Two prototype versions of the Game Boy Color port of Resident Evil are waiting in the wings for an imminent release; news that strikes us as rather serendipitous considering that we were just talking about that game last week. Like all great news, however, there's a bit of a catch.

We're not talking about something awesome and legit, like an official 3DS eShop release, we're talking about ROMs. What's more, the ROMs for these two prototype cartridges, one containing most of Jill's campaign and the other containing an earlier build, will only be released to the internet if the anonymous seller's "fundraiser" reaches its $2,000 goal by the end of February.

Now, that sounds more like extortion than a fundraiser, but the third party running the sale maintains that the benefactor in question is actually taking a substantial loss at that price point. That sounded reasonable at first, but the more we think about it, the less we buy it.

It's true that some rare games can sell for tens of thousands of dollars, but those games tend to exist in extremely limited quantities and also tend to be remarkably verifiable; Stadium Events for the NES and the European version of Kizuna Encounter for the Neo Geo immediately spring to mind. Those are actual games, though, and not ROMs. Unless this collector destroys these cartridges after the ROMs are posted, the $2,000 entry fee is nothing but pure profit, since the cartridges can still be sold afterwards.

Don't get us wrong, we love the idea of preserving the gaming industry's wackier moments. What we don't love is the idea of someone coercing a substantial amount of money from a dedicated fan base by ransoming the distribution of a product that they have no right to distribute. To paraphrase a brilliant professor of archeology, "They belong in a museum!"

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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