Archive for the ‘ Sega ’ Category

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.

huge-haul-manuals-e1517766061477.jpg

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.

 

 

Let’s Play Game Expo 2017

Let’s Play Game Expo (LPGE) started 3 years ago and was held at the Plano Convention Center the first two years. I first became aware of the convention through flyers at one of the stores that helped get the convention started: FX Game Exchange. In only three years, the relatively small convention has rapidly outgrown its inaugural location in Plano. From the start, the arcade set up has been above and beyond what I’d expect at a small convention and this year was no different. There’s also a free play console area in addition to the free arcades.

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Just about 1/3 of the arcades set to free play at the convention for the weekend.

The vendor count has only grown with over 85 vendors at this year’s convention according to the website.

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Likewise, this is maybe 1/3 of the vendor area.

The other big draw has been the tournament scene held each year. This year’s tournaments included Low Tier City 5’s national Smash Bros. Tournament, The Ultimate Q*Bert Hi-Score Tournament (with special guest Warren Davis, creator of the arcade game itself), an Oregon Trail tournament, Quake III, and even a Virtual Boy tournament among many others. The Nintendo Playstation was also on hand for viewing.

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Tournaments are shown on a main stage.

Normally, the convention has been in June, but with the move to the new, larger, venue along with tournament scheduling, it was scheduled for the first weekend in August. The problem, at least for me, with this was the short time between LPGE and Retropalooza in October. Not as much time to recover spending money as a June to October stretch.

I had sold some finds, put money back, and had games to trade, hoping to knock out the last 15 or so N64 games still on my hunting list for around $200 to $250, then knock out a chunk of Atari 2600 or GameCube titles on my list. In total, I was taking $825 cash along with $3,000 worth of games to trade. I was more than ready to work a deal to knock those games off my list, taking the losing end of a trade in order to get closer to completing my primary collection goal.

Day 1 of LPGE

My friend Phil, @TerranceHarken, met me at the expo at opening. He and I both paid $8.50 online in advance for convention parking, only to find it was $8 at the parking garage. On top of that, there was no in & out privilege for parking. A bit frustrating as parking was free at Plano’s location.

Nostalgic Nerds

All the same, we headed into the convention to start the big hunt. Our first stop was to visit a buddy of mine that makes up one half of The Nostalgic Nerd. Looking over what they had, nothing jumped out immediately… except Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers 2. For $240.

Let me take a moment to promote these guys just a bit. What Patrick and Matt do with Nostalgic Nerd tends to beat most other vendors at conventions. They price based on Pricecharting and add tax on the sticker, so what you see is what you pay. Rescue Rangers 2 is at $225 on Pricecharting and they had it at $240, but other vendors were anywhere from $250 to $300 for this gem. Overall, their prices were better than other vendors. They also are eager to trade, offering 75-80% of Pricecharting values in trade or 50% in cash. But I wasn’t here to buy an expensive NES game!

First Purchase

Moving on from Nostalgic Nerd, I had to start looking around. We started meandering along the rows of vendors. Phil found a place that had Final Fantasy V for Game Boy Advance complete in box for a reasonable price and was going to buy it, but I hopped in and asked about Superman on NES and got it bundled in for $5 off the total of the two. Comic book based games are a sub-list I’ve been collecting for, so I was happy to grab that one.

“I love the Power Glove. It’s so….bad.”

The first thing that I came across that really interested me was the Power Glove, with hook ups. The Power Glove is one of those items that I don’t need, but think is cool to have. However, they wanted $100 for it and I was definitely not paying that. Moving down a few tables, we found another one for $60, also with everything but the box and any paperwork. I considered it briefly, but wanted to wait before dropping a large chunk of money. When I hesitated, the guy dropped it to $40, which seemed like a good enough deal to me, so I walked away with a Power Glove of my very own.

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The Power Glove gives me John Cena level invisibility

An Unexpected Find

Continuing to venture through the vendor area, I came across a copy of Valkyrie Profile for Playstation. I asked mainly out of curiosity and the guy wanted $120, but right off said he’d do $100 on it, which he was pretty sure was the disc only price on Pricecharting. That seemed fair, but I wasn’t planning on buying pricey Playstation games at this convention. Still, I had to look it up and see and the current price was showing $85 for disc only, so he agreed to do $90 if it was cash. So, once again, I decided it was a fair deal to knock out one of the last 3 notably expensive Playstation games on my list, and an RPG at that. I was quickly going down the spending hole and I had barely been here an hour. (Side note: Funny enough, I am in a Facebook group with the guy and neither of us realized it at the time).

A Few Good Pick Ups

We also came across a copy of Star Fox complete in box for $35 at a vendor that had a few other games well below Pricecharting values. However, they had some issues, so I passed on the others (minor cosmetic issues here and there mostly), but I decided to take the Star Fox so I could upgrade my box at home. I also found an Atari 2600 cartridge of Snoopy and the Red Baron, which I’ve been looking for a good while now for $5 off regular price.

I found a booth that had Ocarina of Time Collector’s Edition, Dr. Mario 64, and a guy sharing the booth that had Tactics Ogre 64: Person of Lordly Caliber. Prices were fair, but I was really hoping to find ALL my N64 targets in one location and work a killer deal in a large bundle. Still, I kept thinking about those for a while.

We made a few more final loops and Phil picked up some extra games before he had to head out around midday due to work.

Going Solo

After he left, I kept looking around vendors, seeing if I had missed anything and what I wanted to make mental notes for a return trip on Sunday rather than pay sticker price. A lot of vendors do deals before closing up the last day to avoid packing and hauling things back home.

I decided I hadn’t seen Ocarina of Time anywhere else, so I went back and got Dr. Mario 64 and OoT together. I didn’t get a great deal for the two, the guy taking $3 off, which brought them down to Pricecharting prices, but it was something.

On my way out, a guy had N64 games they were still trying to get out. Tubs of them. We went through and found a few more on my list: Castlevania Legacy of Darkness, 007 The World Is Not Enough, and Wipeout 64. I went back to the Ocarina of Time booth and tried to get Tactics Ogre for $35, then $40 but the guy was staying firm at $45.

So, having had no luck with anyone willing to take anything I brought for trades, I went back to Nostalgic Nerd and let them pilfer my list for what they’d want. In the end, they cleaned out a good portion of my complete Sega Genesis games, a number of NES carts, some N64, and Wii titles. I left the first day with one final game I never really thought I’d pick up: Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers 2.

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I honestly never thought I’d actually pick this up.

Overall, the first day was pretty good.

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Day 1 results

Day 2 of LPGE

I returned the second day and had a good start to the day saving that 50 cents by paying at the garage rather than online and got a great parking spot. It’s important to appreciate small victories.

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Pretty close to the elevators, I’d say.

No Returns or Exchanges…sorta!

I started off by going back to the guy I had bought Ocarina and Dr. Mario 64 from after I had realized the night before I already had Dr. Mario! Despite keeping a list, it seems I had forgotten to remove it from my hunting list. I was asking for a straight value trade and I’d put the balance of cash towards his price on Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, but he wanted an extra $3 on it. I told him I’d think on it, but was rubbed a little wrong by the idea. He recognized me, he remembered the purchase, he knew I had bought from him the day before, but wasn’t willing to make the trade on value for the mistake. Instead, he wanted to recoup the $3 he had knocked off (which was $3 over Pricecharting to begin with). I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to take the deal, but wasn’t going to completely write it off.

A Really Good Trade In

One thing I had seen the day before was a copy of Thousand Arms for Playstation at a booth that was asking $125 for the game with manual and case. I had a copy of the game without the manual and research had revealed it had originally included a holographic card as well as memory card stickers. The game, case, and manual was regularly $50 on eBay, but I had asked them what the trade value would be on mine without the manual. They had told me $90, but I hadn’t made a trade. The more I thought on it, however, the more it seemed like a good deal considering I had only paid $20 for my copy. As such, they were my next stop for the second day.

Going back, they were still good with a $90 trade credit on my copy without the manual, so I handed it right over and bought a complete copy with manual, case, game discs, along with sticker sheet, a second sticker sheet (missing 1 sticker), and 2 of the holographic cards on eBay for $85. I then picked up Shiren the Wanderer for Nintendo Wii, Radiata Stories, and Banjo Tooie for a friend.

Patience Wins Out

I didn’t find much else and spent most of the day looking around and chatting with vendors, though I did get Dig Dug with a very nice label for $3.  I then went back and got Tactics Ogre 64 for $40 (let a game sit on the table for two days and people are more ready to make a sale!). Next to them, I picked up Shadow Hearts From the New World for $20.

Finally, I was getting ready to wrap up the day and went back by Nostalgic Nerd. I had been considering some Sega Genesis games they had, including Phantasy Star I and II and had brought some more NES games for trade.

Instead, I wound up taking Sonic Adventure 2. I had spent enough cash, I was starting to get tighter on the wallet and wanted to keep to trades. However, Matt just had to tell me of a booth he was sure was cutting good deals during the weekend and with the day winding down, I had to check them out.

Final Deals

Sure enough, they had reasonable prices and I was debating a bundle of games, but really wanted a Star Wars game for Atari 2600 I had seen. I had them put the bundle aside so I could see how the Star Wars panned out. After getting it, Star Wars: The Arcade Game, for $20, I headed back but saw Superman on Atari 2600…and snagged it for one whole dollar!

I returned and scrapped a game from the pile, but still got Golden Axe II for Genesis, Phantasy Star Online Ver 2.0, and Evolution the World of Sacred Device for Dreamcast. However, when I come back to make that deal I find Matt and Patrick of Nostalgic Nerd going through the guy’s stuff to make some deals for themselves! I couldn’t help but swing by their booth and grab a pic.

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“Gone deal hunting, back later.” – Those nerd boys are at it again!

The weekend was winding down to a close and I still had half my money left. I went back to my car and locked everything in the trunk before going back to browse this year’s free play arcade.

All in all, I felt like I took home a pretty big haul of some high value games, which tends to be the real benefit of conventions these days. If you’re still looking for more common and lower price titles, eBay and game stores are still a pretty good source, but for the real valuable games, conventions tend to have a lot of them.

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Day 2 results

I don’t feel like trades are as strong at conventions as they used to be, though. Unless you have rare and higher value things, people just aren’t interested in doing trades, with a few exceptions. Some stores want to boost inventory of common games and anything Nintendo first party is likely to be a consideration. I just didn’t have much luck with anyone even wanting those this time.  As always, cash is king, even if people are taking credit cards at conventions more often now.

So here are my main pieces of advice for conventions:

  1. Look for your rarer and hard to find items on your list.
  2. Walk around to every booth before buying things. Look for price differences and buy the best value for your buck.
  3. Try to look for multiple things you want at a single booth and bundle up. You’ll usually get better deals that way.
  4. Practice your negotiating skills at garage sales and flea markets. They’ll help at conventions too!

Now there’s 2 months left until Retropalooza, so it’s time to get out and hunt, find some deals, and do some trades and flips to build up cash for the next round of convention hunting!

Going Retro: Getting into Game Collecting

Disclaimer: The top image is not my game collection….yet!

I went to GameStop a few years back (I don’t have nearly as much of a problem with them as some) and saw a friend of mine who was the store manager at the time. Before I left, she recommended I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Her recommendation was so high that I wound up going to Barnes & Noble the same time to pick it up. I read the full book in a flight to Seattle and back.

I loved the book, but it also kindled a fire in me for nostalgia of my own childhood, primarily for video games. I started thinking about my backlog of games on current consoles and, like many gamers, wondered if I’d ever get through them all. Then the idea hit me: If I couldn’t play through all the games, why not start collecting them and curating a library of of the best ones?

I started by going to garage sales and looking for older games. One of the first I went to I met a guy who was also collecting and working towards a complete North American licensed release NES library. He invited me to join a Facebook group and I began to realize how many people were into retro game collecting. I decided I need t obetter define what games I wanted to start building my own library.

What Games To Get?

I started by thinking about consoles. I still had my NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Genesis, and PS3 at this point. I decided I would try to get all the consoles I had played growing up and a “Top 100” library of the best games on each system. Then I’d also include memorable games I enjoyed as a child if they weren’t on the “Top 100” list. This meant acquiring an Atari 2600, Sega Saturn & Dreamcast, a Playstation and PS2. I didn’t include hand held systems as they have never been a big interest for me.

To determine a “best of” hunting list for each system, I started with sites like IGN and GameSpot that had done “Top 100” articles before. Next, I went to fogurms where posters had debated their picks for the best games with discussion and votes moving games up/down the list and adding/dropping off the list. I took the titles that appeared across each list and made that my Hunting List.

For example:
IGN Top 100 NES Games
Retro Sanctuary Top 100 Best NES Games
Game FAQs Top 100 NES Games

All in all, I actually came up with a list of:

  • 106 Atari 2600
  • 164 NES
  • 147 SNES
  • 101 Sega Genesis
  • 88 N64
  • 95 Sega Dreamcast
  • 83 GameCube
  • 215 PS2
  • 220 PS3

Obviously the “Top 100” grew with the additional titles I remembered and moreso as I decided to include infamously bad titles and all RPGs.

Benefits of the List, and How to Use It

I highly recommend creating a list to work from, even if you are going for a complete library of every title on a system. Put the list in Google Drive and get the app on your phone. I use a spreadsheet listing the titles and their Pricecharting value across 6 rows to minimize scrolling, divided up by systems. This way your list is always on hand and you can make sure you don’t buy a duplicate of something you’ve already picked up (so long as you update and save the file in Google Drive, of course).

I did mention I keep the price for each game from Pricecharting on my list. I’ve seen in some groups there are people who think Pricecharting is crap and should never be used. I’ve yet to understand why some think this. Pricecharting basically tracks prices of completed auctions from eBay to give an average price. Using completed auctions ensures you’re getting information based on what people are actually willing to pay. I don’t advise taking it as the absolute price, though. You can look at the auctions the data is coming from to make sure they’re recent. If not, you can go to ebay directly and see what recent prices were on sold listings. Sometimes Pricecharting doesn’t have recent data on their averages, but I find this an uncommon occurrence.

One thing to remember is these are largely eBay based prices, so I think it’s safe to push for a bit less than those prices since a seller would lose 10% to eBay fees, not to mention the hassle of shipping.

Where To Hunt for Games?

The simple answer is: everywhere.

Garage Sales / Flea Markets / Thrift Stores / Antique Stores
Obviously these are all hit or miss, but you never know what you might find. I always keep an eye out for other items completely unrelated to video games that I can flip for profit to further pay for game collecting such as vintage posters, Disney or Warner Bros. items, or anything that I think might be worth reasonably more than is being asked.

GameStop
If you’re looking for XBox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, or Wii U games, it’s worth looking into GameStop prices. There are some titles I’ve gotten much cheaper at GameStop than Pricecharting shows, meaning you’re actually better off with GameStop, especially if you have their Power Up Reward card. A few examples as of the time of this writing:

Sakura Wars on Wii is worth $25, but $13.50 with discount at GameStop
Arc Rise Fantasia on Wii is worth $34, but $27 with discount at GameStop
Ar tonelico Qoga: Kneel of Ar Ciel on PS3 is worth $22.50, but $9 with discount at GameStop

If you’re really lucky and can find a copy of Dokapon Kingdom at GameStop, it will run you $45 rather than $80 for just the disc.

It’s just a matter of researching the titles you’re looking for and checking if they have them near you, then going or calling to verify if they’re complete with manual. If you hunt during a Buy 2 Get 1 Free weekend, you can really clean up.

Half Price Books
People in a lot of gaming groups hate Half Price Books, primarily because they overprice games. I’ve found some stores do, some don’t, and some are reasonably in line with Pricecharting prices. I find it’s worth looking at least and I tend to drive around to as many as I can on the coupon weeks for 20-50% off coupon purchases. That’s how I got Skies of Arcadia on GameCube for $35 and Mario Cement Factory for $50.

Game Stores
The chain stores, such as Game X-Change, are unlikely to offer real deals unless you catch them slipping on values. Sometimes you’ll find fair prices on titles you’ve been looking for but haven’t had luck finding. Game X-Change also offers a B2G1 deal on all games $7.95 or less. This doesn’t help as you get to a point where you’re hunting more expensive titles, of course.

Your best bet is small independent stores where the owner is more likely to be willing to work a deal with you if you buy multiple games at a time and return with repeat business.

eBay
Of course, this is sort of a last resort, but if you’re patient and watch close, you’ll sometimes catch good deals on games you’ve been looking for with no luck for a long while.

Facebook Groups
You’ll find Facebook groups where people buy, sell, and trade their extra games. I recommend taking some time to get a feel for how the group is and if you want to work with them for trades.

Gaming Conventions
If you want to get a good deal at conventions, you probably want to work on your haggling skills and still go in with good games to trade and cash to spend. The last few conventions I’ve been to weren’t too great for deals, but were full of rare things you won’t find at the average store. You might use conventions to target rare and hard to find additions for your collection.

Growing Up Gaming – Sega

Sega. It does what Nintendon’t.

One thing it didn’t do that Nintendid was grab my interest. There were some games, yes, but not as many to come close to the Nintendo and the Super Nintendo. In fact, I’m going to cover my experience with all Sega systems in a single post due to lack of in depth experience with them.

I first played Sega at another kid’s house in the neighborhood. It was the original model Sega Genesis and I think we really only played Sonic the Hedgehog, which was alright. I was impressed with the colors and music and, of course, the seeming speed at which Sonic would travel, the screen sometimes barely, if at all, keeping pace. I later got the model 2 Sega Genesis bundled with Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

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While I liked the original Sonic the Hedgehog okay, and eventually beat it with all the chaos emeralds, the sequel was certainly better. I vividly remember the first time flying to the Death Egg and the battle against the giant mech-Robotnik (and yes, I still like “Dr. Robotnik” better than “Eggman” as an official name). One thing the Sonic games did well, a thing that became a notable feature, was their music.

I still love Sky Chase Zone’s music

Of course, Sonic 3 and the Sonic & Knuckles expansion came after and were also great. I also played Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D Blast, but they really weren’t as good. I have, however, always found it odd that the characters created for the Archie Comics, who appeared on the popular Saturday AM cartoon, were never utilized by Sega for any games other than cameo appearances in Sonic Spinball. I think a game based on the comic/cartoon would be far better than some of the recent offerings.

I did like the X-Men game on Sega Genesis, but primarily with a cheat code that gave unlimited mutant powers since I never thought it made sense otherwise. Cyclops isn’t limited to a certain number of optic blasts before he has to recharge and Wolverine certainly doesn’t have his strength sapped when he uses his adamantium claws. I know I played the sequel, X-Men 2: The Clone Wars, but I don’t remember it as well as the first.

I only played one RPG on the Sega Genesis: Shining Force II. I really liked how the combat had a strategy element with a full army of party members to move about the battle field with different reaches for their attacks. I’d like to go back and play the first one, though I understand it is quite difficult.

I did play a bit of Ecco the Dolphin, though never really knew what to do. Despite that, just swimming around impressed me with how fluid the animations seemed. Despite not playing them too much, I’m still a fan of the Ecco series today.

I never played anything on Sega CD or Sega 32X addons for the Genesis, though I always wanted to play Sonic CD. I’ve since gotten all of the systems of the “Genesis Trio” here and hope to get to play the games I missed out on eventually.

At some point, and for some silly reason, I also had a Game Gear. I loved the bright colors of the screen, but it was certainly a large, unwieldy device with practically no battery life so the hand held was basically a home device for me, using an AC adapter. I had some Sonic games, X-Men, and Tails’ Adventure, but nothing really stood out to leave a lasting impression.

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“Feed me your batteries!”

From Blockbuster, I rented a Sega Saturn to play Panzer Dragoon, thinking it looked like Star Fox on a dragon! I did definitely enjoy the game, but not enough to try saving up for the system and try more games for it.

As most know, the Dreamcast came out not too long after that, but I never had it. Instead, I had a friend I was roommates with in college that had it hooked up in our living room, but I only ever played Sonic Adventure on it.

So ends my woefully limited exposure to the Sega systems. Next, I will discuss my continued relationship with Nintendo as the N64 came out, though I certainly have less games to speak to there as well.

National Videogame Museum Opens Its Doors

The National Videogame Museum (NVM) opened in Frisco, TX on April 2, 2016. It was a bright, sunny Saturday morning. 10:00 AM, to be precise, was the opening of the doors. I was there and I was excited. Obviously, it’s taken a while for me to get to writing my thoughts on the grand opening of the nation’s, the world’s, first museum dedicated to the history of video games (I use “video game” though the museum officially uses “videogame”).

I had arrived at the Frisco Discovery Center, where the NVM is located, at 10:05 with a bit of a hurried step. I wanted to get in with plenty of time to look around as I was meeting someone in 3 hours to hand over some video games I had accumulated that weren’t going into my collection. I knew the doors opened at 10, so I went right in. And found the line. I followed the line outside again and saw just how many had arrived to see the history of their hobby.

There were a lot. The Museum holds about 240 people and the line was well out of the building and along the sidewalk, starting to curl around the build like a human formation of Nibbles.

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One or two people showed up

I stood in line with a mother whose 7 year old son was running around playing with other kids while they waited. Preston was here to see more about video game history, particularly Pac-Man and Galaga. I learned something from Preston’s mother in the hour we waited outside.

Pixels was a good movie. That’s right, Pixels.

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Yes, THAT Pixels.

Preston saw Pixels more than once in theaters and probably a dozen times at home since it released on blu-ray and DVD. Pixels introduced this young boy to Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and made him want to learn more. He went to Google and began reading about these games and these characters and when they came out. He grew interested not only in the games themselves, but their history.

If a 7 year old boy loves a movie about video game characters, and that movie drives him to pursue the history of the industry, then I have to say the movie did something right. Adults and critics may not like it, but if it stirred the interest and curiosity of children, then it’s a good movie by my measure.

And so, there we were, at the first museum in the nation that would let him explore more of that history. TekForce was present and volunteered to provide music and MC the waiting room that we reached at 11 o’clock. I was able to speak with him a moment and learned that the museum was expecting 1,500 visitors for the grand opening day. In the first hour, they were adjusting expectations to 4,000. They underestimated how many people would come out for the grand opening.

As we waited for our ticket groups to be called there were pictures available to color, music played, and a couch set up with a Wii U and Super Mario Bros. available to play. Kids were having a great time. There was also trivia to win prizes – the question I was present for was regarding Pac-Man’s original name (The answer is Puck Man).

At 11:35, our ticket group was called up and we finally went into the NVM lobby to pay for our tickets to the museum proper. Tickets are $12 for adults, but include $1 worth of tokens for the arcade at the end of the museum. By noon, 2 hours after arrival, I finally set foot inside.

The Museum is divided into 16 stages, all of which cover a different portion of video game history.

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But first, you’re greeted by Mario

 

Stage 1, “Begin” covers the early days of video game history. In fact, with Ralph Baer’s “Brown Box Prototype” on display, it might be safe to say this touches on video game pre-history and then advances through history from there.

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An important aspect of the NVM is that it’s not just exhibits to look at and read. There are a lot of interactive features at the museum, mostly in the form of playable games in the exhibits. Almost every Stage has something you can play.

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Just like the one you grew up with, right?

Stage 2, “Timeline” is the most time consuming interactive option. With screens set up above oversized Super Nintendo controllers, this allows visitors to browse every single video game console ever released to get some information about them. Release year, MSRP, some highlighted games, as well as notorious games, and some of the most valuable on the system can be reviewed. There are 53 different consoles to read about, all of which are on display on the wall.

Stage 3, “Third Party” showcases a number of the third party titles that helped consoles excel with the public. Pitfall, which is playable in the exhibit, Stampede, Megamania, River Raid are on display in their original boxes in a display case while some notable Nintendo entries from Activision share the bottom shelf of the display with Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, Rampage, and more.

Stage 4, “Control” is, quite simply, a full wall with a history of controllers through the years. Multiple controllers from each system are displayed, as well as a disassembled Atari 5200 controller.

Stage 5, “Portable” explores portable games. Game n’ Watch is on display, along with others that pre-dated the Game Boy most think of when “portable gaming” is mentioned.

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Again, there are playable games set up here as well. However, one of the most notable items features in this display is the Barbie Edition Game Boy, which is an unreleased prototype Game Boy Pocket. Supposedly the deal never went through and only two of the systems, along with a gaudy carry case, were made.

Stage 6, “Crash” is ironically my favorite exhibit, despite its dark days in gaming history. It deals with the video game crash of 1983. The first thing I liked was the introduction plaque does detail that the cause of the crash is much more complicated than the simple examples often cited, but not without being self aware of these rumors. Poor E.T. still appears in the stage’s image, even though it’s acknowledged the game was not the cause.

What I really liked about this exhibit, though, was the “going out of business” store front. With various 80s items such as Pac Man trading cards and bubble gum under the glass, a Top 5 sign for the week’s hottest games (which includes E.T., I might add), and a sign indicating the store is going out of business, it’s a very nicely done presentation.

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I promise I was also NOT the cause of the crash.

Stage 7, “Rise” presents the return of video games, stronger than ever, on both computer and with the Nintendo Entertainment System. A lot, and I do mean a lot, of set ups are here to play and interact with.

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At this point, as you venture through the museum, you’ll find the bathrooms. Not exactly something you’d think worth mentioning, but this is the NATIONAL VIDEOGAME MUSEUM, so of course the bathroom entries are worth mentioning with their clever indication of “Men’s” and “Women’s” signs.

 

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Women’s

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Men’s

Stage 8, “Create” presents games moving from just being games and actually involving the user in the creative process. Games like Mario Paint are on display, but I wasn’t able to spend much time hands on (there were a lot of people here, remember?).

Stage 9, “Invent” presents a theoretical game studio’s office. Games adorn the shelves, a PC and work station are present, various articles and news clippings are framed on the walls.

Stage 10, “Transmit” discusses the rise of online gaming with various Blizzard entries, Quake, and two terminals that visitors can use to communicate and send a webcam image to each other on either side of the exhibit with.

Stage 11, “Listen” details music coming into games more with entries such as Parappa the Rapper and, of course, Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.

Stage 12, “Unplugged” is likely to surprise many visitors with the various board games that were released based on video game properties. Frogger, Q*bert, Pac-Man, Legend of Zelda, and more are all on display.

Across from “Unplugged” is an exhibit showcasing various items. Systems, the Pokemon series, rare and valuable games, this section is an eclectic mix of things that didn’t belong to a single exhibit, but are definitely fun to look at.

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Before venturing to the next stage, there’s also an exhibit with various pieces of merchandise, including the wearable Mega Man helmet.

Stage 13, “Family” accurately portrays a family living room from the 1980s, with a console hooked up for play on the television, a fake plant, wood panel walls, and a Dogs Playing Poker painting on the wall! There are even family photos on display.

Stage 14, “Sanctuary” depicts a teen’s bedroom. Bear in mind, the NVM is in Frisco, Tx, so if you aren’t a Cowboys and Rangers fan, forgive the decor!

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A Pac-Man throw pillow, 80s movie posters, a record playing 80s music, and a Mario phone. It’s worth noting that the visitor I caught in this picture….still had trouble with the NES Zapper hitting the ducks in Duck Hunt.

Stage 15, “Respect” isn’t an exhibit so much as an art display. A cube art mural of Ralph Baer hangs near the conclusion of the museum tour.

Stage 16, “Bonus” is a collection of framed posters, displays, arcade machines, and a life size statue of Gabriel Belmont. Along the wall next to Stage 16 are a line of consoles, all of which had someone playing them. I did get to finally play a bit of Bonk’s Adventure on Turbo Grafx-16, though. Above the consoles is a mural with a number of recognizable video game characters.

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Stage 16 leads to an 80s style arcade to conclude the tour of the National Videogame Museum. The lights are dark and lit more by the neon marquees and the screens of video games than overhead light and it was packed with a person on just about every cabinet. A machine is in the arcade to give tokens for dollar bills in case your 4 tokens from entry aren’t enough to get your gaming fix.

Finally, you exit the arcade to find yourself in the gift shop. I didn’t look at everything, but overall they had some cool items in there. Some books particularly caught my eye and they were all priced reasonably compared to Amazon.

I’ve gone on for over 1700 words about this museum and don’t think I’ve scratched describing it. I was hopeful for this endeavor after visiting the “History of Videogames” exhibit at the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle, WA, but this is far beyond what was presented there.

The one thing I’d like to see NVM add if they are ever able to expand in size is to build a display library for every system. The curators, I believe, have only brought out a small part of their overall collection. I would love to see a glass display shelving every Atari or NES title in their boxes. In time, seeing every video game on every system lined up on shelves, their spines facing out would be truly a sight to see.

If conclusion, if you’re in the DFW area in Texas and have time to get to Frisco, the National Videogame Museum is well worth your time. I only had a couple of hours available and don’t feel like it was remotely enough time. I’m looking forward to going back with friends when they come into town, but I might have to sneak an extra trip before they make it.

My only hope is that they get repeat business and are able to stay open for a long time to come. Video games have become a huge part of our culture, both in America and across the globe, and it’s great to see a museum preserving and sharing their history.

 

Sonic Runners Trailer Debuts

In the words of Bender B. Rodriguez, “I’m back, baby!”

It’s been a while since I wrote an entry. Life happens, Holidays come along, you change jobs, and then your PC dies. Really, though, you guys don’t care about my sob story and excuses, so I’m going to just get right back to writing about video games and geekery.

We recently learned that Sega is going to be focusing more on mobile games going forward and this week they presented the trailer for the new Sonic game, coming to iOS and Android mobile devices.  Let’s watch, shall we?

I’ve seen a lot of people saying “RIP Sonic” and that this is the end of the Sega we knew from the days of Genesis and Dreamcast. I’m not so sure. Honestly, this might be the best thing for Sonic.

A Rich History

Sonic the Hedgehog first appeared in the self-titled game on Sega Genesis, which was followed with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles. There were a few other titles, like Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Spinball, but for “core” continuity games, Sonic 1-3 plus the Knuckles add-on are the main ones from the golden days. Some feel the Game Gear versions of Sonic and Sonic 2 are even better than the Genesis versions, though.

The games were notable for their gorgeous graphics at the time and many, including myself, feel the music was outstanding for its time. Seriously, listen to this.

Personally, Sonic 2 is still my favorite of them, both in game and in music.

Things Turn Sour

Sadly, Sonic has not transitioned well as games have moved forward into more three-dimensional offerings. The first such adventure, aptly named Sonic Adventure, on Sega Dreamcast was a pretty solid and most seemed to agree Sonic Adventure 2 was a good game. I think some disagree on which of the two was the better one.

But after that, Sonic never seemed to find his footing. The switch to a behind the back third-person view seemed to limit the blue blur from the dizzying speeds he was previously known for. Even the first Adventure game has some criticism for slowing things down with other characters, particularly Big the Cat and Froggy. I’ll admit there’s something quirky about that game and its setting. I realize Eggman is human, therefore other humans would logically exist on the planet, but it seemed odd having Sonic and his pals being the only non-humans. I never understood why Sega didn’t leverage their apparent partnership to utilize the world of Mobius from Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog series (which also shared the setting with the outstanding Saturday AM cartoon). Utilizing Sally, Bunnie, Antoine, and Rotor would have been a far better use of characters and setting if playstyles were going to be slowed down when not playing Sonic.

But I digress. The point is, Sonic hasn’t sold well in 3D situations. The most recent installments, Sonic Colors, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic and the Black Knight, and most recently Sonic Boom have all had negative to lackluster response with Sonic Generations faring slightly better.

Mobile Future for a Mobile Hedgehog

And that brings us to the announcement of Sonic Runners and the trailer at the top here. Honestly, I think it might be good. The mobile platform encourages more simplistic gaming and fundamentally almost requires a return to the Sonic roots on Genesis and Game Gear. It’s possible that having Sonic step away from the modern generation of game consoles or PC gaming gives him a chance to show off his strengths. Rather than competing with gameplay and designs that simply don’t work for the blue streak of quilled lightning, a 2D side scroller seems a better fit. The only alternative I can think of that would allow Sonic’s strong suits would be focusing on handheld options for Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS.

Or perhaps Sega should even consider offering him up to an Indie Dev. I’ve heard good things about the fan games Sonic: Before the Sequel and Sonic: After the Sequel.

Game Collection Goal

So it’s probably time to start updating this more frequently.  I thought I’d start off by just going a bit into a little information on my dream collection for video games and the reason I’m pursuing retro games that I’ll be talking about in this blog!

To be honest, I’ve always kept some of my games.  I still have my NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube from growing up as well as my Sega Genesis.  I kept a few games for each of them, but not many.  In fact, I sold a lot of them on eBay a few years ago and just kept my favorites.  Not an uncommon story, but a painful one for anyone who’s done so and then got back into retro games!

Then last year at the recommendation of my GameStop manager friend, I picked up and read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  The book is filled with pop culture references from the 80s; video games, movies, tabletop, all manner of geekery.  The nostalgia chord was struck for me and I decided I wanted to look into some of the old games (and even movies) of my childhood as well.  I discovered there’s a whole group out there who are into retro games as well and a lot of people who, like me, see video games as a form of art as much as a form of entertainment.  Sure, you have the games, but you also have the artwork that went into the cartridge labels and box art as well as the manuals themselves.  These are pop culture history right here.  So my nostalgia was fueled into a quest to rebuild my gaming library…better, stronger, larger, awesomer…er.

So I decided first that my new collection and library would need to encompass my life of gaming.  The first step was to gather the consoles I wanted in this collection and then to decide which games I would get for each system.  I decided to get every console I played growing up from Atari 2600 to PS4 of today and a “Top 100” library for each system, or equivalent in some cases.  I did Google searches and found IGN “Top 100” lists, message board threads for “Top 100” where games were added and removed based on number of times people included it in their picks.  Eventually, I came up with a list for each console that I’m actively working on tracking down and finding.  I’ve since also added GameBoy, Game Gear, and Nintendo DS to my collection.  It’s going to be a long journey, and it’s probably going to be more expensive than I’ll want to dwell on, but that’s the path I’m going down!

I’ll be chronicling the adventure on this blog, of course, but once I gather the games the mission will of course be to play the games and review them here as well.  That should push me out of my usual comfort zone since a lot of the Top 100 are game genres I don’t generally like.  First Person Shooters, racers, sports games primarily will be on that list, but I’ll still give them a try.

The eventual goal is to buy a bigger television and get a custom build entertainment center in the living room with each system presented in a museum quality presentation, all cables hidden and each one able to be switched on and played easily with their respective game libraries in attractive cabinets.  That, however, is even further down the road.

I’m actually down to just 958 games left to find on my list for all systems.  Not a bad start.  Though there’s a good chance I’ll pass on a few of the more expensive games considered in the top 100 of these systems.

-Jeff