Warp Zone: Are rare games always worth it?

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Rare games…the holy grail(s) to many collectors, but are they always everything the hype makes them out to be?

Simple answer: No.

I can already hear your thoughts..”but their the most expensive, sought after games and are a status symbol for collectors…you crazy bro?”.

Complicated answer: No, but…

Yes, these are some of the hardest to find titles for many reasons, and due to those factors the prices can be astronomical. But are all these games really fun or are they just status symbols to impress fellow collectors with?

I recently parted with a rare game, one because it wasn’t a system I prefer collecting for and two, it wasn’t a very fun game in my opinion. I knew about this game from watching one of my favourite YouTubers, they mentioned it was one of the rarer games for the system, so when I came across it I was stoked. Then I played it. That’s about where the hype stopped, the game itself wasn’t anything special just a run of the mill action/platformer but because of its reputation I expected something great…it was not.

So rarity doesn’t always mean you’re getting a quality game, a good example of this is the much sought after STADIUM EVENTS by Bandai…it’s super rare and even more valuable!!! Except, we all played it…yup, it’s just Nintendo’s track and field. You know the one where you and a friend would lay on the floor and pound on the power pad because it was boring as hell?

The rarity stems only from the fact Nintendo bought the game from Bandai and rebranded it a Nintendo game. Only a few Bandai copies were sold as the family fun fitness pack before that, so any remaining ones became rare. So is it really worth stressing over and financially breaking yourself to get one? Sure, if that’s your thing…give er.

I’m a fan of game chasing shows, it’s always fun seeing someone come across crazy finds in the wild…but how realistic is it? I’m not saying it’s a set up, but the reality is a lot of people watch these shows and will go off and look up what they have. This means you’re less likely to find those rare games for next to nothing.

This doesn’t even account for artificially inflated prices, there are opportunists who know these games are valuable and will hoard copies to restrict its availability and thus raising it’s cost. This can make chasing down copies of many of these games a costly and frustrating endeavor.

In the end it comes down to how you collect and what matters most to you. If you want to be a completionist, then you’ll never be satisfied until you have every title regardless of rarity or price. For me, it’s about playability, I prefer a game that’s worth playing over the status….(except for one thing, I won’t lie…I need a power glove…but more on that later). Just my opinion but there’s plenty of great common gems in the library that often get overlooked.

Keep on hunting!
#8bitliving

Bonus stage: Emulators …the great debate.

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Emulators…welcome to the greyest of the gray areas in gaming.

To some, emulators are a great way to play different systems/games they didn’t have, but to others it’s pirate games that take away from the original games etc.

Originally the .ROM files created of these games were meant to be a backup or copy of an original game you had, but it didn’t take long for people to say “free games…yeah…sure I bought that back in the day.”

Some people say that the original manufacturer is the loser in this scenario, sure it was/is their intellectual property but they no longer make the games/systems and thus are no longer profiting from it. Not much different than a reseller purchasing the physical games and selling them at a profit, while offering no compensation to the original liscense holder.

I know what you’re thinking “damn johnny buzzkill…” so on that note:

ON TO THE FUN PART!!

Emulation is a great way to enjoy some classic gaming without having to shell out the money if you’re just a casual gamer in need of a retro fix. Emulators come on pcs, cellphones, and just about anything that attaches to the internet.

I use emulators from time to time *gasp* and I find them great for trying out new finds before I buy them or getting to experience a system out of my reach for instance: the NEO GEO AES was a toy far beyond the financial means of my parents when I was a kid. I was aware that it existed and played games that looked just like the arcade at home…and obviously that’s awesome in a time when 8 bit graphics had just replaced the atari and nothing compared to those games in your local arcade.

Emulation can never replace the fun of actual, in the wild game hunting and the joy of seeing those cartridges stacked on your shelf, but can be a fun way to play rare games I may not ever see in my collection like for instance, Little Samson. It also has an incredibly fun upside that gets glossed over in many of these arguments….

ROM HACKS!! There is a large community of retro game fans with the know-how to edit these roms creating new, sometimes crappy, sometimes awesome new versions of classic games. Sonic for the genesis and Mario Bros have tons of solid user created hacks. Another great bonus is unreleased games…I do enjoy playing Star Fox 2 on my SNES emulator because well…it’s awesome and isn’t coming out anytime soon and there’s a load of great hacks that improve the game.

One last bonus…some very cool gamers have created english versions of games previously only enjoyable in Japan, or if you had a Japanese system or the ability to play import games. This has opened up a whole new world of games we never had a chance to experience in the NTSC region.

So love them, hate them…emulators aren’t going away and there are systems coming out utilizing this software to play retro games (see: retron5). So I recommend emmulators for anyone looking to enjoy some classic games and great systems, if it’s not your thing that’s cool, so avoid them. Emulation is going mainstream and new games/systems are always being created for computers, phones, and tablets and as long as you’re enjoying some great games and having fun…I say GIVE ER!

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Boss Battle: Nostalgia and Greed vs Reality

OK..so every collector out there has had this conversation…here it’s between myself and “X”.

Me: so you said you have an nes and games?
X: yeah i dont think it works though..
Me: ok, so what are you asking for it?
X: well i know their worth like $200…so.. $100
Me: …uh ok…what about the games then?
X: i’d have to check ebay…I just read online a guy sold ET for $10,000…so if I guessed I have mario 3, mach rider, captain skyhawk, rad racer and zelda so does $250 sound good? The zelda is the gold cart so im pretty sure its rare.
Me: …

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How many times have you had this or a similar conversation? It’s a common problem with retro gaming and dealing with people where their perceived idea of the value and the reality are greatly different.

There is a lot of nostalgia around these old games, I often hear “I loved this game as a kid” and when I ask what they want the prices can be mind boggling. Sure I know that not everyone knows their way around pricecharting.com so they aren’t aware of the standard going rate of things and can see it as a lowball offer when you offer $5 for their childhood treasure.

The fact to collectors, just to get the harshness out of the way early…is that there’s only a few truly rare games on each retro game library due to unavailability, limited production, store specific (ie: Flintstones: dinasour peak) or end of the system releases (little samson). These are things a person looking at their treasured copy of mario 3 does not factor in. They don’t care there was 20 million copies sold, so they want what they feel the inherant value to them is.

Yes this is frustrating…i’m not a major fan of most resellers but at least they are fairly realistic on the prices depending on where they source pricing from. This brings me to my next point….

GREEDY BASTARDS!!  The people who know retro games are “in” right now and have done a 5 second search on ebay to find the highest price and adamantly argue this is the accepted price. We’ve all been there, you get a price, pull up ebay on your phone, sort by highest price and low and behold it’s the same price they just gave you.

Greed can be a big factor in this game unfortunately, some people who don’t care about the games themselves and have no nostalgic connection to them know their popular and it becomes a “I have it, you want it…so pay me” scenario. I generally just walk away from these despite what I might be giving up. Sure it sucks to pass up games you need or uncommon titles but it’s not worth over paying unless that’s your thing, in which case knock yourself out! Just not my thing.

The reality is as collectors there’s a nostalgic value attached to our stuff, but we also know the price of things. We know things like what the average SOLD price on ebay is and we set limits and budgets accordingly, but this is not always a reality.
Going into a retail outlet I expect to see higher end ebay prices…that’s fine, but when I’m at a swap meet nobody wants to hear that all your common games are “individually priced” or worse “I need to look it up”…this is about the time I’m moving along to the next booth…because.. yes! There are people just looking to get rid of these things and the prices match this.

I had a reseller look me in the eyes and say top gun on the nes was not only a rare game but well worth the $20 they were asking…a guy I see on the regular hooked me up for $5 making a buck or two on the actual $3.99 listing…(but hey the guys trying to make a living) Sometimes carrying on until the next deal can be the better thing to do…always remember most of these titles sold into the millions of copies so unless you’re hunting an action 52 or panic restaraunt you’re going to find a copy of what you’re after at a better price.

So to sum up…nostalgia and greed can be a major roadblock in your quest for games but sometimes you just gotta remember what Kenny Rodgers said “know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away”.

Best of luck in the wild to my fellow hunters!

Just for fun:

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Bonus Stage: When you get that mad deal.

Everyone loves a deal am I right?

That sweet moment when everything works out….that insane find at a yard sale or junk shop or a sweet bundle up that nets you a deal on that hard to find gem….ahhh! That’s what makes all the hunting worthwhile.

It’s always good to have “a guy”, you always hear people saying “yeah I got a deal..I know a guy”…well i’m fortunate enough to have found a guy. Its nice when you’ve spent time (and some cash obviously) and have built up that relationship with the person to a point where the deals really start coming out.

I like dealing with other collectors too for just this reason, our mutual love for these classic games builds a quick friendship. Swapping stories about games, showing off our rare finds to each other and having a shared knowledge of the history of these games opens doors to some great deals.

When you know your games are going to a good home you’re not concerned with ebay pricing, it’s not about profit…it’s about gaming. Trades are a great way to save some money too and it can be a lot more profitable when dealing with other collectors who aren’t interested in the cost as much as their interested in that game that they’ve been hunting for or something  fills a few holes in their collection.

So deals can definitely be had, you just have to put the time and effort in to make them happen.

And just for fun here’s a return of the Jedi handheld. Cheers!

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Level 2: Why do I (we) collect?

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My obsession with all things NES is no secret…but the question I get most often is “why?”. People seem amused I spend my spare time chasing after 30 year old cartridges, when as they often point out: “Don’t you know these are free online?”.

I’m not against emulators and roms, their a great way to play rare games, try imports, or just test drive titles before you buy. There’s debate as to whether roms are legit…yes its a grey area because yes they are hacks of the original games, but the original manufacturers no longer make money off the property (yes I know their for sale in the wii market – I’ll touch on that another time) so the physical titles are up for grabs from resellers.

So back to the point…why do I do it?…there’s a certain feeling you get when you have the actual cart in your hands, the excitement of coming across uncommon or rare finds that makes it worth it. I can’t enjoy looking at the roms on my laptop the same way I enjoy seeing my shelf of carts, my action figures and my boxed NES. It’s something I love enough to want to hunt down just so I can bring my treasure home,   that can’t be achieved with an emulator.

I chose the header picture because the gameboy was a huge part of my childhood…gaming on the go?!?!….NOW YOU’RE PLAYING WITH POWER!!. So when I recently found a gameboy at a yard sale I was able to relive the greatness of holding it in my hands, clicking on the on button and seeing that Nintendo screen come scrolling down and that familiar “ding!” that was burned into your brain as a kid.

I’ll talk more in depth about emulators at a later time but for now I hear something calling my name:

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Cheers and #8bitliving for life!

1 Up! : What to expect when you collect.

So you’ve decided to follow that nostalgic feeling…so what now?  Just grab your favorite classic console and some classic games…their 30 years old how much could they be… $2 maybe $3 a piece? Well if it was the 90s they would be…but things have changed.

Maybe like me you were lucky enough to still have a system and a few games or grabbed one a while ago when prices were cheaper or have some luck at a flea market or yard sale. Unfortunately for everyone else the market has exploded and there’s a few things you’ll quickly discover as you start hunting in the wild. Here are just a few insights I thought i’d share:

1. Dont worry theres millions of retro games floating around so their not hard to come by…BUT…yeah there’s always a but in there…

2. A lot of those games are now in the hands of resellers, “shelf collectors”, dealers and worst of all the run of the mill opportunists who dont know much more about the games they sell but the highest “buy it now” price on eBay…that leads me to my next point..

3. Be prepared to pay eBay prices. Sad but true reality and you see it in varying degrees. You’ll get used to seeing “individually priced” which generally means “I looked them all up on eBay thus the odd prices”. You can tell a lot by checking what Mario Bros 3 goes for, is it over $15? If so you’ll know you’re going to be looking at dropping a few dollars for anything you’re looking at.

4. Unfortunately regular people at flea markets/yard sales can be harder to deal with than resellers…unlike resellers some people just assume what they have is worth a lot of money just because its “retro”. You see this normally in the form of marking the items as “vintage”…apparently if you toss vintage on it then it must be worth more. This can be frustrating but can often be eventually haggled. 

5.  If you see something you want, grab it. You’re not the only one hunting around and I know from harsh lessons learned that the guy asking $10 for paperboy is still cheaper than the reseller at $20+.

6.  Don’t get discouraged…there are deals out there to be had and a lot of collectors who are happy to trade or sell at better prices from one collector to another. Some people are happy just to know its going to someone who will enjoy it and the price reflects that.

7.  Be realistic. Because the market has changed some of those fond memories are pricey…if you’re not really concerned with rare titles then you can build a very decent collection without spending an arm and a leg, but if you want to have say a R.O.B, Power glove or little samson then be aware the prices are high, go up frequently and due to rarity wont often be found beyond eBay or resellers.

There’s a lot more I can say going further in depth on some of these points…which i’ll do in future posts..but the most important point I can say about this is to have fun…it’s not always the deals or the finds…sometimes the thrill of the hunt is the ultimate reward.

Level 1: The Retro Redneck

I’ve been collecting ever since i came across a friends old NES she graciously gave me back in the 90s. Theres just something that takes you back to that moment as an 8 yr old kid on Christmas morning when you fire up one of those 8 bit gems….and now im hooked. I’m out there on weekends hitting up yard sales, flea markets, junk shops and anywhere i think I might find a buried treasure or two.

I’ll be writing about the retro game scene, its pros and cons and whatever pops into my head in regards to this 8 bit obsession of mine.

Cheers!
-The Retro Redneck