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Final Fantasy II cartridge surfaces on eBay -- for $50,000

Some hard-core Final Fantasy fan with deep pockets could fetch home a rare U.S. cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Square's Final Fantasy II never made it out of Japan on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

An American Final Fantasy II cartridge is rare, and may even be unique. If you want to add one to your collection, be prepared to open your wallet wide and dig deep -- it could set you back a cool $50,000 on eBay.

Role-playing game Final Fantasy II is more than 20 years old, first hitting the market in 1988. Developed by Square -- now Square Enix -- the game features retro pixellated characters, dungeons and the ever-present Chocobo.

The game itself was never released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) outside of Japan -- and that's what makes this eBay lot special.

The cartridge is a prototype NES version of the game made for the U.S. market, described on eBay as "the only REAL copy in the world of this lost game". The seller, "fefea," is asking for $50,000 or a best offer -- at the time of writing, 85 offers have been made, the majority declined with several others pending.

The game is being sold by video game historian and journalist Frank Cifaldi, according to Kotaku.com.

The item's description says the NES cartridge, bought by Cifaldi from a private collector, was made by "the fine folks at Square Soft USA (a very small company at the time) to display at the 1991 Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas".

The plan was to release the game later that year, but the company shelved the NES title in order to focus on the next-generation 16-bit Super Nintendo. Cifaldi continues:

I have been the proud owner of this cartridge for over nine years now, and as far as I am aware, this is the only legitimate copy of the game that exists. Any other copies you have seen of Final Fantasy II for the NES have been bootlegs, this is the real deal.

It has been stored securely since it was originally purchased in 2003, and until I took the photos for this auction, it had not touched a console since that time.

Even though the game is marked as a "sample," Cifaldi says the game is fully playable in English, from start to finish. However, due to its tester state, the translation isn't perfect. Cifaldi's gaming site includes an interview with Kaoru Moriyama, the translator who made the CES version. He says:

The English script is clunky and erroneous to the point that players may find the dialogue between characters quite comical. It can be very hard not to snicker when a character declares, "We are all in here because of that old man's Xtal Rod!!"

Cifaldi has also made a YouTube video to show any dubious gamers that the cartridge works.