Best Buy Apparently Ends Gamers Club Unlocked

News broke today that Best Buy has suddenly, and without any warning, pulled the plug on the Gamers Club and Gamers Club Unlocked programs, causing a wave of disappointment on Twitter.

For those unaware, the program cost $30 for a two year membership and gave a 20% discount off any and all new games. So long as it was still sealed, you got 20% off. Games on clearance were 20% off. Collector’s Editions were 20% off and it even extended to amiibos and strategy guides.

By all measurements, the program was far superior to Amazon Games’ Prime discounts and many speculated it helped drive gamer traffic into stores where they’d also get points on purchases with Reward Zone memberships and could price match other items to Amazon. This theoretically could have contributed to the company’s strong fourth quarter performance that saw 14% increased sales with 7% increased sales for the year.

I understand there’s not a large margin on games and Best Buy may have been bleeding money with a program as aggressive as this was. But rather than eliminate the program entirely, I would have hoped to see it adjusted to better benefit the company while still offering incentive for gamers to shop in stores. 20% off pre-orders would match Amazon while extending just 4 weeks after release, and still including the offer on Collector’s Editions, would have kept the program well above Amazon. From my understanding, Prime’s discount only counts towards pre-orders now, so even a 2 week post-release period would keep the Gamers Club Unlocked program a clear winner.

Hopefully, Best Buy will reveal a new program, but for now current members have until their membership expires to take advantage of the discounts. At the time of this writing, membership for purchase can no longer be purchased on the website and cards in store are reportedly no longer functional if taken to the register. Discounts also no longer show on item pages on Bestbuy.com, but still appear in the cart at check out.

It was the best program for gamers while it lasted. Good night, sweet prince.

NYT Gives a Fair Article a Bad Tweet

This past week, Nellie Bowles wrote an article published by the New York Times titled “All We Want to Do Is Watch Each Other Play Video Games” but the publication’s Twitter account ran with the tweet:

“America’s 150 million gamers want to gather. They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller. They want the lighting to be cool, the snacks to be Hot Pockets, and they want a full bar because they aren’t teenagers anymore.”

As one might expect, gamers began mocking the tweet and, by extension, the article itself. Yet there’s a problem with a lot of the responses I saw: They didn’t read the article. If they had, they might have found that Bowles writes a rather positive description of gaming and its future as a centerpiece of American culture. The article goes so far as to comment on Hollywood’s decline during gaming, streaming, and esports’ continued rise. The article’s message is fairly clear: Gaming is no longer a hobby just for kids and teens and is growing exponentially. Not only is it not going anywhere, but it’s going to become even more of a standard staple in entertainment and may even be the savior of some struggling industries.

Let’s evaluate the article itself:

The headline, “All We Want to Do Is Watch Each Other Play Video Games,” is referring to the meteoric rise and record setting shift witnessed with YouTube and Twitch. No gamer can deny that the old new media – gaming magazines/now gaming sites – has been upended by YouTube reviewers/critics and Let’s Players with streaming on Twitch an even newer factor.

Ninja’s 635,000 consecutive views playing Fortnite with Drake made headlines. Streaming and esports are, essentially, watching others play video games and it’s appeal has proven massive. This is noted further with the sub-headline: “Gamers are the new stars. Esports arenas are the new movie theaters.”

If there was any doubt on the direction this was going, the first sentence should set the stage: “Video games are beginning their takeover of the real world.”

The article describes how malls, movie theaters, stores, parking garages, and more locations are converting to esports arenas and content farms are popping up to generate content with the same level of management as a major studio production.

Football teams are celebrating wins with dances from Fornite, which the article notes has racked up 129 million hours viewed on Twitch in under a year. That calculates out to 2.48 million hours a week. If Fortnite was a weekly television show, that might translate to 2.48 million viewers per week. That’s half of what The Simpsons pulls in. Yet that’s not a valid 1:1 comparison. In February alone, Bowles notes that Fortnite received 2.4 billion views on YouTube.  Billion, with a B.

After establishing all this, the article states a very real fact that ESPN broadcasters were adamantly against just 3 years ago: “Esports are, finally, just like any other sport.”

eSports Saving America! (‘s malls)

 

As the online presence is growing more dominant on the streaming and review side, physical space is being taken up by esports arenas and gaming bars. However, here’s where that tweet quote comes in and even within the article where opinions may diverge.

“Those 150 million gamers in America want to gather. They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller. They want the lighting to be cool, the snacks to be Hot Pockets, and they want a full bar because they are not teenagers anymore.”

Commenters are correct – not all gamers are alike and the huge growth of eSports turn outs doesn’t mean all gamers want to squeeze into a room to watch others play games. Some don’t even want to be in a crowded place to play games together.

But I don’t think that’s really the full intent of the article and I think we, as gamers, should be a little more tempered in our reaction. “They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller” isn’t necessarily a literal statement. Nobody literally wants to sit with elbows touching and there’s no logical scenario that controllers would be. It’s more of a gaming iteration of “stand shoulder to shoulder.”

Considering the past number of years have primarily had journalists depicting gamers as anti-social goblins living in shadowy rooms despising human contact, I really think it’s reasonable to accept a claim that gamers are, in fact, normal people who want to gather with friends and enjoy a shared hobby. As the article notes, it’s a natural extension of the already sociable aspect of gaming as we chat on headsets while playing even when we’re not together in the same room.

Breaking down this contentious paragraph, simply think of it as such:

150 million gamers aren’t antisocial, they enjoy interacting with fellow gamers.
There’s a demand for public venues where the hobby can be enjoyed alongside fellow gamers.
They want these venues to have a comfortable atmosphere, not the dark basement stereotype.
The average gamer isn’t a kid anymore.

A Live Example

The article then shifts to describing a new esports arena in Oakland and its pre-opening party. 4000 people inside, a line stretched around the block right in the middle of a tourism hot spot. That’s a good turn out by any stretch and the fact that a game related venue is approved for a major tourism traffic area is more important than the gamers present.

The Co-founder is cited as saying he had to speak at four community meetings to convince the community it would like having the arena present. That means it took effort to get gaming in this location, to have it be present in the community. It also means it was successful. For all the complaints that gamers voice about how politicians, business executives, and everyone calling shots don’t get it, here you have a community that was convinced it was just as beneficial as a grocery store (the cited alternative that was initially desired). That’s a big deal.

Regarding that poorly chosen tweet, some also complained that it suggested gamers were stunted to associate “I’m grown up” exclusively with “I can drink alcohol.” That’s not accurate either, as the article notes the Oakland eSports arena faced challenges with getting a liquor license as the misconception was present that teenagers were the majority demographic when in actuality is cited with 25 being the average age. It’s a fact that most adults want alcoholic beverages as an option in public venues where they congregate.

The article has quotes from gamers in attendance, appreciating a larger venue than the typical back room in a gaming store or commenting on the layout. What caught my interest was that Bowles interviewed 77 year old designer Herb Press who may offer the most positive comment in the article:

”This is an audience involved in this particular time in the computer age, but I’m amazed how critical they are,” he said. “They do have serious concepts and tastes. I heard one come out of the bathroom and say it looked cool in there.”

Actual importance of bathroom ambiance aside, it’s worthwhile to note that it’s a tangible realization that gamers have “serious concepts and tastes” in a major publication like the New York Times. That’s a far cry from the Dorito gremlins we’re frequently written to be in clickbait articles. It suggests that despite the best efforts of certain groups, gaming is growing too big and all-encompassing as a cultural past time to be ignore and dismissed as nonsense that the kids do.

Dorito Gremlin

Even if we still find this amusingly valid in our hearts.

E-Celeb Dread

The next portion of the article is where the real concern should settle. Discussing eSports organizations and the industry that’s growing. As Bowles writes, “Their job is to be cool gamers.” The very notion sounds less like a gamer growing popular for their natural personality and connecting with an audience and more like manufactured gaming celebrities akin to the latest pop idol churned out by American Idol year after year.

It’s noted there are numerous growing eSports teams (perfectly reasonable) and content mills (possibly concerning). That’s where we’re getting into the idea of manufactured gaming. When gaming it about churning out content to mine for something that might go viral, that’s not really gaming so much as it’s trying to find something that will become popular and presenting it for the sole purpose of increasing popularity so that popularity can be translated to followers & subscribers to generate more revenue for corporations that are funding the celebrity in question.

However, it’s noted many have broken away from the entertainment company they were partnered with to pursue their own media companies. That ironically brings them full circle – back to where a content creator on YouTube has replaced the big media conglomerations and has more reach. If gaming can hope to stave off the typical corporate corruption that seems to seep into everything, an ongoing system of direct connection between creators and fans is the way to do it.

Hollywood vs Gaming

Bowles wraps up the article discussing the decline of movie going. Talking to a former Capital Records president who has turned to gamer management (again, think manufactured e-celebs), he says the future is in eSports and gaming, which he believes will surpass movies as an entertainment industry and he acknowledges that a lot of people his age still think gamers must be ‘nerds in their basement’ and says that puts the entertainment industry behind the curve, or “asleep at the switch.”

This entire article is example after example that gaming is, if not THE future of entertainment, at least a major part of it. It’s a shame that so many gamers won’t realize this article is actually in support of their hobby, proclaiming its prominence in the future of culture, based entirely on a poorly chosen tweet.

That’s not entirely at the gamers’ feet, either. They’ve gotten so used to clickbait and disparaging headlines that they do what any gamer would – they don’t play. They don’t click the article, they don’t give the publication click-money. They do what they can to deny the “enemy” points on the board. And while the context of that paragraph in the article isn’t entirely bad by my interpretation, it’s still oddly out of place in the context of the article as a whole.

After all, there’s no mention of Hot Pockets at a single esports arena, gamer bar, or gaming center in the article, nor requested by anyone interviewed, so why suggest gamers want the snacks to be Hot Pockets? That runs contrary to the paragraph’s depiction of gamers as having serious concepts and tastes as well as contrary to the push that the average gamer is an adult, not a teen or kid.

Besides, tendies are the superior choice these days, anyway. At least give a gamer some nugs.

Moss – Polyarc Games

Polyarc Games‘ new release, Moss, is an action adventure puzzle platformer about a small mouse finding herself in a big adventure aided by a ghostly spirit being called “The Reader.” The player takes on the role of this Reader to interact with the environment, but also controls the mouse, Quill, as she traverses the areas and battles clockwork robot bugs. All over the Internet right now, you can’t throw an acorn without hitting a positive review of this charming game.

What I find so enthralling about Moss is that it is a departure from what we’ve come to expect in a VR game and yet if feels very familiar in a rather unexpected way.

VR – New Approach, But Familiarities

While most VR games have leaned towards first person experiences with shooters, the Skyrim port, and a few vehicle driving type approaches, Moss puts the player in the role of an observer with relatively minimal direct action upon the enemies so much as the world itself. Quill is the adventurer in this tale, you are her guardian spirit. The player can move things around like statues and blocks or they can take control of enemies to make them stand still, hold them in place while bringing Quill in to attack, or make the enemies fire their weapons at puzzle switches or other enemies.

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Here I’m controlling the light blue enemy to shoot the red ones while Quill hangs out safe up top.

Where things feel familiar for me is the sets designed for each level. Something about them feels like stepping back into childhood of the 80s and early 90s where practical sets and models were used rather than CG effects. Despite being a video game, the areas that Quill explores feel like physical models that you’re allowed to look at due to the nature of VR. Tilting your head to look into a building Quill is going into or raising up and leaning forward to look down at the set to see what’s hidden behind walls and into nooks and crannies really gives a sense of being there rather than merely observing the location.

That feeling of familiarity has been mentioned in a few other reviews as something out of a Jim Henson film with the charm of a Studio Ghibli production, but it reminded me of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Only in this case, it’s more like Mr. Rogers’ World of Make-Believe as designed by J. R. R. Tolkien (or perhaps more accurately, Brian Jacques). All of this combines to feel like you really are looking at the scenes of a storybook, which is exactly what you, The Reader, are doing in a sense.

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You can just barely see Quill between the center pillars!

On the topic of familiarity, and since I mentioned Brian Jacques, fans of the Redwall series will surely feel there are some similarities and possibly influential inspiration here. When Moss was first shown, I thought it might have somehow been connected to the series of books, but it’s not. Moss is its own storybook and Quill her own character, and what a character she is.

Quill – Our Heroine

The game begins with the player sitting in a large church-like library. Rows and rows of tables extend before you with a few having stacks of thick tomes on them, but only yours has candles before it with a book set before you to read. The book is titled Moss and your first interaction with the world is to open it. The narrator, who voices all characters in the game much as other indie titles have done splendidly, begins by telling the story of how the Mouse Kingdom fell to a great evil and how their people narrowly escaped with the help of a warrior. That warrior’s wounds proved too great and he died in the forest, a tree growing upon him and holding a powerful artifact, a Glass, within it.

The story is told in small bits, each related to a page in the book which dims when that narration is completed, indicating it’s ready for you to turn the page until the story moves to the current level in the tale.

Quill lives with her uncle and although he warns her about staying out late, she tends to push just a little further in her explorations of the forest beyond their town. We first meet her coming back from an expedition of exploration shortly after the previously mentioned Glass has fallen from the tree. Quill stops to check her pack where she seems to have found a button, though she drops it when she’s startled by a crow and hides in a small hole at the base of a large tree. As she starts to leave, the Glass glows and chimes and she picks it up, putting that in her pack instead of the button.

Then, she notices the player. Looking up at you, she’s startled, but then calms and comes closer, moving to a little pier and her gaze practically invites you to lean down to look closer at her. In doing so, the Reader’s reflection is seen in the water and you do definitely look like something from a Ghibli film. From there, Quill hears the bells and heads home before the gates close.

That’s you in the back there.

The game uses the few areas between the start and getting Quill home to get familiar with the controls, which aren’t too difficult. The most challenging aspect is adjusting to combat later where you’ll want to use the motion controller to move in a 3D space while simultaneously keeping an eye on where you’ve got Quill moving so she’s able to fight. Combat isn’t particularly difficult, but there are a few fights where things get a little hectic trying to control Quill and grab enemies to delay them from getting her. Most of this difficulty for me seemed to be getting my Dualshock 4 out of the PS4 Camera’s field of vision mid-combat.

Over the course of the game, Quill doesn’t gain new abilities or power ups. What she starts with is what you get, other than a story upgrade that doesn’t translate to in-game power. That’s fine though, because what you start with is an adorably charming mouse who is intelligent and expressive. In my first playthrough of the game, the biggest mistake I made was identifying how to solve puzzles and executing that strategy. Not solving puzzles immediately offers you the chance to watch Quill give you a hint with simplified sign language and pantomime with smooth animations.

It’s fun to just watch her sometimes. The Reader can even interact with Quill by holding the button to grab things while hovering over her, allowing the player to give her a little pet to the head, ears, back, or belly. She often reacts positively to this, much like a real pet, though later in the game she finds it annoying in a “now is not the time for petting, this is serious” sort of way.

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Here I’m giving Quill an anime-worthy head pat.

Conclusion

Moss is a fun little game that I enjoyed every minute of. I played straight through from start to finish, logging about 4 hours in total. Some might find this a bit too short for the $30 price tag, but I am more than content with the experience. It’s one that’s enjoyable enough that I find myself wanting to play through it again (which I’m going to do to get platinum if nothing else).

The most telling of the game’s affect is that I find myself not only wanting to replay it, but wanting more. Minor non-spoiler: The game ends with a clear indication this is just the beginning of Quill’s tale and that her adventures with the Reader have only just begun. Since the game starts with the player in a library or cathedral reading the book, Moss, I’m curious if the mystical ghost-like Reader in the tale is the reader of the book, able to interact with the story itself or if the literal reader and the mystical Reader are separate entities. Perhaps it’s a question that doesn’t need answering, but it does seem like an interesting one.

I’m curious to know more about Quill’s sword and her arm guard, the mystical Glass artifacts. I want to know more about the evil that rose under their kingdom so long ago. I want to know more about the humans that clearly existed in these lands ages ago. I want a Moss animated series. Most of all, I want one of those adorable Quill figures Polyarc Games has given away with hide & seek games at various conventions and now through various partners and YouTube channels with the game’s release.

Seriously, Polyarc Games, let me give you money. I want to help fund another adventure with our little mouse friend.

 

The Grand Gaming Haul of 2017 Part 2

Once I had sorted out the manuals into alphabetical order and by system and had divided up the multitude of SNES controllers, N64 controllers, NES controllers, and the rest of the hardware and such.

My friend and business partner on this find, Phil, came to my place to start going through all the boxes of games so we could get into the meat of the purchase.

Nintendo

We started with NES titles. I’m not going to list everything we got in this purchase as it would result in ridiculously long lists. Instead, I’ll note some worthwhile additions.

For NES, there were 185 games in total.We started going through them setting aside titles we’d want to keep and any titles we both wanted would get set aside for later. In that stack were 12 Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt/World Class Track meet carts plus 4 copies of Mario 2 and a couple copies of Super Mario Bros. 3.

We had a system planned where we’d flip a coin to see who picked first and then take turns pulling from the pile of games we both wanted. Ultimately, it turned out, this was unnecessary as most of the good titles were things I had. Since Phil is just starting his retro collection, he took a good number of quality NES titles to get started on.

From the NES loose games, I only took Maniac Mansion and Empire Strikes Back.

In addition to his NES games, he picked up one of the NES original models and a GameBoy box that was complete with everything minus a Game Boy itself, which he already had. He was pretty big into Game Boy when we were kids, so it made sense for him to take that one to have a true CIB one for his collection. I took a box that had the styrofoam insert, but nothing else, and added some manuals I already had to make mine at least a start.

From the hand held area, Phil picked up Adventure Island II, Pokemon Ruby, and the manuals for Mega Man IV and Gargoyle’s Quest on Game Boy.

Huge Haul - Phil's

Phil’s total picks

Sidenote: We still haven’t determined what the colored circle stickers meant. Controllers had them – some red, some green, and some orange. We thought maybe green worked, red were broken, and orange untested, but when testing N64 controllers they all worked despite all different sticker colors. No idea…

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I’m also torn on these being new in their original shipping box – not sure I want to split them up!

SNES didn’t fare as well. Despite having about 300 games, we only had a handful of titles that weren’t sports games and we had two boxes of nothing but sports games, one of which was entirely Madden titles from 93 to 97 as well as 16 copies of Super Scope 6, 21 copies of NHL Stanley Cup, and 32 copies of NCAA Basketball.  However, we did have a copy of Ghoul Patrol, which was valued around $100 when we looked it up. I didn’t find anything I’d want in my collection, though.

N64 had some CIB games – Hey You, Pikachu!, Goldeneye 007, Bassmasters 2000, and some of the WWF & WCW titles, but nothing loose. The majority for N64 were a lot of memory cards, expansion RAMs, transfer packs, and rumble packs.

Rounding out Nintendo’s offerings of hardware and software was GameCube with a couple of Game Boy Players (but sadly, no discs), a couple of Wavebirds, one with a receiver I kept, and 18 Nintendo memory cards plus another 14 memory cards from 3rd party manufacturers. Towards the end of going through everything, Phil picked up a small Mario Kart bubblegum case. We joked that the guys at Freaks & Geeks might be willing to try it, but when he opened it there was actually just the disc for Super Mario Sunshine inside!

Sega

Sega Genesis didn’t have much of note, but 19 loose common titles. Sega Dreamcast offered a copy and a half of Shenmue. I did get a CIB copy of Cosmic Carnage on 32X for my collection as well as Quake III Arena.

There was also a CD case with disc games that turned out to be all Sega CD. Night Trap was in there, as well as Final Fight CD (which had a manual in with the other manuals), which I may keep and try to find the remaining parts to make them complete or may sell them and put that money towards buying complete copies. Terminator on Sega CD was a cool find as well.

Overall, there were 64 items between games and a few controllers across the Sega systems.

Playstation

Playstation served up Final Fantasy VII (3 copies, one missing the 3rd disc) and Final Fantasy IX as well as Dragon Warrior VIII, but that was missing the first disc. Mega Man Legends 2 was a nice find, but had a Blockbuster protective seal sticker over it. We did get Pipe Dreams 3D sealed – not special, but fun to see a sealed game anyway. UnJammer Lammy was in there complete as well.

For PS2, we had Clock Tower 3 and Eye Toy Play with the camera, a Greatest Hits of Shadow of the Colossus without a manual, and Time Splitters. Rez wasn’t a bad disc only find in the bunch.

Microsoft XBox

All we got from the XBox side of things was Knight of the Old Republic’s case and manual, but KotOR II’s disc, Gears of War 2 and 3, Crimson Skies, Project GOtham Racing 2, and a sealed copy of Gun Griffon Allied Strike. There is an XBox console as well, which turns on fine, but the disc tray is stuck, so it will take a little work to see if it can get back to full working condition.

A Box of Boxes

Then we started on the box I was most eager to get to. Boxes. A box of boxes. 242 boxes in all, as we’d eventually count out.  As I previously mentioned, I had already seen Final Fantasy III, Ocarina of Time Collector’s Edition, and not just one but two Chrono Trigger boxes, so I had high hopes of some really cool things in here.

They turned out to mostly be SNES and N64 boxes, but with a decent number of NES boxes. There were multiple Tetris boxes, for instance, Dr. Mario, Baseball. We kept going through the stack and were shocked to find Shadow of the Ninja was a fairly valuable box. Then we came across the box for Mega Man…and Mega Man 2… and Mega Man 3!

We already had found the original Mega Man manual, so this would make the game complete in box, worth about $200. We had our first conundrum. Phil was taking the game, which I had. But I wanted to build a CIB Mega Man collection too. The box wasn’t in great shape. It was fairly beat up and the UPC code had been cut out from the back. We set it aside to decide who would get it later. Mega Man 2’s box was in great shape and Mega Man 3 was in good shape, but had writing on the box in ballpoint pen. Ultimately, Phil decided to let me temporarily keep them all. We agreed it to be temporary because ultimately I’ll want to get better condition boxes and when I do, these will move to Phil’s collection. My game room is larger and better organized, which also helped ensure they’d stay in good shape until they change hands. I think Phil also felt like he had $400 worth of games and I had a little pile of about maybe $30 worth at the time, though I was keeping the NES Deluxe Set and we hadn’t gotten to it yet, so I was reasonably close in equal value of what we were keeping.

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I wanted a ROB just to have one, but I never expected to own this.

I was happy to get the box for Metal Gear for NES as well and I kept a few other boxes like Adventures of Lolo for nostalgic reasons more than collection value.

There was a complete in box Star Tropics, including the letter, and Star Tropics II complete in box. This was the third time a boxed copy of Star Tropics had come into my possession and at this point, Phil said I needed to just keep a complete copy of the dang thing since both were right there in my hands. I also kept Contra and Castlevania II’s boxes, along with Double Dragon and Double Dragon III. I always wanted just a few series CIB for my NES collection – the Zelda games, Mario series, Double Dragon, TMNT, Contra, and Mega Man. This was filling in the bulk of all of those in one fell swoop.

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NES boxes I kept, plus a couple of SNES and the aforementioned Ocarina box.

Moving on to sorting through the SNES boxes, we found treasure after treasure. The first was multiple Final Fantasy III boxes and the Chrono Trigger boxes (one of which had both poster maps and manual, all in rather worn out condition). The second Chrono Trigger box was immaculate, though. A couple of Secret of Mana boxes, as well as manuals, added to the RPG fest.

Then, to my great delight, I found Lufia II’s box. We had the manual in near perfect condition, so once I get the game and map (which Phil has and I mostly promise not to ninja into his apartment to abscond with), I’ll have a complete Lufia II. I’m leaning towards considering going CIB for RPGs in my library. This helped nudge that idea further.

We came across the box to go with the Ghoul Patrol game, which bumped that value up quite a bit. Between Pricecharting and GameValueNow, we thought the game and box might be worth around $250 to $300, but ultimately realized there was an eBay auction listed with Buy It Now for $180 of the same thing, so we valued it at that price point.

Our next big find in the boxes was Zombies Ate My Neighbors for SNES. The alternate box art! This was a wild one as initial reviews suggested up to $500 for the box by itself. A little more research settled the idea down to $400, but I had the game and manual and debated what a CIB copy would sell for. We listed this in a Facebook group we’re in just to share a rare find in the purchase and one of our good friends in the group, a doctor in Minnesota, messaged us immediately saying he was interested. We’d work out a price later, but he wanted that box.

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The rare box in question – near mint condition

Some other notable SNES boxes included Castlevania IV, Tactics Ogre: March of the Black Queen, Final Fight 2, Donkey Kong Country 2, and F-Zero.

We also had two Super Mario World (Player’s Choice) boxes, which we combined with games and manuals so we each had a complete copy for convention trades. I would like to get the non-Player’s Choice box instead, myself.

Moving on to alphabetizing N64 boxes, we found some more exciting titles. Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which we had a manual present, made my game complete. Mario 64 boxes were cool to find, even if they were player’s choice. We were also surprised to find Indiana Jones on N64 was such a valuable box. A few Majora’s Mask boxes, one of which I kept. I also found the box and manual for Tactics Ogre 64, plus two boxes for Harvest Moon 64!

Ultimately, I kept quite a few boxes, even if my luck with games themselves proved rather slim.

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I also kept a few hand held game boxes, though that’s not a large area of collecting for me. I am interested in the Mario, Zelda, Metroid titles and I already have quite a few Pokemon, so I decided to keep the box for the first Pokemon game I ever played.

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I actually had Super Mario Land complete in box in the past and traded it, then later regretted it, so it was cool to find the box to add to my manual and game. Oracle of Seasons is actually a box I already had as well, but we found the game in everything so we made a complete copy for my collection.

Hand Helds

We had 65 items under hand helds, including 5 Game Boy Advance / SPs, 7 Game Boy Colors, 11 original Game Boys, 3 Game Boy Advance systems, and various common games. It took a while to test all of them, a number having screen issues, one with a bad speaker, and some not powering up at all.

Manuals

Although I had already alphabetized the manuals, Phil took a chance to go through them just out of curiosity. With only a few exceptions that he took, he wasn’t interested in expanding to manuals and boxes for his collection just yet. Truth be told, I wasn’t intending to collect boxes if this collection hadn’t landed in our hands.

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Manuals I kept

And of the 40 Strategy Guides, I kept a number of those as well.

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That Nintendo Power Chrono Trigger guide is sweeeet!

Conclusion

 

This was an insane collection to get our hands on and the money we spent to get it was far more than worth it. We spent $1100 on everything and between the two of us, we added about $3,000 worth of items to our collections.

We made our money back in cash selling to other collectors via Facebook and at local meet ups. Our method has been to take the lower of Pricecharting or GameValueNow and then come down lower than those. We’ve also done a lot of trades, finally putting Metal Storm in my library as a result. We also traded in a good number of games to a local retro store that was running a special and came away with about $600 in store credit split between us, so $300 each.

And yet, we’re four months past our organizing of everything and I still have boxes and boxes of stuff in my house. For that matter, it’s taken four months for me to even get the controllers tested and I still have more than a dozen 3rd party N64 controllers to test!

That’s the trade off taking these deals on. Yes, you can make a profit off what you flip and add things to your own collection, but it’s going to take a long time to move everything at anywhere near full value. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort to clean (and we had to do a lot of cleaning), testing, organizing, sometimes researching, and then seeking out buyers or collectors who want to spend the money or have something you want that they’ll trade.

Ultimately, though, it’s a lot of fun and that’s the real reason for this hobby, of any hobby – to have fun.

Here’s the final break down:

 System Qty of all Items
Pre-NES 3
NES 192
SNES 338
N64 53
GameCube 13
Sega 64
Playstation 31
XBox & 360 8
Hand Held 65
Manuals 464
Boxes 242
Strategy Guides 40
Other (cleaning kits, random items) 23
Other (cleaning kits, random items) 1536

As far as total value, I’m not entirely comfortable saying yet. Suffice to say that the online sites like Pricecharting and GameValueNow indicate we made a ludicrous amount of profitability here, but I don’t believe they’re ultimately accurate. Totaling up everything based on their value gets very high with $4-$8 a piece on sports games for SNES where I expect we’ll be lucky to make 50 cents a piece.

Suffice to say we added a sizeable value to our own libraries, and we’re looking at making about double our money back in cash. Beyond that I can’t say, but it’s going to take many more months, if not a year, to move everything. That’s a long time to have to deal with boxes of games cluttering your house.

Still, I couldn’t be happier with this purchase. The largest game find since I started collecting and the most expensive I’ve purchased. I’ve probably depleted all my luck for quite a while in snagging this, but despite that, here’s hoping for more good finds in 2018, where I’m hoping to do more game hunting road trips!

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Just really super happy.

The Grand Gaming Haul of 2017

I screwed up with Justice League.

I had bought tickets for everyone going, as I typically do. I have the AMC Stubs membership, so buying everyone’s tickets avoids the online “convenience fee” and everyone then pays me back for their tickets. We always catch the opening night 7PM showing for these sorts of things.

Only Warner Bros and AMC flipped it on me.

The normal showing was at 6PM and the 3D showing was at 7PM, reverse of standard opening night times. I had forgotten this and didn’t check my tickets, so we wound up at the theater an hour into the movie. We got passes for later use and went to Wendy’s for a Frosty and hung out a bit before everyone headed home.

I was a bit disappointed, but figured I might see the first showing the next day. I had Friday off and had planned on getting a pizza and watching Marvel’s Punisher on Netflix that day. But Thursday night the thought nagged at me – I’m never off on Friday, so what if a garage sale has some retro games?

It’s the haunting voice for retro game hunters:
“What if I don’t look and this is where I miss out on a $5 copy of Mega Man X3 or Earthbound?”
“Was that garage sale I just passed the one with a copy of Stadium Events or Little Samson for a few bucks?”

Such as it was that Thursday night. I hopped on Craigslist to see if any garage sales were posted for the next day that had video games mentioned, hopefully with pictures to make it worth going.

There weren’t any.

Awesome, I won’t spend money I don’t have and I can get a delicious pizza and binge watch Punisher. Maybe I will go see Justice League after all as well.

Not So Fast

But then, I saw a post. A huge retro game collection for $1,000 was listed. These sort of posts are things I never think I’d go for, but would like looking at. So I looked. And it was impressive. I saw an NES with ROB the Robot complete in box, everything included. I saw Final Fantasy III’s box. A Super Nintendo. A table lined with Gameboys, Gameboy SPs, Gameboy Colors. By my estimates, only a couple dozen things in the picture were worth the $1,000 and I could see some more boxes peeking out in one of the pictures. This seemed like a treasure trove.

I hopped on Google Hangouts and messaged my friend Phil, who was now fully getting into retro game collecting as well:

Me: Got $500 you want to spend? I’m thinking about taking $800 out of savings for a game purchase >.>
Phil: What? Explain now.
Me: (Link to craigslist ad) I want to see if they’ll take 800.
Complete ROB Deluxe in box, 2 NES, a top loader, An SNES, Games CIB. Boxes and boxes of stuff. I was calculating and got down to about $350 with just some of the boxed stuff I can see + consoles
Phil: Wait… where did the $500 come from? If it’s $1k And you were thinking $800….
Me: Randomly asking if you wanted to take 500 to split 50/50 But then I thought “Wait, wonder if I can get it for 800”
Phil: There are bound to be things in there that I’d super want. I already see Mega Man. And one of the toaster NES’s.
Me: Alright, let’s look at it this way…. Are you up for going in at $500 and we split 50/50? And if I can get it lower, great?
Phil: Yeah
Me: We’re insane. You know that, right?
Phil: This is insane. ….I was just typing that.

So I emailed the guy about the ad. Phil and I waited anxiously as the night wore on, occasionally messaging each other with joke comments like “Answer the email dang it!” on Hangouts, but there was no reply. Any time there’s a too good to be true post, it’s possible it’s a prank…. Or someone’s looking to mug you for $1,000! In this case, it looked to be a prank post or someone beat us to it.

Letting Go and Moving On….But Wait

That weekend there was a Facebook group meetup, but again I had no money, so I needed to move some extra stuff I still had. Trades or selling would have been great, but I only sold Berserk Guts Rage for Dreamcast. $25 more than I started with, but not a lot to be excited about.

Sunday and Monday came and it seemed like the post was indeed a joke as it was still up and we still had no response.

Then on Monday night, I got an email back. The seller had been busy and had updated a new post with better images showing more stuff and had increased the price to $1100. I confirmed with Phil he was still good with going in 50/50 and we agreed to the price and arranged a time to pick up. I checked the seller’s address on Google Maps and it seemed like a nice neighborhood, so I was less concerned of getting mugged, or killed and fed to crocodiles (there are no crocodiles in these non-aquatic regions of Texas, but what if someone had a full pit of them in their back yard for this very purpose!?).

Crocodiles

“Vidya gaemz? HA HA HA, You fool! It was WE, CROCODILES, ALL ALONG!” (Note: these are alligators, but they are standing in for the fictitious crocodiles. Thank you.)

Picking Up The Pickup

Phil met me at the seller’s house Tuesday morning. I had taken an early lunch to get everything loaded up and take it to my house so we could unload, then I’d go back to work. Phil was off the following day so we’d start going through it then.

The seller was a nice guy, a bit younger than us I’d say, who welcomed us into his home to look over everything and figure out how we were going to haul it all out. He started putting boxes on a table and told us to start loading up.

As we took boxes out to load Phil’s vehicle, the seller explained to us that it was all in a storage locker his mother owned and he thought it belonged to her ex originally. He knew it was worth more than $1100, but video games weren’t his thing, so he was happy putting the money in his pocket, recovering his living room, and someone else taking the time to individually sort everything, clean it, test it, photo it, and spend time selling it individually to flip it for profit.

He asked us if we were sellers or collectors and we were honest that we’d surely do both. We’d be keeping a lot of what we saw just based on the photos, we’d trade with other collectors in a group we were in online to get more things we’re after, and we’d sell some or trade for store credit at various game stores, but we’d be definitely focusing on keeping it or trading with collectors. He was happy to hear a good chunk of it would be going to collectors who would enjoy an appreciate it.

It turned out I was one of the first people to email him the day the original post went up, or at the very least the first one who was reasonable. He had emails offering him $600 for all of it and he knew he was already pricing fair and likely rather low at $1100. For everything there, we were more than happy to pay that $1100.

He also showed us his garage, which was essentially consumed by stock from a comic book shop. For the right price, that was all available as well and part of me wished I had more money to invest in that purchase too (as if my house could hold much more inventory for sorting and selling…or room for more collectibles for that matter).

Unloading & Fighting Temptation

It took every bit of space in Phil’s vehicle plus every free seat and the trunk in mine, but we were able to load everything.

Driving it to my house was a weird sensation. I had just taken $550 out of my savings account, which wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be in the first place, to buy a ton of video games. There were a lot of sports titles on SNES, though even at 50 cents each they’d add up. I told myself that the NES with ROB was worth almost $300 and I’d surely find more I wanted to keep. I’d get my $550 worth and Phil would surely find that much in value. I was sure, and reminded myself, we would at least get value equal to what we spent, if not more.

Still, this was the first purchase I’d made of this size since I started game hunting, so it was a bit surreal and exciting to think of what could be in all those boxes while also a bit guilty feeling to take money from savings at a time I was flat broke on the game hunting budget.

We saw some exciting things as we unloaded. I spotted a Chrono Trigger box in good condition. A Final Fantasy III box (in addition to the one in the photos), and an Ocarina of Time collector’s edition box which I’d been looking for! Phil saw a number of NES carts he was interested in. We wanted to take that afternoon and just start looking through everything, but we had to wait. Though Phil said I could start going through some of it that night if I wanted.

I went back to work for what seemed like the longest half day I’ve ever experienced.

That night, I decided I’d go through organizing a bit and start with the manuals, paperwork, and hardware like controllers. The boxes and games would wait for a team effort.

First Night Results

I started off going through the boxes of controllers and sorting them out. Totals were:
10 NES controllers
33 SNES controllers – some original, some 3rd party variants like asciiPad or wireless + receiver
17 N64 controllers
2 GameBoy Players for GameCube (no discs, sadly)
2 Wavebird controllers – 1 platinum, 1 gray and 1 receiver for them
3 Dreamcast controllers
Sega Genesis Model 2 with hook ups and 1 controller
1 PS1 dualshock controller
PSone system
X-Box system with 2 controllers and hook ups
NES Top Loader
3 NES systems (“toaster” models)
1 SNES system

Note: It has now going on 3 months since we made this purchase and I still haven’t found time to test all the controllers.

40 Strategy Guides from Nintendo Power, Prima, Brady Games, and Versus Books – including various Pokemon, Secret of Evermore, Nintendo Power’s Chrono Trigger guide, and more. The coolest one in terms of most unique was the Vanguard Bandits strategy guide as it is a hardcover book.

I also alphabetized the manuals, of which there were over 500 total.

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Some notable manuals, some of which I eventually kept, included:
NES:
Contra
Ghosts n Goblins
Mega Man 1, 2, 3
Zelda II

SNES:
Chrono Trigger
Donkey Kong Country 2 & 3
Final Fantasy III
Legend of the Mystical Ninja
Lost Vikings
Lufia II
Secret of Evermore
Secret of Mana
Super Adventure Island
Super Bomberman
Super Castlevania IV
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Super Mario RPG

N64:
Bomberman 64
Bomberman Hero
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Ogre Battle 64
Mega Man 64
Mario Kart 64

GameBoy:
Mega Man II
Metroid II: Return of Samus
Metal Gear Solid (GB Color)

The most notable manual, however, was probably Soldier Blade for Turbo Grafx 16, valued around $100 by itself.

The fruits of this purchase were already looking exciting, but we wouldn’t really dive into it until the next day when Phil could join me in going through this. Since we were 50/50 business partners on this, I had to resist going through more, though it was tempting. It was really tempting.

 

 

Return to Half Price Books

In November 2017, Half Price Books had their coupon week. This is a week where each day has a coupon off your most expensive item. 20% on Mon/Tue, 30% on Wed/Thur, 40% on Fri/Sat and 50% on Sunday. To get the coupons, you just need to sign up for their mailing list. This week, held 2-3 times a year, normally kills me because I do a full range around the DFW area, checking every Half Price Books for good finds. It’s been shrinking a bit as my PS3 and Wii collections are complete, but PS2 and the occasional older title still pops up now and then.

Phil and I did a run to see what was there, more planning to scout for a Sat or Sun buy than anything. A tip on this sale: Half Price Books will let you put an item on hold for 2 days. So if you go on Friday and find something that just can’t be passed up, you can put it on hold until Sunday and get the half price coupon on it. Some stores won’t do this during the sale week, but a good number don’t stop you either. And they know what you’re doing and are okay with you working with their system for the best deal.

We ran a full gamut and wound up going back to a few stores over the course of the week, but ultimately, I got a few things:

Jak & Daxter Lost Frontier
Earthworm Jim CIB
Persona on PSP
Final Fantasy PSP Sealed
Little Nemo CIB
Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker
Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops
Sword of the Berserk
Digimon World 4
Front Mission 4
Baroque
GTA V on PS4
Shining Tears
Dynamite Headdy
Conquest of the Crystal Palace
Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition CIB

Not all of these were for the collection. Some were marked below average value and then the discount lowered them further to make them worth picking up for trades or flipping. The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition for GameCube was a nice addition since I had just gotten the disc only copy for next to nothing. I ultimately was able to sell it and essentially cover the complete copy for my library.

Amidst the running around, we also stopped at a Game X-Change where I was further irresponsible and bought Captain America and the Avengers on NES complete in box, Silver Surfer, Robocop 3, and A Bard’s Tale on NES.

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Everything, all said and done.

At this point, we were, once and for all, tapped out. Paypal was drained. Wallets were drained. GameStop credit was getting low. There was no more money to spend and so Phil and I both agreed we were done for the year, aside from Black Friday purchases. It was November and Christmas shopping was coming up. We could not do another retro game hunt.

Oh how wrong we were….

In my next post, I will finally get around to detailing the events of the biggest retro game haul I’ve ever had.

Low On Cash, Still Game Hunting

An Unexpected Sale

An antique store near work had an outdoor sale where people were able to bring things and set up for basically a collective garage sale in the parking lot. I didn’t expect to find anything, and I still hadn’t recovered from Retropalooza, but I still stopped. No games, but the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS for $3 was a great deal!

While I was there, I did a quick check inside and found a booth with games was doing 50% off sale, so I picked up Paperboy 2 and Bubble Bobble on NES as well as XIII on GameCube and Brutal Legend on PS3. I already had some of these, but they’d make for good trade offerings later. I also got a sealed copy of Has Been Heroes for half off, which was nice since I’d been wanting to pick that up anyway.

Shortly after, GameStop had a B2G1 sale, so I picked up Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE, Kirby & The Rainbow Curse, Sonic Lost World, Sonic Boom (I’m a sucker for getting all the Sonic games, even the bad ones), and Snoopy’s Grand Adventure. All of these were bought with store credit, so I didn’t feel like I was doing too bad in what should have been a financial recovery period.

I did, however, snag Wolfenstein + The Old Blood combo for cheap online from Amazon. Despite these few purchases, the cost wasn’t too high and I still didn’t consider myself back in game hunting just yet.

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Super Mario Odyssey, Asdivine Hearts/Ys Origins, and Undertale were pre-orders that came in.

A Long Intended Sale

 

Despite being low on cash, I had recovered a little from a few sales of doubles and there’s a sidewalk sale in downtown Dallas on the first Saturday of each month I’d been wanting to check out for a long time, but just hadn’t gone to yet. The sale actually starts on Friday night around 7PM officially. I decided I’d make the trip to check it out.

When I first got there, there was nobody there. A couple of vehicles sat in the area, but nothing for sale. The site said people tend to get there early and are looking at things as they’re unloaded and I started to wonder if the sale was still held.

I walked around a while and finally saw someone setting up. I asked if this was smaller these days and they said people usually get there later. I decided to walk around some and, although I didn’t want to spend more money on dinner, I wasn’t going anywhere (I already paid for parking), so I went to Hooters.

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You must answer three riddles and determine which owl is the liar before entering.

After eating, and killing some time, I went back out and a few more people were set up, but nothing too impressive. There was one GameCube game, a Simpsons game, that might have been worth picking up for a trade or flip, but they wouldn’t budge on price at all. Finally, someone pulled up and had some gaming items, including an original NES complete in box! It was priced slightly high, but still fair, but they didn’t have anything that interested me.

I was told there was one guy that usually came and had a huge set up and he might have games, but it would be another hour before he arrived. I was tired and sleepy, but figured I’d wait around until 11. Sure enough, he showed up.

As he and his team unloaded things, I actually lent a hand, helping organize some things on their table to maximize their available space. Eventually, I did see some games start to come out. Tomb Raider games for Playstation (disc only) and a few Xbox titles. I snagged FF X-2 and Fable cases with manuals (no games) and Rock Band on Wii as well as the Oblivion Collector’s Edition on Xbox 360 and Race Drivin’ CIB for Sega Genesis.

Still nothing amazing and I wasn’t sure I’d want to buy these after all. Then I spotted the portable screen for the psone! That was worth grabbing and ultimately was only $5. I kept looking as they put more out, but didn’t see anything else. As I started to decide it was mostly a bust, I opened a little case that turned out to be full of Leapfrog cartridges…..and The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition disc! I’d been looking for that, though I wanted it complete. Still, for the overall price, I took all the games, plus a PSP game and a Spongebob GameCube game, as well as a Warcraft CCG raid deck for Black Temple all for about the cost of just the Zelda disc.

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All for $25, worth around $100

I’ll probably check the sale out again in the future. You never really know what will be there and that Zelda disc was an exciting find to end the night.