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  • 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 Microsoft 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.
    • This is the biggest fault with the PSP Go system. It has no UMD slot and runs downloaded games only, resulting in anything that was no longer hosted on the PlayStation Store being unattainable for the system without resorting to piracy. Adding to that, access to PlayStation Store from the PSP was disabled in all territories in 2016, meaning that outside of previously purchased content in your download list, obtaining any digital content for the system is now [legally] impossible.
  • 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 Dot 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 or an MSX game, in which case DOSBox or another specific emulator (such as blueMSX for MSX games) is used instead.
  • Online Games are becoming victims of this due to their servers being shut down. Though many private servers exist to keep these games alive, it is usually done by reverse engineering the server software from scratch, and they're often subject to being shut down by the game developers.
    • Older Web Games are becoming harder to find due to their respective websites no longer hosting the game or no longer existing entirely. Though there are third-party websites that still host some of these games, they are often scams or blocked via paywalls.
    • With the planned discontinuation of Adobe Flash in 2020note , many games based in Flash will be no longer playable without specially modified browsers.
  • 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.
  • While not exactly a game in the strictest sense; mods, scenarios, and other custom content can become outright impossible to obtain if the website or FTP server hosting them closes down. Thankfully, mirrors exist for this purpose, but there are still lost content out there that hasn't been mirrored.

     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 was made specifically because of the original game's lack of availability — see the Nintendo folder) 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), 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.
    • Only after eight months since its release, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants Of Manhattan was taken off from digital storefronts, leaving the existing number of unsold/used copies as the only way to obtain the game.
    • 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 reboot movie...
  • The NES cult classic The Adventures Of Rad Gravity has not been rereleased on Virtual Console or elsewhere, likely due to the rights being split between Activision and Interplay.
  • Before Diablo I and Warcraft I and II were added to GOG in March 2019, this was true for any Blizzard Entertainment games older than the original Starcraft (1998). The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne are still unavailable for purchase, however.
    • Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, the only adventure game in the Warcraft series which was heavily inspired by LucasArts classics, is a particularly noteworthy case. Just before the release, the game was cancelled in 1998, but the pre-release version was leaked online by one of the former devs in 2016. Blizzard took action to replug the leak, but it's still available for download on the Web.
  • Transformers: Devastation and the Cybertron games are no longer available for sale in digital stores since 2017 due to Hasbro's license on Activision expiring.
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    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.
  • While it was positively received by both fans and critics alike, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect had rather poor sales and as such, copies of it online (or its predecessors) will cost a pretty penny. The game's developer, Free Radical Design, faced financial troubles and is now defunct which made any chance of a re-release impossible. THQ Nordic later acquired the TimeSplitters IP, meaning a possibly re-release in the future.

    LucasArts 
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The original EGA version of Loom has never seen a re-release. The CD talkie version is available on GOG and Steam, but most fans consider it inferior to the EGA version due to heavily cutting down the dialogue, removing any instances of background music outside of cut scenes, and having a reworked aesthetic that most people consider weaker to the original. Brian Moriarity himself prefers the EGA version as well.

    Nintendo 
  • 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" in the title has never left the Nintendo 64, and to make things worse, came out around time when Turok and GoldenEye 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.
    • However, there are two separate unofficial remakes of this game for the PC, made by the Doom community — Doom 64: The Absolution is a total scratch-built remake for the Doomsday engine using ripped resources from the game's ROM, although it lacks certain features of the original game due to engine limitations. Doom 64 EX is a more modern source port that requires a ROM file of the game, which it uses to generate the game's data file (the user must do this on their own, as the original ROM is not included) and is a much more accurate porting with many extra features common to modern Doom source ports, as well as proper mouse and keyboard controls.
  • 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.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords:
    • The original release is currently out of print and used copies are going in the 90s in USD on Amazon. Even if you snag a copy, it requires two to four players to play, and it's not likely in this day and age you'll find someone with a Game Boy Advance, the game (especially since it's... well, out of print), and a Link Cable.
    • The DSiWare port attempted to fix this by offering multiplayer via local wireless communication, and it also had a one-player mode. But it 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. The other option would be to wait for another opportunity to get a copy without doing those things, but it's anyone's guess when that will be, assuming it happens at all.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Ancient Stone Tablets, effectively a Mission-Pack Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past originally broadcast on the Satellaview, was only ever broadcast live twice and never given any form of official release. The emulation community has pieced together an impressive playable version of it in ROM form, and restored the original audio with the voiced acting now dubbed. However, the audio was recreated based on a VHS recording of the gameplay that surfaced on the web at some point. The original quality audio was lost, and it's not possible to play the game with original Japanese voices without the overlapping sound effects of the recorded playthrough.
  • 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 on the Virtual Console, due to its infamous control stick-spinning minigames and their tendency to mutilate palms. (Even if analog sticks from the GameCube on are less stiff than the N64 one, thus not requiring to spin with the hand instead of the fingers; they just want to be safe.) Not helping matters was that said minigames and injuries was also the subject of a lawsuit charged against Nintendo that they fought but ultimately lost, the legal fallout of which might be a roadblock from the game seeing a re-release in the first place. With that said, Mario Party 2 has been to date the only Mario Party title to see a re-release, having been released on both the Wii and Wii U. Interestingly, one of the games that requires spinning (Tug o' War, specifically) was released on The Top 100 minigame pack on the 3DS. This is more because it's almost impossible to unintentionally injure yourself with it, however.
  • 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 (alongside the games that were designed for handhelds to begin with).
  • Past-generation Pokémon titles. Finding used copies isn't difficult at all, given Pokémon's status, but Nintendo had unusually never shown any inclination to reprint any past game. Instead, remakes ensued. It was only in 2016 that Pokémon Red and Blue (Pokémon Gold and Silver and Crystal would join them later) were released on the 3DS Virtual Console. As a bonusnote , the Pokémon that can be obtained in these games can be transferred to Pokémon Sun and Moon via the Poké Transporter and Pokémon Bank.
    • The straightest examples in Pokémon are Pokémon Yellow prior to the 3DS Virtual Console re-release (unlike Crystal, and to a lesser extend Emerald, almost none of Yellow's differences were incorporated into the remakes, 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 Nintendo 64 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.
    • PokéPark: Fishing Rally DS was a spin-off game that was only released in Japan but was not available for retail as It was only available as a DS Download Play demo. From May 2005 to September 2005 you could bring your DS to the PokéPark theme park, Pokémon Festa Convention, or one of the Pokémon Center stores in Japan and download the game. However the game disappeared after 12 hours or after shutting off your DS so you couldn't even keep it. The game is simple and revolves around fishing for Water Pokémon. You are then given a score based on the size, level, and rarity of each Pokémon. You could also upload your high-score to the kiosks where you download the game. After the game was discontinued in September 2005, it was never rereleased even though it could've potentially been rereleased as a DSiWare title. Additionally the game came out early in the DS lifespan and was only released in Japan so not many people got to play it.
    • Pokémon Ranger: A set of 3 games all released on the Nintendo DS. Getting used copies isn't difficult, but finding a brand new factory sealed copy is another thing entirely. Why go through the trouble? This is due to being able to obtain and transfer Manaphy, which can only be done once per cart.
  • The original arcade port of Donkey Kong is a mixture of this and Screwed by the Lawyers, as a lawsuit filed by Ikegami Tsushinki (whom Nintendo contracted development of the arcade cabinets to) has prevented this version of the game from being rereleased in most capacities (a notable exception being an arcade machine found in Frantic Factory from Donkey Kong 64), with most subsequent ports of the game being that of the NES version.
    • Speaking of which, Donkey Kong 64 was the only DK platformer to have never been added to Wii's Virtual Console, possibly because it featured Rare's now Microsoft-owned arcade game, Jetpac as a minigame. N64 copies have never been rare, but it was either them or nothing until it was finally released on the Wii U's Virtual Console, Jetpac and all. This also made the aforementioned arcade port of Donkey Kong included in the game hard to come across as well during that time.
  • 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 lot of these, including Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark, have been remade for the Xbox Live Arcade or included in Rare Replay, finally averting it for their earlier games.
    • The original version of Diddy Kong Racing remains as the only Donkey Kong-related Nintendo 64 game to not see a re-release. The stumbling block for its release are reportedly 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, among them 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 remake (a la Perfect Dark XBLA) was produced with Activision's support, but disagreements with Nintendo resulted in the remake never saw the light of day. Understandably enough, Activision decided to simply remake the original game (which, as stated in the Activision folder, is now unavailable through legal means as well).
  • 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 broadcast games, they're almost certainly incomplete — the streamed audio and voice acting were 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 Satellaview 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.
  • 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 Super Mario World 2: 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.
    • The original SNES versions of Star Fox and Yoshi's Island, and even the unreleased Star Fox 2, while still unavailable on any platform's Virtual Console, have finally been rereleased on the SNES Classic Mini console.
  • Various Nintendo games that use the Tetris branding but aren't actually Tetris games (such as Tetris Attack), due to the extremely strict 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 Updated Re-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, which allowed the Pokémon-based games to get released on the Virtual Console.
    • The Game Boy installment itself was only made available for three years before it was delisted from the 3DS Virtual Console. The lack of availability of this game is an extreme case, as the Game Boy installment is by all accounts the Tetris game for many people—it is the one that introduced the iconic Ear Worm that has basically become the de facto theme, stands as the Game Boy's original Killer App, and remains one of the best-selling single-platform videogames of all time. It is also notable for being the only pre-Tetris Company Tetris game re-released; with its removal rendering all games made before the company's establishment legally unavailable for good.
  • 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 Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
    • On October 21, 2015 they re-released Wild Gunman for the European Wii U Virtual Console (and in January 7 of the following year for North America), but it's likely for another reason....
    • If you want to play games with the Zapper, than you better keep an old fashioned CRT-television as well. Modern flatscreen televisions perfectly enable you to play on the NES. However, the Zapper won't work because of the mechanics behind it.
      • This also applies to the later SNES Super Scope. And unlike the Zapper, no Super Scope-compatible games (most notably Super Scope 6, Yoshi's Safari, Battle Clash, and Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge) have ever gotten an official re-release in any form.
  • 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? Typically you'll have to end up picking up an imported one on Amazon for $20+. Stock is rather low in the US for some characters while you can find 20+ Pikachu anywhere you go. Its started to improve now that a few of the store exclusives (Shulk, Greninja, and Lucario) have started to appear at other stores.
  • Rhythm Heaven soundtracks are only published for the Japanese market, which do not have the English-language versions of the vocal tracks found in the North American and PAL versions. While those tracks can be ripped from the game data, their lack of soundtrack appearances also means they do not have extended versions like the Japanese-language versions do.
  • Square and Enix's titles from the NES and Super NES eras have received one (sometimes two or more) rereleases via remakes, Virtual Console releases, or ports. However, some haven't without any mention as to why, but some can speculate:
  • You can still buy WiiWare games on the Wii U... except the 22 that have been delisted (plus the two that were Club Nintendo-only). If crackers hadn't figured out how to turn them into WADs (no, not those), they would have been lost forever. Nintendo announced plans to discontinue the Wii Shop Channel service entirely in 2019 (with the ability to buy shop points revoked after March 2018), meaning any games on it that weren't ported to another system will also have to be obtained with WADs.
  • The entire GameCube library can be seen as this, due to having not been released on the Wii U's Virtual Console and Nintendo having yet to announce those games available on the Switch's VC/equivalent either.note  Not helping matters is that the system (and its games) had comparatively low sales, especially in some regions (most notably Australia); and GameCube games don't even seem to be sold in specialised stores.
    • The majority of the Nintendo 64 library can also be seen as this; as Nintendo has only re-released a handful of N64 games on both the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console platforms (the number of N64 games on both the Wii and Wii U VC are just barely over 20). Not helping matters are that the majority of the N64 games available on VC being first-party titles; third-party support of the console was minuscule due to most developers jumping ship to the PlayStation, and some of the consoles' most popular games were by former second-party studio Rare, the details of which are another can of legal worms (as explained above).
    • Speaking of the Nintendo 64, the entire Nintendo 64DD library (with the exception of Doshin the Giant) has never been re-released in any form. This is most likely due to the fact that the add-on only saw a limited mail-order release in Japan and was one of Nintendo's biggest failures. Right now the only option to play Nintendo 64DD games is to import one (which is extremely hard to find) or emulate the ROMs.
  • Both of the "Tellius" Fire Emblem games, Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, have never gotten any kind of re-release for succeeding Nintendo hardware; while back in the heyday of the Wii, this wasn't as much of a problem (the Wii was back-compatible with the Gamecube, so the issue was moot), with the advent of the Switch and the discontinuing of the WiiU it's become a bit more of an issue. Their print runs were also some of the smallest the franchise has ever seen... which once again wasn't as big a problem at the time, but then Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Heroes made the franchise blow up in popularity and Super Smash Bros. introduced a ton of people to Ike, so those copies are now in extraordinarily high demand.
  • The download service for the iQue Player, a Chinese variant of the N64 that used heavily encrypted downloaded games, closed on 31 December 2016, so although a package of all released ROMs (in the iQue@Home software) has been mirrored on the Web, nobody can pay to unlock any more copies of the games, and as of now the encryption has not been cracked.
  • Gyromite and Stack-Up, the sole games designed for use with the NES's Robotic Operating Buddy. The way the games were controlled via the R.O.B. peripheral makes a Virtual Console release all but impossible for either game. If you have a copy of either game and want to play it, you're also going to need a CRT TV; like the Zapper mentioned above, the R.O.B. peripheral won't work with flat-screen TVs.

    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 a terribly short lifespan due its 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 became lost). 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).
    • Sakura Wars (1996) and Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die were ported to the Dreamcast and as well as the PC, with the first game also getting an Updated Re Release on the PlayStation 2 under the subtitle In Hot Blood. Most recently, the two games were also ported to the PSP in 2006. The original Saturn games, as well as the Dreamcast ports, have long since gone out of print.
    • 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, as the remaining two parts never saw release outside of Japan; or that then-series developer Sonic! Software Planning (now known as Camelot Software Planning), the only possible party who could have the source code, has long since jumped ship to Nintendo.
    • 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, commissioned by Sega as a replacement for the cancelled Sega Saturn game Sonic X-treme. This version of the game, despite sporting enhanced graphics, a new soundtrack, and a new special stage, has only seen one subsequent PC port released a 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).
    • The original Sega Saturn version of racing spinoff Sonic R can be considered this, as although the game was included as part of Sonic Gems Collection on the GameCube and Playstation 2 note , the game is based on the Updated Re-release PC version, which has several added features that the Saturn version lacks, such as various weather effects and improved draw distance (although it also downgrades on a few things such as Radiant Emerald lacking its transparency from the Saturn version). As such, the original Saturn version is quite difficult to come across.
    • Of the three Sonic games that made it to the Saturn, the absolute rarest of them all is the Compilation Re-release Sonic Jam, which has never left the platform (the very superficially related Game.com release of the same name not withstanding). This normally wouldn't be too eyebrow-raising, as compilation games are rarely, if ever, re-released; however, Jam is notable for not only being the only Sonic compilation game to have actual ports of the Genesis games (rather than emulations, as has been the case for most re-releases), complete with various difficulty modes; but also various bonus content that haven't been brought back in future compilations, the most important of which being Sonic World—a 3D hubworld that was effectively the closest thing Sonic ever got to a 3D platforming game on the consolenote .
  • Despite being better-received in the West and having more accessible hardware, the Sega Dreamcast fared not much better than its predecessor the Saturn in its lifespan and hardware sales. Since it was the last Sega console released before the company elected to leave the hardware business, games released for this platform are also scarce in availability to contemporary platforms as well. This problem also applies to many games released during Sega's early years as a third-party publisher, due to Sega's development studios making new games and ports of existing Dreamcast games exclusive to certain platforms, some of which tanked in sales due to them failing to match the platform's demographics (Sega games released as Xbox exclusives were especially bad with this). As a further consequence, Sega during their transition as a third-party publisher decided to consolidate their studios (who were initially spun off into subsidiaries) back into organized R&D divisions within the company; resulting in many of the studios responsible for producing these games being closed and seeing their staff redirected into the newly-established R&D groups.
    • While the first Crazy Taxi has gotten a handful of releases following its original arcade and Dreamcast console release, its two sequels haven't been as lucky. Crazy Taxi 2's only release outside of the Dreamcast was on the PSP entry Fare Wars (a compilation port of the first two games); while Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller has remained exclusive to the Xbox.
    • Developer Smilebit's three Xbox-exclusive releases —Jet Set Radio Future, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and GunValkyrie— made little impact in sales, and thus have yet to see a re-release on another platform. The original release of Jet Set Radio Future is especially bad for being very hard to find and just as costly to obtain, prompting most people searching for the game to go with the Jet Set Radio Future/Sega GT 2002 combo disc bundled with Xbox consoles for the 2002 holiday season (which in fairness was done specifically due to the standalone game's low sales; the combo disc itself is actually somewhat common to come across in used game stores and is usually priced pretty cheap). The original Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio on the Dreamcast, however, did eventually see a re-release on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Steam in 2012.
    • Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning? and Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens were originally released for this system, before being ported to the PC. While the original Dreamcast releases of the games are out of print, Is Paris Burning? was also ported to the PS2 alongside the Updated Re Release of Sakura Wars.
    • Skies of Arcadia is another statistic of a game that received critical praise but performed to indifferent sales, and thus isn't available outside either the original Dreamcast release and its enhanced "Legends" port to the Gamecube.
    • Space Channel 5 is an odd case. The original game's Dreamcast release eventually made it to America and Europe, while the Dreamcast release for its sequel, Part II, never left Japan. Both games received PS2 ports, though due to Part II's more limited and behindhand run, the original game is better known. While Part II was included on the Xbox 360's Dreamcast Collection and was re-released to the XBLA, PSN, and Steam; whether the original game will see its own re-release is still up in the air.
  • The 2010 console port of After Burner Climax was delisted by Sega on December 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 its download history (similar to the Zelda: Four Swords situation). 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, particularly from the "Classic" era fall under this.
    • 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 original version of Sonic CD. Being released on the unpopular Mega CD/Sega CD add-on for the Sega Genesis is the reason for its obscure status in the first place, compared to the main Genesis Sonic titles. A PC port released a few years later has over time became functionally obsolete, with the game becoming virtually unplayable on computers running Windows XP and later. A planned inclusion of the game on Sonic Mega Collection was nixed due to emulation problems (mostly from 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 modified port of the PC version (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). The 2011 re-release has the assets of the original game running on a engine completely re-coded from scratch, which makes it a hybrid of a Polished Port and a Video Game Remake; but since it's designed to be virtually identical to the original release, its the closest thing one could get to a true re-release of the Mega CD original.
    • In direct contrast to every major (read: main series console) Sonic title to date, Sonic 3 & Knuckles is notable for having no legitimate release of its entire OST in any format—only a handful of the game's original tracks have been officially distributed, those of which are only on select anniversary compilation soundtracks; most of the official releases of the songs have otherwise been remixes. Moreover, most of the original tracks from the game that have been released cover the Sonic & Knuckles half of the game, tracks from the Sonic 3 half of the game are extremely rare. This may be a case of the game having been Screwed by the Lawyers, due to the sketchy circumstances of the creation of the game's music, which notably at one point had Michael Jackson and his crew on board as composers.note 
      • The ambiguous legal standings over the game's music has also been faulted for new re-releases of the game grinding to a halt, with the last release being the Steam port in 2011. While Sonic 3&K isn't quite as widely available as Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, it still had decent representation on certain compilations (namely Sonic Mega Collection [Plus] and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collectionnote ) and digital stores (the aforementioned Steam, XBLA, Wii Virtual Console). Following 2011, however, Sonic 3&K has notoriously failed to join its direct predecessors in a handful notable re-release initiatives that have followed since then—the individual PlayStation Network re-releases, the early 2010s smartphone remasters, the M2 3DS ports / Sega's 3D Classics Collection, recent AtGames' Sega Genesis miniconsoles, and even the 2018 Sega Genesis Classics console compilation. With the revelation that a mobile remaster for Sonic 3&K was proposed in 2014 but turned down, and the Wii VC release no longer obtainable due to Nintendo setting the Wii Shop Channel off into the sunset (see the Nintendo folder above), the future of availability is looking uncertain for what is widely considered by many as one of the series' finest games, if not the absolute finest.
    • Arcade fighter Sonic the Fighters (also known as Sonic Championship outside of Japan) was initially given a very limited release outside of Japan, and as a result became rather obscure and looked down upon by international audiences. The fact that it's essentially a Dolled-Up Installment of the Fighting Vipers series only added to its poor reputation overseas, and while the game was rereleased more openly as part of Sonic Gems Collection and on the Xbox Marketplace/PlayStation Network (the latter version of which adds a few extra bells and whistles such as three formerly Dummied Out fighters), the original arcade cabinet of the game is a rarity to find.
    • 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.
    • The aforementioned three Sonic games on the Sega Saturn (Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, Sonic R, and Sonic Jam). Concerning 3D Blast, however, 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 compilations such as Sonic Mega Collection.
    • The original Dreamcast versions of Sonic Adventure and to a lesser extent Sonic Adventure 2 had a number of online features that were missing from all later ports. There were online contests and global rankings with physical rewards, downloadable events and challenges, and the ability to share Chao online. Additionally, players could download rare and otherwise unobtainable Chao from the Black Market. Nearly all of these features were lost even for the Dreamcast versions, as they used the games' official websites, which closed down years ago. Players can still find most of the Dreamcast-exclusive DLC floating on the web, and they can still be played despite their online contests no longer being active, but the first game's second Japanese DLC, and the Black Market Chao downloads of both games, seem to be sadly lost, as no one has uploaded them anywhere since their original downloads went down.
      • In addition, the Chao feature suffered loses with each rerelease. As stated, online sharing was removed, and the loss of the online Black Market meant that getting Jewel Chao was much harder and more expensive in the GameCube ports, which required a GBA, a link cable, a GBA Sonic game, and hours of grinding. Chao Adventure 1 and 2 were missing from non-Dreamcast versions, replaced by Tiny Chao Garden, which played vastly differently and served different purposes. Then Tiny Chao Garden was removed from the non-GameCube releases, resulting in the loss of functionality such as Chao transfer between games, and Jewel Chao being rendered unobtainable without hacking. Similarly, the Moon, Tails, Knuckles and Amy Chao, originally available from special events, bonus disks and Phantasy Star Online, are unobtainable due to the lack of GBA connectivity. The removal of Party Race also means that it's no longer possible to have your Chao compete with your friend's, eliminating the purpose of leveling up your Chao after beating all Races in single player.
      • Lastly, modern ports of Sonic Adventure are based on the PC version of Sonic Adventure DX, an issue-ridden port of the GameCube version, and keep nearly all of its problems. And since they're based on the DX upgrade, it's not possible to play the game with the original Dreamcast graphics outside of game mods, even if you don't get the DX DLC.
    • Sonic Shuffle, also for the Dreamcast, has never had an official re-release. This may have something to do with the Dreamcast's VMU coming into play, as it was used to keep the player's playing cards hidden from the other players.
    • 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 a Fan Remake named 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 (especially Porsche, of which Electronic Arts have the exclusive rights to in video games), 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.
  • Garfield: Caught in the Act hasn't seen a re-release since 1998's Sonic & Garfield Pack for the PC.

    Multiple/Other 
  • The relatively obscure post-apocalyptic horror series Afterfall: Insanity, which consists of only one full game and an unfinished episodic sequel, were pulled off of Steam without warning in 2015. Some reports indicated the reasoning is very similar to the Silicon Knights situation, in that the developers behind the series didn't properly pay for a license to use the Unreal Engine, and were sued by Epic Games to have their games removed from any storefronts.
  • 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. That was, of course, before the game saw a re-release of GOG.com.
  • Alisia Dragoon has never been rereleased, and copies are somewhat rare nowadays because it didn't receive much distribution in any territory.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has a very unusual case, in that it doesn't apply to the main game itself (which has remained readily available up to today). Instead, there was a special bonus dungeon, called the Lost Dungeon of Souls, released separately on a different disc. Finding a copy of said disc was (and is) extremely difficult, to the point where the collective Internet completely forgot it even existed for several years. Eventually, it was re-discovered, and can now be searched for and downloaded.
  • Of the three "Bat-" games by 8ing/RaizingBattle Garegga, Armed Police Batrider, and Battle Bakraid—only Garegga has ever seen a port; Batrider and Bakraid remain arcade exclusives to this day.
  • 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 Yoyo Games's 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.
  • While Castle of Illusion has received a remake, no plans about remakes or re-releases of the other Illusion games (the handheld Land of Illusion and Legend of Illusion titles, as well as the direct sequel World of Illusion) have been announced (not helped due to the developer, Sega Studios Australia, shutting down after production on the remake finished). The original Castle of Illusion itself was also made available for digital download, but only on the PS3 as a pre-order bonus to the PSN release of the remake.
    • The Castle of Illusion remake also initially lapsed into this, as it was initially delisted from digital avenues after being available for three years. The remake was thankfully made available again in March 2017.
  • 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!
    • 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.
  • The entire library of indie dev CC & SH from the mid-2000s. 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.
  • Comic Party is near impossible to find in its original 18+ PC version. Not only has it been out of print in Japanese for years, even illegal downloads of the visual novel are now broken links. The Dreamcast and PSP versions can be found easier, but this is inconvenient for anyone who wanted to use a text-hooking software like Visual Novel Reader to read the VN (as no English patch was ever made).
  • One Commander Keen game (previously two, until Keen Dreams was rescued) is still unavailable to buy, despite the rest of the series being available to purchase digitally: 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. Similarly to Dreams until its Nintendo Switch rerelease, its rights history is a mess — id Software still owns the rights to the game, and its 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.
  • While the original N64 version of Conker's Bad Fur Day finally saw a rerelease via Rare Replay, its Xbox remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, hasn't seen a rerelease yet. The irony of this is that for years, the remake was the easier version to find. Now it's the harder version.
  • 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 TurboGrafx-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. Worse, due to Parallax Software not being paid royalties for its co-ownership of the series, all three games were pulled from Steam and GOG in 2016.
  • Dokapon Kingdom was published by Atlus in 2008 for the Wii and PlayStation 2, and as such has become notably more difficult to find over time, resulting in the price increasing substantially over time, the ''[[https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B001AMTH1A Wii version costing at least $120 for the game disc alone without the game case on Amazon.]]'' The game did have a second printing as evidenced by the 2 different versions of the game disc, but it did very little to offset how hard it is to find, as even most used game stores do not have any in stock. The only way you're getting the game at a sensible price right now is by getting the [=PlayStation 2 version, which is considered inferior due to the longer loading times which up add to a substantial amount.
  • DoDonPachi dai ou jou is infamous among CAVE fans for how hard it is to get ahold of its ports. The PS2 port by Arika has been long out of print and only includes the basic "white label" version and the special Death Label edition. The Xbox 360 port has it even worse: It turns out that Aqua Systems, the contractor that 5pb (who was in charge of the port) hired to do the porting copied the code from the PS2 port and brought a slew of bugs with it, resulting in Arika stepping in, offering to patch up the port, and the game being pulled out of print, much to the dismay of those waiting for the patch to buy the game. Because of this, and 5pb still having the rights to dai ou jou console ports, it's highly unlikely dai ou jou will see another non-smartphone port for a long time.
  • 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. Luckily, there's now the Steam Compilation Re-release Double Dragon Trilogy.
  • The first DuckTales was remade as DuckTales Remastered, but the second game, DuckTales 2, remains MIA on digital download services, with no plans of a remake having been announced. The game is also very rare and expensive in cartridge form, due to being a late NES release; with copies starting at $195 on Amazon. Arguably a case of First Installment Wins in full effect, as most people don't even know the original game had received a sequel in the first place.
  • After the Duke IP changed hands to Gearbox, most digital releases of the Duke Nukem series (except for Duke Nukem Forever) were pulled from storefronts.
  • 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 PlayStation Network in 2011 and the Wii Virtual Console in early 2012.
    • Irem's NES classic Metal Storm has also sadly been consigned to the digital dustbin, and due to having a rather limited production run, at least in the US, can fetch at least $120 on eBay.
  • The first Gubble game has seen a few re-releases, but looking for the second game? Good luck.
  • Atari Games' tie-in game for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Warner Bros. owns the game code and the rest of Atari Games' catalog, but the Indiana Jones franchise is owned by Lucasfilm/Disney. Fortunately, Warner Bros. has a video game publishing deal with Disney, so it could get rescued in the near future.
  • Happened again to Atari Games with all three of their Star Wars arcade games, including Star Wars, Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (no relation to the more familiar Atari 2600 game). Unlike the Indiana Jones example above, they were given a re-release, with all three games included as unlockable bonus games on Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike for the GameCube, but that's now out of print. And LucasArts had to negotiate with Midway (then-owner of the games) in order to get the games on there. Now, with Warner Bros. owning the arcade games and Disney owning Lucasfilm, such future reissues are doubtful.
  • Konami:
    • Many of Konami's late 1980s and early 1990s arcade games, such as Ajax, Gaiapolis (not counting the pirated Famicom version), Hexion, 'and Lightning Fighters/Trigon, never received consumer ports, and most of their post-1987 material has never seen compilation rereleases either, so good luck finding a machine unless you decide to commit piracy and emulate. Quite a fair of amount of them were available on Game Roomnote , but they all lapsed into this state when Game Room was discontinued, leaving your best option for these games to make a homemade arcade machine and finding the ROMs to put on it.
    • Konami and Hideo Kojima had a major falling out that resulted in the cancellation of Kojima's Silent Hills project. While Silent Hills was still in development, Konami released a widely acclaimed demo exclusively on PS4, called P.T. (Playable Teaser). Instead of simply delisting P.T. from the PlayStation Store (preventing new purchases), Konami took the unprecedented step of removing P.T. from the PSN servers altogether, so any of the game's owners were unable to redownload P.T. if they had deleted it from their system. A few enterprising fans were able to sell used PS4s with working copies of P.T. for inflated prices, and some developed a complicated method of using a proxy server to get the game back.
    • 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.
    • A handful of Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games are unavailable legally due to Konami having dropped the TMNT license in 2007. The NES version of the game was available on the Virtual Console for around five years before it was dropped from the store after the license expired. This is averted with the first two TMNT arcade games, which are available on the Xbox Live Arcade (for both games, and the only one carrying the first TMNT arcade game) and the PlayStation Network (which also carries the second TMNT arcade game).
    • BeatStream, unlike other BEMANI games that have been discontinued, required a connection to the eAMUSEMENT server to start up, and additionally did not get an offline-enabling update like DanceEvolution Arcade and Miraidagakki FutureTomTom did. The game was taken off the network on September 1st, 2017, effectively disappearing from the face of the planet.
  • 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.
  • Taken Up to Eleven with Highlander: The Last of The MacLeods for the Atari Jaguar CD. There are no emulations of the Jaguar CD in any form, the game is an exclusive to it, and worst of all the console has only 20,000 units made and is prone to breaking down a lot, so finding a copy and a working console is extremely unlikely.
  • Killer7 is one of the most sought-after games on the GameCubenote , 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 had no plans on re-releasing it for over a decade—following its 2005 release, it would take until 2018 before the two (in collaboration with NIS America) announced that an remaster of the game was in the works for Steam, planned for a fall 2018 release.
  • The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games and Hotel Mario, the infamous Philips CD-i video games featuring officially-licensed Nintendo characters, have never been re-released in any other platform, and not just because Nintendo doesn't own the rights to them (Atari owns them via their buyout of Philips Interactive Media in 1997, when they were called Infogrames). For what it's worth, their classification of the games as non-canon makes any appetite for a re-release minimal. The CD-i is also notoriously difficult to emulate on other platforms, so expect to pay a pretty penny for a CD-i and these games if you dare wish to play them.
  • 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 early games in the series published by Working Designs tended to have small production runs, and first two games were released on the Sega CD, which was niche hardware in the first place. Lunar: The Silver Star, 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 are not hard to acquire, though.
    • It helps that the first game has more games/remakes in addition to the PlayStation one: Lunar Legend on the GBA and Silver Star Harmony on the PSP.
  • 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.
  • For a long time, this was the case of Myst installments 3 and 4, Exile and Revelations. As Cyan made the first two games, and then licensed the series to other developers and Ubi Soft for 3 and 4 while they concentrated on Uru Live, when digital releases became popular they were only able to release installments 1, 2 and 5, and in order to play Exile or Revelations, you had to seek out a used copy and hope it would still work. Fortunately, for the 25th anniversary in 2018, it was announced that Cyan had secured the rights once again and would be rereleasing the entire series, updated to work on modern computers.
  • 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...
  • 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 it 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 spite as much as anything else.
  • All of Williams and Bally's games were removed from the The Pinball Arcade on June 30, 2018, as Scientific Games, the current rights owners to Williams's and Bally's pinball games, declined to renew their licensing deal with Farsight Studios. Farsight continued to offer support for those who already owned the tables.
  • Would you believe Raiden II, the face of arcade Shoot Em Ups, as well as Updated Re-release 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.
  • Since the closure of the developer Elixir Studios and the collapse of the publisher Eidos Interactive, Republic: The Revolution is owned by Rebellion, who had pulled it from GOG.com in 2011 and do not list even in their own store. As such, there is currently no legal way to play the game, other than hunting down a rare used copy of Eidos' original run. Interestingly, Rebellion is more than happy to list Elixir's other game, Evil Genius, in its store and every other digital distribution platform...
  • 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.
  • A rather sad case of this applies to the original Wii version of Rodea: The Sky Soldier, developed by Prope and produced by Yuji Naka (of Sonic fame). It was completed and ready for a 2011 release, only to be mysteriously shelved by publisher Kadokawa Games. The game wouldn't be seen again until four years later, having been unspectacularly rebuilt for the 3DS and the Wii U by Kadokawa themselves (with the Wii U version, for some incomprehensible reason, being a port of the 3DS version rather than the Wii version). The original Wii game was only made available with first-print copies of the Wii U version, and has been declared by the small group of reviewers and fans who actually got their hands on it to be the only good iteration of the game. (For what it's worth, Naka himself is on record for requesting people to play the Wii game over the other versions on his Twitter feed.)
  • 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.
  • In an extreme case, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, a tie-in game for both the comic book series and the then-recent film adaptation of the same name, was taken off of both PSN and XBLA on December 30th, 2014 without explanation, and many of the game codes stopped working as well. Some websites like Best Buy and GameStop still sold codes for the game on their online stores, but they too had unfortunately ran dry by 2016. We're talking about a download-only console-exclusive game here, not to mention a movie/comic book tie-in game that doesn't suck. Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley has expressed interest in getting the game re-licensed in late 2016, but later comments he made about the situation by the year's end indicate he might had ran into a brick wall with lawyers.
  • 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!
  • Shadow Man went into limbo after Acclaim folded and rights of the old Valiant Comics properties floated around to new owners. A Virtual Console re-release of the N64 port was teased from around the time the Virtual Console came out, but that still has not happened. the Dreamcast and PlayStation ports are likely lost forever for various reasons (the PlayStation port no doubt to being a tremendous disaster of a port). The PC version did eventually hit Steam, however, which was actually the most advanced version of the game with more maps and higher resolution textures- although the N64 version is better known.
  • Silicon Knights:
    • The company 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.)
    • Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes due to the company falling apart and both games not selling very well. Because of this, 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.
  • Square Enix's digital PS1 and PSP releases on PSN can run into this at times.
    • In general, the Square side has better luck than the Enix side, with numerous Final Fantasy games, Parasite Eve 1 and 2, Chrono Cross, and even Threads of Fate, Legend of Mana, and Xenogears. On the flipside, Valkyrie Profile, Star Ocean: The Second Story, along with many other Enix PS1 games are all completely missing and have never been re-released. Even the PSP ports of Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean 1 and 2 were never released digitally, so physical copies are the only option.
    • There are still some Square games that got lost in the shuffle though, like both Bushido Blade games, Brave Fencer Musashi, and Chocobo Racing.
    • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was never released digitally due to licensing issues involving its vocal themes.
    • The PSP ports of Final Fantasy I and II are also unavailable digitally. Final Fantasy Origins (the PS1 collection both ports are based off of) is available as a consolation prize, even though it doesn't have the PSP version's bonus dungeons. Final Fantasy IV has the exact opposite case though: the PS1 version isn't on PSN while the PSP version is.
  • The fan game Super Mario Bros. X thanks to creator Redigit getting a cease and desist from Nintendo.
  • 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. Finally on Good Old Games as of September 22, 2015, complete with mouselook mod (classic gameplay remains an option).
    • System Shock 2 was in the same situation until it was finally rereleased on Steam and GOG in 2013.
  • 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.
  • This seems to 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.
    • In a swing and a miss, the PlayStation Classic plug-and-play console includes the PS1 version of Tekken 3...namely, the notoriously sluggish PAL version.
  • 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 Boynote  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 OpenTTD—until recently a copy of Transport Tycoon Deluxe was required to play OpenTTD. 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.
    • Finally rescued by ROI Games, who remade the game and released it worldwide for mobile devices in 2016, subsequently followed by an announcement of the game also coming to PS4 and Steam in August 2017.
  • Castle Wolfenstein and its 1984 direct sequel Beyond Castle Wolfenstein haven't seen any ports or re-releases since the 1980s. This means that the games are only available on floppy disks for MS-DOS, Commodore 64, and various computer systems that have been discontinued for decades, and they are very expensive (some copies costing over $200).
    • Wolfenstein (2009) (the sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein) was pulled from distribution not long after its release. This was largely due to underwhelming sales, employees from Raven Studios being laid off, and being developed during id Software's acquisition by ZeniMax Media. 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 (which found better success).
  • Heretic II, the sequel to Heretic, or the Portal of Praevus Expansion Pack to Hexen II are out of question due to trademark dispute between Raven (which is now a fully owned subsidiary of Activision) and Bethesda (which own the developer who made the engine).
  • Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days was delisted from all digital storefronts less than six months after its initial release, meaning downloading a pirated version of the GOG release or buying a hideously overpriced grey-market key are the only ways of obtaining it. Its official website is still online.
  • Rusty, and its spiritual successor Totsugeki! Mix, are next to impossible to find legitimate and secondhand copies almost anywhere around the net, due to a combination of being released on an obsolete computer system and being only released in Japan. This is not even getting into importing a working PC-9801 machine. A DOS version does exist, but it's equally as difficult to find.
  • SNK's Beast Busters series was hit with this twice. The first time in 1998, when Beast Busters: Second Nightmare was released for Hyper Neo Geo 64, SNK's failed arcade system that was discontinued after only 7 games were made for it. The system is currently un-emulated (and probably will never be), so the only way to play the game is to find an used cabinet. The second time in 2014, when the franchise was revived as a freemium Mobile Phone Game for its 25th birthday, that however sold less than planned, given the obscurity of the franchise. So, about a year later, SNK removed the app from every online store, making it unavailable to whoever hadn't installed it. Ironically, the app's official site is still up.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Underpants Slam is no longer available on the Xbox Live Arcade due to the developer, Blitz Arcade, going bankrupt.
  • The 1997 Monolith game Claw is impossible to buy due to copyright issues regarding the eponymous main character. The only way to get a copy is on abandonware sites or torrents.
  • R-Type and R-Type II have the Compilation Re-release R-Type Dimensions on various platforms thanks to Tozai Games, but due to Irem backing out of the console game industry and delisting nearly all of their other VC, PSN, and XBLA rereleases as mentioned above, most titles in the series play this trope straight, especially R-Type Leo, a Japanese arcade-exclusive Gaiden Game, and R-Type Delta, which is physically one of the rarest PSX titles and can go for up to $170.
  • P.N.03 is the only one of Capcom's GameCube titles that remains exclusive to the system (plus the original Wii via backwards compatibility), and due to its relatively poor critical and commercial reception, is unlikely to see a rerelease or remaster.
  • Haunting Ground, due to its very limited printing, is one of the PS 2's most sought-after games, with loose copies starting at $90, and sealed copies fetching up to $300. There was a PSN Classics re-release, but only in Japan.
  • Although EA bought the rights to the NFL Blitz series from Midway when they went bankrupt in 2009, the sale didn't include Blitz games that were already developed and released (including the non-NFL branded Blitz: The League), as those were sold to Warner Bros. along with the rest of Midway's library. As a result, do not expect any of those games to be re-released as it would require three parties (EA, WB and the NFL) to cooperate in a re-release.
  • WWF Wrestlemania The Arcade Game has never been reissued on a game console platform since the MS-DOS release in 1997. Since the game was one of few Midway games not to be sold to Warner Bros. (Acclaim, who ported the game to home consoles, owns it via Throwback Entertainment), it's unlikely it'll be resurfacing anytime soon.
  • Rule of Rose, another late PS 2-era survival horror cult classic, is infamously even rarer than Haunting Ground, apparently due to being pulled shortly after release for its controversial content, along with being outright banned in several countries. Loose copies command around $200 at a minimum.
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