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS THOMPSON: Check it out. That's a factory seal.

SHAPIRO: The video shows hundreds of games for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and other consoles of the '90s. Some were quite rare, and many of them were still in their shiny shrink-wrap.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THOMPSON: Do you see the glare coming off of all those boxes and all those boxes and all those boxes?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

These games have been in storage since 1998, around when Mark Odorisio closed his video game shop in Nebraska.

TIM ODORISIO: He decided to close those stores. He did not have, really, a going-out-of-business sale - just packed up the stuff and said, I'll store it and come back at a later date.

SUMMERS: That's Mark's brother Tim Odorisio. He moved to get the games appraised for sale a few years ago.

ODORISIO: I said, Mark, you need to make a decision about these games. What's your plan? He said, well, I was just going to keep them and then when I died, it would go to the kids. I go, we can't - that's a great idea. Your heart's in the right place, but your mind sucks.

SHAPIRO: Enter Chris Thompson. Today, he owns a chain of video game stores in Nebraska called Gameroom. He's the one who made that YouTube video.

SUMMERS: Thompson helped the Odorisio brothers get the games graded and authenticated. He's gathered the 173 most mint items and is calling it the Nebraska Collection.

SHAPIRO: Not all the titles are exactly prized, but collectors say there are some real gems. The shiniest is a nearly perfectly preserved copy of a game called Chrono Trigger.

(SOUNDBITE OF PONTUS HULTGREN'S "CHRONO TRIGGER")

CHRIS KOHLER: The game itself is just this amazing masterpiece of the video roleplaying game genre that even today - I mean, a lot of people would say it's the best video game RPG ever made.

SHAPIRO: Chris Kohler is a collector and the editorial director at Digital Eclipse, a game developer which adapts classic games for modern platforms.

KOHLER: Basically, this is as nice a copy of this particular game as you will ever see.

SUMMERS: He says the Nebraska Collection may have missed the massive spike in sales for vintage games we saw during the pandemic, but says that single games can still sell for $10,000, and predicts the collection will net somewhere in the six-figure range.

SHAPIRO: Now, it's still unclear how the games will ultimately be sold. In a new video, Chris Thompson of Gameroom says they aren't for individual sale, though someone could take all 173 games for a large sum.

(SOUNDBITE OF PONTUS HULTGREN'S "CHRONO TRIGGER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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