Keep Circulating The Tapes: Video Games

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     General 
  • While abandonware technically is a general software term, the vast majority of cases where people actually care are video games, since nobody is going to download an obsolete version of Word when an open-source client can legally be downloaded and redistributed (e.g. over BitTorrent) at no charge. The basic premise of the concept is this trope: software that is 'abandoned' (unsupported and undistributed by the right-owners, if who owns the rights is even known) isn't morally wrong to put up for download (the modern day equivalent of circulating the tapes, so to speak).
  • A lot of arcade games fall under this. While a good fraction of them have had ports, some ports range anywhere from being good but not one-to-one to outright Porting Disasters. The only other legal option in these cases is to acquire the original hardware, which is costly and not designed for consumer purchase; 100 USD for a board is considered cheap. Even then you'll still need a way of playing them, whether it be a cabinet (easily available but still expensive) or a "supergun" device to bypass the need for a cabinet. Finally, with the severe decline of arcades outside of Japan discouraging developers from exporting their games and the advent of mechanisms that shut out arcade importers, such as arcade digital distribution platforms such as NESiCAxLive, Japanese arcade developers limiting their games to lease-only rather than outright selling the machines, and always-online DRM (often requiring the arcade to register their machines and pay subscription fees), it is becoming harder if not outright impossible for arcade fans to legally acquire and play games through any means even if they have the money, leaving travelling to Japan the only option. If you're lucky, some of these games may get exported...to select parts of East and Southeast Asia...and may suffer anywhere from limited online infrastructure to outright Bad Export for You.
    • The entire aim of the MAME project was to preserve such games and keep them from vanishing forever. Unfortunately while the program itself is legal, it's debatable whether or not the ROMS are.
    • Some arcade games have gimmicks that are difficult, expensive, or outright impossible to fully replicate at home, even with emulation, which is why a number of arcade games have ports that deviate from the original version or simply don't have ports at all. Some examples:
      • Four games in the Darius series—Darius, Darius II, Dariusburst Another Chronicle, and Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX—have multi-monitor setups. The former two have ports that use more standard aspect ratios, while the latter two are adaptations of the PSP game Dariusburst anyway.
      • Galaxian^3 was a theme park attraction in Japan with a 360-degree display and a massive 28-player setup, and closed down in 2000. The arcade version is a bit better, with two monitors and a six-player setup, and while a port exists, it can only take up to four players.
  • Doujin games are exceedingly difficult to find outside of Japan (or even in Japan, unless you know where to go); while doujin manga usually only has a niche market, doujin games are usually quite popular. Pressing CDs, however, is expensive, so not very many copies are made at a time. While the games usually only sell for about 1,000 Yen (a little over $10), the limited print run means it can be difficult to find any copies after the fact. Some doujin titles get digital releases, but usually on Japanese-native sites like Playism and DLSite; Steam releases for doujin games tend to be limited to doujin games with localized, international releases.
  • The rise of Downloadable Content has been both a blessing and curse for many gamers. While it has resulted in modular content being delivered more easily to players, it can also result in DLC that vanishes into the ether and can't be bought anywhere if the licensing rights are pulled or the game is removed from digital distributors. Likewise, many pieces of DLC offered through limited-time giveaways, pre-ordering or other promotions can be rendered inaccessible (and unable to use unless one has a code from the time the giveaway was running or a Steam gift) after the fact.
  • Virtually every Licensed Game, due to the publishers and/or developers either no longer existing or no longer having the licenses.
  • PC games in general fall into this, especially pre-2000s games. Games are known to quickly become incompatible with newer systems and can be rare to find. GOG.com is attempting to avert this, but even they can only do so much as they don't have the source code for the games they are "upgrading," meaning all compatibility fixes must be done by reverse engineering. The only exception is if the game is a DOS game, in which case DOSBox is used instead.
  • Pretty much the entire point of ROMS and emulators. Old games that are no longer in print (usually anything from the Playstation 2/Gamecube/Xbox era and earlier) are uploaded onto the internet for everyone to play. The big game companies did force a cease and desist order on various web sites that were caught distributing the games, but many others still host them. This caused the creation of services from the major game companies that lets people download old games at a price, such as Nintendo's Virtual Console, Sony's PlayStation Network, and Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade.

     Activision 
  • Activision is infamous for picking up and then dumping licenses, largely because of a decision in 2013 to move away from the licensed game market due to underwhelming sales for several franchises. This resulted in many titles being pulled from circulation, with the only way to get them now being through second-hand copies or an increasingly-dwindling number of Steam copies. These include:
    • Several James Bond titles, including Quantum of Solace, 007: Blood Stone, the 2010 remake of GoldenEye 007 (which is quite amusing, as the remake was made specifically because of the original game's lack of availability-see the Nintendo folder below) and the then-recently released 007 Legends, as well as several briefly-sold (and now nigh-impossible to find) pieces of Downloadable Content for the latter.
    • In December 2013, most Marvel Comics games were purged from all distribution services by Disney, forcing Activision to remove various titles. This included all of their X-Men products (including X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: Destiny, which was already struck down with this trope by Epic Games before Disney came knocking - see the Silicon Knights entry below), the non-movie-based Spider-Man games (Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows), and Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom series and DLC (including content that only concerns Capcom IPs). The move was so surprising that a Steam Community Choice poll during its Christmas 2013 sale had to be hastily switched when Deadpool was pulled.
    • Star Trek: Starfleet Command III. Shortly after its release, Activision filed a lawsuit against Viacom claiming that the studio had allowed the Star Trek franchise to "stagnate And decay", and that this had negatively affected Activision's stocks. The debacle ended with Activision splitting, and production of the Starfleet Command III discs (as well as the other Star Trek titles made by Activision) halted, just a short time after the game's release. In fact, there are so few copies of Starfleet Command III that they generally sell online for anything from $85 to $144! Activision should have just held off until the 11th movie...

    Electronic Arts 
  • The Neverhood has been MIA since the mid-Nineties and copies are quite scarce. This statement has mentioned that a rerelease on mobile platforms is in the works... if Electronic Arts (the current rights holder) collaborates, which has not been the case. EA apparently doesn't recognize the profits of releasing the Cult Classic on Steam either.

    Lucas Arts 
  • LucasArts's old Adventure Games suffered from this for quite a bit. The fact that the company was sold to and closed down by the hands of Disney didn't seem to help matters. However, in October 2014, Disney signed on with GOG.com, and thus this list is steadily shrinking.
    • The Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island have both never been re-released. Escape isn't very severe right now, but Curse commonly goes for almost $20-$30 for something that should only cost about $10 at the most.
    • Full Throttle also still has yet to see any re-release.
    • Labyrinth, LucasArts' first adventure game, is so rare that many did not know of its existence until it became possible to look it up online, although this game is more of a text adventure with graphics.

    Nintendo 
  • The only rerelease of Crystalis was the 2000 port to the Game Boy Color. This was one of the few games SNK originally created for the Nintendo Entertainment System rather than for arcades, and their Virtual Console support seems to be limited to Neo Geo games. (SNK's pre-Neo Geo arcade games, however, are well represented on the PSN.)
  • Doom 64. An original entry to the classic Doom series that was unfortunately mistaken as just another port of the original Doom due to the 64 title has never left the Nintendo 64, and to make things worse, came out around time when Turok and Golden Eye 007 were considered state-of-the-art for their time. Thankfully some copies of the original Nintendo 64 cartridges are floating around for a reasonable price on Amazon and eBay.
  • While EarthBound was rescued from its stint in limbo with its Virtual Console re-release in 2013 note , its sequel MOTHER 3 still hasn't ever been released internationally. As time passes, it's quickly slipping the same way as EarthBound did, with prices for it hiking ever further up.
    • MOTHER 1 unfortunately suffers the same fate as MOTHER 3. But unlike MOTHER 3, this game was fully translated but was shelved before its release. Luckily, the prototype appeared on eBay one day and someone bought it and dumped it into a ROM under the name EarthBound Zero, which is a minor hack of the prototype that adds "Zero" to the title screen to reduce confusion with the SNES game and removes copy protection features (everything else is as Nintendo of America left it, via translator Phil Sandhop confirming that the game's text is his own work).
  • Due to a lack of advertising and low sales from the get-go, the cult hit Gotcha Force was pulled from the shelves rather quickly and is now one of the hardest GameCube games to find. This may change soon, though, as emulations of the game exist, a re-release is in the works, and Japanese fans are clamoring for a sequel. This is all ironic in hindsight because Capcom stated that this was one of their favorite games.
  • Harvest Moon 64 is this as of now. It is a Cult Classic and considered the best Harvest Moon game by many. However, it has yet to have a Virtual Console release, an enhanced remake (a la the PS1 games to GBA), or a port release (like the PS1 games). Only the original SNES game has had a Virtual Console release. An interview with a Natsume executive reveals that problems with the source code have prevented any possible remake or port, even sadder by the fact that this game was supposedly one of the first they planned for a Virtual Console release. That statement makes no sense, as the VC is simply an emulator, so they'd just need a game ROM.
    • All Harvest Moon games before Friends of Mineral Town generally count as this, especially the Game Boy and Color ones.
    • The GBC version of the original Harvest Moon GB was released on the 3DS virtual console in the summer of 2013, and hopefully the others are not too far behind. On another note, the Game Boy Color version of The Legend of the River King, an obscure fishing-themed game that shares Harvest Moon's developers and publishers, has finally been re-released on the 3DS VC as well (on the same day as Harvest Moon GB no less).
  • Killer7 is one of the most sought-after games on the Gamecube, thanks to positive word-of-mouth from the very few who had played it, and thanks to SUDA51's later games. However, Capcom and SUDA51 seem to have no plans on re-releasing it anytime soon.
  • Kuru Kuru Kururin. The first game was the only one to be released outside of Japan, but only for Europe. America hasn't gotten a single game from this series, so needless to say, most Americans were confused when they saw the main character's vehicle appearing as an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • The DSiWare port of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords was a free download that was only available for a limited amount of time on two occasions. Now that the game has been taken down, the only way to get it is to buy a used DSi or 3DS that has the game downloaded to it or has it in its purchase history.
  • Little Samson was released late in the NES's lifespan, and is one of the rarest cartridges for the system. It has never been rereleased.
  • The first Mario Party will likely never be re-released, even on the Virtual Console, due to its infamous control stick-spinning minigames and their tendency to mutilate palms.
  • The VHS promotional tapes given out to Nintendo Power subscribers in the mid-1990s. The tapes promoted the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and games like Donkey Kong Country, Star Fox 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, and early Pokémon games, as well as gave interesting behind-the-scenes looks at the making of these games. With the advent of DVD, the practice simply stopped after one release advertising the GameCube, and the tapes are now highly valued by collectors and traders. The content on the tapes have even been uploaded to various video sharing sites such as YouTube. However, the tapes had a sort of successor in the form of bonus discs released with early copies of games such as Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Metroid Prime. The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition disc also included a demo of The Wind Waker alongside full versions of all previous console Zelda games (except for A Link to the Past, which was already playable on the GCN via the GBA port and the Game Boy Player).
  • Every Panel de Pon game has been released outside of Japan in some form, but Nintendo continues to show heavy reluctance towards exposing international audiences to the original fairy characters, and so continue to release the games with the characters replaced by those from other franchises or even cut outright. Fans of the original fairy characters who dislike their replacements will have importing - in the case of the original and Nintendo Puzzle Collection games this would require, barring modification cartridges/discs of dubious legality, spending hundreds on a Super Famicom or Japanese GameCube as well as tracking down the relevant cartridge/game disc, both of which are now OOP - or emulation as their only options. What's more, the low sales of Planet Puzzle League (due in large part to Nintendo of Japan's decision to drop the mascot characters almost entirely) mean that no games starring Lip or Furil and friends are queued up for the foreseeable future.
  • Past-generation Pokémon titles. Finding used copies isn't difficult at all, given Pokémon's status, but Nintendo has unusually never shown any inclination to rerelease any past game. Instead, remakes ensued.
    • The straightest examples in Pokémon are Pokémon Yellow (unlike Crystal, none of Yellow's differences were incorporated into FireRed/LeafGreen; original copies are also strangely fragile due to rushed production to meet the demand at the height of the series' popularity) and quite a few of the spinoffs, most noticeably Hey You, Pikachu! and the Pokémon Stadium games, the former of which uses a peripheral exclusive to the Nintendo64 and the latter of which have both that problem as well as the gameplay of both games highly depend on connectivity with Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. This led to a bizarre situation in which Yellow's most famous feature, Pikachu following the player, was added into HeartGold and SoulSilver, along with Crystal's additions to the game's plot. It was expanded - now any Pokémon could follow the player, not just Pikachu.
    • Ironically enough, Pokémon's debut games Pokémon Red and Blue, now suffer from this due to the Game Boy Advance and DS/DS Lite being discontinued, ruling out the remakes, and the original games not being released on Virtual Console (likely because trading, which is a major, nearly mandatory part of the game, can't be done without a Link Cable, a peripheral exclusive to the Game Boy [Color]). With the Johto and Hoenn gap being closed on remakes playable on the Nintendo 3DS, they now are the only Pokémon games not playable on it in either original or remade form.
  • Pro Wrestling actually received an ESRB rating for the Virtual Console, which it then somehow failed to appear on.
  • Much of Rare's classic game library was produced for Nintendo consoles, but since they were bought out by Microsoft none of them can appear on the Virtual Console, except for their Donkey Kong (Country) games, whose characters were always owned by Nintendo. A few of these, including Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark, have been remade for the Xbox Live Arcade, but even this appears unlikely for their NES-era games like Battletoads, due to unresolved questions of what rights were held by publishers like Acclaim, Milton-Bradley and Tradewest.
    • The original version of Conkers Bad Fur Day. Given its mature rating in a cutesy setting and barely any promotion (it was released the same year the GameCube would debut), it was hard to get then, and it sure as hell is even harder to get now (except for the Xbox remake Live and Reloaded, which is extremely easy to find). Conversely, Microsoft has not released Conker's Bad Fur Day or Live and Reloaded on XBLA (neither for the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One) for some reason. Rare cited that they didn't want to re-release it because re-releasing it three times would be too much (though that doesn't explain games like Blast Corps that don't have other rights issues or acknowledge that Live and Reloaded was vastly inferior to the original). Plus, Live and Reloaded can be played on a backwards-compatible 360 as it is.
    • With Donkey Kong 64 recently rescued from legal limbo, this leaves the original version of Diddy Kong Racing as the only Donkey Kong-related Nintendo 64 game to not see a re-release. The stumbling block for its release are the characters that appear in the game-only Diddy and Krunch are from the Donkey Kong Country series, all of the other characters made for the game are owned by Rare, which includes Conker and Banjo (both of which went on to star in their own game series). While Rare did remake the game for the DS (which is now long out-of-print), it made a slew of changes to the original game, with the most notable change being Banjo and Conker replaced with Tiny Kong and Dixie Kong.
    • GoldenEye, due to the unique situation of negotiating royalties between Nintendo (original publisher), Microsoft (Rare's parent company), and Activision (then-owners of the James Bond game license at the time). It's especially painful considering that a XBLA port was made and finished, but because of the aforementioned legal issue debacle, the port never saw the light of day. Understandably enough, Activision decided to simply remake the original game (which, ironically enough, is now unavailable through legal means as well, see the Activision folder above).
  • An extreme case is anything that distributed via the Super Famicom's Satellaview broadcast system. Even if you manage to track down ROMs of the broadcasted games, they're almost certainly incomplete - the streamed audio and voice acting was not saved with the rest of the game, so a very sizable portion of the games' contents are quite possibly Lost Forever. To date, the only Satallaview games which have been officially remade or rereleased in any form are the Fire Emblem ones, remade and included as bonus missions in New Mystery of the Emblem.
  • Virtually every Starfy game except for the fifth one (known as The Legendary Starfy outside of Japan) - none of these games have been released in Europe or the U.S.
  • Apparently, Nintendo ran into problems emulating the SNES's Super FX chip on Wii Virtual Console releases, which would explain the lack of several high-profile games released around that time (including Yoshi's Island and the original Star Fox). The matter of Nintendo letting the rights to the Super FX chip lapse also prevents the games from showing up on the Wii U Virtual Console even if Nintendo did get the emulation right. However, the former's Game Boy Advance Updated Re-release got a Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console release to early adopters and a Wii U Virtual Console release for the general public; and the latter's Continuity Reboot is available both in its original form on the Wii and in remastered form on the Nintendo 3DS.
  • Various Nintendo games that use the Tetris branding but aren't actually Tetris games (such as Tetris Attack), due to the stricter trademark licensing from The Tetris Company, because so far the only Nintendo game with "Tetris" in the title to be released on the Virtual Console service is the Game Boy installment (and for some reason, unlike Link's Awakening, it's the original version and not the DX release for the Game Boy Color), released on the Nintendo 3DS. It got this treatment when the Wii was very late in its life, and there never was a VC release for Tetris Attack. (Note that the Japanese release does not have this issue; the Japanese release doesn't hide the series it's in and calls it Yoshi's Panepon.) Fortunately, in the case of the Tetris Attack/Puzzle League series, sequels dropped the Tetris branding and Pokémon Puzzle League did not have this problem and got a VC release, which means there wouldn't be a problem doing the same with the portable Pokémon-based game in the series, Pokémon Puzzle Challenge.
  • Nintendo seems to have no interest in recreating their Zapper games on the Virtual Console or any other platform. Only Duck Hunt was made an exception for the Wii U's Virtual Console because the titular characters in the game were made playable characters in the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS installment of Super Smash Bros..
  • Only two weeks (sometimes even two days) after they were released, certain Amiibo figures had already been discontinued. Wanted to train a Villager or Wii Fit Trainer Amiibo for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U? You'll have to go to Amazon.com and pay double or triple their retail price. Ditto the four store exclusives -Shulk, Rosalina, Lucario, and Meta-Knight-, which sold out on pre-order in some areas and were never stocked at all in others. If you wanted Marth...be prepared to pay much more. That said, Nintendo has declared they will produce more of these Amiibos, albeit in limited demand. Time will tell as for how long they will be available...

    Sega 
  • The Sega Saturn is notorious for games released on it being hit with this, as in most cases the original source code to games on that system has been long lost to time. The console itself is also known for having an terribly short lifespan due it's unpopularity in the West, and for being extremely difficult to develop for (which in turn partially explains why the source code for many of these games easily become Lost Forever). The only notable exception to the rule is NIGHTS Into Dreams, which got a PS2 port as well as PSN/XBLA port.
    • Burning Rangers is supposedly barred from re-release due to the source code being lost. The game was also released toward the very end of the Sega Saturn's lifespan in America and Europe. Japanese copies can be found for cheap (usually $20-30), but American and European copies.........not so much (they usually sell for $75-80 at the least).
    • The first House of the Dead is another victim of lost source code, so it's only available on the original Saturn release and the PC port of said release.
    • The Mega Man games on the Sega Saturn aren't a walk-in-the-park to find. They can race anywhere from $40 to $80 at minimum, if you manage to find them.
    • Panzer Dragoon Saga. Aside from the original source code being lost, the game was released in limited quantities during its short life on the Sega Saturn, and developer Team Andromeda merged with Smilebit (who is now defunct).
    • Shining Force III. Yet another game with its source code supposedly lost. It doesn't help that what was Shining Force III in the West was actually the first part of a trilogy - the remaining two parts never seeing release outside Japan.
    • The Sega Genesis game Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (or Sonic 3D Blast as known by in North America) was given an Updated Re-release on the Sega Saturn -complete with updated graphics, a new soundtrack, and a new special stage- commissioned by Sega as a replacement for the cancelled Sega Saturn game Sonic X-treme. Outside of a long-out-of-print PC port released one year later (which lacks the fog visual effects of the Saturn version, but has a save function and a variant of the Saturn version's special stage that uses the Genesis version's 2D sprites instead of the Saturn's 3D model), this version of the game has not seen another port or re-release.
  • The 2010 console port of After Burner Climax was delisted by Sega on Dec. 17th 2014. As it was only available as a digital release through PSN and XBLA, the only way people will be able to play it is through obtaining a used Xbox 360 or PS3 that already has the game downloaded to the console or have an XBL or PSN account that has the game in it's download history (similar to the Zelda: Four Swords situation above). Otherwise, one will have to scout for a cabinet of the original arcade game. (The most likely reason for the game's removal are licensing issues-the rights to use real-life aircraft in the game may have run their course and Sega wasn't bothered to renew them.)
  • Infinite Space. Due to Sega's treatment of Platinum Games, they shipped it out to stores without any announcement beforehand, and non-existent advertising. Because of this, the Nintendo DS game's sales were awful, it was pulled from circulation, and now the cartridge alone goes for $40 on eBay.
  • A fair amount of the Sonic the Hedgehog games from the "Classic" era fall under this.
    • Knuckles Chaotix is available only on the obscure Sega 32X add-on for the Sega Genesis, save for one short-lived re-release on the online video game service GameTap.
    • SegaSonic the Hedgehog (A.K.A. Sonic Arcade) has never received a home port nor an official release outside of Japan; according to an interview with Yuji Naka, problems emulating the trackball controls prevented it from appearing on Sonic Gems Collection.
    • The aforementioned Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island on the Sega Saturn. In contrast, the original version on the Sega Genesis isn't difficult to find, thanks to the Virtual Console and Steam releases and being included in later Sonic compilations such as Sonic Mega Collection.
    • The original version of Sonic CD. Being released on the unpopular Sega CD add-on for the Sega Genesis is the reason for it's obscure status in the first place, compared to the main Genesis Sonic titles. It later received a (long-out-of-print) PC port, which not only made a fair share of changes to have the game run properly (this is noticeable in how the debug menu works, and the water in Tidal Tempest being clear; PCs of the era had issues emulating the water effects, so it was scrapped), but due to being incompatible with later technology was also rendered unplayable for computers running Windows XP and later. A planned inclusion of the game on Sonic Mega Collection was nixed due to emulation problems (I.E. tossing out the original schematics and design documents for the Mega CD/Sega CD as well as somehow losing the original game's source code), subsequently resulting in the version on Sonic Gems Collection being a hack of the PC port, made to run on consoles under a PC emulator. The 2011 re-release was completely recoded from scratch, but is otherwise extremely faithful to the original game.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was widely considered to be the worst Sonic game by many. This eventually led the game being one of the Sonic games known for their poor quality being delisted by Sega in 2010, causing new copies of the game being pulled from stores and the game removed from XBLA, which probably means that there won't be a re-release of the game anytime soon. Used copies are pretty easy to come by, however.
  • A fangame of Streets of Rage wound up with this fate, courtesy of being Screwed by the Lawyers. When Bomber Games released Streets of Rage Remake, a non-profit modernized compilation of all three original games with several extra features, they were hit with a C&D order that forced them to stop developing it at version 5. But that was too late: the game is already entirely functional, and though Bomber Games doesn't distribute it on their site anymore, there are many other places that host both v5 and previous versions.
  • Daytona USA 2 currently does not have a port, most likely due to First Installment Wins.
    • Daytona USA spinoff S.C.U.D. Race (aka Sega Super GT in North America) does not have a port, and it's highly unlikely it will happen in the foreseeable future. The game uses the likenesses of several real-world supercars, and considering OutRun Online Arcade and the aforementioned After Burner Climax got nixed due to licensing issues, that may very well be the reason why no port exists.

    Multiple/Other 
  • Albion is a good example of this as well, given that copies show up on Ebay only rarely and in small numbers. When they do appear, they fetch prices of $100, at the very least.
  • Alisia Dragoon has never been rereleased, and copies are somewhat rare nowadays because it didn't receive much distribution in any territory.
  • Battle High Team-Up, the initial (now non-canon) installment of the Battle High series, has been lost by the original creators. It's on Yo Yo Games' website, but it's no longer available to download, and the browser plug-in's many updates have rendered in-browser play non-functional. One of the members of Battle High 2 *did* get a copy to work, but only on older computers (Windows XP, specifically), and none of the game's source code remains at all.
  • Bubble Bobble's original arcade version suffers from lost source code, rendering a true re-release nearly impossible. Most subsequent rehashes were done from the designer's memory and very few were particularly faithful (the Master System version was generally reckoned to be the closest). MAME relied on a bootlegged ROM for a long time, until they were able to track down an original board, pour some liquid nitrogen on it, and stick it under an electron microscope.
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines has not seen a rerelease or even remake since its debut on the Sega Genesis / Megadrive in 1994. This is despite every other non-rehash Castlevania game up to the fourth generation of video game consoles hitting Virtual Console.
  • Chu-Teng is a very obscure sequel to the already-obscure Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou from Osamu Sato, the creator of LSD: Dream Emulator. When 4chan intervened and made a collective effort to find a copy of Chu-Teng on the Internet, it was so insanely hard that they actually had to enter in touch with Osamu Sato himself—and he said he didn't had a copy either. Practically nothing was known about Chu-Teng aside from the fact that it existed, until, at last, one copy was found, just because some guy who had it around his attic happened to be browsing /v/ at the right time!
  • The entire library of indie dev CC & SH from the mid-2000's. They were all available for free from the official website, until the webhost threw on traffic and upload restrictions. Then, some of the most popular titles were put on a CD-ROM on Cafepress - which sold horribly. And then Cafepress removed CD printing from their options. They're getting some of the games re-released for free, for play in browsers and on the Amazon.com Android app store, but most of them are still unavailable.
  • Two of the Commander Keen games are still unavailable to buy, despite the rest of the series being available to purchase digitally:
    • Keen Dreams is often referred to as the "lost chapter" in the series, and follows Billy having a dream where he has to fight a potato king in a vegetable kingdom. It has a confusing rights history - developed by Softdisk Publishing and published by id Software, with the rights to the game being owned by Flat Rock Software from 2005-2014. The game was considered freeware for quite some time (although this wasn't the case), and copies passed freely between collectors. In 2013, an Android port was made available, but the original game still hasn't been officially released. Instead, the source code was bought by a crowdfunding campaign, and there is an attempt to get the game ported to Steam through its Greenlight program.
    • The full version of Commander Keen 6, likely because the copy protection quiz (which happens whenever you start up the game) can't be removed. Like Dreams, it's rights history is a mess - id Software still owns the rights to the game, and it's only releases (besides the pulled Steam version) are the original floppies (impossible to find) and a CD collection which is out-of-print and very expensive.
  • Pretty much the entire Commodore 64 software library falls into this category. Other than a handful of games released for various virtual consoles, the entire rest of the catalog is available almost exclusively on the internet as disk images that can be played using a C64 emulator. Thankfully, rights holders are either nonexistent, having disappeared decades ago, or simply don't care that the images are available, so they're very easy to find.
  • After Data East went bankrupt in 2003, their back catalog of games was divided up between several companies; while some of their old games were rereleased on Data East Arcade Classics and various download services, others, including Midnight Resistance, Karnov and Vapor Trail, are currently unavailable, as are all of Data East's games for the Turbo-Grafx 16/PC-Engine, which were pulled from the Virtual Console in March 2012. The situation is worse for games like Night Slashers, The Great Ragtime Show and Thunder Zone (aka Desert Assault, the spiritual successor to Bloody Wolf) that weren't ported to consoles either, so they can only be played through illegal emulation.
  • The Good Old Games rerelease of Descent II does not include the Vertigo Series expansion pack or its additional Redbook music tracks, so the only way to obtain that is to pay out the nose for a hard copy of Descent II: The Infinite Abyss or Descent I and II: The Definitive Collection, or illegally torrent it.
  • The arcade version of Double Dragon was rereleased on Xbox Live Arcade for a while, until Empire Interactive went bankrupt, also erasing hopes of a rerelease of the second game. Good luck finding the arcade machines, or you can illegally play them on MAME. Similarly, all of Midway's XBLA rereleases were delisted when they folded and were purchased by Warner Bros.
  • Want to play the Eyewitness series of educational video games from the '90s and early '00s? Well, you can't go to the store and buy it. You can order them from places like Amazon and eBay, or find a torrent. Otherwise, you're doomed.
  • The very obscure MS-DOS version of Genocide 2: Master of the Dark Communion was released only in Korea and is next to impossible to find legitimately. Someone did manage to track it down and circulate it through the Internet, so it's only a matter of finding the download for the game and setting up DOSBox to run it.
  • The Great Giana Sisters, a Super Mario Brothers knockoff for the Commodore 64. Nintendo actually pulled it from store shelves. It retained a large cult following, the fans even went so far as to make a sequel of their own. Eventually the series was revived and, rather ironically, published on Nintendo consoles. But the original game still hasn't been re-released.
  • The Guardian Legend is a Cult Classic, but it has never been rereleased or remade, no doubt in part to its ownership being split between Compile and Irem. Compile no longer exists, but its successors seem interested in distributing its games; Irem, however, has been going through financial difficulties and pulled many of its games from the Play Station Network in 2011 and the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console in early 2012.
  • The first Gubble game has seen a few re-releases, but looking for the second game? Good luck.
  • The 1995 CD-Rom game Legends And Myths. It was released by a rather obscure company, and is nearly impossible to find now. The best chance is searching Ebay and hoping for the best of luck. Though there is good news - it runs just fine on a Windows XP at least.
  • Almost all the LEGO PC titles of the 90s and early 2000s, such as LEGO Island and LEGO Racers, have gone out of print and never been re-released, despite it being theoretically possible (as LEGO still owns the rights to all of them). They're not hard to find copies of on eBay or Amazon, but even if you can, there's still several that refuse to run on modern computers.
  • The Lunar games and remakes. The first two games were released on the Sega CD, which made them tough to come by in the first place. Lunar: Silver Star Story, is actually not too difficult to find, but Lunar: Eternal Blue certainly is (it doesn't help that Eternal Blue had low sales). The remake of Eternal Blue is also a hard find because it was released during the twilight of the PlayStation era. All remakes of Silver Star Story are not hard to acquire, though.
    • It helps that the first game has more games/remarks in addition to the PSX one: Lunar Legend on the GBA, The PSP remake. It should be noted that Working Designs' games were made with small production runs.
  • Mega Man Legends 2 is a cult classic among the fanbase. The first game isn't too difficult to find - a good near-mint copy will usually run in the $10-30 range on Ebay. This includes the disc, instruction manual, and jewel case in immaculate condition. The same quality for a copy of Legends 2 will run you no less than $50, with most copies being over $100. Ebay is pretty much the best hope of finding the game at this point.
  • Emulators and clones of Dani Bunten's classic edutainment game M.U.L.E. have always been around, but the original game itself was out-of-print for thirty years, before finally being resurrected by Blue Systems and the Bunten estate as a free online multiplayer version called Planet MULE. Additionally, an app version has been released under the name M.U.L.E. Returns
  • No One Lives Forever and its sequel, mainly because, as explained here, nobody quite knows just who owns the rights to the game, and the three companies that can sort it out — Activision, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. — aren't that interested in going through all the legal battles to find out. A small company called Night Dive Studios (which specializes in rereleasing classic games) applied for a trademark on the games in May 2014 with the intention of rereleasing them, but they eventually ran into a brick wall from the aforementioned three companies and gave up.
  • The Ogre Battle games The Knight of Lodis and Legend of the Zenobia Prince for Game Boy Advance and Neo Geo Pocket Color can't be had on current consoles.
  • The most widely pirated version of The Oregon Trail qualifies. Those who have come across this particular copy remember it best for the gravesite of a former player whose epitaph reads "Here lies andy: peperony and chease". The inscription is likely a response to an ad campaign for Tombstone Pizza which asked "What do you want on your Tombstone?"
  • The Persona 2 duology has experienced its own twisted version. When the two games came out on the original Playstation, only the second game made it out of Japan. Eventually a fan translation of the first game started making the rounds (and even people at Atlus complimented its quality). Finally the games got remade for the PSP... except only the first remake has made it out of Japan. The original version of the second game is now available on the PlayStation Network, but downloads and emulation still seem rather more common, out of habit as much as anything else.
  • Would you believe Raiden II, the face of arcade Shoot Em Ups, as well as Gaiden Game Raiden DX fall under this? There's a Compilation Re-release that includes II and a port of DX both on PS1, as well as a PC port of II, but they are long out of print, and the PC port is rather inaccurate. Breakthroughs in 2014 finally brought both games to a mostly-functional state in MAME; however, as neither game has an in-print release, they remain under this trope.
  • While RayStorm and RayForce have been resurrected on iOS, and the former having an HD port on XBLA and PSN, RayCrisis has been collecting the most dust in the RAY series. It was only re-released on the PlayStation with RayStorm by D3, and on PC by CyberFront by itself and bundled with G-Darius. It was never brought back in Taito Legends 2 or ported to iOS like its predecessors did. The PC ports of these games also remains lost in copyrights Limbo and second-hand copies are hard to track down.
  • The leaked 0.05 release of the fangame Rockman 4 Minus Infinity (containing the Bonus Boss fight with Shadow Man) was taken down at the request of PureSabe, dooming it to this fate.
  • 'Rune Factory Frontier'' games stopped being produced in America after a year or so, so this is the only way to obtain any of the early titles.
  • The entire Shadow Hearts series. You can probably find From the New World, and maybe Covenant somewhere in a used game store, but the first Shadow Hearts game, as well as Koudelka? Good luck!
  • Silicon Knights was ordered to cease production of Too Human and X-Men: Destiny and destroy their game code (under the ruling in the Silicon Knights vs. Epic Games lawsuit that the former's use of the Unreal Engine was unauthorized). Too Human was removed from Games on Demand though both used and new copies of both games are extremely common and cheap online. This same lawsuit lead to three cancelled games, including the long awaited Eternal Darkness sequel. (Funnily enough, considering the aforementionned Marvel purge of December 2013, X-Men: Destiny would now likely have to pass through both Epic Games and Disney/Marvel for completely different and unrelated reasons if it were to clear a rerelease.)
    • Silicon Knights did not have the power to seize and destroy unsold copies of the games (SK was pretty much defunct at the time of the ruling; Dennis Dyack was more or less the only employee left) so ultimately it was left to the stores to decide what to do with them.
    • Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes can also be crossed off the list too, as SK is now defunct, thus there will be no re-release, and both games did not sell very well, so finding physical copies under $30 is a challenge. Not to mention the fact that there are some rights issues regarding Twin Snakes, since Konami, SK, and Nintendo all participated in its development, and even if there wasn't, Konami always preferred to rerelease the original PS1 game anyways.
  • In an extreme case, the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World tie-in game was taken off of both PSN and XBLA on December 30th, 2014 without explanation, and the game codes stopped working as well. We're talking about a download-only console-exclusive game here, not to mention a movie tie-in game that doesn't suck.
  • Hideo Kojima half-admitted that the reason why any version of Snatcher hasn't been released on digital distribution services yet (even though stuff like Metal Gear 2 and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood had been released already) is due to the fact that the game's imagery and its numerous visual nods to Blade Runner and Terminator almost border on copyright infringement, making it hard to re-release without heavy alterations. It's not much of an issue in Japan, where the PC-Engine version is common to find on the second-hand market, but English-speaking players who want to experience the game have no choice but to pay ridiculously-high prices for the game on eBay or illegally download it off the internet.
  • The Suikoden series falls under this. The first game isn't too hard to find if you want the actual disk, and can even be uploaded to the PS3 pretty easily. The second game in the series is a different story altogether, as even a used copy will go upwards from $100+ dollars at minimum, and it's better to not even think about the price for a brand new copy since the game is long out of print at this point. This is a real shame considering that the second Suikoden game is usually regarded as the Magnum Opus of the series.
  • The fan game Super Mario Bros X thanks to creator Redigit getting a cease and desist from Nintendo, a story which many are pretty sure is fabricated because Redigit "didn't like the community".
  • System Shock. Considered one of the very best PC games ever created, regularly topping halls of fame. Had mouselook modded in as a fan project in 2009. Not on Steam. Not on Good Old Games. Not for sale anywhere save second-hand copies on eBay if you're rich and lucky. "Portable" abandonware versions drift across the internet; somewhere, a rightsholder is being clueless.
    • System Shock 2 was in the same situation until it was finally rereleased on Steam and GOG in 2013. Still no word on the original, though...
  • This may have happened to Tekken 3. While the first two Tekken games are available as PSone Classics on the Playstation Store, 3 is noticeably absent. It is very likely that the inclusion of Guest Fighter Gon is the culprit; Namco has cited licensing issues as an explanation for why he hasn't reappeared in the series, plus producer Katsuhiro Harada mentioned non-technical difficulties as the reason for its absence. The arcade version is playable as a bonus in the PS2 version of Tekken 5, but it lacks the extra features of the Playstation port (including Gon, Dr. Boskonovitch, and the two minigame modes). Thankfully, used copies of both 3 and 5 are plentiful and cheap.
  • Don't expect to see any ports of the Tetris: The Grand Master series, ever. Games carrying the Tetris name are required to adhere to the Tetris Guideline, a series of stringent rules for Tetris games. The TGM series clearly violates many of these guidelines, so barring emulation and clones, the series is stuck in arcades for as long as the TTC holds the rights to Tetris.note  The only way to legally play TGM, especially outside of Japan, is to purchase the actual arcade hardware, which is difficult to find especially if you don't know how to navigate Japanese auction sites, and expensive (see the arcade example near the top of the page). Arika vice president and TGM designer Ichiro Mihara doesn't seem to understand nor care, as he still asserts a "no piracy, no clones" stance over his games, a stance that he has stated in English to Westerners.
    • For that matter, any Tetris game made before Tetris Worlds, which is used as the base for the Tetris Guideline, a series of requirements that games carrying the Tetris name must have. Since there is no Grandfather Clause, this means that unless The Tetris Company undergoes a radical shift in philosophy, you will never see rereleases of older Tetris versions, such as Nintendo's Game Boy and NES versions, SEGA's arcade versions, or Jaleco's Tetris Plus.
  • Most of Toaplan's games are hard to find nowadays, because what happened to the rights to their back catalog after they went bankrupt is a total mystery. This is why Zero Wing didn't get a rerelease or sequel after the intro became a famous Memetic Mutation.
  • The Tomb of the TaskMaker, a 1998 sequel to the Macintosh RPG TaskMaker. Although it appeared on a MacAddict disc, the game was rush-released in a somewhat compromised format by a small software company that went under almost immediately afterward. One of the game's authors put a slightly updated version out on his website in July 2008, but the original is still unavailable.
  • Transport Tycoon and its Deluxe version. Designer Chris Sawyer doesn't own the rights. Original publisher Microprose sold the rights to Atari, and they claim not to own the rights and they don't feel like trying to resolve the issue. Chris Sawyer eventually released a spiritual sequel, Locomotion, which didn't do very well. Fortunately, the fan community has rallied around the open-source Open TTD - until recently a copy of Transport Tycoon Deluxe was required to play Open TTD. As of Version 1.0.0, open-source replacement graphics/sound sets are supported.
  • White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, a Korean horror game from 2001 that has been often compared to games such as Amnesia and Penumbra, narrowly escaped from fading into complete obscurity thanks to torrent and file-sharing sites. It was never released outside of Korea, and while an English release was planned by 4AM Entertainment, that never came to pass, so many people never heard of this game up until now. Sonnori, the developers of the game, also went under, with their webpage being completely barren and the status of distribution likely ceased. Nowadays people go seeking the file downloads for the game and Unnamed's Fan Translation to play this game.
  • Wolfenstein (2009) (the sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein) was pulled from distribution not long after its release, largely due to underwhelming sales and employees from Raven Studios being laid off. New copies of the game (and Steam gifts) still command inordinately-high prices, and there are few means of getting a copy for less than $50 as of late. Surprisingly, the game is still considered canon, as its events and the reappearance of one of 09's characters (Caroline) factors heavily into Wolfenstein: The New Order.
  • Even after Chu-Teng was rescued from this state, many of the games by Osamu Sato were left in this state. A notorious offender are the Rolypolys games, which are almost unheard of, despite being as lost as Chu-Teng once was. Recently, people are attempting to find the game, if this is any evidence to it.
  • Any older game (read: any game before Tales of Vesperia, though Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss have been rescued as ports) in the Tales Series translated or not, if you live in North America. Particularly bad in Tales Of Eternia's case, as the PSP remake was only released in Europe.
  • Most Namco-produced RPGs suffer from this. While you can find Xenosaga Episodes 1 and 2 pretty easily, Episode 3 will cost you more. note . The Baten Kaitos series still has not had a re-release, with Origins suffering the most as it came out near the end of the Gamecube's life span. And don't get us started on .hack...