During E3, I mentioned how I once tried to figure out what all of the currencies in Nintendo games were equivalent to in real money. Amazingly, I found my old work and have expanded it. Here are my findings.
First off, the method for how I did this: I found, utilizing various wikis, the costs in games (usually RPGs) of goods that have real-life equivalents. For example, lots of games have axes, candles, lanterns, shovels, etc. that have real-world equivalents. The same goes for many kinds of foods. Other objects, however, don't have a real world equivalent (Pokeballs, magic potions, etc.).
So, basically, I calculated what each of these items in a world cost in the native currency (coins, rupees, pokedollars, etc.) and in real world USD currency. I then found out the sum of those two "shopping lists" and then went divided the fictional currency sun by the USD sum to find out what one dollar USD was in that other currency. Here are what I found:
$1 USD = 34.30 Pokedollars
$1 USD = 1.04 Mushroom Kingdom Coins
$1 USD = 0.06 Banana Coins
$1 USD= 3.88 Bear Coins (from DKC3)
$1 USD = 5.14 Rupees
$1 USD = 14.97 Eagleland Dollars
$1 USD = 5.09 Animal Crossing Bells
(Still to do: Hocotatian Pokos, Golden Sun Weyard Coins, possibly non-Nintendo currencies such as SimNation Simoleans, Dragon Quest Gold, Final Fantasy Gill, etc.)
Now, some notes about this:
First off, I'm not an expert on economics, merely an amateur who reads alot.
Second off, how much more or less each currency is to the USD is not truly an indication of how much "better" the economy or economic policies in games are, especially as we rarely see such going-ons or have any contexts. For all we know, there could be cultural aspects that favor high or low inflation on certain currencies or the denominations of the currency, or unusual ways to back up the currency (for example, I think the Banana Coins are backed up by DK Isle's large banana reserves). Japan, even after a decade or two of economic trouble, is still a bigger economy than, say, Mexico. However, a Peso is closer in value to a dollar than a Yen is. And, in the end, once you've converted your money to another, you still have the same ability to pay as you did before... it's just different money you are handing in.
Third, in cases where a item had a different price in different locations in a game or a series, I either averaged them out or picked the most common amount.
Fourth, the methods I used in doing this were by no means the best way or even a "right" way. It's a experimental project. If you find yourself in a video game world, whether by Tronization or becoming Captain N, do not use these exchange rates. Instead, just smash some pots or hit some blocks to get currency.
Finally, something to keep in mind is that, in the games, every fictional video game currency have no fractional denominations (i.e. they lack the quarters, dimes, nickels etc.). This likely has to do with simplicity in programming, but also could be partially because Japan, where Nintendo is located, also lacks such denominations (this is partially the reason why Yen are so large in number, I believe). However, although they might not exist in cold hard currency, they do exist in foreign exchanges (1 dollar equals 79.56 yen, for example). This is why we have things like 1.04 Mushroom Kingdom Coins, despite the fact no such amount exists in the games.
Also, feel free to correct my math.
So, you are probably wondering how this could come in useful. Well, let's use what I like to call the Super Smash Brothers example: assume everyone in the SSB got stuck in the Pokemon World and had to suddenly buy pokeballs. So, how much money would they have to put through the Omniversal Currency Exchange to buy a ordinary pokeball (200 pokedollars)?
-Snake, from a world essentially like ours, would convert USD to Pokedollars. Dividing 200 by 34.30 brings you about 5.83, so Snake would need to put in about 5 dollars and 83 cents into the OCE, although he'd actually have to put in 5.84 so that he could get 200+ pokedollars as opposed to 199 or so.
-Mario, Luigi etc. use Mushroom Kingdom Coins, which are very close to USD in value. In fact, they'd probably only need to hand over 6.06 coins (probably rounded up to 7). Note that the exchange rate between the Mushroom Kingdom and the nearby BeanBean Kingdom is infamously fluid.
-The Kongs come from Kong Island, where, infamously, they received expensive musical instruments in DK64 from Candy Kong for only 3 banana coins. The value of the banana coin, as I speculated before, comes from the great Banana Reserve/Hoarde that backs it up. For most transactions, it is likely that DK and friends have a semi-utopian moneyless system where bananas suffice. This is, of course, why it is such a crisis when K.Rool or anyone else steals the banana horde- it is as if somebody stole all the gold from Fort Knox back when the USA was on the gold standard. It is likely only for large transactions that banana coins are used. Given the fact that a pokeball is not sufficiently expensive enough (around 0.35 banana coins) for a coin, it's likely they just would throw whatever 0.35 coins is worth in Bananas at the OCE.
-Of course, it's possible that they have recently come from DKC3's Northern Kremisphere, where bears are charge and have their own Bear Coins. If this is the case, they'd give about 22.62 (likely rounded up to 23) bear coins to the OCE in exchange for the Pokedollars needed.
-Link and Zelda would need about 29.97 (likely rounded up to 30) rupees to get the pokedollars needed for a standard Pokeball.
-Ness (but not Lucas) would have Eagleland dollars on him, and so would need to have 87.28 on him (probably rounded up to about 88 dollars) to get a pokeball.
-An Animal Crossing villager would need to pay 29.67 bells (likely rounded up to 30) to buy a pokeball. Interestingly, the sellback value of most objects in Animal Crossing are significantly below their original sales value, likely proving market manipulation and other shady practices by one Tom Nook, who's ownership of the one of- if the not THE- only permanent business in town allows him to essentially control the flow of bells in the local economy. This, no doubt, is why KK Slider wants his songs to be free- just imagine what that Tanuki would end up charging for it.
Other notable items from Nintendo games in USD:
The lease of 1,410,800 Bells in the original AC game: $277,170.92
Hylian Shield (80 rupees in OoT, 200 in TP): $15.56 (or $15.57) in OoT, $38.91 in TP
The $7500 Beak Point house in Earthbound: $501.00
An extra life in most Mario games (100 coins): $96.15 (or $96.16)
A 500 Pokedollar Magikarp: $14.58 (would YOU spend that much for a Magikarp?)